Baby G number three is on the way and we couldn't be more excited! We feel tremendously blessed to be welcoming another sweet baby into the world and our family in late November. As excited as we are though, these last few months have been a far cry from easy. Those who have been following along for a few years now know that before we had our two daughters, we lost 3 babies through the pain of miscarriage after a year of infertility. We feel soooo lucky and blessed that this time, we didn't have to endure the pain of either, but for a third time, during this pregnancy I have a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum...BIG name for a terrible, nasty illness. Some of you may have heard of it but many of you probably haven't, and I hope you never hear it mentioned again because it's something I wish for NOBODY to have to experience. It basically means excessive vomiting and nausea in pregnancy, leading to handful of horrible and life threatening things if left untreated.
The first time I had heard of it was right before I was pregnant for the first time and Princess Kate had it. I remember feeling bad for her because being sick in the public eye must be terrible but not at all understanding how bad it could possibly be, I just thought all "morning sickness" was the same (and FYI - to refer to this as morning sickness is like comparing a paper cut to a shark bite). HG is severe vomiting and nausea in pregnancy leading to weight loss of greater than 5% your body weight, dehydration, malnourishment and a handful of other terrible things..including death of the baby if severe enough and untreated. I know its hard to even imagine but we've all had the stomach flu or food poisoning, but instead of a a few days, this is months without relief. It's been the absolute worst thing I've had to endure.
Having had mild to moderate cases of HG when pregnant with our girls, we anticipated this was a strong possibility to have this again. After a lot of research, I loaded up on vitamins, probiotics, and did a few strong cleanses...everything I had read online that had helped other women, I tried. Despite all the steps we took to prevent or at least lessen the severity of this beast, it didn't seem to help and was much worse this time. I was left with no other options than to medicate with multiple prescriptions (some are the same given to cancer patients going through chemo) and get IV's multiple times a week with one goal in mind - to survive. At around 10 weeks, I required hospitalization overnight for severe dehydration and was producing ketones - my body was basically in starvation mode and starting to burn fat reserves because there was no food left to burn. Currently, I've lost 10lbs in the last few weeks and I don't even think I'm through the worst of it yet. Before getting admitted, I was having a hard time sitting without support and was so dehydrated, every time I stood the room would spin so bad I would have to sit again, I had started vomiting blood because my esophagus was so irritated they thought I had tears in it from all the vomiting.
I'm not sharing all this to be gross or for anyone to feel sorry for me. I'm sharing because HG is never spoken of, and even though statistically only 1-2% of pregnant women get this, I know of two other people in the area who have had this and suffered alone because this condition is so misunderstood. How can someone possibly be so sick and pregnancy is the cause? I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. Not only is it physically draining, it's isolating and depressing. I am absolutely thrilled to be growing another life and I don't want anyone to think I'm ungrateful. I do know the pain of infertility and pregnancy loss. There were dark days when I wondered if I would ever be a mom. But dealing with this illness had been far more taxing emotionally. There are days during this pregnancy when I wondered if I would die. I wondered how this is affecting my girls emotionally (who have watched far too much TV over the past few months) and I have thought about what a terrible wife and mom I am because I can't do any of the things I used to do (Although my husband has never once complained about picking up the slack and usually doesn't get sat down for the night until after 9pm after taking care of the girls and doing all the housework I can no longer do). I've also worried about on the days where I can't keep any fluids or food down, how will I survive? And if I survive, how will our baby ever survive this? And then all the medication I'm on, how is this not harming our baby? I feel like I've been robbed of the joy that pregnancy should bring. Occasionally the anger sets in, why me? Why isn't there more research on this? Of all the crazy things science is doing, why can't finding a cure or prevention for this horrible illness be a priority? And again, I think a lot comes back to the poor understanding of the condition and just how detrimental this is to a woman's physical and emotional health. And to be honest, if you've never experienced an illness to relentless and draining, it really is hard to imagine what it is like. We are not quite through the worst of this yet, but hopeful we are nearing the end. Monday I will start a Zofran pump which we are clinging to the hope that this gets me functioning again. Even though its been a rough ride, I'm trying to remember all we have to be thankful for...first of all, I have an awesome medical team (Dr Alexandre at QMG is amazing) and more support which has helped tremendously, I have awesome family and friends who are constantly checking in and offering to watch our girls so I can rest, meals have been brought to us because cooking and food smells are a huge trigger for me, and the most humbling of all is the amount of people (even complete strangers who have heard what's been going on) who have told us they have been praying for us.
If you are a spiritual person, I do believe in the power of prayer and healing so adding me and our family to your list of prayer intentions would be appreciated. I'm hopeful the vomiting will stop at 20 weeks like it did with the girls but there is a chance it could last the entire pregnancy, which we are going to pray hard it doesn't.
And to all my wonderful clients -- I'm so sorry for my delay in responses, cancelled sessions and slow processing times. Not any of you have complained and you all have been more understanding than I imagined so I very much appreciate that! This post was meant for all of you because you've been so understanding and I want you to understand a little better what exactly has been going on and know this is not just another case of morning sickness. I promise I will be back to my normal happy self someday, but for now, I'm doing what I can to survive and take care of my family. If you know of anyone who is dealing with HG or has dealt with it in the past, please take them seriously and feel free to send them my contact information. Going at this alone is the worst, support and good care is probably the best medicine because the illness will pass (even though it feels like it never will), but the trauma, isolation and depression following this condition can stick around for far longer.
I'm trying to keep my attitude strong and keeping my eye on the prize -- that sweet little baby I get to hold at the end of this all! I always say "It was all worth it!" because it truly is once they are in my arms.