Hyperemesis Gravardium isn’t “just morning sickness”.
For those of you who have followed me during my pregnancies will have learned that.
“I hate HG; I hate it with a passion.”
It is a thief, an attacker. It doesn’t matter what security, what alarms you have to prepare. Nothing, absolutely nothing prepares you for the effects, it has on you and your family. Even previous Hyperemesis episodes cannot prepare you for the level of severity of the next.
It beats your body, your mentality. HG steals pregnancies, bonds, and happiness.
It eats you alive.
This may sound incredibly dramatic, but if I am honest, there really are no decent words to fully describe HG, and to give the listener an understanding. I’ve had it five times. Five pregnancies (my miscarried babies, didn’t get cosy enough for Hyperemesis kick in). Each one of them being different, my older children’s pregnancies not being as rough as my most recent ones.
I’d never heard of it until I walked in to the doctor’s surgery in 2004, I’d heard of Morning Sickness, goes with the pregnancy territory. I’d been sick in several public places, including outside the Post Office, and had sprayed our newly painted bathroom wall. It was manageable. It finally left at around 24 weeks. I’d still be sick on and off, but I was OK.
Next baby two and a half years later, again it only lasted a short time, 18 weeks that time, but that was enough.
It’ll be worth it in the end.
When I remarried, we made the decision to have children together. I was expecting Hyperemesis. After two miscarriages, we conceived our baby. Ropey start but she got cosy, and so did the Hyperemesis, I could no longer do my agency job. The isolation begun; the boredom in friends, the expectations to still be normal, were high. The assumptions of hiding the vomiting were even higher. Because that was easy, right?!
The bond in the pregnancy, wasn’t strong it was difficult, antenatal depression hit. The pregnancy began to go wrong. 26+6weeks she was born due to HELLP syndrome a complication/variant of pre-eclampsia.
However at five weeks old she passed away. (Find Melody’s journey here. )They always tell you that it’ll be worth it in the end, but sometimes it really isn’t.
Doing it again.
We made the decision to have another baby; it was terrifying, not only due to her being a baby after the death of our daughter, but the Hyperemesis contend with too. I desperately wanted to take a baby home to my husband.
Once again I spent my time alone, terrified of everything going wrong again and sick. Listening to people telling me I was damaging my older children. Guilt, because I couldn’t just have a normal pregnancy, after all we’d been through Hyperemesis was still tormented us. We knew that Hyperemesis didn’t mean a baby at the end of it. I could manage an outing a week with a friend, weekly trips to the hospital, were my limits. It was just that, limiting. I lived on Ice cubes, Yorkshire puddings and pie pastry. Ice Cubes was the top one.
The sheer terror of staying in the hospital overnight, brought flashbacks from our daughter’s time there.
The pregnancy was stressful, I refused ante emetics, I know I should have accepted, but the professionals I spoke to were always unsure whether they were safe.
I didn’t want to bury another baby.
In 2013 at 38 weeks she was born screaming via C-Section.
It was over; I never would have to endure the vomit again. Heartburn remained for months afterwards; certain foods caused me pain or upset stomach, like white breads.
But the stress was over. I could move on from the Hyperemesis, people wanted to know again, I wasn’t so lonely.
Then it happened, seventeen months later…
Two little lines appeared on that white plastic stick, another brought the word “Pregnant”. These sticks which look so cheap, these throwaway items changed me in an instant. Fear came over me.
My final pregnancy began in 2014
Hyperemesis didn’t appear for a couple of weeks, I’d obviously tested very early. At roughly five weeks, it began to creep in. The sickness bands began to fail, though I kept wearing them, just in case they worked a little bit. The need for medication was fast becoming obvious.
I was offered Avonomine first. I reluctantly agreed to try the medication this time, everything felt different; there was intensity about the way I felt. None of it felt right.
Within hours the Avonomine made me really ill, I couldn’t move, I felt suffocated, I couldn’t leave the bed.
The GP advised me to contact the antenatal ward, which leading me to my first trip to the antenatal ward resulting in six litres of fluid and meds. They suspected either a Molar or Twin pregnancy because I was so poorly.
There was only one.
It broke me.
The death of our daughter in 2012 was/is challenging and has changed our lives dramatically.
But this pregnancy, our youngest daughter’s pregnancy broke me.
I could barely lift my head from the pillow, standing was hard. It sapped the life out of me, I couldn’t even cry about it, because crying made me vomit. I was almost emotionless for months, even sheer joy made me feel queasy, not that, that happened often.
The bastard Hyperemesis stole my final pregnancy from me. It stole friendship, 9 months with my children, connections to the outside world. I couldn’t use the community I had come so reliant on, because even screen time made me nauseous.
I had a couple of people assist with school runs, but only one would come to see me week in week out. My husband bared the brunt of it all.
It attacked my confidence, my heart, making me more sensitive.
Once again I couldn’t bond with my baby; once again I was terrified she’d die too.
The scans (12 of them) were hard because I couldn’t sit still, or bare the car journey. I gave up driving for 7 months.
Keeping me alive
Two to three sickness medications a day, Clexane, Aspirin, reflux medication, vitamin supplements, shakes juices and regular midwife visits, (I was lucky in that my midwife would do weekly home visits to me),hospital trips for IV medication and fluids kept me…alive. I lived on Twister Ice Lollies, and Bacon Sandwiches (made with Pitta Bread).
I’m not exaggerating, although I believe anyone who suggests morning sickness or ginger to a Hyperemesis sufferer, probably think we all exaggerate. This proves people genuinely do not understand Hyperemesis to its full extent.
In 2015 at 37 weeks, due to our history and the HG, 37 weeks was agreed to be the best option to end the pain and the suffering.
She too was born screaming, loud.
Perfection in PND
I was sterilized at point of section. I cannot do it again.
It didn’t disappear on birth this time, it stayed for days, the nausea remained. I could barely eat. Baby was an image of our lost girl. I could barely look at her.
She screamed. I spent time in the bathroom sobbing every time she cried. I felt weak, scared. There was no let up on her crying, a sling with her saved my sanity. But she wouldn’t go with anyone else.
It was suggested to change my diet go dairy free for her. The screaming, my crying calmed. It is thought it may have all stemmed from the Hyperemesis.
Hyperemesis and Mental Health
To this day I’m still getting the odd flashbacks. Form of PTSD apparently. I have had tummy bugs, which meant vomit since the Hyperemesis, it has made me realise how terrified of vomit I now am. A bit personal, but sex can scare me, although I’ve had my tubes tied and cut, I’m more than terrified of the prospect of a surprise pregnancy. It would be a disaster. I recently (although not really spoken about yet), had a positive pregnancy test, which turned out to be chemical. It was terrifying to imagine ever being that ill again.
I still can’t eat certain foods, our daughter can’t either. I hate Hyperemesis so much; it ruined my relationship with our daughter. We’re getting there, I love her to bits but it’s been bloody hard.
Not Morning Sickness
Hyperemesis is cruel, cruel disease. It should never be spoken of lightly. A lot more research is needed.
More HG friendly HCPs are needed.
Most importantly support is required.
Never assume it is just morning sickness or that the woman should hide it.
That woman is doing her best, to be a mother and protect her unborn child under the most impossible circumstances.
Rather than judge offer to help, research ways to help.. Be a friend, or family member to see through this awful condition.
For more information or support here.
I am still recovering mentally and physically from her birth, I would have loved to have sailed through any pregnancy, but I didn’t. The one thing I was put here to do and I couldn’t with ease, but I am grateful to have taken 4/5 of my children home. But I will always feel guilty.
My HG Heroes
Thank you for reading
The Red Head Diaries