Is pregnancy fun for anybody? I don’t know…. I always seem to think my pregnancies ‘weren’t so bad’, but then I think back and I realise that mine were actually for the most part, a bit stressful. Especially the 1st one, but that’s not the one I’m chatting about today.
With my 1st pregnancy I had morning sickness until I was about 14 weeks pregnant. Luckily not for too long, but I remember puking up bile at work every day for those few weeks. I can still picture that tiny bathroom, 9 years later. My 2nd pregnancy, the ‘morning sickness’ lasted a lot longer. Up to about 19 or 20 weeks. I vomited A LOT, but again…morning sickness….you have to deal. I do recall crying over the toilet and telling my husband: Please, never again! ‘WE’ will never do this again.
Fast forward a few years and 1 miscarriage later, I was pregnant again and on cue, the nausea and vomiting started. Only this time, it didn’t end. I recall being at a work retreat of sorts and it was the 3rd day that I had not been able to keep down even a drop of water. So weak, lying on a couch ready to pass out when a colleague insisted I call my husband and get home. I spent many weeks at home and off work. At some stage, I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, also known as, the morning sickness Kate Middleton has made famous.
I recall when Kate had to take time off and had to be admitted to hospital…I was one of those thinking: ‘What a drama queen!’ HUGE apologies to you Kate. If only I’d known….
What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum:
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. It is generally described as unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids. If severe and/or inadequately treated, it is typically associated with:
- loss of greater than 5% of pre-pregnancy body weight (usually over 10%)
- dehydration and production of ketones
- nutritional deficiencies
- metabolic imbalances
- difficulty with daily activities
What was so difficult for me was that while my gynae was prepared to give me scripts for Zofran (anti nausea meds that I believe are given to chemotherapy patients), he deemed my condition ‘not so serious’. Why? Because apparently if I weighed less it would be concerning. He actually told me that. ‘If you weighed 50kgs and lost 10kgs, that’s concerning, but you have weight to lose.’ It embarrassed me so much and made me feel like there was something wrong with me expecting any sort of concern or additional treatment.
I had lost well above 10% of my body weight in the first trimester alone. I was dehydrated so many times where there was no saliva left in my mouth. Work was becoming something I couldn’t even think about, because I couldn’t keep my head up. But apparently bigger girls, need not worry about their bodies shutting down.
One day I made the decision to venture out of the house. To Spar. 500m away from our house. We drove there and as I got out of the car, I started vomiting and ran to a bush in the parking area. Literally that was my life almost every single day. People think…drama queen?? Girl..you is only pregnant! What’s a bit of vomiting? Have some dry biscuits. Ginger. Lemon. The range of expletives swimming around in my head when these well-intentioned people were giving me advice…well I dare not mention them here in public.
I could not take any folic acid or vitamins, so that worried me when it came to my unborn baby’s development and growth.
There were days that I prayed for death. Days when I said to God: ‘if this pregnancy needs to end, I won’t be mad at You.’ What a horrific confession…one I obviously regret and never deep down in my heart meant, but that is the black hole of depression that HG caused in my life. I wanted nothing to do with friends, with people and their shit advice…and even my doctor…for making me feel like I deserved this somehow.
Only an hour before I gave birth, did they do blood tests and found out I was so severely anaemic that they had to get the blood ready in case I needed a transfusion. My gynae worked very well to ensure that I lost as little blood as possible. I continued to be severely anaemic for almost a year after I had my son. After discussions with a dietician, I also think that was the reason my son wasn’t getting full on my milk because it was so devoid of nutrients.
Studies vary, but most find that women have a good chance of experiencing HG in future pregnancies. Statistics suggest over 50% will have it with each pregnancy, and those with more than one experience of HG have a greater risk of experiencing HG in future pregnancies.
18% of women report full criteria of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS) following an HG pregnancy. More than half of mothers have post-traumatic stress symptoms. – I lived like a recluse after Adam was born and I realised almost a year later that I definitely was dealing with some PTSD stuff.
In hindsight I realise my pregnancies just got progressively worse with the nausea, so thankfully I was done after the 3rd one. I could not survive another bout of HG. I take my hat off to HG sufferers that do this more than once…for the love of an unborn child. It takes so much mental strength.
Many people don’t know about HG and suffer in silence, thinking they may be sounding like drama queens. They need to ensure they get medical help when needed….and to not allow doctors to merely brush their concerns aside. Here’s a website for more info if you’re interested: HER Foundation