I’m currently pregnant with my 2nd daughter. During both pregnancies I’ve experienced Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). I’ve actually been marginally better in some ways this time, worse in others, but at 30 years old I don’t think I can mentally or physically go through another HG pregnancy. This will be our last baby. Someone is getting fixed after this… lol.
The Facts about Hyperemesis Gravidarum
I’m going to start off with some basic facts about HG for those who have no idea what I’m talking about.
- Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a pregnancy related illness that effects less than 2% of women. It causes severe nausea and vomiting, sometimes almost contently which can lead to problems like dehydration and weight loss.
- Those with HG tend to be sick much longer than the normal 12 weeks.
- It typically starts between 4 and 6 weeks of pregnancy and may be at it’s worst between 9 and 12 weeks. In some women it lasts for the duration of their pregnancy.
- It’s not known what causes it and their are no known cures. It’s believed to be related to rise in hormone levels.
- Complications can effect both Mom and Baby and can include slowed metabolism, heartburn, dehydration, constipation, kidney shut down, low electrolytes, dizziness and weakness, malnutrition to muscles causing severe weakness and requiring bed rest, an over production of saliva which can cause the nausea to worsen, low baby birth weight and even premature birth.
- Treatments include medications, IV fluids, tube feeding and IV feeding.
- It’s believed that those with motion sickness, those expecting 2+ babies abd those with a family history of HG are more likely to get it.
My HG Pregnancy Story
Let me give you a little recap on #1. We’d been trying to get pregnant for 2+ years and I was told by the GYN I was seeing that based on my hormone levels I’d not get pregnant on my own. He gave me 2 doses of Clomiphene before my husband deployed to the South Caribbean, at which time I decided to stop the doses for 5 months (right before he was due to return). Well at 3 months I took a trip down to see him. I mean it was the Southern Caribbean! I was there for a wonderful week. We went SCUBA diving, snorkling, I got to lie on the beach and sunbath; it was fabulous! Well… 5 weeks later I was visiting my Dad in Washington when I started puking. I of course was not worried about being pregnant but my Dad seemed to think otherwise. When I got home a few days later I took a test and sure enough, I WAS PREGNANT! I was so excited, my husband was so excited, the family was so excited, it was very exciting! I was still vomiting but it really hadn’t ramped up yet. I still thought it was normal “morning sickness”. At 8 weeks I saw my chosen OB, vomited in his office twice, and fessed up that I was puking all day, keeping very little fluids or solids down, and had lost 10 pounds in 3 weeks (in total, by the end of the vomiting I had lost 20 pounds). He gave me Zofran, an anti-nausea drug often used to treat Chemotherapy patients, and told me I was probably experiencing an HG pregnancy. I had to do most of my own research because my doctor only knew the basics of Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I tried to only take the Zofran when I had to leave the house but it became more difficult over time. At 9 weeks I had to tell my boss I couldn’t work until this passed. I literally crawled between my bed, the couch and the toilet. I spent 3 hours in the bathroom one day hugging and sleeping on the toilet/floor because I couldn’t move. Motion made it worse. Eating made it worse. Not eating made it worse. Drinking water was the worst! Between weeks 8 and 14 I was at the ER a total of 6 times getting fluids They new me on sight and just walked me back to the patient rooms. Once they even had to bring me a wheelchair to get me there. Since this little HG baby girl had been wanted for so long I was determined and willing to put myself through it all. At worst it was would be just 9 months. I was a lucky one. Around 15/16 weeks the nausea finally subsided and I got to experience the wonderful 2nd trimester energy everyone talked about. My pregnancy after that was beautiful. I had my appetite back, and after 16 weeks of not eating you can imagine I didn’t spend a minute worrying about what I ate. I still ate healthy and gave up Pepsi but ended up putting on a total of 70lbs. YIKES! But, I ended up with an amazing 8 pound baby girl who was healthy and happy.
#2 has been a different experience both emotionally and physically. Again, at 5 weeks I started getting sick and knew, based on other symptoms I had last time, I was pregnant again and I knew it was another HG pregnancy. I saw my doctor at 6 weeks this time (last year we had an 11 week miscarriage so he wanted to see me immediately upon finding out). He once again gave me Zofran and this time I had to use it more often. I had all the same symptoms of HG I did last time but this time I had a toddler to care for and my husband was at home instead of deployed. He was very helpful with our daughter but last time I didn’t have the same amount of laundry, cleaning, dishes, etc… I was breaking. We were all miserable. I felt inadequate as a wife and Mom. I was an emotional wreck, and to make things worse I have a terrible problem asking for help or talking about how hard things really are. My husband knew but no one else really did, either family or friends. There were times I felt like I had to terminate and many times I cried myself to sleep feeling like I was a terrible person for even thinking that, and a terrible Mom for not being able to care for my daughter properly. I got bigger so much faster so was uncomfortable much sooner, had terrible Sciatica for about 4 weeks and I still have horrible pelvic pain. Heartburn is a constant, since about 8 weeks, and only getting worse. I’m on Zantac twice a day. My allergies are worse and if I don’t take daily Zyrtec I can’t breath or sleep. I CANNOT forget to take my prenatals otherwise the next day I can’t function. I feel like Elizabeth Banks in the movie “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” when she’s on stage at the convention and just goes off on how everything you hear about being pregnant is lie and how miserable she is.
Well, this time I was able to keep more solids and liquids down but still had 2 ER visits. I’m just about to hit the 6 month milestone and I still get nauseous on occasion. In fact, until about a week ago I was still vomiting at least 2-3 days a week. Foods are trickier this time. Light foods or foods that are too sweet (I’m talking fruits, ketchup, etc…) twist up my stomach and eventually they come up. Heavy foods are the best (meats, bread, protein bars…) but must be eaten in small doses, but regularly (every 15-30 minutes). Milks are terrible! I’ve tried Dairy milk, Almond milk, and Soy milk. NOPE! Don’t even say the words Saltine Crackers or you’re likely to get slapped. Good tip though: eat an apple slice with every meal. Doesn’t matter what it is, it will taste much better on the way back up – LOL. Now that I’m no longer nauseous daily I have a little more energy but I still have the weird food quirks to deal with. Salads are my best friend but I have to eat a lot of them. I can’t tell you how much I want Tuna and cookie dough! Oh, and I have to eat about every 3 hours or that pesky nausea starts to creep back in. I’ve put on more weight than I should but not nearly like last time since I’m watching my foods better, at this stage I’m about 10 pounds heavier than I’d like. No more ice cream and shakes… I still don’t have the energy I should but it’s better.
It feels like I drew the short end of the pregnancy straw. I see so many Moms-To-Be just glowing, exercising, working, and just doing things they love for themselves and with their families. I literally can’t imagine feeling that way. Taking a shower is exhausting! Standing for longer than 5 minutes is impossible. Walking 50 feet requires at least a 3 minute rest. I plan my meals by which fast food restaurants have wraps, chicken sandwiches, not terrible food AND a drive through… my options are very limited. I had a very good day 2 days ago and have been wishing for that day back ever since.
If you have any questions about having HG please leave me a comment or email me. I’m happy to answer anything. No such thing as TMI when it comes to this. I can also recommend a few Facebook Support Groups if you’re interested. They were very helpful for me, just talking to other women in the same situation as you is extremely powerful. I hope this helps at least 1 women know they’re not alone and the the struggle is so real. All HG survivors have your back. We are few but we are strong. Good luck mommies. My love goes to you.