This is not the stereotypical birth story.
My story takes place in the 9 months leading up to Ladybug’s birth. See, I didn’t have the normal glowing, happy pregnancy that every woman envisions when she first finds out she’s expecting. By the luck of the draw, I was one of 3% of women that would go on to suffer from a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (also known as “That thing Princess Kate had when she
was pregnant” or HG) throughout the duration of my pregnancy.
To me, HG meant throwing up my weight in vomit and bile daily, suffering from extreme nausea, and drooling more than my two beagles combined. On a good day, I would only throw up 6 -10 times a day while on bad days, I was throwing up and gagging every 10 minutes. I wish I was exaggerating. This was far different than common morning sickness.Peppermint, crackers, and ginger did absolutely nothing.
Sounds nasty, right?
That’s because it was. HG is a horrible condition that can be debilitating for most pregnant women afflicted by it. I lost almost 20 lbs before my doctor and I were able to find the right medication regimen that reigned my symptoms in. By that point, he had already started the process to have me admitted for a long term stay while receiving intravenous nutrition. I made multiple trips to the hospital for a host of different complications I suffered from including severe dehydration, arrhythmia, metabolic disturbances, and loss of consciousness. Throwing up blood was a daily occurrence. There were concerns about Ladybug as well which required extra monitoring. I reached points where I was convinced I was dying and I was so scared that things would never get better and I’d never feel normal again. I had forgotten what normal felt like.
All this for a pregnancy that I wanted.
I had been so excited when I had first discovered the news of Ladybug’s impending arrival. In 9 months time, we would be welcoming in a new member of the family that I was positively ecstatic to meet. My very own baby! I wanted to believe that it was just morning sickness that I was dealing with at first. Every mom went through this phase and seemed to be just fine.
But as the weeks passed, I became weaker and the vomiting steadily grew worse. The list of food and fluid I could safely ingest slimmed sometimes to none. There were days when I needed help getting out of bed, or I had to sit in the shower because I didn’t have the energy to stand. My view of food became warped and twisted as I started calculating every meal by how bad it would be to throw up. My husband couldn’t touch me without it triggering a vomiting episode. Our home had to become a scent-free environment. Even scrolling through my phone’s news feed or reading a book would make me too disoriented to focus. It was through obstinacy alone that I continued to drag myself through each day at work. HG had turned my world upside down. Working was the only thing that kept me feeling normal.
Then there was the depression that loomed over me during my pregnancy. I was plagued with thoughts about how I wasn’t strong enough to deal with this. I couldn’t stomach food for my growing baby, I was letting everyone down, and I wasn’t ready to be a mother. Some of the medications I was taking were controversial so I received criticism for jeopardizing my baby adding to my guilt. I felt so alienated and foreign to everyone because I carried this struggle with me that most couldn’t even begin to fathom. It became clear early on that misinformation about my condition was everywhere and I would have to answer to all of it. The unsolicited, well meaning advice and the more insidious speculation about my condition caused me to retreat from society. I still smiled and tried my best to act cheery lest anyone find out how badly I was actually doing. The last thing I wanted was anymore unwanted attention. There were many times that I felt the depression weighing down on me like a heavy blanket threatening to tangle up and drown me in it’s folds.
This chaos continued through all 40 weeks. Some days were better than others. Despite being so sick, Ladybug proved to be a lively one kicking and jabbing all day reminding me that she was doing okay in there She proved to be quite the trooper. It brought me some comfort knowing that I wasn’t alone in this despite my companion being unborn at the time.
One of the best moments in my pregnancy was realizing I could eat Cold Stone creamery ice cream without being sick. It became my “safe food” for weeks. My husband would watch in sick fascination as I would finish an entire bucket in one sitting after being unable to eat the preceding months. That’s when I finally started gaining back some weight and could see glimpses of light through my dismal pregnancy.
Despite how completely discouraged and beat down I felt, I still somehow made it everyday.
And that gave me hope. Hope that I could get through pregnancy, childbirth, and maybe tackle motherhood. This battle was something my body shouldn’t have been able to handle and I still survived. I came out with so much more confidence because now I knew what I was really capable of. In an ironic way, I felt empowered going forward despite being left so drained.
Ultimately, the day came when I finally triumphed over HG. The day my daughter was born. After the battle, I had been waging my entire pregnancy, the birthing process was actually easier than I expected. I’ll go on record to say it was my most enjoyable hospital visit. I will never forget the feeling of relief and joy that washed over me when I saw the face I had fought so hard for. That beautiful, healthy little girl that made it all worth it – My tougHGirl.
My fight isn’t over though.
For the 9 months of misery and misinformation I had to tread though, I want to make sure no one else has to go through this alone. Not my sister, not my daughter, not my friends. While I was lucky enough to come out relatively unscathed, many women and their children do not. And that has to change.
So I’m raising awareness. I’m using my resources to research HG in hopes that I can contribute to the fight against it. This battle may be over but I’m just getting started. Stay tuned for more information on my fight to end HG.
For more information, please visit Help HER