Could it be More Than Morning Sickness?
Let’s face it, pregnancy is a crazy ride.
Sometimes you feel excited out of your mind (you are growing a HUMAN after all…that’s pretty remarkable!). Sometimes it all just feels surreal. Sometimes you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. Sometimes you feel like you are going to burst if you have to wait any longer to meet your precious baby. Then there are times that you feel downright L-O-U-S-Y!
I remember the joy of finding out I was pregnant for the first time. About a week later the morning sickness set in. All I can say is that morning sickness is rough. Though the throwing up never fully stopped, it did get significantly better by the end of my 2nd trimester. I lost some weight, had food aversions to just about every food on the planet, and felt I had definitely thrown up enough for an entire lifetime. Good thing babies are so worth it!
With my 2nd pregnancy I could tell that something was different. Before I even got a positive pregnancy test the nausea had set in. Then came week after week of constant nausea and vomiting—I’m talking every single waking moment with no relief. I was dropping weight rapidly. Movement made my symptoms even worse. I couldn’t so much as walk across my condo or stand and take a shower, much less do any housework. It took absolutely everything I had just to keep my toddler fed and change her diapers throughout the day while my husband was at work. Even that would cause me violent fits of vomiting often to the point of throwing up bile. I felt so much guilt that I could no longer be a fun mom for my daughter. I became severely dehydrated and had to have a standing order at the hospital to receive IV therapy.
So why were things so different this time around?
I was diagnosed with a condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum (or HG). HG is a severe, unrelenting form of pregnancy nausea and vomiting causing dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, trouble with daily activities and severe weight loss. Those with HG will lose at least 5% of their pre-pregnancy weight (though often over 10%) despite the weight of their growing baby.
If you think you may be experiencing HG I urge you to speak with your doctor right away. It’s extremely important to seek treatment early on in your pregnancy to prevent harm to you and your baby. I have always been paranoid about taking anti-nausea medications during pregnancy so I held off for a long time before doing so—a decision that I now sincerely regret. I came to find out that the earlier on in your pregnancy you start anti-nausea meds the more likely they are to be effective. I ended up having to try just about every medication on the market and none of them were at all effective for me. Perhaps things would have been different if I would have started taking them earlier.
I also held off way too long before going in for IV treatment (and let me tell you severe dehydration is by far the worst thing I have ever experienced). Not only do you have unimaginable fatigue from lack of sustenance and violently heaving but it feels like your insides have been twisted with the force of a mining drill. Your whole body feels so awful—I remember crying to my friend and telling her I honestly wanted to die.
When you’ve been diagnosed with HG trying to “tough it out” really isn’t a smart idea.You need to listen to your body and do what is best for you and your baby. I was lucky enough to have my symptoms subside before my pregnancy was over but some woman are violently ill right up to giving birth. When things started easing up I was quick to jump back into normal activities but that ended up landing me back in the hospital sicker than I had ever been….so please take it very slowly. HG can become very severe. I have talked to woman who threw up blood every day, and others who ended up on a PICC line.
My last piece of advice is to find a strong support system for both you and your family.
My husband, family, my best friend, and my faith were the only reason I was able to get through it. It may also be helpful for you to seek support from other mothers who have had HG. A great resource for all things HG, including support is www.helpher.org/hyperemesis-gravidarum.
As hard as it was on me, I am sure it was extremely hard on my husband and daughter as well. My hubby was already working an exhausting full time job. Now with HG in the picture he had the full responsibility of caring for our daughter, caring for me, driving me to the hospital all the time, cooking, cleaning, running errands, etc. In addition, my poor daughter was bored out of her mind and very concerned for her mom who would pass out and throw up all the time. The moral of this story? If someone offers to bring you meals, come help with housework (like my cute bestie did for me), or play with your toddler, PLEASE take them up on it. It may be embarrassing to have someone else taking out your trash but your responsibility is to take care of that baby inside of you. You are going to need some outside help and a good shoulder to cry on.
Written by: Natalie Gubler