I have been sick in all four of my pregnancies, and my first two ended in first trimester miscarriages. I got pregnant with my first daughter in 2017 and was sick days after conception. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t feeling well and ended up taking a test at 4.5 weeks. I just kept getting sicker and had my first ER visit at 7 weeks after not holding anything down for days. With my daughter, no one told me about hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), I was treated but led to believe it was morning sickness. I was on Reglan, Zofran, Diclegis, and an acid reducer with little to no relief.
I was in the ER every 7-10 days getting fluids until 20 weeks; at which point, I moved to labor and delivery. Unfortunately, I had difficulty getting the hospital to understand why I was still so sick at this point in my pregnancy, and they refused to give me fluids. Every time I came in, they would tell me how dehydrated I was and tell me I needed to drink more. I would explain I couldn’t hold anything down, and they would give me IV meds. I would start to drink, and they would send me home without further care.
When I would get home, the meds would wear off, and I would be back where I was at. At 28 weeks, my blood sugar dropped so low and I was so dehydrated that I ended up losing my vision. I was given three bags of fluids with sugar and two regular bags before my vision returned to normal. This was the first time someone mentioned HG.
I stayed sick until I gave birth with little to no relief. At the time, I had private insurance which limited the amount of medications I could have monthly, so I didn’t get the dosage I needed. I also experienced a lot of medical neglect from hospital staff who were convinced that I was making up or exaggerating my symptoms.
My whole pregnancy, I never had a day I didn’t vomit at least once. I lived off of potato chips because they were the only thing I could keep down, and it wrecked my body. After I gave birth, I had throat issues, 7 cavities and full blown arthritis in my knee. Between my first daughter and my current pregnancy, I did a lot of research, so I could better advocate for myself if I needed to.
Two years later, my boyfriend and I decided to try for a second child. Again, I was met with immediate nausea within days of conception. This time, I got sicker much faster. I was sent to the hospital the first time at 6 weeks. I advocated for my medications, and was able to get on the max oral doses of Zofran, Bonjesta, Promethazine, and an acid reducer. I couldn’t tolerate anything orally, so I pushed for a Zofran pump. I was put on a pump and home health at 8 weeks pregnant. The doctor also switched my promethazine to a suppository. This helped some with the vomiting, but I was still nauseous all the time and unable to eat. My subcutaneous pump left my abdomen covered in bruises and welts, and I had to change my site every 10-12 hours.
After 8 weeks of this with no improvement and losing 40 pounds, home health told my doctor that I was declining too quickly, and I needed to have a PICC line placed or be moved to inpatient care. We went with a PICC line. Since 16 weeks, I have received three bags of fluids a day and the maximum dose of Zofran. This has given me back some of my life, but I still vomit at least a few times every day, and I tolerate almost nothing orally. Between my constant nausea and severe exhaustion from malnutrition, I’m unable to care for my daughter properly on my own and require a constant support person with me. My body constantly hurts and I often vomit blood. My hair even falls out. HG has been the hardest thing I have ever gone through.
In my first pregnancy I didn’t know the HER Foundation existed. I wasn’t told until late in my pregnancy that there was even a name for the illness and was just treated like what I had was normal. In my second pregnancy, I used the Facebook support group, the information on medication on the site helped me in advocating for myself with different treatment plans. I tried to find a doctor through the site as well but the only one in my area wasn’t a good fit for me, but it’s a tool I suggest to other people. I also use the research the HER foundation has to help others understand it.Kierstan