The Sick Side of Pregnancy
Congratulations, you are pregnant! Pregnancy is beautiful isn’t it? You glow and blossom. Your skin looks amazing and you suddenly develop luscious gorgeous shiny locks and strong beautiful long nails.
That’s right isn’t it?
Hell No! If you are anything like me, the first paragraph may have left you filling up with anger. If you are one of the lucky moo-bags reading this thinking ‘yep that is me‘, you might want to turn away now. Because I am about to burst that perfect little bubble you seem to have created for yourself.
Pregnancy is not fun. It is not glamorous and it does not make you beautiful and attractive. At least not for those unfortunate women (like me) that suffer from Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
Most people had never heard of Hyperemesis until it was brought into the media spotlight back in 2011 when The Duchess of Cambridge suffered from it during her first pregnancy with the gorgeous Prince George.
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was labeled a Drama Queen by most who knew me. They simply didn’t understand that it wasn’t ‘morning sickness‘ I was suffering from. In fact, I would have welcomed morning sickness. Most people who suffer that condition either only feel nauseous throughout the day but are rarely sick, or if they are sick it is only once or twice a day.
Hyperemesis is like morning sickness on SPEED. It is one hundred times worse, and the worst of it is, that it’s (or at least it was back then) one hundred time less understood.
At just 6 weeks pregnant, only a few days after watching the double lines appear on the clear blue stick, I found myself unable to leave the bathroom. I had never felt that sick before and I had experienced some pretty horrendous hangovers in my time. This sickness was beyond anything I could describe.
I would lie on the cold tile floor in the bathroom and pray to God that I could sit up without being sick. The smell of the bathroom made me hurl, but then so did the smell of the kitchen, the living room, hell, even the smell of my husband sent me running for the toilet bowl. Not an easy thing to explain I can assure you.
Now I know that even by uttering the words sickness I am likely to get a million messages saying “try eating ginger biscuits, or drink ginger tea”. Yes, trust me (and any other woman who has ever suffered from Hyperemesis) we have tried that. But what do you do if even a sip of water hitting your stomach makes you throw up your stomach lining? There is absolutely nothing you can do. Trust me, I tried every witchy fishwife’s tale I could find on Google.
My husband (who at the time I am sure thought that I was being a pain in the backside and should get over it) would stare at me with a look of total bemusement.
“Babe, just don’t be sick. When you feel sick, just ignore it. Running to the toilet is surely making it worse.”
Really? REALLY? Shut the f**k up. That is the best bloody advice I have EVER heard. When I feel sick, I’ll just ignore it. Okay then.
Well, karma bit him in the backside when I lay on his chest and ‘breathed slowly and didn’t think about it‘. That was until he jumped 10 foot in the air almost catapulting me off the sofa when I threw up in my hands half an hour later.
You simply can’t control it.
After 5 days of absolutely no food whatsoever and not even being able to keep down a glass of water, we finally went to the hospital. This was not to be a one-off trip. In fact by the end of my pregnancy the ward staff joked about naming a room after me. I was hooked up to a drip and they did an early internal scan (because being only just 7 weeks pregnant, the baby was still far too small to even see with a normal ultrasound) to check the baby was fine. In fact, they were checking for twins, because if you are this sick this early on, it generally indicates there’ll be two.
HELL NO was all I could think.
‘Well it would get it all over and done with in one go.’
Wow. My husband was really not understanding this at all, was he.
Hormones + sickness + insensitive comments = me almost kicking him squarely in the balls in front of the sonographer.
Anyway. No, it wasn’t twins. But my blood work and urine results showed that my ketones were off the charts and I was seriously de-hydrated. I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
It’s actually not as rare as I’d first thought. Although morning sickness occurs in 70-80% of pregnancies, 1 in 100 cases experience HG (Hyperemesis Gravidarum). Unlike normal morning sickness, the symptoms of HG do not subside after 12 weeks, they generally last until at least 20 weeks. In really bad cases (such as mine) they will not end at all. In fact the only time I stopped feeling sick was when my contractions started! Joyful!
Hyperemesis robbed me of my pregnancy.
I was told when I was young that having children would be incredibly difficult – if not impossible – for me. My battle with PCOS had left me believing that having a family of my own was out of reach. So when I finally did get pregnant, I was so incredibly happy.
I looked forward to my growing bump, to being allowed to eat whatever I wanted and with the added bonus of ‘eating for two‘.
I wanted to enjoy all the joys of pregnancy that I had heard so much about. Instead, I found myself in and out of hospital on drips. I couldn’t eat or drink without feeling sick. I rattled with anti-sickness tablets that never seemed to work. The only thing that sat by my bed was a bottle of pharmacy strength Gaviscon with a straw in it – because with sickness came heartburn and I got fed up of taking those poxy little spoonfuls. By the end of the pregnancy I was drinking it straight from the bottle.
I was lucky as a child, I had a fast metabolism and as a result I was never exactly large. I was short and ‘petite’. I was fortunate. That was, until I got Hyperemesis. There really wasn’t enough of me to lose any more. But my body had other ideas. I lost a lot of weight during the pregnancy. People would remark that from behind they couldn’t tell I was pregnant, at least until I turned around and my bump literally smacked them in the face. I lost weight in my face, I looked gaunt, tired, grey and my eyes were always bloodshot. Far from the glowing beautiful pregnant lady that you see on the front of The Bump Magazine.
Pregnancy sucked. Every last painful moment of it. When I hit 8 months, the baby was so big and there was no room in my body left, so every time she moved inside me, it hurt. Really hurt! I wanted to enjoy her dancing around to the music her daddy played on the piano, or playing peek-a-boo with the bed covers at night (she would kick like hell when I put the bed covers over my belly and stop the second I removed them. That was a fun game, for all of about five minutes!). I was desperate to enjoy it. I wanted to get excited about putting the crib together, but excitement led to sickness. I wanted to go for brisk walks to get her ‘moving’ when my due date approached, but I was too weak and would need to secretly throw up in the bushes that lined the pathways of my street.
It sucked. Pregnancy Sucked. Hyperemesis Gravidarum SUCKS. But the worst part of it was always the fact that no one ever understood.
They say that once you have had the baby, you forget the pain of the labour and the aches of the nine months before. Because the second you hold that baby in your arms it’s all worth it. I agree. It was worth it. It was worth the 42 weeks that I suffered. It was worth the sickness, the pain, the hair falling out in clumps, the piles, the heartburn, the cravings that you couldn’t quench because of the damn sickness. It was ALL worth it.
But I didn’t forget. I can’t forget. I tried to and managed to convince myself that maybe the second time round it would be better. I fell pregnant again and this time I was being sick before I was even 5 weeks pregnant. It was hell all over again!
The truth is – you can’t forget. You don’t forget. It’s hell and no one understands. It is one of the main reasons that despite the fact that I would love to give my husband a son to carry on the family name, I simply won’t do it. Over 70 weeks of my life were spent praying to the porcelain queen (my second was born very premature or it would have been 80!). 70 weeks of my life dealing with pain, sickness, heartburn and crying, no sobbing into my pillow… wishing it would end.
I love my daughters and do not regret a single moment of it. But to those who revel in pregnancy… I’m sorry to say it, I Hate You All.
For any of you out there dealing with Hyperemesis Gravidarum – you have my respect, my love and all my best wishes. I won’t belittle you by saying ‘it will get better’ or offer you any advice. The only thing I will say is this… It doesn’t last forever and the beautiful bundle at the end of it will help wipe away those tears.
If nothing else, Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a baptism of fire, but if you can put up with this… you will for sure be able to handle anything motherhood has to throw at you.