Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What I Didn't Anticipate

From the moment that second line appeared on the pregnancy test, I knew I was going to love and cherish every moment of pregnancy; even the discomforts. After my last pregnancy ended so abruptly, I actually missed every little bit of misery I felt and the other various aches and pains and complications I never had the opportunity to feel. I had a hard time not resenting the pregnant women who seemed to view their pregnancies as a drudgery. I ached to be in their shoes.

This pregnancy shaped out to be a dream of an experience. Yes, I spent the first trimester on the couch wondering if I would ever feel awake again. But I know that I am among the lucky who only had to surrender to the porcelain bowl once. Knowing my discomfort meant that my baby was well I embraced it with joy.

My second trimester was a breeze. Feeling my baby growing inside of me was an experience I wondered if I would be willing to give up at 40 weeks. But towards the end of that period I learned that my cervix had softened prematurely and started to dilate. Up until that point I had been trying to remain active--exercising regularly and keeping up a schedule filled with social and work activities. Now I needed to take it easy. I was constantly worried about my baby. I laid off the brisk walks and cut back on my calendar of events. I didn't like that my toned legs began to get squishy, and not being able to move furniture around or lift heavy objects made me feel like an invalid. But I gladly did it for the sake of my baby.

As I hit this third trimester I settled into a routine of better understanding my body. I knew where the boundaries of over-doing it were, and the premature labor threat level began to drop. Meanwhile, Baby continues to grow. I'm starting to feel like a big unattractive beach ball, but I try to believe my husband when he tells me otherwise. While dreading what those feet in my ribs were going to feel like at 39 weeks, I was still loving every minute of being pregnant. I knew I was having a dream of a pregnancy and really did have very little to complain of--except for that outie of course. I considered myself blessed beyond measure, especially since I was still willing to fully embrace all the aches and pains and stretch marks and other discomforts that are normal for this stage of pregnancy.

And then It hit.

being a breakout in a hives-like raised rash all over my lower torso and legs. It was so bad that at times I writhed in agony of the burning, itching, on-fire inflammation that was creeping all over my body. At first they thought that perhaps I was having an allergic reaction to something. When it continued to worsen no matter what I did or tried my midwife sent me to the doctor. The verdict was not what I wanted it to be.
"Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy" also known [or more easily pronounced] as PUPPP.

If you're like me and had never heard of such a thing, that's because less than 1% of pregnant women are afflicted with this ailment. Of those less-than-1%, it usually occurs in a first pregnancy or women pregnant with twins. And oddly enough, 70% of that less-than-1% are carrying boys.

Nobody really knows what causes PUPPP. Skin stretching and therefore become irritated, male DNA in the baby acting as a skin irritant and fluctuating hormones are among the various reasons that studies have so far been able to come up with.

There is no cure for it. There are methods of relief (I have spent probably 75% or more of my days on ice packs, no lie), and when it becomes as severe as mine (I wasn't sleeping at night, my skin was on fire, and it got to the point where ice packs could barely take the edge off) there are prescriptions for oral antihistamines and topical steroid cream.

PUPPP indicates no underlying condition, nor does it put your baby at risk. It goes away all on it's own... After your darling baby is born.

So as you can imagine, this is one preggo malady I wasn't anticipating and certainly was not eager to embrace. I felt like a horrible mommy as sweet visions of induction pleasantly flitted through my rash-deranged mind. I was already feeling like a horrible wife as I accomplished 100% of nothing and my sweetheart's very touch sent fiery itchy tingles racing through my body. If I could just have this baby all would be well!! Well, not really well seeing his first weeks of life would be spent living the life of a preemie while I could adjust to my new life of comfortable skin and feeling human again.

Ugh. What a selfish person I am.

I am happy to say that while normal is a long ways down the road (like 8 weeks, give or take) the medication has kicked some comfort in. I can get a half-way decent night's rest, I am able to accomplish things (the whole nesting thing is delish!) even if I have to take breaks frequently to apply ice packs, and my baby continues to warm my heart with his delightful kicks and uncomfortable feet-in-my-ribs maneuvers. My brain has lifted from the fog of PUPPP mayhem and I am more than willing to carry to term.

I am so grateful that I have a healthy active bouncing baby boy. I'm finally starting to adjust to the idea of learning how to joyfully cope with this condition knowing all is well with him.

(On the other hand, I'm not so sure I'm eager to experience him being one of those 42-weekers.)


LeAnna said...

Bless your heart! Pelvic/bed rest is so hard (I had it the last 4-6 weeks with my son) but I can't imagine the hives! I'm glad you're able to get somewhat comfortable. We'll just pray that little guy is fully ready to come out sooner rather than later. It can happen! I know so many babies perfectly ready to be born at 37 weeks gestation, so much so that they come on their own. We'll pray for that. :)

Anonymous said...

You poor thing!!!


beka said...

Oh dear!
Can't wait to see this little cutie, and for you to get better:)

Sara said...

I've popped over here every once in a while, but I've never commented, but I LOVED this post. I mean, I'm so sorry for your PUPPP torture, but you have such an amazing attitude. Your little guy is going to be here so soon! I was one of those 42 weekers, and it was the longest two weeks EVER.

Becky said...

I just found your blog! Congratulations on the baby boy on the way!

I had PUPPPs too! It's so awful! Hang in there! Welcome to the "we had to be part of the less than 1% club." Haha, I thought my husband had given me some poison ivy he got from playing paintball until we figured it out. Weirdly, the worst of it showed up right after my son was born, but I think it was totally gone within a week or 2. So, I feel your do what you need to! :) I hope you have a quick and smooth delivery!