This summer, we had the pleasure of interviewing Veronica about her experience with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). Veronica is an HG survivor and native Venezuelan who is currently residing in Toronto, Canada. Veronica is the first mom we were able to interview in her native language, Spanish, as part of our #HERstory Global Initiative. Below is a transcript of that interview that has been translated to English and slightly modified as appropriate.
We are excited to be amplifying Veronica’s story as a testament to the different HG journeys moms can have, as Veronica was never properly diagnosed with HG during her pregnancy. We hope you enjoy her story as much as we did.
HER: What were you doing when you first started experiencing HG symptoms? Were you working? Were you in classes?
Veronica: Last year, I was pregnant with my third child, and I was working at the time. And, on the sixth or seventh week of my pregnancy, I started experiencing symptoms of nausea and vomiting that I originally thought were normal symptoms, like the ones I had experienced before in previous pregnancies. I was not worried, and I thought everything in my pregnancy was going normally.
HER: How did your medical providers at the time treat your symptoms?
Veronica: When I was here in Toronto, Canada, where I live, I was seeing a family doctor for the first few months and then would move on to seeing an obstetrician for the later months. My initial family doctor was a stand-in for my previous doctor, who had recently left for maternity leave. When I told them about my symptoms, they recommended that I start taking Diclectin, which is a medicine that I had taken before in previous pregnancies. I started on the medication, but it did not do much to lessen my nausea.
On the eighth or ninth week, I started vomiting uncontrollably and could not stop. I couldn’t keep anything down, not even water or my medicine. I also could not leave my bed and soon had to quit my job. I told my doctor that the medicine was not working, and I was still feeling awful — I even had to visit the ER two times in one week and got Zofran. After being sent to the ER once again for severe nausea and vomiting, I felt a little better during the first few hours, but within two days, I returned to the ER.
In the twelfth week when I revisited my obstetrician, I had lost ten pounds. She was worried, but she never diagnosed me with hyperemesis gravidarum; she prescribed Diclectin and Metoclopramide to take and ease my symptoms. But as my pregnancy progressed, I knew that I was not experiencing normal pregnancy symptoms. My mom had come to help me with things around the house because, truthfully, I was in bed for two months, hidden from everyone, and still vomiting uncontrollably.
HER: How was your mental state during this time?
Veronica: I think during that time the most crazy, terrible ideas were passing through my mind because you really feel like you are dying during HG. You cannot control these thoughts, so they are hard to stop. I also had a difficult time caring for my two other children. It was terrible. But I knew I had to persevere through these difficulties.
HER: How was the birth of your HG baby?
Veronica: It was marvelous, beautiful. It was all perfect. On my thirty-eighth week, I received an induction, which went perfectly. After my delivery, I told my doctor about the severe vomiting I had been suffering from during the pregnancy. But, they told me my symptoms were, “No big deal.” Luckily, my obstetrician was lovely and had been monitoring my weight throughout my pregnancy, and she knew something was wrong.
HER: If you never received an official HG diagnosis during your pregnancy, how did you learn about HG? And how did you learn about the HER Foundation?
Back home in Venezuala, where I was born, I studied pharmacology, so I know a lot about the body and medicines. And during this time, I also had heard that Kate Middleton suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum. Later, I was on Instagram, and I remember reading an article about Amy Schumer, and it was because of her profile that I found the HER Foundation’s Instagram. While Kate Middleton did not talk openly about her experience with HG, Amy Schumer talked a lot about her symptoms and HG.
So, I decided to keep researching the HER Foundation and later sent a private message about my severe symptoms during my third pregnancy and how people around me were claiming that nothing was wrong. I was assured me that I was not crazy. We talked about what medicine I had been taking during that time, and I felt validated. I remember thinking, “Wow, I am so grateful for this Foundation. They helped me so much.”
Special thanks to Grace Tucker for interviewing Veronica and being instrumental in developing this #HERStory Global Initiative during her internship.