…Or HG, as it’s known.
What IS this little known (and hard to pronounce) disease that is said to affect 1-2% of pregnant women? Hyperemesis Gravidarum literally translates to excessive vomiting during pregnancy. Princess Kate was just forced to announce another pregnancy before she was ready because she is suffering from it for the second time. It’s what those of us with one HG pregnancy hope we never have to deal with next go-around (if we’re lucky enough to have more children).
As a registered nurse in the mother-baby field, I had heard about this disease, but surely there is no REAL understanding until it’s happened to you. Imagine the worse stomach virus you’ve ever had, and dealing with that for months; even being told it may last with the same intensity for the whole pregnancy! I am not a dramatic person, however, I will say simply that there were lots of moments that I didn’t think I’d make it through, and until I could feel my baby kicking at 16 weeks, I did not believe she could possibly survive (and be healthy) with such conditions.
To spare you all the worst of the details, I will sum up by saying there was CONSTANT nausea, lots of vomiting, dry heaving, medications galore (to think, I was all excited to have an all-natural, holistic pregnancy – that went out the door very quickly). There were a couple of ER visits, and a longer, one-week hospital stay for a new type of treatment (that unfortunately didn’t work). Home care nurses, 24/7 IV infusions, daily weights, and measured urine was part of the gig. No one could cook ANYthing in my home (not even brew coffee) or that would send me into a tailspin. My poor husband made his morning coffee in the garage every day. Oh, and perfume or scented anything spelt like poison.
With the life sucked out of me and rapid weight loss and dehydration, I barely had the energy or desire to hold a conversation. I remember telling my mother on the phone one day that I felt like a mere shell of myself. My husband, family (especially my mom), best friend, and competent doctor were all on “my team” and I feel as though they were my cheerleaders pushing me to get through each day. I often think about other pregnant women in the same situation without such a supportive team and it makes me so sad. No one should have to be strong enough to deal with HG alone.
I am writing this blog to reveal my huge gap in postings last year as well as to bring some awareness to this disease we know so little about. What causes it? What can be done about it? This is beyond ginger, hard candy, saltines, and Preggie Pops. Lemonade, dry carbs, the juice from canned peaches, and ice pops didn’t help. Everyone had such great suggestions and anecdotes about what worked for them; unfortunately, I didn’t find relief with any of it. With all the medications and interventions, I was still incredibly sick for months and months. I was lucky enough to be able to return to work around week 22 (of a 40 week gestation), but continued to get “sick” EVERY. SINGLE. DAY – including 3 hours before heading to the hospital for delivery. I was weak.
Funny little story… I remember going out for a walk as soon as my IV was discontinued to build up my stamina and try to get myself back to be able to work a 12.5 hour shift at the hospital. I let my ego get the best of me. It sounds crazy, but I could feel the baby settling down and relaxing with the movement. I said “That’s right baby, your mama loves to workout. I’m sorry I’ve had to lay on the couch this entire pregnancy so far, but this will be our new normal”. Ha! So much for that! After my lofty 4 house-long walk, I returned home and was sick the rest of the day. Looking back, the humor is not lost on me. I did ‘rehab’ myself back up to getting to the gym. However, my workouts did not resemble what I had been able to do before or what I thought I’d be doing while pregnant.
Magnolia was born 6 lbs 6 oz (a healthy weight, especially considering we were told all along that ‘the baby’ was at risk for being small). I was eating and holding down all food within minutes of her birth. It was amazing!!! I have felt great and have since put back on the weight I was down.
All thoughts of wanting to expand our family in the future are met with equal amounts excitement and waves of fear. What if it happens again? How will I care for Magnolia? I’m told based on statistics that I have a 50% chance of getting HG with a future pregnancy. Yikes! I hope luck is on my side.
We will figure it out as everyone does everyday with their lives – happy milestones and hardships alike. Magnolia is lucky she’s so cute, as any past mention of ‘the baby’ being grounded for life because of how Mommy felt went out the window the moment we met this beautiful little person. She brings us so much joy and makes my heart swell everyday.
I hope no one reading this ever has to deal with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. But, if you do, please feel free to reach out to me or the wonderful organization called the HER Foundation (HelpHer.org). Let’s spread the word about HG – it’s real, and it needs attention and research.
I am back to being able to savor the smell of a great cup of coffee. I’m going to keep savoring it unless or until I can’t. Magnolia needs a sibling one day.