It’s Always The Pregnancy Complication You Didn’t See Coming That Gets You

sad pregnant ladyWhen I found out I was having twins, I was confident that everything would go smoothly. I was convinced there was no way the universe would make me suffer through infertility treatments just to have something go wrong now that I was actually pregnant. My initial instinct was wrong– I ran into plenty of trouble on the road to delivery, but the scariest complication was one I never saw coming– cholestasis of pregnancy.

The first 26 weeks of my pregnancy were perfect. Sure, there were nights when I fell asleep at six from exhaustion and mornings where not even water seemed edible. But overall, it was like a movie montage. We took a babymoon to Disney World, started planning the nursery and I only puked twice. We got through all the screenings and scans without a hitch and picked out names for two little boys. I was totally that smug pregnant lady rubbing her belly all the time.

Things were going so well, in fact, that when my monthly OB visit came up the week after Thanksgiving, I told my husband not to bother taking off from work to come with me. So of course, that was the visit where I learned my cervix had vanished. I was sentenced to immediate bed rest. Even then, I wasn’t freaking out too badly. I knew bed rest was common in twin pregnancies and truth be told, it was getting hard to be up and about all day.

Four days after I was put on bed rest I started to dilate, so at 27 weeks I was admitted into the hospital and given medications to try and stall my labor. I received steroid injections to help the babies’ lung development in case they were born then, and the NICU team came up to show me pictures and tell me what to expect. Still, I tried my best to stay calm and positive. Somehow I got lucky, and two weeks later they sent me home to bed, the babies still happily kicking the crap out of my ribcage.

Since I had nothing else to do besides read and watch TV, I started looking through my pregnancy books to see what else could possibly go wrong. I resigned myself to the fact that I might not make it to full term and tried to mentally prepare for a C-section, because even though the twins were in the right position for a vaginal birth, I didn’t want to be blindsided again by something I wasn’t expecting. And yet, that’s exactly what happened.

We were back at the OB for my weekly appointment- by now I had made it to 30 weeks and was hoping to make it at least another five. We were just about to leave when my doctor asked if we had any other concerns. My husband mentioned I had been really itchy. He was right, I found myself lying in bed scratching my palms and feet because they felt on fire– mostly in the evening and over night. I thought my feet were itchy because I was wearing compression socks to keep the circulation flowing in my legs, and I thought my hands were itchy because the winter air was dying out my skin. But after asking me a couple more questions, my OB told me he was sure I had cholestasis. He ordered a blood test to confirm and gave me a prescription, and then told me we had some tough decisions to make.

Cholestasis of pregnancy is when your liver can’t handle filtering the amount of bile that the body is producing. For expectant moms, it means you’ll be itchy but fine once the pregnancy is over. For a baby in the womb, it means the risk of stillbirth or fetal death increases the longer the baby is in utero. I never worried about it, because there was only a small paragraph in my pregnancy book about it and it said the condition was rare. Having a rare medical condition is one of the few times I don’t think anyone wants to be one in a million, but there I was.

I had just spent the last month trying so hard to keep these babies in, and now all I wanted to do was get them out. But at 30 weeks, the prematurity risks were still substantial. My OB thought we could wait until 35 weeks to induce, but he left the final decision up to me and made it clear that we were taking a calculated risk. There would be no warning sign that something was wrong with the babies in utero, so I felt like a ticking bomb.

In the end, I went into labor at 33 weeks without medical intervention. I was extremely fortunate- my boys were early, but they were very much alive. It wasn’t the stretch marks or hormones or even my emergency C-section that were the worst part of my pregnancy. It was having no control over the millions of things that could go wrong.

(image:  /

Similar Posts