Pregnancy, Cholestasis, Preeclampsia and a Miracle

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pregnancy-cholestasis-preeclampsia-image-by-katie-shea-design-kathleen-decosmo

Pregnancy, Cholestasis, Preeclampsia, and a Miracle …. Dec 12th was supposed to be the day my grandson was to be born into this world by C-section at 37 weeks gestation.

My daughter Elizabeth’s High-Risk OB Dr. determined that 37 weeks was as far as he could let the pregnancy go without risking many complications for mother and baby.

Elizabeth started her pregnancy being seen by a High-Risk OB Dr. because she has Crohn’s Disease and Sjogren’s syndrome.  Two autoimmune diseases that can complicate pregnancy numerous ways.

The end of the first trimester Elizabeth and her husband were given the news that their baby could have complications with his heart because of Elizabeth’s Sjogren’s syndrome.  They were told that if there were to be heart complications they would show up between the end of the first trimester to the end of the second trimester.  Every ultrasound was scrutinized.  A trying time for the expectant parents, nerves were raw as they leaned on their faith.  They chose to believe that all would be fine with their child’s heart.  

Everyone drew a sigh of relief when the second trimester came to a close without any sign of heart complications for the baby.

The third trimester brought on an onslaught of itchiness all over Elizabeth’s body.  The last week of September my daughter asked me if I had experienced itchiness during any of my three pregnancies.  Definitely not because I would absolutely remember if that happened to me.  She told me the itch was all over her body and increasing in severity by the day.  I told her that was not a normal pregnancy problem and go see her Dr. ASAP!  She was only 27 weeks pregnant and I suspected something was going awry.

We were so glad that we had her baby shower three months before her due date of Dec 30th.  We originally planned it for Oct 1st because her brother was getting married Nov 5th.  It definitely worked out in hindsight because Elizabeth’s itchiness and what was to follow in her pregnancy.

My gut feeling was that her auto immune diseases were complicating the pregnancy.  I did not feel qualified to have an opinion on whether or not it was in any way normal to be itchy all over since I do not have either of those medical conditions.  Although her cousin Courtney suspected she was experiencing a condition called cholestasis, I wanted my daughter to have blood work to confirm or rule out anything related to the itchiness all over her body.

What is obstetric cholestasis?

Obstetric cholestasis is a condition of the liver which occurs in some pregnant women. Cholestasis means there is a reduced flow of bile down the bile ducts in the liver. Some bile then leaks out into the bloodstream, in particular, the bile salts. These circulate in the bloodstream and can cause symptoms.

What are the symptoms of obstetric cholestasis?

Typically, symptoms occur after 24 weeks of pregnancy when the hormone levels are at their highest. Sometimes it develops earlier in pregnancy.

Severe itch without any skin rash is the most common symptom. The itch can be all over, but it is often worst on the hands and feet. Commonly, itch is the only symptom. It tends to get worse until you have the baby. The itch can become severe and affect sleep, concentration, and mood.  It can become distressing.  Although obstetric cholestasis does not cause a rash, the scratching caused by severe itching can cause visible marks on the skin.

Elizabeth’s Dr Appt (in her 28th week of pregnancy, first of week of October) resulted in her immediately being diagnosed with suspicion of cholestasis pending confirmation by her blood work that would take a week to receive the results.  Her High-Risk OB immediately began treating her for cholestasis with drug intervention.  My daughter was so itchy that she was scratching her entire body with a hair comb!  

The blood results came back in her 29th week of pregnancy and confirmed the presence of a cholestasis condition and a very bad case.  Her bile acids were extremely high as well as her liver enzymes.  Elizabeth’s Dr. increased her dosage of meds and started monitoring her even more closely. She had 2  Dr. visits a week, ultrasounds, blood pressure monitoring/logging, constant dialogue with the Dr via tests, email, and phone calls.

Elizabeth’s blood pressure was elevated during her 29th week of pregnancy and her feet began to fill with fluid.  The Dr. suspected Preeclampsia and tested her by measuring proteins in her urine and monitoring her blood pressure throughout her days.

The Preeclampsia was confirmed in her 30th week of pregnancy in addition to her Cholestasis condition driving her crazy with severe itching all over her body.

What is Preeclampsia?

“Preeclampsia (pre-e-CLAMP-si-a) is a condition unique to human pregnancy. It is diagnosed by the elevation of the expectant mother’s blood pressure usually after the 20th week of pregnancy. According to guidelines released by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the diagnosis of preeclampsia no longer requires the detection of high levels of protein in the urine (proteinuria). Evidence shows organ problems with the kidneys and liver can occur without signs of protein, and that the amount of protein in the urine does not predict how severely the disease will progress. Prior to these new guidelines, most healthcare providers traditionally adhered to a rigid diagnosis of preeclampsia based on blood pressure and protein in the urine.

Preeclampsia is now to be diagnosed by persistent high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy or the postpartum period that is associated with high levels of protein in the urine OR the new development of decreased blood platelets, trouble with the kidneys or liver, fluid in the lungs, or signs of brain trouble such as seizures and/or visual disturbances.

Important symptoms that may suggest preeclampsia are headaches, abdominal pain, shortness of breath or burning behind the sternum, nausea and vomiting, confusion, heightened state of anxiety, and/or visual disturbances such as oversensitivity to light, blurred vision, or seeing flashing spots or auras. Preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy impact 5-8% of all births in the United States.

Most women with preeclampsia will deliver healthy babies and fully recover. However, some women will experience complications, several of which may be life-threatening to mother and/or baby. A woman’s condition can progress to severe preeclampsia very quickly.

Preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy can be devastating diseases, made worse by delays in diagnosis or management, seriously impacting or even killing both women and their babies before, during or after birth.”

Having both Cholestasis and Preeclampsia put Elizabeth and her child at extreme risk.  The Dr. told her that she needed to feel her baby move at least 10x every 90 minutes.  If she did not feel him 10 times she needed to get in the car and get to the hospital ASAP.  Every minute counted.  Elizabeth felt the heavy responsibility of monitoring her baby’s life and was having trouble sleeping in conjunction with insane cholestasis itching.

It was touch and go whether Elizabeth would be able to attend her brother’s wedding on Nov 5th which placed her pregnancy in her 32nd week.  The Dr. said he could take the baby as early as the 32nd week if he deemed necessary.

The Dr. gave her the go ahead to attend her brother’s wedding that was one hour away from the hospital she was going to deliver her baby at.  Her liver enzymes and bile acids were on their way down and her itchiness was not increasing.  She needed to monitor her blood pressure frequently and make sure the baby was moving 10 times in 90-minute cycles.  Again a very big responsibility to feel like you hold your child’s life in your grasp.  We made a game out of taking blood pressure readings while hanging out in the hotel the night before the wedding.  Making light of a very serious situation.  Thankful that she did not have to miss her brother’s wedding.

The following two weeks there was bi-weekly ultrasounds and Dr. visits.  Elizabeth kept a blood pressure log in her iPhone.  Her 34th week the Dr asked to see her blood pressure log and admitted her into the hospital on the spot for observation.  They did a liver enzyme test and found her enzymes were off the charts and blood pressure consistently high. The baby’s heart was monitored as well.  It was decided the baby would be delivered that night or the very next day.  

While delivering the baby and cutting the cord it was discovered that there was only a drop of blood left in the cord, not enough for a cord blood sample to be stored.  

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When I went to the recovery room to see my daughter she told me through tears that it was a very close call.  If the baby was not delivered that day he most likely would have not made it in utero past the following 24 hours.  The placenta was found to be a mess and ceasing to support the baby through the cord.

We call our grandson the “Miracle Baby”.  Born at 34 weeks gestation and weighing 4lbs. 3oz. 17 ¼ inches long.  He has overcome so many obstacles and is a thriving little fighter Preemie!  Anthony Joseph spent 18 days in the NICU.  He gained a half pound in only three days while at home nursing every 2 hours.  

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The purpose of this post is to make people aware of Cholestasis and Preeclampsia.  I had three pregnancies and never experienced either of those conditions so I was unaware of the signs and symptoms my daughter was experiencing.

Both conditions are very serious and if not caught and managed very closely can be deadly to mother/child.

Judith, A Mother’s Legacy Carries On.

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Judith, A Mother's Legacy Carries On.   Image shot by Kathleen DeCosmo Katie Shea Design

Mother’s Day is a modern celebration honoring one’s own mother, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

The meaning of being a mother is virtually endless. A mother is a protector, disciplinarian, and friend. A mother is a selfless, loving human who must sacrifice many of their wants and needs for the wants and needs of their children. A mother works hard to make sure their child is equipped with the knowledge, skills and abilities to make it as a competent human being. Being a mother is perhaps the hardest, most rewarding job a woman will ever experience.

Five years ago today (Mother’s Day May 10th, 2010) Judith Marshall DeCosmo passed away peacefully in her sleep to join her beloved “Johnny” in the hands of God.

Aunt Judith and Uncle Johnny image by kathleen DeCosmo Katie Shea Design - Copy

During the last five years, I have gotten to know my Aunt Judith through the eyes of her daughter, my cousin Courtney.  I knew my Aunt Judith as an encourager, an intellectual, a business woman, wife to my Uncle Johnny and mother to my cousins.

I have come to find out that all those were simply adjectives just scratching the surface of the multi- dimensional woman I called Aunt Judith.

There have been many milestones in Courtney’s life these past few years that we have walked through with my cousin and my Aunt Judith.  How could that be since Aunt Judith is no longer with us?

While preparing for Courtney’s wedding, we learned the organizational, sentimental side of her mother.  A mother that had planned for her daughter’s wedding since Courtney’s birth. There were files and notebooks of instructions, thoughts and words of wisdom all laid out for Courtney to reference for her life penned and researched by her mother.  There was a deep caring and sense of humor found on those pages.  A piece of Judith preserved to form her legacy as a mother and grandmother.

Courtney’s baby shower theme was a tea party.  Aunt Judith had planned that theme years ago and had purchased the favors as we had discovered.

Aunt Judith's Touch image shot by Kathleen DeCosmo Katie Shea Design

The baby shower was given at The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club ( A special place to Aunt Judith).

Aunt Judith’s baby shower notes were executed and embellished and her presence was felt all during the festivities.

Courtney's Baby Shower image shot by Kathleen DeCosmo Katie Shea Design at the Vinoy

Now that Courtney has a child of her own there have been so many everyday situations that she pauses to reflect and ask ” What would Momma say, What would Momma do?

Aunt Judith’s newest grandchild (that she has not met here on earth) will know her through the thoughtful words and deeds she has passed onto Courtney.  Judith Marshall DeCosmo’s legacy lives today in another generation.

Courtney is a wonderful mother to her little girl.  She is that kind of a mother today because of all the time, nurturing and planning her mother invested in her throughout her life.

A mother’s love is felt forever!

Happy Mother’s Day to all those that have mothered someone!

World's best Mom Image Shot by Kathleen DeCosmo at the Vinoy

Happy Mother’s Day: A Musical Tribute

Happy Mother's Day by Visual Poetics CURATED  by  Katie Shea Design

Raised by a single mother, Kevin Durant is the NBA’s 2013-14 Most Valuable Player.

Kevin Durant’s powerful, emotional MVP acceptance speech went viral impacting the hearts of so many.

Kevin recounted that he fell in love with basketball in the second grade.

Kevin shared his memory of the little family’s first apartment. “No bed, no furniture.  We sat in the living room and hugged.  We felt like we made it!”

This video very personally touched my heart as well as this recently released single “Happy Mother’s Day” by Visual Poetics:

Happy Mother's Day by Visual Poetics

It is truly poetic that this “Happy Mother’s Day” single was released just a few days before Kevin Durant’s beautiful tribute to his single mother.

Kevin’s tribute to his mom depicts exactly what this Mother’s Day single is expressing musically.

Kevin praised his mother, honoring her and all that she did for him and his brother:

“YOU made us believe,

kept us off the street,

put clothes on our back

food on the table

went to sleep hungry.

You sacrificed for us

YOUR the real MVP

Symbolic image of a man who plays basketball

“Happy Mother’s Day” by Visual Poetics speaks of the single mom’s struggles, the feelings of the fatherless child and the encouragement that is felt by the strength spoken and exemplified by a single mom.

So uncannily parallel with Kevin Durant’s emotional acceptance speech to this recently released “Happy Mother’s Day” single.

Join me in congratulating Kevin Durant’s Mom Wanda Pratt in accomplishing so much as a single mother and making her son proud to call her Mom.

I want to invite you to also listen to this “Happy Mother’s Day” single by Visual Poetics:

Happy Mother's Day Sound Cloud by Visual Poetics

 Happy Mother’s Day

To every person that has been a MOM to someone!

 

About the Artist Visual Poetics:

VISUAL POETICS – HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY [@VISUALPOETICS]

Visual Poetics is the founding member and long time producer of the underground group known as Little Egypt. Releasing several albums and touring extensively, Little Egypt became known for combining that raw Brooklyn Hip-Hop stage energy with conscious level lyrics.

In particular, Visual Poetics’ style is that of an old school storyteller.  Weaving vivid images with complex metaphors, Vis (pronounced Viz) has been known to resurface from time to time dropping political pieces and other collaborative efforts over the past few years.

This chapter, Happy Mother’s Day, includes heavy production work from Compton’s own multitalented Trae Sevn and Khordz (of Little Egypt) combined with the smooth sounds of soulful singer/lyricist Madd Mary (look out!) for this heartfelt shout out and dedication to single parents worldwide.

Fun with The Novogratz Dinnerware Collection

Novogratz Dinnerware Collection Mix & Match image by Katie Shea Design Give your table a chic makeover with the colorful, cutting-edge Novogratz Dinnerware Collection. Renowned for their distinctive aesthetic, Cortney and Robert Novogratz mix elements of modern and vintage style for a fashion-forward dinnerware pattern featuring robust shapes and bold designs. sold exclusively at Macys.

The Novogratz Dinnerware Collection spurred so many creative, fun ideas in me.

I decided to use the samples that Cortney and Bob sent over for my Mother’s Day theme.

I shopped at Whole Foods for some of my favorite food items to fill each dinnerware piece.

Novogratz Collection Medium Melamine Popcorn Bowl image by Katie Shea Design c 2014   Family movie time has always been a weekly event from the time all our children were small.  We always filled heaping bowls of popcorn for our movie nights.  I love this popcorn bowl that holds so much popcorn!

My popcorn choice is Organic Reduced Fat & Sodium by 365 Everyday Value and is on sale this week at Whole Foods.

Novogratz Collection Cereal Bowl image by Katie Shea Design c 2014

I have never been a conventional person and always see multiple possibilities  and usage for any given object.  This cereal bowl can also be a snack bowl or a candy bowl for family junk food nights.

I filled my cereal bowl with Annie’s Organic cheddar Snack Mix found at Whole Foods.

Novogratz Collection 8.5 Plate image by Katie Shea Design c 2014This salad plate was screaming to be filled with cookies to go with my tea!

These are Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies by Schar found in Whole Foods.

Novogratz Collection Smile 16 0z Mug image by Katie Shea Design c 2014

So many possibilities to fill this ample 16 0z. Mug with.

My choice for a Mother’s Day relaxing cup of tea is Pomegranate Green Tea by the Republic of Tea also in Whole Foods.

Novogratz Collection Wonderful Melamine Serving Tray image by Katie Shea Design c 2014

 

This serving tray is perfect to serve Mom in bed, on the lounge chair or by the pool this Mother’s Day or any day would be wonderful.

What I also love about this dinnerware collection is that it can be mixed and matched with any pattern or color to go with any theme.

Perfect for a growing family.

Find the Novogratz Dinnerware Collection at your nearest Macys for the perfect Mother’s Day gift idea!

Thank you to Bob and Cortney for the samples provided for this blog post.  The opinions are my own and I have not been compensated for this review.

The images were shot with a GalaxyS5  #VZWBuzz

I am a member of the Verizon Wireless Lifestyle Blogger Program #VZWBuzz which gives me free access to mobile technology and other benefits.