When I look back on my pregnancy I remember a range of emotions. I was scared, yes, but mostly excited. It felt like what I was doing was the most important thing I (or anyone else) had ever done.
I watched endless hours of One Born Every Minute, I prepped Jack’s nursery, I ate too much cheese, I used my growing bump to skip out on plans and have long leisurely baths and early nights. And apart from a fainty spell at the start, a few issues with my dodgy heart and the occasional peanut-butter-induced vomit, I felt like my normal self. Just with an amazing new stomach to pet and talk to. Sounds pretty dreamy right?
Not everyone is so lucky.
My sister-in-law is currently pregnant and suffering from hyperemesis. Like most people, before Holly got it, I only knew it as ‘that thing Kate Middleton got’. But take the time to talk to a HG sufferer and you’ll realise the true horror that carrying this condition through your pregnancy really entails.
Remember the last time you felt really nauseous? Then vomited? Then started feeling nauseous again? (Yours, like mine, may have been alcohol-induced.) Yep, it’s horrendous, isn’t it? Times that by 9 months, add all the other side effects of pregnancy, and throw in a few ‘isn’t it just morning sickness?’ and ‘have you tried ginger biscuits?’ comments roughly every five minutes, and you’ve got an idea of just how miserable suffering from HG would truly make you.
My brave and brilliant SIL Holly, who also battles a mental health condition, has blogged about her experience. She’s not after sympathy, but a side-serving of empathy for any HG sufferers you come across wouldn’t go amiss. Read her post in full, below.
This is Hyperemesis Gravidarum. And this is just one part of it. One snap shot of life as a #HG mother. It is not pretty and it is not the norm. #HG goes so far beyond morning sickness. As part of #HGawarewednesday we'd like to share with you a post published by our follower @rhiannonbourne who gives an honest account of her second #HG pregnancy and the struggles of how being a single parent with a toddler adds to it. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• For those people who really don't understand what severe sickness is like and the stress and strain it puts on families. The reality behind having Hyperemesis, choosing to scar your wrists with anti sickness bands at the hope of having a few less sickness episodes, bruised arms from constant drips, bruised legs from sickness injections that only give you a few hours relief, if that. I have better medication this time which has allowed me to work, (with Grayson I was signed off for the entire time from 6 weeks) however having a toddler to look after, whilst running a home as a single parent has still taken its toll on me the last few days. Once you've given birth it's not like a switch that makes everything go away, yes the sickness disappears but you are left with not only the emotional effects, but the physical effects. My stomach and throat have been left so sensitive that I can no longer process dairy and I can still not eat foods I once considered 'safe' . Please think before you send me or anyone else who has suffered with HG hurtful messages. 10% of wanted pregnancies are terminated by people suffering from with Hyperemisis because they see no other way out. #breakthesilence #HGawareness #HGsucks
I am stuck in a prison.
It is a prison with several rooms, a flat screen TV, private showering facilities and high speed internet. But it is a prison no less.
I am 30 weeks pregnant and suffering from hyperemesis. Not diagnosed until week 13, I suffered from extreme nausea from week 7.
I have avoided admittance to hospital as I have largely been able to keep fluids down. But I have periods of being sick ten plus times a day, everyday.
What I have not avoided is the relentless, debilitating, soul destroying nausea. The type is that is there when you go to bed and there when you wake up and doesn’t once leave your side for a moment in between.
The lack of support I have received for this illness is truly shocking. From healthcare professionals to family members I have been dismissed, ignored and left to fight largely on my own.
The tiredness that comes along with both being sick and feeling sick all day as well as that associated with growing a human has made work almost impossible.
Work is a place I hate but am forced to stay in because I am pregnant and unable to find a new job. It is the worst job I have ever had and spend my lunchtime crying in the toilets or wondering the streets aimlessly in a bid to escape the toxic environment. Yet, even being at work is more appealing than being off sick with hyperemesis. Still, as this isn’t possible, at home I sit.
So, back to the prison. As everyone I know has a job, people are not available to keep me company, so instead I sit at home. All day, everyday, just me, the couch and my frequent trips to the toilet to be sick.
The loneliness and isolation I experience is utterly horrific. I am now 30 weeks and have spent probably 22 of those at home, on my own.
I have an unpleasant mental health condition which only exacerbates how completely dejected I feel. It is very hard for me to see a time I wont be ill, stuck on my own wishing I was dead.
Yes, shocking and perhaps irresponsible as that sounds considering I am pregnant, I have on occasion wished I was dead. My current outlook is so bleak it is hard to imagine ever feeling well or happy again.
Yet I pretend I do or I can. The truth is that I am not coping at all. I have to suffer the terror of an amniotic leak and the indignity of wetting myself due to how violently I am often sick.
I have to weigh up unbearable constipation as a side effect of the medicine I am taking, compared to being sick every, single day.
I have to endure people telling me ‘it will be worth it in the end’ or ‘not long to go now’ as though these empty platitudes cure the nausea or the loneliness.
I have to grit my teeth through countless suggestions of ‘eating ginger’ or ‘eating little and often’ or ‘making sure I drink enough water’. As if I have somehow made it to the third trimester without attempting the basic remedies of run of the mil morning sickness.
I am tired. Tired of being pregnant, tired of feeling ill and frankly, at times, tired of life. Due to hyperemesis, I will never be pregnant again and I have been robbed of the opportunity to enjoy this one time life experience.
My life consists of desperately wanting to get to Wednesday, when I am a week further along and feeling desperately crushed on a Thursday as I am so far away from the next weeks milestone. I have been pretty much depressed since December and come July will have wished 9 months of my life away.
This is the horror of hyperemesis and what it has done to me. Not quite sick enough to be admitted to hospital, yet too sick to lead any sort of normal life.
Oh well, only another 10 weeks to go eh?