We wanted to take some time to talk about Hyperemesis Gravidarum, it’s not morning sickness. It’s like it’s own hyper breed of screw you up while you’re pregnant. Our hesitation has been that we don’t want to sound like we are (especially me) complaining. Because I’m not. Listen, it’s hard and I’ve definitely cried a few times, but I also am fully aware that each day has a blessing if I just look for it. Sometimes it’s just knowing that being sick also means baby is still alive and that’s good enough. But let’s be honest, the information you can find just doesn’t give a real picture of what it’s really like and Cade and I feel like not only will the raw truth help educate others and help them better understand us, but more importantly, maybe this will help get the word out that we desperately need research and answers for something that is a real beast to go through. I’m going to be blunt. I’m going to buck up and totally not let myself be private like normal so please forgive me if it makes you uncomfortable. So many women don’t realize that what they are going through is not normal and they need extra care.
*Nausea and Vomiting*
Let’s just start off with the most obvious part about morning sickness and HG. To say that nausea and vomiting is a part of HG is an understatement. Anyone who has ever been sick while pregnant knows it stinks, but this isn’t the regular stuff. The nausea is unreal, and trust me once I’m further along I get the privilege of regular morning sickness and this is not even on the same chart. I feel it everywhere. It’s debilitating. Just rolling over or sitting up sends me heaving my guts up. I feel it in my skin and bones and it doesn’t make sense but it’s true. The vomiting is powerful. A good day I may throw up 3-6 times a day, a bad day I could live in the bathroom because 5-10 times an hour I’m throwing up.
If you’ve thrown everything up how can you continue? Ha! Your body hates you and it will find a way. I throw up my saliva, stomach acid and then the best part is the dry heaving. It is so painful and every place on my body, especially my back and stomach is so sore I can hardly stand it. My body wants to keep at it so much that often I cannot catch my breath which makes me start to black out and I can’t tell you how much I hate that.
Well that all stinks but it doesn’t stop there. Since you’re vomiting your body decides to really go after you and make it violent. Violent vomiting means it’s coming up so hard and fast it’s rocketing out your nose. Yup. I’m disgusting. And it’s so incredibly painful! Your throat and nose become raw from it which leads to bloody noses for me and as I’m sure you can guess, triggers my nausea and makes me throw up more.
*Side Affects of Vomiting*
There’s obvious weight loss. And I mean a lot. I’ll probably be praying for humility if you tell me you lost weight while pregnant only to reveal it was like 5-10 pounds over a month. That’s nothing. I promise. My weight plummets to the 80’s and we are fully aware of what a blessing it is to not be worse. This is where that good ol’ NJ feeding tube comes in. Right now I’m set to get it Friday, but let’s all pray for a miracle on that one. Being thin has additional challenges.
Let’s talk muscle atrophy. My bony body is so weak I cannot walk on my own much. My legs crumble under me and my arms are useless. If you’re already wondering, my husband walks me everywhere, helps me shower, dresses me and blows my hair dry. He is my hero. I used to try so hard to do it on my own and keep strength as long as I could, but it was a huge mistake. Not only does it make me ten times more sick, but I just can’t do it. I’m embarrassed to admit that Cade has found me crumpled on the floor unable to make it back into bed or back to the couch multiple times.
The aches and pains come too. Your body is so thin everything hurts everywhere, but if you try to move you’re throwing up again. I can’t stand my bony knees touching or how my pelvic bones jut out and provide no cushioning. Every night Cade sits by me and rubs my legs to try to ease the pain. You get really used to pain, no not used to it, but familiar with it. HG is painful. And that’s not even getting into the stabbing pains in your stomach that just wont end.
Dehydration. I don’t even want to go there because these days everyone seems so quick to head in to get IV’s. The truth is we go through major dehydration. Like hooked up in the hospital for days and days trying to bring things back. And have you ever gotten an IV while incredibly dehydrated? It’s actually painful, not a poke, like it hurts and often your veins have become so flat they can’t get in. Last pregnancy we had to ditch the arms since we couldn’t ever get a successful poke. So far, even when it takes being poked quite a few times we’ve managed to keep it in my arm, what a blessing. When you’re already sick being poked over and over and that burning that comes from it not getting in gets really old really fast. Being dehydrated also messes with you. I can’t focus or think clearly and my eyes especially wont focus. You don’t feel human and can’t imagine what it felt like to feel “normal”.
Constipation. Shoot me now. Not only are you dehydrated, pregnant and not eating much which all lead to constipation but the meds have the side affect of constipation too. If you’ve ever not gone to the bathroom for 2-3 weeks you know what I’m talking about, it’s horrible, painful and so annoying. Stabbing pains and uncomfortable bowels are no joke and no fun. It’s dumb.
*The Things You Need To Know*
I wish you could visit, but not right now. Talking and breathing make me sick. If you stop by for a visit I will pay for it. And that’s really screwed up because laying on the couch or in bed all day staring at the walls is lonely, depressing and boring. It’s actually one of the hardest parts of this for me. TV only works every now and again and then you can’t stand it so you go stir crazy. I desperately wish I could have a visit from someone. But then someone shows up and the energy it takes to communicate destroys me. You may visit with me for 10 minutes and then I’ll spend the next few hours vomiting harder than ever. I pay for it and so please just wait for me to tell you that I’m up for a visit and then keep it short.
I go to the doctor every week to weigh in. It’s hard. It’s the day I end up the most sick because I’m up and about, but it’s the day that offers peace to us that we are ok and so is baby so it’s worth it. We do an ultrasound to check on baby. We know I generally end up with a small placenta and very low fluid which is never good, but we keep a close eye on things. If you see me coming and going somewhere, please be kind and let us get there and home quickly, in other words, just because I’m out doesn’t mean it’s because I feel good and it’s time for a visit.
Insomnia has become the new normal. Ugh, I hate this part. I do not sleep. Actually, this pregnancy is better than the last because once in a while I will doze all night, but then I’m right back to laying awake all day and night which I’m sure you can imagine is horrible. The day already lasts forever but then you have to lay there all night too. And as you may have guessed, not sleeping only makes you more sick, and feeling down. Sleep is such a blessing as is every other little thing we take for granted such as a drink of water.
Sensory issues drive me crazy. Noises, people touching me, smells and more make my skin crawl and make me physically ill. Yes, one more thing to throw up over. It’s not just my husband and people that stink to me, someone opens the pantry, the front door, brings in books, and the list goes on and I can smell it. The water in the shower is like torture but not showering is worse.
NO FOOD SOUNDS GOOD. Trust me, I’ve tried it all, more than you could recommend. I get asked all the time what sounds good and nothing really is the truth. I don’t crave anything. In fact, just the thought of trying to eat makes me want to crumble. Yes, of course I’ve tried ice chips, even under my tongue. I try nibbling because I know I have no choice but it is literally torture for me. I hate eating. I hate thinking about it. Nothing takes the edge off either. I’m glad others find relief from sour, spicy, cereal, gum, lemon candy etc. I don’t. I promise. I wish I did. Yes, I’ve tried all of the medications, but none are the miracle you say they are. And this all becomes mentally depressing and frustrating. It is horrible trying to make yourself eat and worse to try think of something you might be able to gag down. Cade and I go over and over different foods trying to find something I’d be willing to try. Dry crackers or food in a totally dry mouth is torture but anything juicy is just as awful as my body seems to hate juicy or fluids. It’s so frustrating.
Starvation is real. I may not have died from it but it’s no exaggeration that I understand it better than I ever thought I would. At times I’ve gone so long without water that I’ve desperately wanted it in a way that’s scary. In fact, I’ll become so crazy for it that when trying to take a sip of water (every bit counts) I literally lose control and I’m suddenly guzzling it. I can’t stop!! And before I can even finish swallowing it’s all coming back up. I can’t tell you how frustrating that is. And now you’re so dehydrated your mouth tastes and smells like metal and is so dry you actually don’t swallow well, there’s nothing to swallow! Food is different. After going so long without it you suddenly don’t care anymore. My stomach wont even growl. It takes Cade constantly trying to get me to eat and in the hospital I’ll admit that the cafeteria even kept calling to try to get me to order food. I try really hard now to not think, but just do as I’m told because I literally don’t care anymore. (Dr Haskett is not going to be happy) In fact, I feel better with nothing in me than with food. Eating all day actually makes me more ill than keeping my stomach empty and then occasionally nibbling especially in IV therapy. And yet, I do care as occasionally watching people enjoy things, even as simple as a bowl of fruit makes me depressed that I can’t join in and I have to fight to feel grateful instead of letting those feelings in.
If you see me somewhere, church for 20 minutes, the dr, etc it has taken me all day to get there. It’s a huge process that makes me more sick than ever. And then I last a short time and I’m out of there. Why? Because 1. I’m afraid I’m 2 seconds away from throwing up in your lap, and if you were to follow me out to the car you’d see how many throw up bags I keep in there because I lose it every time. 2. I cannot stand to be upright for a minute longer. I feel dizzy, hot, claustrophobic (holy cow that is a real thing people!!!!) and so nauseous I can’t handle it anymore. It is a huge sacrifice to get ready and for me that only means showered. I haven’t done my hair or makeup in over 2 months and I pretty much live in pajamas.
The truth is, this stinks. You cry until you’re so dehydrated tears don’t come. Some days or even weeks are so hard you want to lay down and die. Not actually die, but you don’t know how you can possibly wake up one more day and do this all again. You can’t be a mother and the kids need you. People around you complain about “feeling so tired” or nauseous and if only they could throw up like you, or nauseous for the whole thing and you cry because you are tempted to punch them in the nose and you know that you need more humble pie, but you almost don’t care because what they don’t get is you’re feeling everything 10 times worse. Throwing up offers zero relief. In fact, it’s a good day when you wish you could throw up. Every day you’re fighting to survive and to have that sweet baby survive. Every day lasts a lifetime and while you’re usually feeling better by 20 weeks many of us hang on to the nausea and “morning sickness” throughout the rest of pregnancy. You just wouldn’t know it because we know how much worse it could be so a complaint is never uttered. In fact, my 9th month I was totally sick again and by the time I was in labor I was so utterly exhausted from vomiting all day and night I felt too tired to push. Though I did because heck yes let’s get that thing out and move on!!!
Hyperemesis often carries PTSD at the end. Our second pregnancy I went through that and while I know military has it far worse I’ve also come to know that it’s so real and you can’t escape it. Certain things trigger such enormous anxiety and panic attacks and I’m praying I wont experience it again this time. In fact, as hard as things are, in some ways this pregnancy is better than the last. It is a miracle and I cannot deny that.
The most important truth is that we chose to do this. And we can do it. We know we have become better because of it and we knew this was what we were supposed to do. The truth is, it’s all worth it and I can’t complain at all because in the end we get to take home a sweet baby and that is an incredible miracle. The truth is, we are fully aware of what a blessing it is. Probably more than others do because we’ve had to fight for it.