Hyperemesis Gravidarum... When it's not just morning sickness anymore...
One thing I have disliked about my character since being pregnant is becoming an avid complainer. You would think it's an easy fix as in... just don't complain or be negative then! Right? Ehhh wrong! When people ask how you're feeling or what's been happening re pregnancy, I would love to be able to lie and speak positively about it, but one... that's not being real and two... you just have to ride with the punches and do what you gotta do girl.
I was talking to one of my best friends earlier in the week and she asked me if I have liked my pregnancy? She said that she hated her pregnancy, she felt like she wasn't her whilst she was pregnant as if she was in someone else's body. And you know what? There was no better way for her to put it because that's exactly how I have felt myself. I have not felt my usual self at all! It was only last night I said to a group of my gfs, I can't wait to wake up and feel normal again, to wake up and feel good and to not have to complain about anything haha. This blog is not only to talk about the good experiences, I want to open up about my not so good experiences during my pregnancy as well because I will admit that there were points where I felt completely helpless at times; it wasn't until I did a bit of research that I then realised I wasn't alone.
You know those women who tell you that pregnancy is the most magical feeling in the world and there is nothing in comparison to how amazing it is... then you are in complete awe of how they can continue on with their normal every day routine throughout their entire pregnancy. They have the ultimate 'pregnancy glow', they continue their fitness regime, eat healthy and as normal as they were prior and so on and so on and so on. I seriously envy these women and kudos to you if you are one of them!
For me my pregnancy journey hasn't been quite the sort. Now I was reluctant to go into these details but I am sure that there is at least one individual out there that this post may help, I hope it reaches out and resonates with many more.
First thing's first here as I am sure many of you are thinking or have taken to Google already... what the heck is Hyperemesis Gravidarum? Well in medical terms...
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a complication of pregnancy characterized by intractable nausea, vomiting, and dehydration and is estimated to affect 0.5–2.0% of pregnant women. Malnutrition and other serious complications, such as fluid or electrolyte imbalances, may result. Hyperemesis is considered a rare and severe complication of pregnancy. Unlike morning sickness, hyperemesis can cause severe weight loss from 10% upwards to 40% of one's pre-pregnancy weight. It can be life threatening if not treated. Also, unlike morning sickness, hyperemesis can last throughout the pregnancy and comes with constant vomiting.
As mentioned in my first Mama + Baby blog post, I became quite unwell from the very early stages of my pregnancy. It would have been around approx 4.5 weeks that I started to suffer from constant nausea and fatigue. I was vomiting every single thing that I attempted to eat, even water I couldn't even keep down. I woke up feeling shit, I felt shit all day, all night and I went to sleep feeling shit. As simple as just walking around the house I looked like the hunchback of notre dame, I was constantly crying, highly emotional and felt completely and utterly drained all the time, almost a form of some sort of body paralysis. My mouth was watering uncontrollably, I felt hungry, but then I would spew it straight back up. I felt sick when I drove, I didn't leave the house for 6 days at one point; I barely moved from the couch and if I did I was hanging out with my new best friend (the toilet bowl). When I did try and suck it up and leave the house to try and make myself feel better, I would be gagging in the middle of the shopping mall or running to the toilet straight after eating lunch at a restaurant. I felt anxious all the time, I had issues breathing and suffered from intense heart palpitations, I seriously felt like I was starting to experience a form of pre postnatal depression.
Now when you are so used to being active, being out and about and constantly on the go; you can imagine this huge transition would be hard for anyone. I was of course so grateful to be pregnant and carrying our child but I seriously didn't know how to cope with being so unwell. This wasn't just a physical illness it was mental and emotional too. I felt alone, I felt depressed and I honestly felt like there was no way I could continue this for 9 months. I really could not see the light at the end of the tunnel! One of the biggest issues with (HG) is how it interferes with your life, my husband didn't even know how to help me, it was trial and error with everything for a while there. Yes I wasn't dying, but if you have never experienced (HG) or anything similar to this then you really cannot comment on it at all. Another thing that was really hard to deal with was people trying to relate it to general 'morning sickness' saying it'll go away after 12 weeks, thinking that they knew what I was going through when they had absolutely no idea. I am not a dramatic person, I like to consider myself to be a very strong and I love to show my poker face don't get me wrong. Being extremely weak during this time had me challenged for sure I'll admit that!
Everyone will try and tell you what to do, to suck on ginger lollies, drink ginger tea, eat plain biscuits, crackers, dry toast; have this... have that! I will tell you this now... no natural remedies work at all with (HG) so it's pointless even trying. Yes I am sure they all assist and work with regular morning sickness but lets just get this straight, morning sickness and (HG) are in fact completely different. There is also nothing medically that you can take to make (HG) go away completely. The only thing that helps is Zofran in some form, in the hospital I was given Zofran via drip and then I was prescribed Zofran wafers which you need to get from your OB or GP. The Zofran only assists in settling the vomiting it doesn't actually make the nausea go away, my OB advised that there is nothing that can make the nausea completely stop! You pretty much just have to ride it out and hope that it will ease off as your pregnancy progresses.
It's one thing to another, even though I was now able to keep some food and fluids down I was in turn unable to go to the toilet... yep the good old #2's... I was now extremely constipated. Now again... everyone is different but I would rather spew a few times a day than be constipated for over a week. Imagine the feeling of being hungry all the time, so your needing to eat small portions constantly, then you feel so full and bloated because there is literally no more room in your stomach. It's like you have half a dozen bricks sitting in your gut and you can't go to the toilet (even after having multiple laxatives I still couldn't go). When we went to get our NIPT Test, I spoke to one of the nurses about it and she advised me that the only thing that assists with constipation caused by Zofran is Movicol.
By this stage I had lost approx 5.5kgs, I weened myself off the Zofran wafers and went back to feeling shit all day everyday! I guess I just dealt with it and accepted that this is how my pregnancy was going to be. I was so hard on myself at the beginning to eat healthy/clean and once I let go of this and just ate what I was able to hold down and craved which was generally carbs carbs carbs and oh wait carbs, this made daily living just a tad easier.
I started to research (HG) and this is when I came across Help HER Foundation on https://www.facebook.com/HERFoundation/timeline and realised I wasn't alone. I can't tell you the relief I had after reading other peoples stories who were suffering from the same illness. All of the negative emotions, resentment, and times of feeling like giving up; then feeling guilty for feeling that way was normalised for me. What really needs to be said is that (HG) is a serious disease that not many understand nor are aware of, it truly is a debilitating disease for some.
My 24/7 nausea started to fade around the 22 week mark, but the vomiting has continued on to this day with additional heart burn, indigestion and reflux (oh the joys) NOT! Some days I am worse than others, some days I only spew once, some it's twice or three times a day and some days I am lucky that I don't spew at all. On average I would say by the end of my pregnancy I would have been unwell 7.5/8 months out of the duration. Some women do suffer for their entire pregnancy to the extreme level as well and my heart genuinely goes out to them, it is seriously a traumatic experience for many women none the less.
Click here to find out more about Hyperemesis Gravidarum
If you are suffering from (HG) or know someone who is then please know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that it's okay to be feeling how you are feeling. Surround yourself with your family and good people. It's okay to cry, it's okay to be doing nothing remember you are growing a little life in your belly. Be okay with just looking after yourself, and taking as much you time as you need.