International HG Awareness day. May 15th.
Updated: Mar 8
Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a horrific, debilitating condition that many women suffer during pregnancy, yet I bet you've never heard of it?
The NHS website describes Hyperemesis Gravidarum as severe nausea and vomiting which may require hospital treatment. This is true, but unless you have suffered HG, you won't ever fully understand the gravity of it and how dangerous it is and can be to both mother and baby. It isn't JUST sickness & it isn't JUST nausea. It unfortunately, probably WON'T disappear by twelve weeks & It WON'T be made better by ginger, lemonade, sucking on mints or any other remedy your friends and family keep pushing on about.
~It's drinking a teaspoon of water and vomiting ten times.
~It's having a fear of vomiting so much so that you become a mute, petrified to open your mouth so you resort to humming and pointing to communicate.
~It's spending your whole day constantly attached to some sort of vessel to dribble into because the excessive saliva is constantly dribbling out of your mouth. (This was one of the things I found the hardest and is a condition known as Pytalism, hypersalivation or sialorrhea)
~It's the embarrassment of being anywhere in public in case you throw up on someone, something, or have to spit your excess saliva out every three seconds.
~It's being isolated from EVERYONE because you just CAN'T physically do anything.
~It's Letting go of yourself & not brushing your teeth or hair, or washing your body for days and days on end because breathing without being or feeling sick is a hard enough job.
~ It's forgetting what food tastes like because you cant keep anything down so why bother eating.
~It's slowly losing your mental health because every waking minute is a torture that you know you must endure, yet you can't figure out how or why your body hasnt given up yet.
~It's the GUILT you feel for being a shi*t wife that can barely look after herself, let alone her husband and other children. The guilt you feel that you're starving your poor baby, or that it won't grow or be healthy, because your stupid body just wont do what it's supposed to. The guilt you feel for the dark thoughts it drives you to.
~Its the countless needles and drips which result in scars or bruised & swollen limbs because of the many tissued cannulas.
I am a HG survivor. I am a HG warrior and this is my story.
My second and worst experience of Hyperemesis started when I was just six weeks pregnant with my little girl, Alani. At first, I just assumed (Or wishfully thought) that it was just a case of the normal 'morning sickness' that many women suffer with in the early stages of pregnancy but all too quickly I realised it was Hyperemesis, again. This time it was much worse than I'd ever experienced in my second pregnancy with Elijah.
I was in a fairly new job and so upon finding out that I was expecting my third child, my husband and I had planned to keep it a secret as long as possible, But HG had other plans. I went into work at just six weeks pregnant and thirty minutes into my eight hour night shift I'd already been sick three times so I had to bite the bullet and break the news to my employer as I didn't feel well enough to carry on my shift. I left work that night, and I didn't return until my daughter was eight months old.
That's the harsh reality of Hyperemesis.
My first trip to the doctors swiftly followed after me leaving work and I was given the usual speech "It's just morning sickness", "it'll pass by 12 weeks", even though I knew this WAS NOT just morning sickness.
I was given some anti sickness medication to try. I think Metocloperamide was first. IT JUST DIDN'T WORK. As the brutally long hours rolled into days, and days rolled into weeks, I was getting sicker and sicker. I was admitted to hospital on multiple occasions to receive IV fluids to re-hydrate my drained body and I was repeatedly given IV (Intravenous) or IM (intramuscular) anti emetics in the day unit as I just couldn't keep down any food, fluids or oral medication. I felt numb. I think in total, I had to visit the day ward, or was actually admitted around 11 times throughout my pregnancy.
During my nine month ordeal I had tried Metocloperamide,Prochlorperazine, Cyclizine, Ondansatron, and Promethazine. I'd had tablets, suppositories and injections of the above medications, constantly changing to find something that would help in any way. After a few months, the drug that seemed to ease my vomiting the best was the promethazine but I was taking such a high dose that I felt like a walking zombie, but it was the only way to make my symptoms somewhat bearable.
A standard day for me meant waking up, scared stiff to open my eyes, or even move because I knew, as soon as I did, I would begin vomiting. Once I started, It didn't stop. I had two small children to look after too and getting them up and getting them dressed for school was like hell on earth. When I wasn't doing the bare minimum I could for my children, I was either in bed, or hanging off my sofa into a bowl either vomiting or crying. I wouldn't brush my hair for days, sometimes weeks even. I'd just slap a bit more gel on top if I really had to and hope for the best. I had NO energy. I remember not bathing for days and days on end, and my husband literally picking my up from the heap that I was on top of my bed, carrying me to the bathroom, undressing me and putting me into the bath. I lay there and just wanted to sink down under the water. There were so many dark and desperate times when I honestly and desperately just wanted it to all be over.
So many times I questioned if I could carry on. I wasn't just physically exhausted every hour of every day, I was mentally tortured. I was a prisoner in my OWN BODY and the only beacon of light that I had was that in NINE months it would all be over!
In my darkest hours, my worst night, I remember vomiting 21 times in an hour and I remember trying to cry, but having no tears left in me. I was slumped on the floor in a heap, sure that this was the day I was going to die. I thought my pregnancy was going to kill me. I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted and I just wanted it all to end. I didn't think I could survive another minute.... But I had two beautiful boys and a wonderful husband to live for so that's what I did. I picked myself up of the floor, and dragged myself to my GP who said I was dangerously dehydrated (No sh*t Sherlock) and ordered me straight to hospital. So it began again with the fluids and the IM Promethazine to give me a head start in order to try and stay on top of things, a little bit of rest and home to start the cycle again.
There were so many times I wondered if either my baby or myself would genuinely survive the whole ordeal, and that is NOT uncommon. It doesn't mean you're a bad person to wish it all away. It means you are human. A human that has been put under a superhuman test and every day, you get closer to birth, although it may not feel like it, YOU ARE WINNING!.
We didn't find out the sex of our baby. We both wanted to have a girl and I was convinced it was a girl. I think that thought was what carried me through. I kept telling myself everyday I was going through all of this and that God would reward me with the daughter I so badly longed for.... and he did!
Because I was so ill throughout my pregnancy, I didn't really see anyone except immediate family and one or two of my closest friends, and so until she arrived, no one even knew Alani was on her way, sort of bitter sweet for me to this day. It was a nice surprise for many but I wish I was well enough to share the joy of a third baby with everyone else.
So, only one day before her due date, Alani Rose joined us and hyperemesis left my body as quickly as it took over. I was so relieved. I felt like a new person. Everytime a midwife or health visitor asked me "And how are you feeling?", I replied "BLOODY AMAZING". Every time they asked, I gave them the same response and they all looked at me funny as though I was being sarcastic, or as if they were concerned that I was trying to hide a mental break down... but I was always being absolutely genuine. I'd spent nine months feeling as though I could or would die, each day, and now I felt amazing and had a perfect and beautiful baby girl to add to my little family. EVERY THING WAS PERFECT.
UNTIL IT WASN'T.
Now what I'm about to talk about, is very controversial. It's heartbreaking, but it's the truth. It's my truth. Its my hyperemesis HELL.
When Alani was just a few months old... I fell pregnant. It's odd because I'd just been through the toughest nine months of my life to bring my baby girl into the world, yet I found myself holding a positive test thinking "Oh well I guess one more wouldn't hurt. The last one. An age mate for Alani"
But only two days after finding out, (so this time even earlier than we discovered Alani's pregnancy), I found myself feeling SEVERELY nauseated.
It was back. It was back with a vengeance and I remembered it as if it had never left. I was prisoner in my own body again. This time was different though. Something changed. I didn't have the same fight in me and I knew that I could not survive another nine months. I was sat on the sofa one day, boys at school, Anthony at work and Alani was led on the floor kicking her legs around happy as can be. She looked over and smiled at me and my heart BROKE.
It honestly felt as though I heard and felt it shatter into a million pieces and I cried my eyes out. I cried because my sweet sweet baby girl had learned to smile, she was smiling at me. The baby girl I'd been waiting for. The baby girl I worked so hard to bring into the world... and I couldn't even smile back. I felt so ill, and so drained that I couldn't even muster a smile. In those moments I felt a sadness I'd never before felt. A guilt I'd never felt before. I loved her so much and she deserved a mummy. She deserved her mummy to smile back, to coo over her, to talk in silly baby voices and play with her and I couldn't be that mum. I remembered how much my poor boys missed out on while I was pregnant with Alani, and it was in that moment that I knew that I couldn't let Alani miss out for the sake of this pregnancy. I couldn't let my boys suffer again. I couldn't put all that extra stress and strain on my husband, our friends, family, and I knew I COULDN'T WIN AGAIN.
My husband and I decided on a termination. I googled where to go and what to do and I came across BPAS. I made an appointment and a wonderful nurse talked me through my options. Even upon the discussion of a medical termination I became hysterical and told her I could not mentally survive it. Just thinking of the process was torturing me and so I decided on a surgical abortion. A few weeks later and the time came, we drove to the clinic, in silence. This was never something we ever thought we would do, but for us, for me, it was the only way out.
As we arrived at the clinic there were protesters, and a priest outside, with signs and banners, and they chanted at us as we hurried in. I didn't know that I could feel any worse in that moment but somehow they just about managed to achieve that. Once in, we were called in by a nurse to prep me for theatre and as she asked if I was ready to proceed and I burst into tears. I was HYSTERICAL. I couldn't catch my breath. She looked at my poor husband with an assuming eye and asked if I had been forced here. I felt so awful for him and over time, I caught my breath and tried to explain that first and foremost I had NOT been forced. The reason I was so hysterical was not because someone was making me abort my baby, it was because although I KNEW it was the best, and right thing for ME and my FAMILY, it didn't make the situation any easier to deal with. It didn't make my heart hurt any less. Having said all I did, the nurse advised that she was sorry and that no surgeon would go anywhere near me in this state. It just wouldn't be ethical. We decided that I would rebook for a weeks time and I would be put under a general anesthesia the second time around. The car journey home was silent again. I wished I could've just gone through with it but I didn't realise how hard it would be until I was faced so closely with it.
After another week of Hyperemesis hell, I made my way back to the clinic, and this time there were no tears. As I sat in the chair, feeling so nauseous because I was unable to eat/drink or take my medication prior to the surgery, all I could do was HOPE and pray that I was healthy enough to be able to go ahead and end the ordeal. I was... and on 30th October 2019, Just like that. I was no longer pregnant. No longer a victim of HG. That time, I wasn't a survivor.
To create life, and carry a child is the greatest gift in my eyes. The most joyous thing in the world, for most. To not be able to enjoy your pregnancy is absolutely heartbreaking. Some women end up resenting their baby for what they endured to bring them into the world. Some women worry about Post-natal depression after HG chips away at their mental health each day. These are all normal thoughts and feelings and Mums, you are NOT ALONE. There are so many forums, charities and groups of hundreds and thousands of women all in the same boat. They are your strength and together we will continue to hold each other up, one virtual hug at a time.
If you, or someone you know has been through HG or is going though HG, feel free to send them over to my blog. I will lend an ear to any and everyone I can. To raise awareness to family and friends, please head over to TheSickFilm where you can watch a short documentary featuring the harrowing stories of other HGWarriors.
Also a few handy IG accounts for you to follow:
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