My daughter turned four years old on April 15, which means it has been four years since I have had hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). When I look around and take in the global health crisis that surrounds us, I find myself having a lot of thoughts, and a lot to say, to the point of wanting to yell it to the world, but I have no one to yell it to.
Because as all moms with HG know, who is really going to understand? Like others, I am processing the impact this crisis is having on the world and what this means long-term. I just happen to find myself wanting to speak to the women who are part of a club we never signed up for. A club that maybe prepared us for this moment more than we know. Women that I am keeping very close to my heart during this difficult time.
I am thinking of the moms who are currently being triggered because they remember all too well what it was like when they were quarantined to their house. However, it wasn’t a global pandemic. It was just them and isolating. Isolation that often resulted in being in bed, all day, not functioning at all. Not living. If you want to find someone who mastered the art of being at home, months and months on end, do yourself a favor and find a mom who survived an HG pregnancy.
The thing is, when you have HG, the entire world is moving forward with life, but you are not. You are left behind at home, without a job, unable to eat due to extreme nausea and/or vomiting. I spent close to four months at home, rarely leaving, and I used to keep a calendar and cross off every day until my due date. This helped me survive because it helped me see the end, that eventually, I would be free from suffering.
My wise father, who was my primary emotional support during my pregnancy and got me through each day, said, “You will have a new yardstick that you compare s&*t to.” I smile whenever I hear this because he is just funny, and always has a way to empathize with you. And he was right. It doesn’t feel that way in the beginning because you are left with an extreme amount of grief and trauma from what you endured for nine months, if not longer. Your body and mind take time to heal, far longer than when your hyperemesis ends. Sometimes you feel you might not ever heal. But you will.
I tried really hard to get back to who I was before HG. However, over time and therapy, realized that who I was trying to get back to was gone. That scared me for so long. I wasn’t ready to let that person go; she was just fine before; I didn’t sign up for this. I had to start from ground zero and build myself back up again. The more I tried to fight it, the more suffering I had, and we know women with HG are fighters. We don’t give up.
Once I relinquished control and let myself grieve and heal, I arrived at a place in my life that I am so thankful and proud to be. I am stronger than ever. I released the judgment, shame, and wanting answers. Those are no longer serving me and I don’t need them.
I look around and see people at the end of their rope, unable to function, not knowing what tomorrow is going to bring. I get it. I see you. I remember those days, but I don’t feel them now, even with all that is going on around us because I know I will get through this. I’ve gotten through worse. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know for the moment I am able to go to work. I am able to provide support for others. I am able to get in my car and drive. I am able to eat without forcing myself. I can walk outside and feel the sunshine on my face. I can Facetime my family and laugh. I have my health. That is my story, no one else’s.
More than anything, this is a message to moms who survived HG because you understand and might need to hear this. Maybe you’re going through HG now, maybe you don’t know if you will survive, maybe you went through HG a year ago or ten years ago. I doesn’t matter. Just know, I see you, you are not alone, and you are my hero.
If you are feeling triggered, I get it. If you have more emotions than you know what to do with, I get that too. Whatever you are experiencing right now, own it and welcome it without judgment. It is real and it is authentic to you. The coping skills you will have for life are going to be better, stronger. You will feel better and stronger in many ways. If not today, one day. We have HG to thank for that. That is the thing about adversity: it forces growth, whether you want it or not. The path that it leads you down can be one that you never thought possible. You might be a version of yourself you never thought possible, and the world needs that, the world needs you.
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