Contributions from other pregnant women around the world - PAGE 3

UK welfare | Canadian welfare | New Zealand welfare | US welfare | First symptoms Fatty liver # 1 | Fatty liver # 2 | Fatty liver # 3 | C-section | Homebirth | Hormone Therapy | Hip pain | Hip pain # 2 | Siblings | Morning sickness | Mountain Biking during pregnancy

Sarah Nelmes in Northampton in England sent the following contribution to me! Thank you, Sarah!

"Our welfare system is not nearly as good as yours (read about the Norwegian welfare system). We are only entitled to 18 weeks maternity pay. 6 weeks at 90% current pay and 12 weeks at about £55 per week. This makes it a very difficult situation for anybody in England to decide whether they should start a family. I intend to take the full 29 weeks off after the birth, which is the maximum time I'm entitled to but it does mean that I wont get any money for most of that time and we will have to survive on one wage. This tends to take the edge off of the enjoyment because you are always worrying about money and how you will manage.

Still, It's all worth it in the end."

The next contribution was sent to my by Christine Smith, Leander, Texas, USA on January 13th 1997. Thanks to you, Christine!

"My life has been busier than ever before, graduating from college, buying a house, and getting a new job. So when I was late, I thought that it had to be stress. My husband and I have wanted to have a baby, but had not decided to seriously try to get pregnant just yet since we were right in the middle of such a busy time.

I guess the first symptom I noticed was how sensitive my breasts became. This was most noticeable when my husband would hug me or when I would try to get comfortable in bed for my night of rest (I was also very tired). I started feeling twinges like cramps in my abdominal area, which convinced me I was going to get my period any time now. But that didn't happen, turns out that those twinges are "normal" if you can call anything about pregnancy normal. But after I was a few more days late, I discussed the possibility of pregnancy with my husband. He told me that he did not think I was pregnant and went out to the grocery store. His saying that triggered something in me that made me go rushing for my e.p.t. test as soon as he walked out the door. After trying to wait patiently for three minutes, I read the result...positive. I was completely stunned and even read the instructions again to make sure I did the test right. Not that I haven't taken these things before and an idiot could get them right. I guess hormones made me irrational. I was so happy that I called my husband on the cell phone as he was in the grocery store going to get the orange juice. I told him to just come right home now because I was pregnant. He probably thought I was kidding, but came home nonetheless.

Anyhow the first things we did were buy the book "What to Expect When You Are Expecting." I also picked up a book of baby names! Then I hit the Internet for information and calculated my olen calendar. It turns out that my baby was conceived the day after Christmas. What a special gift for the holidays...

Well, my baby is VERY tiny right now, but my body already feels his or her presence. I tell baby, "please be nice to mommy" when I am feeling slight discomfort or raging nausea, which just started last night. I was hoping that I wouldn't get any morning sickness. Oh well, everything is worth it for baby."

August - my friends Gro & Axel´s son




Please send me your own words about your pregnancy or your birth ...

 ...It is nice to share stories with other women, knowing that its not always easy to be pregnant and give birth...




The next contribution was sent to me by Margaret, Mom to Lorna, born 4 Oct 96 - Thank you Margaret!

"This is my first baby's and my birth experience, and this newsgroup features prominently in it.

At 34 weeks pregnant, I was scanning through the posts here on the 25th of Sept, a Saturday, when I came across a post from "szanto" at McGill about extreme itchiness all over the body. A response from "Deb Johnson" at Carleton said that it may be just a symptom of pg, but could be a more serious liver/gall bladder related problem if accompanied by other symptoms that she listed.

I didn't have all these other symptoms, but had pale stools, which was one of them and had suffered sever itching for several weeks. Deb mentioned that the test for this problem was a simple blood test, so on the Monday I trotted on down to the local clinic and had a sample taken. The soonest appt my GP had was on the Thursday to give me the results, but I wasn't too worried, as the pregnancy had been without complications all along.

On Wed night, however, this changed. The baby stopped moving. All through that sleepless night she moved only twice. On Thurs. morning I went to our local hospital and they hooked me up to a monitor. The baby was in distress. They monitored through that day, discussing at various times, induction. The blood test of Mon., which I still hadn't seen my GP about was tracked down, and there was indeed something wrong, but not the problem that Deb's post had mentioned. My liver seemed to be consuming itself.

To make a long story short, my water broke on Friday while still under observation in the hospital and Lorna Kathryn was born later that day. In the follow-up on the liver problem, I learned several days later it was something called "fatty liver of pregnancy" a very rare condition that is almost 60% fatal to the baby and about 20% fatal to the mother! Lorna was 15 days in an incubator, being 5 weeks early, but is now very healthy. We're still not out of the woods yet though, because a very small percentage of these "fatty lever" births are caused by a defect of the baby that will cause a SIDS like death in around 4-6 months. (She's 3 1/2 now.)

So, in summary, if I hadn't been made aware of a possible problem by this newsgroup, and there hadn't been a liver function test already available that day at the hospital so they knew something was wrong, I don't know that things would have turned out the same.

As an aside, I created quite a stir at the hospital when I told them about finding about a possible problem through the Internet. I had nurses and doctors dropping by telling me they'd heard my story through the grapevine. (Small community - news/gossip travels quickly.)

Finally, is there anyone out there who has also experienced this "fatty liver problem? One study I dragged up says it occurs 1 in 16,000 births, so I'm not holding my breath. Do we have 16,000 readers of this newsgroup?

(My liver is on the mend, by the way.)"

Cheryl Barrett sent the next story to me, after she read about Margaret above. Thank you, Cheryl!

I read the item above from Margaret who had fatty liver of pregnancy and had to respond. I gave birth to my son, Isaac, in April. In the aftermath, I nearly died because I had undiagnosed fatty liver of pregnancy. Fortunately, Isaac, who weighed in at 8 lbs. 11 oz., was completely healthy.

Here's my story. I got pregnant last summer via IVF after several years of trying. We were overjoyed, but the pregnancy turned out to be a bit trying:

  1. By the 6th week of pregnancy, I was experiencing constant morning sickness. This lasted until well into the sixth month, but I thought nothing of this as so many other women had told me that had morning sickness all nine months.
  2. At around week 17, my doctor did a triple-screen test. It came back low, indicating a possibility of Downs Syndrome, but I refused seeing a high-risk maternal-fetal specialist and the recommended amniocentesis and detailed ultrasound. After all, I was not considering terminating the pregnancy, no matter what.
  3. At about the 30th week of pregnancy my doctor determined that I had gestational diabetes, and I began eating a special diet. I did not require insulin. After a few weeks on the special diet, I began having trouble with my blood sugar falling too low.  
  4. I had problems with swelling in my hands, legs, and face by the beginning of the fifth month. I also experienced somewhat elevated blood pressure, but my blood pressure was never "high." At one point, I gained 11 lbs. in 2 weeks, and it appeared to be all water that was pooled in my legs. My doctor put me on bedrest for a week. After a little rest, I seemed better.
  5. I experienced quite a few other discomforts of pregnancy: heartburn, constipation, itching. I did not experience any problems with things like bleeding gums or leg cramps.

Through all of this, I did not feel I was unhealthy. I just thought pregnancy was a real bother. I thought maybe that it was just because I was 35. When I did become concerned, there were always plenty of other women who told me that their pregnancy was much worse. And, after all, my doctor didn't seem particularly concerned. In my 38th week of pregnancy, 5 days before my son was born, I began to vomit again. I couldn't hold anything down. I thought I had the flu. I contacted my doctor's office on the 2nd, 4th and 5th days of vomiting. On the 5th day, my nurse talked to the doctor and told me to go directly to the hospital. As we left for the hospital, I commented to my husband that my skin seemed to have changed colors in the last few days, but neither of us realized this had any significance.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was pretty weak. My blood sugar was 38--very low. I was weak, shaky, sweaty, and not particularly alert. They began giving me glucose and fluids in an IV and began fetal monitoring right away. The baby's heartbeat was only around 95.

The doctor checked me out and said my cervix was 80% effaced and 2 centimeters dilated. It appeared I was already in labor, though I had only noticed a few weak, irregular contractions. They decided to try to speed labor along by giving breaking my waters and giving me petocin. After this, things get pretty foggy.

I know that after several hours, I asked for an epidural. I was in no shape to cope with the pain of the contractions, which were now coming three or four minutes apart. When the anesthesiologist arrived, he noticed I was jaundiced and ordered some tests. They revealed problems with my blood and clotting. He said he could not do an epidural under the circumstances.

It was becoming apparent that a C-section would be required. Labor was not progressing, I was very weak, and the baby seemed to be in distress. The anesthesiologist said he would have to do a spinal--general anesthetic was not recommended either. By now, the doctors realized they were dealing with some sort of toxic pregnancy, but they felt that delivering the baby would probably solve the problem.

I was alert during the C-section, and remember my son's birth. I also remember being very relieved when the neonatal specialist told me Isaac was just fine. I was very disappointed that my husband was not allowed in the room during the procedure.

I do not remember much of what followed the birth. I do remember being told that I was being transferred to the intensive care unit. I vaguely remember being told about transfusions and problems with my heart. I also remember seeing nearly a dozen different doctors, all of whom asked me the same questions, over and over. I wanted them to leave me alone; all I wanted to do was sleep. When I did become alert, I quickly noticed how big I was. I weighed nearly 180 lbs.--much more than I when I was pregnant. This was because my kidneys were not functioning properly. After five days, I was transferred back to the maternity ward, and I was allowed to go home about eight days later. Somewhere along the line, most of the doctors came to agree that I had acute fatty liver of pregnancy. This was never confirmed, though, because I did not agree to have a liver biopsy just for the purpose of making the diagnosis.

Today, 10 weeks after Isaac's birth, I'm doing very well. The C-section incision healed very well, in spite of the fact that it was reopened. My heart, blood, and kidneys are fine; only my liver and my pituitary gland remain impaired. My husband is still pretty anxious and over-protective, though. This did not harm Isaac in any way--except that my milk did not come in, and I was unable to breastfeed. (I'm trying again now, actually.)

I think the doctor did not recognize what was happening to me because it is so rare. I was told that the doctors in this city (the population is around 120,000) only see a case of fatty liver of pregnancy every 4 or 5 years.

I thought I might mention one other thing I learned from my difficult birth experience. While doctors and hospitals here in the US have the reputation of being too quick to do C-sections, the pressure to do fewer sections can make it difficult for someone who truly needs one to get one.

Even though I was very sick and weak when I entered the hospital, the hospital's protocols prevented the doctor from doing a C-section immediately, mainly because I was able to take some progress in labor over the course of several hours. The facts that my baby's heart rate was only 95 bpm and that my condition was deteriorating rapidly (low blood sugar, jaundice, anemia, and clotting problems) were not sufficient justification for the C-section. I labored nearly 10 hours before the hospital gave in and allowed the C-section. A couple more hours in labor probably would have killed me. I also wonder if I would have experienced less bleeding and damage to my organs if they had taken me to surgery 5 or 6 hours earlier.

The hospital I used probably was trying to lower their rate of C-sections. As a result, a doctor could not decide to do a section without asking for a second opinion, unless, of course, there was some emergency like an abrupting placenta.

I understand why many women are very concerned about the US's C-section rate; no one wants to go through abdominal surgery. I just hope hospitals are not too quick to succumb to pressures NOT to do C-sections.


My daughter Dina Kamilla

Michelle Müller from Australia sent her story about Fatty Liver Syndrome in Pregnancy, after reading the above stories on the same problem. Thank you, Michelle! (July 1998)

With a huge sigh of relief I have just read the stories you published on your webpage relating to Fatty Liver Syndrome in Pregnancy. I am also contacting Cheryl Barrett in the hope she may have further information on this terrible disease.

I gave birth to my beautiful son Kristofer less than 2 weeks ago on June 27th here in Sydney Australia. I had a happy and healthy pregnancy, no morning sickness or anything like that, the only real complication being a bout of Gall Bladder inflammation at about 6 months. I suffered from Fatty Liver Syndrome diagnosed at 39 weeks and had an emergency C-Section the day after we got the blood test results (lucky for me, as he ended up weighing in at a beautiful and healthy 9lbs. 10oz.!). Here in Australia the rate of C-sections is fairly high especially in a Private Hospital with Private Obstetricians like the one I had - they don't care about the cost and at least in my case it was just as well given the liver condition.

I had no real symptoms other than pretty bad oedema from about 37 weeks and a shocking itch in my hands and feet starting at 38 weeks which was much worse at night. I checked out a few pregnancy sites on the web and read of a
condition called Cholestasis which was characterised by this kind of itch and was worried enough to call my Ob/Gyn and ask for a blood test to rule this out.

That was done on the Monday and the results on Tuesday suggested the beginnings of Toxemia. I was advised to rest up, keep up my fluids, and have another blood test Thursday. This I did and when the results came back Friday my doctor called and told me to meet him at the hospital. It was pretty traumatic as you'd imagine but I was just so relived to find out
there was absolutely nothing wrong with Kristofer (but was horrified when told if they hadn't caught it I'd have been dead by Sunday). The C-Section was performed 9am the following morning and they continued running liver function tests over the next few days to make sure the levels of the disease were dropping which they were.

I'm still a little confused and shocked about the whole thing especially the suddenness at which it occurred. What upset me most was I was told the itching was "probably unrelated" - in other words had I not experienced this or had I or my doctor dismissed it as just being another symptom of late pregnancy in the dryness of winter, I never would have had the blood test and the disease would have progressed, without warning, until my death. I really feel I was being looked after from above in this respect and it's changed my life (or could it be I'm just still feeling teary and emotional?! Maternal Hormones!).

Luckily I was allowed an epidural and to have my husband present which was very important to me. I was given the all clear healthwise in the week after the C-section although I suffered bouts of nausea and shaking at odd periods
for a week or so in hospital which were actually put down to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - shock, I think! Also, my blood pressure, which is normally really low, skyrocketed in my last 2 days in hospital which they were a little concerned about but they still sent me home. I have had a few occasions also of impaired vision - sort of seeing everything double exposed and lights in my peripheral vision. I am hoping this is just exhaustion, it seems to be getting better now I'm back in the comfort of home and the nausea went away after just one night back in my husbands arms and away from the dreaded hospital. I'm told my liver is back to normal and I'm enjoying getting my pre-pregnancy figure back faster than I expected (must be the breast feeding...!).

Sadly my father-in-law had a heart attack the day I was released from hospital so it's been a bit of a traumatic few weeks all-round. My poor husband has spent most of his time tracking back and forth to the same hospital for a fortnight! He is like Cheryl's and is also very over-protective but I think very relieved, especially that he has a son and that he's perfect. Still, I'm more than a little concerned at the story from Margaret where she said there's the risk of a SIDS like death in 4-6 months. I have not heard anything about this and it horrified me. I will now live in fear until he's out of nappies I think.

It certainly seems like a very rare disease; I was under the care of a gastroentorologist who is fascinated with my case and was the talk of the hospital. My doctor had only one other case in 17 years and nearly lost her, hence I think he didn't want to waste any time with me. I'd love to hear from anyone else who's suffered this to let me know how they've been since the experience. Something like this really makes you evaluate your life and I think "survivors" like ourselves should share our stories.

All the best to you and thanks so much for the site, it has meant a lot to me to know I am not so alone.

Michelle Müller

The following contribution was sent to my by TC Epperson from USA. Thanks to you TC!

"I am pregnant with number three, and planning my third homebirth. Some places in the U.S. make it unbelievably difficult to have a homebirth, but I have always managed to find a midwife "through the grapevine." Of course we pay cash to her and don't discuss our plans too loudly at any hospital visits we may have.

But, in spite of all that, I would go to the ends of the earth to have my babies at home! No back to nature stuff, just good old fashion control. I call the shots, not some medical staff; if I want to eat lasagna two minutes before pushing than that's my business. If I want to squat, which I always do, than I squat; it's great. Of course the midwife is there to let me know what is medically going on, but I am always the final say.

My first baby was 9 and 1/2lbs and I pushed for three hours. If I had had her at the local hospital she would have been my first cesarean too, since they only allowed you two hours for pushing. And of course their ultrasounds would have revealed that she was "too big." Never mind that my whole family has always birthed babies that size. (Here in the U.S. most large hospitals have a 25% C-section rate and some even go as high as 30%. That's a shameful number of sliced up bellies in my opinion.)

Well, my two born babies are demanding attention; I better run. Thanks for your great page; always glad to learn more.

The next contribution was sent to me from Tammy Strother in USA. Thank you, Tammy!

I was 4 months pregnant and had no idea. After 3 years of missed periods and 2 month long periods I went to a specialist. He informed me that the only way for me to have a child was through "Invetro" (hormone therapy). Well, much to my surprise, 7 months later I was indeed pregnant. Like I said, I didn't know for 4 months. My beautiful son, Jonathan, was born Jan.16,1997. I had no problems at all. My first contraction was at 9am, three and a half-hours later, there he was. I really wish that all women could have an easy time like I did. Oh, did I mention that my mother had both of us kids in about an hour each. Guess I got lucky enough to be like my mom. I thank her for that!

The next contribution was sent to me from Becky Pollock in USA (February 1998). Thank you very much, Becky!!

I really enjoyed your web page. I have a 4-year-old called Camilla Elise, and I am expecting my second child in May. I was especially glad to read your information about hip pain. I too have this problem, as did my mother. I live in Oklahoma in the U.S.A., and most people I know have not experienced this problem in pregnancy. My worst pain comes from sleeping. It seems like any position I sleep in, is painful. It is just nice to know that someone else had the same problem. The doctors here don't seem to realize how troublesome hip pain can be. Like I said before, thanks for such a great Web sight, and keep up the good work!

- Becky Pollock

The next contribution was sent to me by Ann Hollett, St. John's, Newfoundland (February 98)! Thanks a lot, Ann!

I just came across your pregnancy web page and was thoroughly fascinated. I just wanted to reach out and say hello because I lived in Oslo, Norway from 1974-1978. My father was posted there with the Canadian Army to the NATO HQ.

Your children are beautiful. I have a little boy, Philip. He is 4 and a half. I am pregnant again, due in June. With Philip, I was in labor for 25 hours! Let's hope this one is shorter!

I was very interested to see the Maternity leave benefits in Norway. Here we only get 6 months leave and it is only 55% of our current salary. Not a lot of incentive to have lots of kids, and close together is it! Also, depending on what your total family income is, you may not qualify for another benefit we have here called a child tax credit. I can't remember what the cut off is, but basically only those in a very low-income bracket qualify. The average middle class working family will not because their total family income is too high, be that $40,000 a year, for example.

A friend of mine has had a lot of trouble with her hips too. This is her first pregnancy. I will have to pass along the information in your site.

Kally Barton, from New Zealand sent me this contribution (March 98). Thank you, Kally!

I am pregnant for the second time. I have a 3 1/2 year old daughter called Tessa. She will be 4 in June. Our second baby is due in October. This will be the last one. It took a year to get pregnant with Tessa, and 1 1/2 years the second time around. Pregnancy does not agree with me at all. Although I'm glad I do not get the sore hips that you mentioned. I had complications in early pregnancy with Tessa, and was quite ill the whole 9 months. It is worth it in the end, but I'm not prepared to put my body through it all again. We will be happy with 2 children.

I was interested to read about the maternity benefits in Norway. They sound great. In New Zealand, we have no paid maternity leave. You are entitled to up to 12 months maternity leave with no pay, but then you are not guaranteed the same job on your return. You have a very interesting web site, keep up the great work.

Dina Kamilla

Maria Peguero, Boston, Massachusetts USA, has written the next contribution (March 98). Thank you very much, Maria!

Hello my name is Maria and I am 5 months pregnant with my third child. I have an 8 year-old daughter and a six-year-old son. When I first found out about my pregnancy I was a very happy but a bit worried about taking care of three children. The first thing I did after I found out about my pregnancy is tell my children about the pregnancy. I went to the book store and bought a Pregnancy Book and explained to my children what was going on in mommy's tummy. I don't want them to feel left out or jealous so I always try to include them in the pregnancy somehow, whether it's by letting them pick out an outfit for the baby or telling them that they will be a big help to me once my child is born. In about two months I will take both my children to Sibling Class at a local hospital so they can learn how to care for a baby and learn CPR training. I am doing this to avoid any sibling rivalry after the baby is born.

 I am looking forward to my third precious child on July 28th. I had morning sickness for 4 months so people don't believe that "the third one is the easiest" nonsense! I am trying to eat right by eating lots of fruits and healthy foods. I am having a strange pain in my left leg but I stopped exercising and walking long distances and the pain has significantly subsided. The doctors tell me they don't know why I'm having this pain but thanks to Kathrine and her great homepage I finally understand what is wrong.

As far as the welfare system in Massachusetts, right now the only way you can go on welfare is if you are not receiving any income and the father is not paying child support. The welfare system is not very good at all and you only receive about $400 a month (depending on your level of poverty and how many children you have). The welfare system in Massachusetts will probably be non-existent in a few years, which is a shame because a lot of women and children really depend on it to live.

I am going on maternity leave at my job and fortunately I will not have to go on welfare. Although I plan on going on maternity leave until my baby is 4 months old, I am only receiving 8 weeks paid leave from my job and I two weeks paid vacation I saved up for my maternity. The rest of the time I will not have an income except for my fiancée's income. The Norwegian welfare system sounds much much better so I think I'll move to your country instead!


Debra Richardson from Raleigh, NC, USA, sent me this contribution about hip pain during pregnancy. I have received so many mails from women around the world, telling me about this problem. It seems to be more commen than anyone knows! Thank you, Debra! (May 1998)

I'm in the USA and am due June 21 with my first baby. I've have had hip pain for almost 4 weeks now. I've had sciatic pain before and this is NOT sciatic pain. My doctor said it's the ligaments stretching due to the relaxin hormone. So I guess I've got what a lot of Norwegian women get...

Anyway, I just wrote to say I like your Web page and was thankful to know that other pregnant women have experienced this relaxin-induced pain. I've not talked with any other US woman yet that has had a similar pain during pregnancy. (They just look at me like I'm a nut!)

By the way, to prove how rare the hip pain is in the US, my doctor said it might *help* me to exercise. Go figure! I've just been doing as much as I feel like, but getting lots of rest. I take very short walks whenever I exercise. And I don't do a lot of shopping anymore.

Hopefully it'll all be over with in 5-7 weeks (due June 21)!

Rayna Wulff from Canmore, Alberta, Canada sent me this contribution about mountain biking during pregnancy. Thank you very much, Rayna, for an interesting topic!

Just thought I'd drop a line for any other pregnant mom's who might be wondering about continuing to mountain bike. I am 21 and have spent the past couple of years training and racing on my mountain bike, and was just starting to plan out my race schedule in january, when we found out I was pregnant! A pleasant surprise, that changed my plans a little!...For 2 months I was nautious all day, and never lifted a finger, or even tought about riding my bike! Thankfully, I got better at about 3 months, and have sailed smoothly since then. We had planned a mountain biking trip to Moab, Utah, and we decided to go after the doctor assured me several times that the bouncing would not hurt the baby. At four months, we went on our trip, and it was great, I couldn't ride as fast as usual, but I still had good bike handling skills, and felt confident. We did several 2-4 hour rides in the desert, I was sure to drink alot of water, and eat well. The only discomfort I had (to the amusement of our friends), was the CONSTANT urge to pee!!! I must have stopped 10 times a ride!

At five months I am still riding the trails, and taking more precautions on difficult sections, I have also replaced my racing seat with a big gel seat for comfort, and replaced my handlebar with a riser bar to accomodate my little belly! Just wanted to tell my story, since I had trouble finding anyone in my situation for advice. Thanks to everyone else who tells their story, it's nice to relate to other pregnant people!!


After reading stories like these, we all understand that a pregnancy can be one of the "worst" things a woman can do to her body. So look after yourself during pregnancy!


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