Motherhood is a blessing, which a woman cherishes for life. Imagine all that happiness, hopes and anticipation to welcome a baby in your life. A part of you growing in your womb!
But what if this joy is snatched away when you least expected it? What if you are suffering from a clinical condition that seems apparently harmless, yet is a big threat to your baby? Unfortunately, if such a thing happens, it might not be possible to get back what you lost, but it may be an eye-opener for others. Sharing a personal story is one way to make expecting mothers aware of the silent dangers that may be lurking inside their bodies.
One such mother, Gabriella Morely, from Leeds, UK, tragically lost her child due to an atypical liver problem called Intrahepatic Cholestasis (ICP) (1).
Though Gabriella can’t get over her grief of delivering a still-born girl-child, whom she had named Poppy, she has decided to reach out to other pregnant women and make them aware about the possibilities of intrahepatic cholestasis, thereby helping to avert any such mishaps.
According to Gabriella, it all started when she experienced itchiness around her tummy in her third trimester. But she didn’t give much thought to it. She thought it was her big bulge that was causing it. In reality, her acidity levels had reached high which proved to be lethal for the child inside her womb. It was so toxic that the baby suffered a heart failure. Gabriella was in her 39th week of pregnancy, and she realized that her baby was not moving.
It was the most excruciating experience to deliver her baby, only to realize it was stillborn. She couldn’t believe it was happening to her. She gave out a scream, her emotions churning inside. Matty, her partner, and the father of the baby, couldn’t hold back his tears as well. It was too devastating a thing to be happening to them. While Gabriella fell into a deep silence of trauma, Matty stood by her side, holding her hand. When she heard other babies breathing, she couldn’t fathom why it had to happen to her. Both Gabriella and Matty were emotionally broken, yet they wanted to spend a few moments together, with little Poppy in their arms, just to feel her little being wrapped inside them. It was heart wrenching to leave the hospital without Poppy, whom she had nurtured inside her womb for nine months.
Gabriella told the media how strongly she felt about sharing her experience to help and make other mommies aware of this disorder.
In this condition, the high concentration of pregnancy hormones affects the normal liver functioning. It causes a slow or deficient flow of bile, produced by the liver. When the amount of bile acids builds up in the body, it can escape into blood, and cause toxicity to harm the baby.
The most telling symptom is extreme itching, especially on the palms and the feet, and sometimes in the other parts of the body as well. Often this is the only obvious symptom due to which diagnosis becomes difficult. Other symptoms include exhaustion, diminished appetite, nausea, darker urine etc.
Doctors suggest that if you suddenly notice increased itching or other symptoms, especially in the third trimester, you should immediately go for a check-up. In case you are diagnosed with the condition, adequate steps should be taken to deliver the child as soon as it is appropriate to do so.
Since this condition is fairly unusual, people are not aware of its consequences, but Gabriella and Matty are doing their bit to spread awareness through the newspapers and social media so that their message reaches out to maximum people and no precious life is lost due to intrahepatic cholestasis (ICP).