Five miscarriages were behind us as we sat waiting breathlessly to hear our reproductive endocrinologist talk about the odds of our latest set of pink lines. She looked my husband and me in the eye and said, “There’s a 90% chance this baby will make it.” We walked out of the RE clinic that morning with the staff cheering us on. My husband and I couldn’t contain our joy. Little did we know that the battle ahead would be as terrifying and life-threatening as the one behind us.
By 10 weeks, I was vomiting a hundred times a day and was completely bedridden as my already normally low body weight shrunk by 12%. Somehow, I still believed this was normal and didn’t seek help. It wasn’t until I started vomiting blood and hadn’t been able to retain fluids for over 50 hours that it became clear; I was on death row if something didn’t change.
I was admitted to the ER for fluid maintenance and released later with a diagnosis of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) with one medication which didn’t even begin to touch the symptoms.
The emotional memories of that time still grip me occasionally. I’d think, “This baby and I could very well die.”
“I’m such a failure. First, I can’t keep a baby, now I can’t even sustain a healthy pregnancy.”
“What if this disease or the meds hurt my baby?”
HG plunged my little family into a hell that words can’t justify. I would sob often—tearlessly. My body had no water to spare on tears. All the while, only faith in God and prayers kept me going, along with my fierce love for the tiny girl in my belly.
Finally, my doctors clued in and put me on a cocktail of medications that brought the vomiting down to a few times a day most days. Though I still could barely eat or drink and was mostly bedridden, I became pretty sure we would pull through. Even still, I wish I had known how to better advocate for our needs. I would certainly have qualified for a Zofran pump and home care. Hindsight paved the way for a proactive approach that made my next pregnancy livable.
After 38 weeks, I gave birth to a precious, sweet, healthy little girl. In the end, I was 12 pounds lighter than when I got pregnant.
My story has a happy ending, I promise, but we’re not there yet. Mere days after the birth, cyclical vomiting began again, which triggered horrendous 6-8 hour-long panic episodes that nothing alleviated. As a result, I was hospitalized in a dangerous psych ward and away from adequate medical observation. I was away from the baby that I would have given my life for. Owing to the perfect storm brought by HG, past trauma, and a starving body, I missed nearly the entire second week of my darling’s life. It took an entire nine months of medical care and intensive counseling to relieve the Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome and my new panic disorder. But I did.
With God, my husband, my family, and a good medical team, we not only pulled through; we are now absolutely thriving with our TWO wonderful girls.
My message to others about HG’s Reality: HG is a legitimate medical condition, not an imaginary disease cooked up by overly sensitive moms to get attention. To beat HG requires tremendous courage, expensive medical care, and lots of support. It’s worthwhile to be educated about HG, even if you are not pregnant or don’t plan to become pregnant. An understanding and supportive community make the pain so much more bearable. Perhaps together, we can better the odds that our daughters and daughter’s daughters will have better tools to fight hyperemesis.
- Participate in HG research.
- Become an advocate.
- Make a gift to the HER Foundation.
- Share your story and support other HG moms.
- Become a HER Foundation volunteer.
- Blog about HG and show support for HER.
- Share resources with local health professionals and hospitals.
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