Home With a New Baby, and a Whopping Case of Hives.
Here I am at home on materinity leave with new Babygirl and 18 month old Babyboy-—for almost a full month now! This is so hard to believe. Only this week have I finally figured out Babygirl’s language. I finally know that after feeding, she needs to be held upright and her back or bottom tapped gently for about an hour or she will not sleep. I know the little kitten fussy noises that means that she is hungry again- even if it’s too early by the clock. I know which wet farty noises mean gas and which mean, better change that diaper, or change the whole outfit!!
These past weeks figuring her out have been complicated by trying to figure myself out. I have been battling the oddest afflication now for about 10 days. I have had a terrible case of hives.
Now, I am not an allergic person, and have no allergies at all, and have never had even one hive in my entire life. I have had allergic reactions to nasty insect bites while traveling in South America, but I’ll allow that is probably pretty normal.
Now, this situation is entirely weird and very annoying. 10 days ago I noticed that my ankles and wrists itched. I looked and had what appeared to be crops of fresh mosquito bites. “Huh,” I shrugged and ignored them.
The next morning, I awoke to the sensation of my face covered in prickly heat. My eyes, nose and ears itched like mad. I rubbed and rubbed and went about my routine. Late morning when mom came over to help out with the babies, she took one look at me and went, “What is WRONG with your face?” Apparently I was red as a tomato and swollen puffy as well.
I assured her and myself that I could breathe, that my lips and tongue were not involved, took some Benadryl, and tried to ignore the spreading inferno. But by the end of the day, I had red, swollen itchy rash over my breasts also.
I continued to take Benadryl and ignore. But things got worse. By day 3 or 4 I was emailing everyone I knew who might know what was going on. A google search turned up about a gazillion hits on “Postpartum Hives”, though a call to my Ob and Internist turned up that neither of them had ever heard of such as thing. A physician friend had had something similar late in pregnancy- PUPPP (Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy) which had responded to steroids.
At this point, the rash on my face, ears and breasts was like one big confluent wheal. I was going mad with itching. All this time I was itchy, puffy and miserable, I was also up every 3 hours or so breastfeeding. Or supplementing with bottle, and the Benadryl cut down on my milk supply considerably. So I called my doc and asked for steroids.
She prescribed a nice hefty taper starting at 60 mg Prednisone daily. I started this, and within hours had a little relief, at least in the itching and swelling. But, after 12 hours, not only was th original rash back with a vengeance, but it spread- classic hives on my legs, arms, and chest. Raised wheals that then coalesced into big raised puffy itchy plaques. I looked like an alien. No blistering, just wheals and then swelling. And itchy, itchy, itchy.
I got some Hydroxyzine, and upped my own Prednisone to 80 mg, and changed the dosing to q12 hours. I know, I know, doctors shouldn’t mess with their own meds like that, but what was I to do?
And, things started to quiet down. Now, I am markedly better. Itchy, and the rash is still there, though faint. I can sleep. I no longer look like an alien.
But I am so beat. I had a bit of an energy surge at first with the Prednisone, but I think the Hydroxyzine and the general sleep deprivation cancelled that out. I can even take the steroids at night and then pass out. For a few hours.
So, I am getting a bit better, though I feel this has caused me a bit of a setback. I had wanted to be up and about more, to be starting on eating healthy and maybe even exercising a bit… but I feel like I am still in survival mode. I can’t barely motivate out of pajamas and off the couch. Great to catch up on Food Network, but really! I see people jogging down the street, all free and light and easy in the fresh chill air, and I envy them. Kind of.
On the other hand, it is kind of nice to have really no other responsibility than holding one baby, and playing with the other. We’re all catching up on Sesame street.
So if anyone has heard of something like this, and can share their experience, they are most welcome!