Despite being a relatively healthy and active individual, my second pregnancy has been met with unforeseen complications from the very beginning.
The most physically uncomfortable and emotionally stressful condition came around the 2nd month of pregnancy when we realised very quickly, that it was here to stay.
Remaining optimistic was a long shot, however, reality was a little too well, real, for that.
5th June 2021, we received a picture of our little embryo, letting us know it had survived the overnight thawing process and was ready for transfer. We went in that morning and came out feeling confident as ever, where three weeks post transfer, we found out I was pregnant. Thrilled, overjoyed and relieved, are just a few emotions we were feeling.
At five weeks pregnant, I was admitted into hospital for the first time, with unknown cause of vomiting from anything that touched my lips, water included.
At seven weeks, I was back in hospital on my first IV drip, where I was told I had severe morning sickness.
At nine weeks, our fertility specialist, Dr Antony Lighten, diagnosed me with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), and at thirteen weeks, I started seeing my obstetrician, Dr Bevan Brown whom, admitted me permanently to the birth unit without question with severe HG. This meant, I had a permanent place in the ward should I have needed it.
At fourteen weeks, the sickness was so intense I begged, pleaded, Adam, to allow me to terminate our pregnancy (this was not a one time occurrence).
By sixteen weeks, I was vomiting anywhere from 25-40 times within a 24 hour period, and after the first of many X-ray’s, we were shown and explained, my oesophagus was the equivalent of a pierced garden hose. Anything that went down, came out the sides of where the acid from vomiting, had eaten away at.
Eighteen to twenty five weeks in, I was bedridden.
Whether at home in my own bed, or in hospital.
Hospital was best, as noises, light as a bird chirping, sounded like repetitive banging, as well as the sound of someone talking, whispering even, made me vomit.
Brightness- whether electrical or natural, made me vomit. The sound of Adam chewing on a cracker, made me vomit. The smell of food, made me vomit. The sound of a toilet flushing, footsteps through the house, or my cat purring, made me vomit. And to this day, very little has changed.
At 31 weeks, I was once again, admitted into hospital where my husband, holding the hand of my arm which had three different needles, doing three different things, watched and listened, as my midwife frantically rushed around my bed holding a whole lot of cords and tubes, explaining that she needed to call in every doctor from the ward to come and resuscitate me.
At this point, my blood pressure was as low as a person on their last leg, my electrolytes were non existent as were my haemoglobin levels. My potassium levels were at 2.1, a condition called hypokalemia, which little did we know until made aware, was life threatening in itself.
The sodium levels in my body had dropped so drastically I was rushed in for tests to help rule out any swelling on my brain, caused from just how low they were.
My iron levels were also very low, I was given an iron infusion where later on, we would learn the infusion did very little to help, as the amount of IV fluids I was given to hydrate me, had diluted my blood closer to water consistently than blood, and in fact, dehydrated me, instead.
I’ve not eaten a meal I haven’t vomited in 34 weeks.
At 29 weeks pregnant I was 54 kilos, the weight I was, when I fell pregnant with Peyton. I have cried, daily.
Looking in the same mirror I try to avoid, feeling scrawny, unhealthy, weak.
At this point, I felt HG had pulled me so far under,
I had nothing left to push forward for.
It sounds dramatic doesn’t it? Farfetched, even.
Well, a word of advise from one HG sufferer to the
if a woman is pleading for help whilst pregnant, chances are, she needs it. If a woman is silent whilst pregnant, chances are, she is battling the demon within her own mind and thoughts.
If a woman is declining social, family, work gatherings, chances are, it’s due to emotionally, mentally and physically, not having the energy to fake a smile or sit through the noise, squint through the brightness, or listen to unsolicited advice such as, “have you tried eating ginger?”
Or, the highest likeliness of them all, is, that all of the above
are simply, her Doctors orders.
Because he understands that the simple task of going to the toilet or showering without help, is impossible.
Getting up and off a seat no matter how slowly without fainting, is impossible. Looking after her child/children? Impossible.
It is however, possible, for a woman to have a different experience, to the next.
At two years of age, I have missed close to 5 months of my daughters life. I couldn’t hold her, I couldn’t see her, I couldn’t even FaceTime her. But now, that same little girl, almost 3 years of age, will watch and read my face.
She will announce to her father “mummy needs to vomit I’m getting her a bowl daddy”, she will hold my hand walking up the stairs and wait for me when she can see I’m out of breath, she will run to the linen cupboard, grab and wet a towel for my head, and she will lay next to me, kiss my forehead and tell me “it’s going to be okay mummy”.
All of which, my husband, parents, best friend, and home nurse, have been witness to. And I can truly say that aside from everything else I feel, in that moment, I feel nothing but the proudest I could ever imagine being as a parent.
This is not to take away from woman whom suffer or have suffered morning sickness through pregnancy, I dealt with morning sickness for 16 weeks when pregnant with Peyton, it’s awful.
However, HG is not morning sickness.
HG is not a cry for attention, but a need for help and nurturing.
HG is the hardest, most debilitating, darkest, life threatening, mentally exhausting sickness at least 3.6% of women will experience during pregnancy.
My husband has carried me, showered me, wiped me after the toilet, caught me as I’ve fallen, caught me as I’ve fainted, fed me and heard me say things otherwise, unimaginable.
He has watched me resent our unborn child, heard me worry about not loving him/her when arrived, and only until very recently, watched me grow and form a love for our little one, as these last few weeks on bed rest, have given me a chance to bond and fully accept, that this, is no one’s fault.
My own included.
Our baby is healthy, thriving, growing, kicking around and making sure I know he/ she is there. And with every movement, it helps me breathe a little lighter and widens my smile a little more.
But it will for a very long time, sadden me, that this was not always the case.
I am that 3.6%, and if it weren’t for the push of my husband, the support of those closest to me, and the absolute want to give our daughter a best friend, I would not be 34 weeks pregnant, today.
My midwife, also a very long time client of mine, told me one day I will look back on this and laugh with the little one I’m growing. She told me to document it all, as she herself, terminated her two pregnancies due to HG, and wishes she had, to if even help one woman not feel alone, or help one person understand.
This is my documentation.
This is, Hyperemesis Gravidarum.