My HG Story: What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You…Stronger?

It is hard to write this, but I hope it will not only help me accept that I am not having the pregnancy I had envisioned, but also help others who are dealing with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). I am now well into my second trimester, the supposed “you’re just glowing” phase, but simply sitting upright in front of my laptop is a struggle. Saying this has been a difficult journey so far is an understatement, because for the past six weeks I’ve been leaking/spewing sweat, tears, blood, and more throw up than I can recall.

But, I continue to remind myself that this is not in vain. I have a healthy, sweet baby growing inside of me to show for all that I am going through. And honestly, I’m thankful for the ability to share my journey with whomever is willing to listen, because in April there were days that I felt I wasn’t going to be able to make it to the next sunrise.

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My Story (warning: graphic descriptions and a lot of TMI)

On Sunday, February 22nd I saw the tiny (+) sign on the pregnancy test and was slammed with the wall of emotions most mothers-to-be feel: panic, excitement, fear, and shock—but mostly happiness. It had been a conscious decision to try for baby number three now that our girls are in school, so I was elated at being pregnant again. Both of my first pregnancies were pretty terrible so I said a little prayer for a smoother ride. Thinking positive! Little did I know that those would be a breeze in comparison.

By the time I hit six weeks, I had amassed a long list of puke-inducing aversions including: meat, dairy, fruits, veggies, coffee and the colors (yes, the colors) olive green and red. So, just about everything. I would nibble on crackers but most of it came right back up. I called it nausea because at least I could still take my prenatal pills, drink water, go into the office every day, and hold Moms Guide meetings. I also insisted on picking up the kids from school.

By mid-March, I had turned a terrible corner. Dehydrated and starved. Faint, dizzy, confused, and weak. I stopped the car right on the Corniche in the middle of the day to throw up, ignoring the drivers honking behind me. That was the last time I drove for well over a month. My condition doubled in severity daily. I went from throwing up four times a day, to 8, to 12, to just all the freaking time. The only way I could put myself out of my misery was to sleep, and I did for about 15 hours a day. My husband urged me to go to the doctor because up until that point, despite it being ALL DAY, I was still labelling it as “morning sickness” and everyone around me was labelling it as morning sickness too. Normal! Eat a cracker! Here’s some ginger! It’ll get better! (See graphic at end of post on tips how to differentiate HG from morning sickness).

I arrived at King’s College Hospital Clinics and they weighed me. Then they weighed me again, this time without my jacket (still not sure what kind of difference that would have made). Between March 17 and April 2 – that’s 16 days – I had lost 6 kilograms (13.2 pounds), which was over 10% of my pre-pregnancy body weight. My blood pressure was 97/50. My skin was bone dry. At this point I was only peeing once every 24 hours. I wasn’t even able to finish telling my doctor what was wrong without needing a throw up bucket. I was immediately hooked to an IV line for 6 hours and they administered some anti-nausea meds. Through my tears, I expressed concern about the baby. The doctor assured me (despite some super skeptical looks) that the baby would get everything it needed from my body’s reserves.

HG

This level of severity went on for 4.5 more weeks. Doesn’t seem so long written out like that, but living it day in and day out felt like 4.5 years. The days are slow and the nights are long. I felt like no one understood what I was going through. I would throw up for no reason. And it wasn’t just the typical stomach flu type of vomiting. This was violent – my abdomen and lower back muscles would spasm uncontrollably, curling my body into a “c” shape. I could feel blood vessels bursting in my head and eyes as I retched bile or blood and small torn pieces of my oesophagus. I went back to the hospital seven times during this period.

Then came the “wave” and with it the crazy migraine headaches and double vision. I called it the wave because it would come upon me while I was washed up on the shore and there was no where for me to run. The wave would just clobber me until I was knocked down again. Even the trick of putting myself to sleep lost its effect. The wave would wake me in the middle of the night, warning me to reach for the bucket to vomit.

Not only did this physically slam me, but my spirit was depleted. I would lay in bed for 22 hours a day, wrapped in my compression stockings, reflecting at how weak my support system was now that we live in a foreign country. How just weeks ago this busy working mom had turned into a person who didn’t have the strength to give herself a shower. Someone who solely relied on the kindness of friends and spouse to get by and survive. I lost my identity, my charisma, and energy.

HG

I am now well into my second trimester and finally eating a bit more, mostly protein bars. I am only throwing up twice a day, but still can’t swallow my prenatal pills or eat meat, diary and most bright red or green things. My last real meal was mid-March. I am definitely not glowing. I keep hoping to get better, but the recovery process has been so slow that I am worried all signs are pointing to it being something I’m going to have to deal with for the remainder of this pregnancy. T minus 20 weeks.

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Many women are dismissed as having morning sickness while they are suffering from HG. It is extremely important to diagnose it correctly and get the medical help needed to keep you and the baby safe. Dehydration, if not caught early, is very dangerous. HG is a rare condition that affects less than 2 percent of pregnant women (Kate Middleton being the most famous case in recent memory), and there is no known prevention. So make sure you explain to your doctor exactly how awful you feel. Here’s a little cheat sheet we’ve prepared:

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Basics MomsTalkAE

 

Resources:

HelpHer.org – HG Education and Research
Cleveland Clinic – Hyperemesis Gravidarum
AmericanPregnancy.org – Pregnancy complications

Esraa Bani-Rothman

Esraa Bani-Rothman

Founder & CEO at Moms Guide Abu Dhabi
aka, Expat Mom
Sudanese-American working mom of three. Free Spirit. Idea Curator. Her brain moves faster than her body can go. A laid back chic who walks around with that stereotypical hippie vibe.She is never afraid to give you her unsolicited opinion about gentle parenting. Esraa has been actively over-sharing her motherhood and parenting stories on social media since 2008.
Esraa Bani-Rothman

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Comments

  1. May 25 / 12:52 AM

    Bless your heart! I had HG, but I acted very quickly and avoided any hospital stay. After the first day not being able to keep anything down and throwing up about 12 times, I started on diclegis. After 6 days, when that didn’t totally work and I’d lost 7 pounds, I called and got some different meds to try. It was a very long and difficult road, though. It was 10 weeks of Medicated HG until 16 weeks when the doctors got my medications just right and we completely stopped the vomiting. After 3 weeks of having it under control, I can feel the scary symptoms creeping back up but I’m able to keep it under control. I’m terrified of what I’ll do if I get caught without meds or unable to refill my rX. The worst thing I can possibly imagine right now is throwing up again after it wrecking my life for 10 weeks. I can’t imagine how much worse it would have gotten of I’d not sought immediate intervention or had it been dismissed as “morning sickness”.

    • Expat Mom
      June 24 / 1:25 PM

      Awww Sarah! I totally feel for you <3 You really captured it in your statement "after it wrecking my life for 10 weeks". It totally wrecks and puts your life on hold. I kept trying to continue functioning as best as I can, but it wasn't working. I also was so fearful of taking zofran & everything else wasn't really working for me 🙁 With HG you don't know exactly when starts (because it's seen as morning sickness) and when it ends (progress is so slow from week to week, you stop counting). I think now at week 22 I might have recovered (meaning I'm functional, I drive, eat more than before, and I am not throwing up every day). It was such a "slow" process. I still eat like a bird and very very basic things to keep me floating. Hang in there love! xoxo – Expat Mom

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