I have been working on this post for quite some time now. It’s a sensitive topic for me, and also one that I want to word delicately, as pregnancy can be a sensitive topic for lots of women. Despite my challenges in pregnancy (many of which I am about to discuss) please know that I do feel blessed to be pregnant again. I know what a miracle pregnancy is. But man is it hard to focus on that when you have vomit in your hair and you’re frequenting the Emergency Room for IV fluids.
When I first discovered I was pregnant I was filled with simultaneous joy and dread. We had always talked about having another baby, but as I mentioned briefly in our pregnancy announcement, I have very challenging pregnancies. I know what you’re going to say, “every pregnancy is different!” Well, that in fact is just not true for women who have suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum in past pregnancies. Let me back up. When I was pregnant with Julian as well as in this pregnancy, I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum. Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is an extreme form of “morning sickness” that can results in weight loss, dehydration, and inability to perform activities of daily living. From the research I’ve done and the physicians I have worked with, it is very rare for a mother who has previously experienced HG to have a subsequent HG free pregnancy.
I wanted to share with you all a little insight into what the past few months have looked like for me. And hopefully, this will provide some solace for any mother who is battling HG herself. My sickness began just before I was 5 week pregnant with all day with debilitating nausea and fatigue. Luckily, I had a few leftover Zofran medications from my previous pregnancy. Zofran is an anti-nausea medication that is widely used from chemo patients to pregnant women. However, it just wouldn’t cut it for me, and thus the vomiting began. I quickly slipped into zombie mode, all while I was supposed to be taking care of my busy 1 year old son. When Julian slept, I slept too. Sometimes 16 hours out of the day, more if I had the luxury of someone else watching him. Thanks hubs. We took baths together, sometimes twice a day, as it was one of the few places I found some relief, and I could keep my toddler contained! On more than one occasion did I throw up on Julian and myself while in the bathtub, so it wasn’t foolproof, but it helped some.
Around 6 weeks pregnant, unable to keep water or food down on most days, I was prescribed a different medication to combat the vomiting. I started Reglan, a medication I had taken before with success while pregnant with Julian. Only, this time I would have complications that I never could have seen coming. I began to feel defeated, like I was drowning. I would cry over my inability to care for myself and more importantly for Julian. I had no reserve energy. I couldn’t even wash my own hair anymore, my husband would get in the shower with me and wash and brush through my hair. I couldn’t brush my teeth because it would make me vomit. If this is all grossing you out, well, it grosses me out too. I could not perform basic daily tasks. I was miserable. The only time I felt relief was while I was sleeping. If I was awake, I was either vomiting or crippled with nausea and my inability to function. I was in the bathtub by myself one day when I began to have thoughts of drowning. I felt paralyzed by these thoughts, I was shaken to my core. Jeff came into the bathroom and I made my tearful confession that I just could not handle this anymore. We talked at length and called my doctor that night. She advised me to immediately stop taking my Reglan medication, as it has notorious side effects of depression and suicidality. I have tears in my eyes as I type this, because I had never been so frightened in my life. I would look at Julian and cry thinking that it would be the last time I would ever see him. I have never battled depression or thoughts of suicide. And I was absolutely terrified by my own thoughts.
I am happy to report that the best case scenario occurred, and all of my morbid thoughts were gone within a day of stopping my medication. Granted, I was back to vomiting, but at this point, I welcomed it. I was still in shock that a medication I had taken before could have such a profound effect on me. I was crippled by it. From there I have tried several different medications to combat my HG, and finally found one that works for me: Diclegis. And please know that I have tried every herbal and natural remedy out there from acupressure bands to preggo pops, to ginger in every form. All to no avail.
Now that I am further along in pregnancy, and have been on a solid medication regimen, I have found some relief from my symptoms. I am finally eating normally, and gaining weight. I am able to care for myself and my son. I am brushing my teeth! (I know, I know, you guys.) I feel like I have a piece of my life back. Here’s to hoping I don’t get a second bout of HG, as that is very common later in pregnancy in HG moms.
I am usually a more private person, but it has been on my heart to overshare share with you all what my life has looked like lately. It has been a mind altering experience. It has not been picture perfect, and I certainly have not been glowing my way through pregnancy. In fact, I’m still waiting on that glow.
Photo by Whitney Coudray Photography
For more information on hyperemesis gravidarum I found this site to be particularly helpful. If you are battling HG I urge you to consult with your doctor to establish a care plan. If you are having thoughts of depression or suicide call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.