Hi everyone! My name is Kimberly Cedillo and I’m the AmeriCorps Parents as Teachers (PAT) Supervisor and first-time mom. I was an AmeriCorps parent educator from 2015 to 2017 and then I had the opportunity to become the AmeriCorps supervisor after my service year ended. Now I’ve been here since! Just a couple of months ago I became a mom. And even though I am very knowledgeable of child development (being a parent educator for 2+ years), I still had many questions (and concerns) about my pregnancy, especially during my third trimester.
My partner and I knew we wanted to have children before I turned 30, but we didn’t necessarily plan it. And as you see all over social media, the pandemic era has become the new baby boomer! I found out I was pregnant the day after my birthday and my Father’s Day my tías, tíos, cousins, second cousins, family friends, and neighbors knew about it before noon came around. What also came around soon were hives! Normal, right? A few Aveeno baths and three days later, I called my doctor to make sure the baby girl was alright. Apparently, when you’re pregnant you are suddenly allergic to certain foods. I assumed it was the mashed potatoes I craved and ate the day before the hives appeared. The hives finally went away after a week of Benadryl and Zyrtec and I felt normal again -until later in my third trimester.
Did someone ever tell you that your second trimester is the three easiest months you’ll ever go through until the third trimester comes around? Well, they’re absolutely right! What I didn’t know was that in my third trimester somewhere along the way, I’d be miserable until I delivered. I know what you’re thinking... the word “miserable” seems a bit dramatic, right? But, it’s the exact word that describes my last three weeks.
Late one night (into 34 weeks), I woke up to extreme itching. It’s the kind of itching you get when an ant bites you, but 100 times all over your body! I thought it was something I ate that day, but the difference was that I didn’t develop any red marks or bumps where the itching was. The worst of the itching was on my hands and feet. As my first trimester, I took soothing baths and Benadryl and Zyrtec, hoping the itchiness would go away in a few days (just like the doctor-approved for my hives) but nothing really worked. For 2 weeks I dealt with this itching as it progressively got worse. I decided to look into our PAT curriculum and found some helpful websites to look through and hopefully find any leads to my symptoms because, well I mean duh, I have access to our curriculum! Anyway, I stumbled upon an article that matched my current symptoms that matched the term “Cholestasis of pregnancy”. Cholestasis of pregnancy is a liver condition that occurs in late pregnancy. The condition triggers intense itching, but without a rash. Itching usually occurs on the hands and feet but can also affect other parts of the body.
Perfect! Sounds like a match with what I was currently going through. And suddenly after reading more about it, my heart sank. I read that this liver condition is dangerous to the baby and if untreated, it can be fatal. No one ever wants to read that you diagnosed yourself with a deadly condition. I told myself not to worry and not think the worst. It wasn’t until an ER visit on New Year’s Eve that I had to do something about it. The ER wasn’t of much help as they told me that my liver results were “normal” and gave me more drugs to help the itching.
The next coming Monday, my doctor took me in and ordered a special bile liver test to be certain if it was Cholestasis. I had to wait another 5 days, worrying about the baby girl while also suffering sleepless nights, rocking myself to sleep wrapped with icy cold towels to help the itching (which temporarily worked). When my results came back I was mortified. The test came back “normal”. I couldn’t believe it. How can all my symptoms look true to Cholestasis, but the test says another thing? My doctor prescribed me an antihistamine cream, more Benadryl, and scheduled me for the next routine prenatal visit and said he would keep an eye on my itchiness. I had to deal with the uncontrollable itchiness and wonder what else could be the reason for it. What else can my doctor base it on if the results didn’t show anything? It wasn’t until I spoke to a couple of my educators that I decided to call my doctor again and talk more about my symptoms.
I do want to mention that my doctor is a great one! But, I knew I had to make sure he kept hearing me about my itchiness because it depended on my baby’s girl life. My educators shared more research on how my symptoms could be of Cholestasis and kept encouraging me to stay persistent with calling the doctor. The following Monday after my results came back, I’m at the doctor’s office again. I expressed my concern and without a doubt, my doctor scheduled me in for a c-section the following morning. I didn’t realize how simple it was to talk to my doctor about my concerns. To be fair, during my parent educator experience, I didn’t have the opportunity to work with pregnant moms so coaching myself to talk to my doctor wasn’t something I told my parents to do. By 6:23 am on January 19th I had Taylor Reid Brem at 37 weeks.
One takeaway from my story is to always listen to your gut and stay persistent until you are satisfied whether test results are what you expect or not. I am grateful to work with a team of parent educators and resource navigators who care about my wellbeing and who continue to care and work for other parents like you (reading this post).
Thanks for listening to me, and I hope I inspired you to bring up questions you have about your pregnancy (or about anything really) to your educator or resource navigator. They are not medical professionals but, they have many resources that can help you. And of course, as always, talk to your doctor.
 Cholestasis of pregnancy. (2019). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cholestasis-of-pregnancy/symptoms-causes/syc-20363257
Author: Kimberly Cedillo