Pregnancy is a wonderful time, your skin glows, you feel radiant and blissful… ahahahahahaha!
Sorry, couldn’t help myself. This wonderful idyllic view of pregnancy may actually exist, but my experience of it couldn’t be further from it. You see in both my pregnancies I’ve suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), while at first glance it appears to be morning sickness it is actually quite a leap from morning sickness to HG. You aren’t just a little bit ill with HG, you are quite seriously ill, and it is common for HG sufferers to be admitted to hospital at least once during their pregnancy because of it.
You struggle to do normal day to day activities with HG, because the nausea is overwhelming and the vomiting never seems to stop. So far I’ve never spoken to anyone with HG who didn’t need to turn to medication to control it, all the standard advice given to morning sickness sufferers is next to useless. Trust me when I say that suggesting ginger biscuits to a HG sufferer will not endear you to them. In fact, with that suggestion, just be glad they are too worn out with the HG to really react.
With my first pregnancy the HG was a surprise, in fact the whole pregnancy was. The HG was my first indication I was pregnant, and I originally thought it was some awful bug I’d picked up, I went to the doctor when the sickness just wouldn’t go away. I even argued with the doctor about whether or not I was pregnant (I lost). From that point on I was mostly stuck in bed or over the toilet. I couldn’t eat anything, even tiny sips of water came back up. I was going back to my doctor daily begging for help, but was dismissed with, “I had morning sickness when I was pregnant and I still went to work, I was just sick between patients”. I was very jealous of this on schedule vomiting, because mine was constant. She even suggested it was all in my head and a result of my depression.
It wasn’t until weeks of this had passed that I was rushed to hospital by the midwife with +4 ketones, the consultant I saw was very unimpressed that I hadn’t been sent in much earlier, and I was admitted in order to be rehydrated on a drip for 3 days. It wasn’t the last time I’d be admitted.
I spent a large part of the pregnancy in hospital on a drip, my arms were black and blue where I’d had so many cannulas inserted and so many blood tests. The drugs I’d been given did very little to help, I was in a cycle of being hydrated by the drip, being let home, then returning again – often within 48 hours. By the end of the pregnancy I was in almost constantly. I lost 2 stone and ended up being induced 2 weeks early due to how unwell I was.
This pregnancy is slightly different thankfully, because I am on much stronger drugs. While last time my doctor did not want to give me any of the stronger drugs, this time my doctor (a different doctor thankfully) has been willing to try anything and everything to give me relief from the HG. So I am currently on steroids and Ondansetron (a drug originally meant to treat the nausea suffered while going through chemotherapy), the combination of the two of these is making a huge difference. I could almost believe I didn’t have HG this time, except for when I’m late taking my pills – then I’m reminded in no uncertain terms.
This pregnancy did still begin with multiple hospital admissions, and it has taken until week 20 for me to feel even remotely human even with the drugs. I currently have a slightly dodgy relationship with food, as my appetite is still dulled by the nausea, but I’m at least eating and drinking, which is more than what I was doing at this stage in the first pregnancy.
What to take from this? For other sufferers I will say to keep asking for stronger drugs if what they are giving you isn’t working, it’s not something you have to suffer through.
For non-sufferers? Please don’t suggest ginger biscuits or eating little and often, it’s not actually very helpful.
[Edit] After writing this past the nausea returned, faded, and then came roaring back – this time with it’s friend vomiting – which resulted in another hospital visit, and I ended up with my waters breaking 10 weeks early. I did feel better instantly however.
[Edit 2] Just re-read this blog and realised it doesn’t actually convey the daily hell of HG, so I thought I’d add to it. Firstly there’s this post which I wrote before crying myself to sleep – a nightly occurrence.
Then there’s these photos to show some of the physical toll HG took on me.