My daughter just turned a year old this month.
Let’s go beyond the common woes of time moving too quickly and my little girl being not so little anymore. I have plenty to say on that but I’ve reached a different milestone this month. It’s been a year since I’ve had to deal with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) that ruined my pregnancy.
I should be grateful to be out of that storm, and I certainly am, but I’m realizing that I’ll probably never be out of the storm completely. The journey of recovering from HG has been a strenuous one. As soon as I think I have a handle on what I’m dealing with, another curve ball is thrown at me.
Three things come to mind when I think of the ways HG has followed me around this year.
Most women struggle with their self esteem and weight after they have a baby. Carrying a small human in your tummy for 9 months is going to leave a mark in one way or another. And it’s understandable that it takes some time to adjust to a new reality.
And I was ready for that. I was ready for my pants not to fit and to feel a little frumpy. I was ready for the mom bod. What I was not expecting was to shed all excess pregnancy weight within a month and for my pants not to fit….for the opposite reason. The full reality of how much weight I lost while battle HG was revealed after a couple months postpartum. I was pleasantly surprised by how easily I bounced back.
As we got closer to my daughter’s first birthday however, I found myself gaining weight. It upset me slightly. I thought I was in the clear from having to deal with body image issues because I had lost so much weight so fast. And yet, here I was gaining weight while breastfeeding and silently freaking out at what caused the sudden fluctuation.
This fluctuation was my body finally getting healthy again as it turns out. My curves were coming back and my face filled out again. I didn’t look malnourished or gaunt anymore. I was gaining back all that fat and vitamins that I had depleted during my pregnancy again. This was a good sign but it was still weird to watch it happen.
As a result I’m still struggling with learning to love my new “mom bod”.
Maybe foolishly, I expected for the nausea and vomiting to completely disappear as soon as I give birth and become a distant memory soon after. I was ready to be done with this chapter of my life. There were several months of not eating and enjoying food and being a human being that I was eager to make up for.
But as life would have it, that isn’t my story.
My stomach has become my own worst enemy. I still have to be careful of certain foods lest I want to spend the remainder of my day hugging a toilet bowl. Fatty foods including anything greasy or buttery are completely out of the question for me Just the sight or smell is enough to set me off because my food aversion is that strong.
And a couple days out of every months are spent placating that dear stomach of mine and convincing it that there is no need to be sick and revolt against all food or drink. After speaking to friends that have been in similar situations to mine, we think it has something to do with ovulating. As if our stomach is preparing for another round of HG every month when it senses certain hormones.
When do I get to catch a break?
I’m not shy about the fact that my daughter was an unexpected delight that we were happy to welcome into our family. Before having her, I never really understood baby fever or saw how women could seemed so desperate to have a baby. But in the last couple of months, I can tell you I get it now. I literally teared up watching my daughter play with other babies because I could feel my uterus begging me for another child. I am an emotional wreck.
But because of my history of HG, it would be sheer stupidity for me to have another kid anytime soon. After how sick I got the first time around, I can’t risk having another pregnancy like that. I can’t put that kind of burden on my family – physically or financially. I can’t take care of my daughter and enjoy her toddler years while sick in the bathroom or stuck in the hospital. I can’t risk my life to quell this hysterical uterus of mine.
So as much as I keep wishing I could have another baby, that’s not going to be my reality for a long while. And it’s cruel knowing I have to make the responsible decision.
I’m realizing now the weight of my new identity as an HG survivor. My fight will never be over. I’m not the same person I was before this happened and it has changed me for better or for worse. This isn’t just a chapter in my life that I can close and vow never to revisit again.
But at the same time, I am grateful because I know that I am not alone in this. There are amazing support groups out there for those suffering from HG. I do believe we are getting so close to finding a cause and perhaps a reliable treatment.
I am grateful because despite all the misery I dealt with (and continue to deal with), I got to watch my sweet baby girl turn one years old last week. I got to reminisce all the amazing memories we’ve made this last year and share with her all my hopes for this upcoming year.
In the end, she is all that matters.
Happy International HG Awareness Day!