I’m pregnant. We are so excited. The day after my first positive pregnancy test, I wake up and feel nauseous. I am 3 weeks, 3 days pregnant. Nausea is good, the science says because nausea is a sign of a viable pregnancy. Every day, the nausea gradually increases. By six weeks, I call out of work because I am vomiting and have Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG).
HG Reality: vomiting
Seven weeks: I throw up 3 times a day, then five, then I lose track. I go to the ER for IV fluids. “This is normal,” says the doctor, “I see women here all the time at this stage of pregnancy.” After three attempts to reach a vein, the nurse keeps tapping my arm muscle instead which leads to excruciating pain. After an hour and three failed IV placements, my bicep is swollen with fluid. I am offered a cup of water since they can’t get the IV to work. I threw up every hour this morning, and I am offered a cup of water.
Eight weeks: I can’t get out of bed. The nausea is a fire in my stomach. Every time I need to leave the bed, I need twenty to thirty minutes to psych myself up for it.
Nine weeks: I can’t move. Bored out of my mind, I can’t read, can’t look at my phone, and can’t watch TV. I stare at my bedroom wall and memorize the shape of the sliding closet doors and the wall trim. I glare at the sun outside and demand that the shades be closed at all times. I spend hours on call-waiting with the nurse’s line. I am given meds: Unisom, B6, Zofran, Phenergan, Reglan, Pepcid, Benadryl.
HG Reality: still vomiting
Nothing helps, and it all makesinme horribly constipated. I go to the ER again to get fluids. I explain that I have hyperemesis, and the nurse asks me if I’ve been given that diagnosis. She wants to know if this is real or if I’ve been playing internet doctor. Nausea is normal in pregnancy. This is all normal, and your baby gets what they need. I have taken four weeks off work. This is normal. “Small sips, small bites,” they say. No one ever gives me the hyperemesis gravidarum diagnosis.
Ten weeks: My sense of smell is so strong that our downstairs is intolerable. I cry thinking about how thirsty I am, but I can’t drink. At night my husband fills a cooler with watermelon and when I wake up to pee, I eat some. This is my most reliable source of fluids. Some days I can’t eat anything. My brain is lethargic, and I am starving. I dream about walking through a grocery store and putting food in my cart. I dream about filling my plate with food at a buffet restaurant but lose twelve pounds in two weeks.
I fantasize about an abortion. I am desperate and want a miscarriage. I want to die. How can someone live like this and not die? I am having thoughts of self-harm, but I can’t help it. I think about ways I can hurt myself to also get admitted to the hospital. How can someone feel this bad and not be admitted? If I wasn’t pregnant, nurses and doctors would treat this like a real problem and not something I just need to nibble my way through. Sleep is the only relief. I wait all day to go to sleep at night.
HG Reality: loss of child
Eleven weeks: We drive to the birth center for the ultrasound. The jelly is on my stomach, and the fetus is immediately apparent on the ultrasound screen. The baby looks like a little bean, adorable. Suddenly, I realize it doesn’t look like an 11 week fetus. I look at how still my bean baby is. It is not moving. I can feel my chest stop moving, and it feels like I’m falling. I start to cry. I start to hyperventilate. I can’t breathe I can’t breathe I can’t breathe. I am sobbing. I can’t feel my face. I can’t feel my body. This can’t be real. Can I leave and come back, and we can just redo this? How will I live after this? Am I supposed to be able to leave this room? I want to stay until the ultrasound tech tells me everything is okay, but it’s not.
I miscarried in September and had a D&C. It takes me six weeks to get my period back, and we try to conceive again right away. Eighty percent of women have hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) recur, and I am ready to do this again so that I can have a child. October, November, December, January. Merry Christmas. Happy f****** new year. We started trying in February 2021, and it is now February 2022. I am still waiting to meet my child.
“If I wasn’t pregnant, nurses and doctors would treat this like a real problem and not something I just need to nibble my way through.”kristina
Update: subsequent pregnancy
Two days after I finished the above, I tested positive again for pregnancy. Unfortunately, I miscarried again at five weeks naturally. Then, I immediately got pregnant again. A year later, my two-month-old son is sleeping in my lap while I write this update. I had hyperemesis again, but I found a clinic with a compassionate OB who followed me my whole pregnancy instead of a rotation of providers like I had with the first. I had a PICC line from 11-18 weeks and stopped vomiting from the HG, although I was still absolutely miserable.
My HG symptoms slowly improved and by 25 weeks, I was able to go back to work until I delivered my son at 41 weeks. He was 9 pounds, 5 ounces and very healthy. I am doing EMDR therapy for the trauma of miscarriage and HG, and I still have some post trauma triggers from the time that I was sick. The HER Foundation was the number one resource that I used to help advocate for myself.
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