I had baby fever. I wanted a baby so bad it hurt. I was jealous of others who were pregnant. When I saw pregnant women, they looked so happy waddling around, picking out baby stuff, and always talking about how great it was. When I got pregnant with my daughter in the fall of 2010, I was ecstatic. I could barely keep it to myself.
Then the “morning sickness” started. I was over the moon. “It’s just morning sickness,” I thought. My sickness at six weeks turned into ER visits, an IV pole at home, PICC line in my left arm, a Zofran pump 24/7, home health care coming weekly and calling daily, and four hospital visits during the following 12 weeks. I couldn’t keep food, drinks, or ice chips down. I carried a bucket everywhere which we named Ralph. I couldn’t go out of the house–dirt smelled bad. We begged the doctors to give me vitamins in my IV fluid. They would say, “Oh, you’re fine. The baby will get what it needs from your body.” I lost 16 pounds.
My mother-in-law moved in with us. I would stay in our room and just watch TV. I wouldn’t let family or friends near me. I would cry and ask God why this was happening to me. I started feeling better at week 18, and the PICC line was taken out at week 21.
At 34 weeks, our daughter was showing signs of problems. She was tiny, and the fetal specialist called her constitutionally, suggesting she was just small normally. She was born at 37 weeks weighing a whopping 4 pounds 14 oz. She had some breathing problems when we were leaving the hospital, and they put her in the NICU for seven days. I still blame not getting the vitamins we both needed for her not doing well at the end of my pregnancy.
Fast forward to December 2019, and I was pregnant, again. I had plans that I thought would keep the hyperemesis at bay. I started getting sick at week five. I had a different doctor this time and met her at week six to confirm the pregnancy. My husband and I told her I get hyperemesis very bad. Her response was, “Things have changed since 2010. There are new medications.” That day, I started going to an IV infusion center to get two bags of IV fluid twice a week.
At week nine, I was admitted to the hospital and had to stop working. At week eleven, I was back in the hospital with low potassium, losing weight, and not being able to keep anything down. They gave me a PICC line and started TPN, total parenteral nutrition. They gave me another medicine that helped stop the vomiting, but the side effects were horrific and caused tardive dyskinesia. I couldn’t stop shaking. I would pace the house with the TPN attached to me.
This lasted for three weeks. There were times I thought about aborting the baby. I thought, “I already had my one, and she is perfect. I don’t need another.” I would just stare at the wall wishing I wasn’t pregnant. The only control I had was fast forwarding and rewinding movies on my iPad.
Things slowly started to get better and by week 21, I was no longer getting sick. I did have to get iron infusions from week 19 to 24. At week 25, I was able to get my PICC line removed. I had an allergic reaction to the tape and port. The next day, I remember standing in the shower realizing that I didn’t have to depend on a toilet, TPN, or trash bag after 20 weeks. I felt freedom and happiness once again.
While I was still pregnant and feeling better, I was perusing the internet to see what was out there for hyperemesis, thinking I would like to share my story and help others. I found the Beyond Morning Sickness website and read Ashli McCall’s story. I sent an email, which was referred to the HER Foundation. I received connected support from HER volunteers, including one named Grace from Hawaii. She helped and comforted me, and the rest was history.
Since the birth of my healthy 6 lb. 11 oz. son in August 2020, I have been supporting other women who are suffering from this illness. I want to help other women and their friends and family. I want them to know they are not alone.
I feel this is my calling and life’s mission to help them. I cannot explain why I got this or why other women do, but I never want them to feel bad about the depression and thoughts they have because of this. My children are happy and healthy. My daughter will tell you the story of watching me go through hell. My husband was there every step of the way. I thank God for all of that. I also laugh when my doctor told me, “Amy, your hyperemesis is the worst I’ve seen in a patient!” I said, “Yes, that’s me!”