At the time I thought I could be depressed. I couldn’t remember the last time I laughed. I was snapping at my kids. I wasn’t talking to friends. I couldn’t even enjoy a meal with my family because the thought of food was overwhelming. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself…
On July 5, 2014 our lives changed forever. Again. This was the date my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our third child. The day before my husband and I had ran a 4-mile race through our town in honor of the 4th of July. I felt great. We had just moved into our home six weeks prior and the 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays! We celebrated and enjoyed our time with friends and family. We didn’t know that the next few weeks, and ultimately months, would be some of the hardest of of our life.
I was 5 weeks pregnant when we got the good news. Around 6-7 weeks I started feeling nauseous and by 8 weeks I was vomiting regularly. Though, from what I remember, it was manageable. At 9 weeks I remember a dramatic change for the worse. Vomiting was coming several times a day and I just kept hoping that it would be different this time. I finally caved and asked for nausea medication from my doctor. I kept telling myself that I was only 9 weeks and MAYBE this means that I’m going to be done with the hyperemesis early. Maybe even done at the end of my first trimester? Foolish girl.
When I would get out of bed I would get a quick breakfast (cereal, bagel, or fruit) and head straight for the couch. At this point any excursion of energy and I was sick. Mind you my threshold of excursion was extremely low. Unloading the dishwasher was too much (never mind the smell of food at the sink!).
I was becoming completely hopeless.
Needless to say my first trimester came and went. Week 12…week 13…week 14. Repeated daily vomiting continued. On my worst days I was sick 7-8 times day. Good days it was only once or twice. Medication treatment continued, though it didn’t really work. I was trying everything though nothing was working. Ginger chews (yeah right). Sea bands (waste of money). Essential oils (worked for a minute). And every time a nice person would suggest I “try lemon” I had to politely smile, knowing well that I was beyond that.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) had set it. I will be honest that I was never officially diagnosed with this condition, mainly because I didn’t meat the “official” requirements. I never lost a lot of weight, though I didn’t gain weight until I was 35 weeks. However, despite not having the official diagnosis I fully believe that I suffered from HG my entire pregnancy.
Needless to say, it continued past my first trimester. I remember clearly having a change at week 22. It got worse. Much worse. There were days that I could not pull myself out of bed without vomiting. Any movement whatsoever (even while lying down) would trigger my stomach to turnover and for me to rush to the bathroom. The car was the worst and I had to make sure I had a plastic bag in my car every time I went somewhere. Driving to preschool drop-off became quite an endeavor.
It was around this time that I had my first visit to the triage unit of the hospital. I had not kept anything down for 24 hours. I ended up being there several hours and by the time I got home I was still nauseous, just not dehydrated.
There was nothing they could do.
It was about this time that I started a second nausea medication. By adding this medication I was now able to get out of bed (most days) but I was now dependent on yet another med. As much as I hated this I knew I had to function. Laying in bed every day was not an option.
Weeks went by and soon I was taking a nausea pill every three hours. And still vomiting.
I finally gave in and talked to my OB. She ordered the Zofran pump to be delivered to my home. I’ve talked to others with this condition who rejoiced when they got their pump. I didn’t. I felt like I was losing. I felt like HG was winning the battle for my life.
I didn’t want the pump. I didn’t want to need the pump.
I just wanted it all to GO AWAY.
This is when my depression really set in. Winter had come, the holidays were approaching, and I wasn’t socializing at all. I was barely talking to my family. At one point I looked at my maternity clothes in my closet and realized they were all black or grey. That’s when I knew that I was low. But I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have a way to pull myself out.
In addition to my depression was my constant worry about this little baby. Is he/she getting enough nutrition? Is he/she growing OK? How are these nausea medications affecting the baby? It was one worry after another.
Despite what I was feeling emotionally I still had to try and get my body back in working order. I could feel my esophagus was sore from the vomiting and I didn’t know if my body could handle much more.
I had to try and do what I could, even if it wasn’t as much as I wanted.
The pump got delivered when I was 26 weeks pregnant. We’d come so far but still had a long way to go. The Zofran pump started helping right away. The nausea never went away but I was functioning and didn’t have to take a pill every 3 hours. This was considered progress.
The worst part about the pump was the side effects (I won’t bother you with those). At 34 weeks I ditched the pump. The side effects seemed to be getting worse and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel of mu pregnancy. My thought process:
At 39 weeks the doctor is willing to schedule an induction. That’s 5 weeks to go!! And there’s always the possibility that the baby could come earlier (37 weeks is full term!).
All of these thoughts were the positive vibes I had to constantly feed myself to keep going…you’re almost there!!
35 weeks pregnant
Thankfully, my positive thoughts came true and our little girl came on her own at exactly 39 weeks! I couldn’t believe my nightmare (i.e. pregnancy) was over and we had a healthy, beautiful baby. Our love for her was overflowing!
My nausea still lingered some, though not much. Eating at the hospital was difficult only because my stomach didn’t recognize the food. During my pregnancy I had stuck with a fairly bland, predictable diet (fruits, raw vegetables, oatmeal, eggs) so anything outside that comfort zone tended to churn my stomach. However, though the nausea in the hospital was so minor that I didn’t really mind.
By a week postpartum I was back to a regular diet and even enjoying some extra treats like ice cream and cake at my husband’s birthday (I earned it, didn’t I?). A few weeks later I had some wine and I could safely say I was “back to normal”.
I write this post for one reason: to help others who are afflicted with this condition. If you are pregnant and it seems like more than morning sickness (I can’t stand that term), than it probably is. Talk to your doctor, though be prepared that some physicians don’t recognize this condition and don’t know how to treat it.
You must be your own advocate. Find what works for you (i.e. what medications you can stand, what foods you can eat) and stick with it. And know that if a food sounds good today it might make you vomit tomorrow. I had a lot of foods turn on me throughout my pregnancy (I’m looking at you eggs!). And please reach out! I am happy to talk to anyone who thinks they might be going through this. Leave a comment on this post and I will be happy to respond.
Talk to your significant other and help them understand how you’re feeling. I am so thankful that my husband was there the entire time. I could not have survived without him. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help. I swallowed my pride, asked for help, and was overwhelmed with the number of people willing to lend a hand. To this day I’m thankful for them and they hold a special place in my heart.
If you know someone who just can’t get over the nausea associated with pregnancy please help them. Take their family a meal. Offer to clean their house or pick up their kids from school. Be patient with them and if they seem distant know that this is the reason. Reaching out with a simple hug or “how are you doing?” can make more of a difference that you know.
And finally, if you are so inclined, please help us educate professionals and treat this condition. It can only get better with your help. Donate to the Hyperemesis Education & Research (HER) Foundation today.