My life with Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) came at me like a wave of confusion and despair. It seemed to come from nowhere. One minute, I was the happiest pregnant woman in the world, 6 weeks and counting. The next minute I felt like I was left waiting to die, everyday. So much time had passed with me restricted to my bed. Lying in the dark, on an empty stomach, in total silence, alone with my thoughts. The only sounds were that of my violent vomiting usually up to twenty times a day. The days my body would allow, I let out shaky cries. Most times crying was too painful.
I literally lived in the hope that one day it would end. Everyday I would wake up thinking, maybe today is the day it will end. Many times I forgot I had a baby growing inside of me. It felt more like something eating my life away, inside out.
I remember life before Hyperemesis. When I found out I was pregnant after our first attempt at trying for a baby, I truly felt like the luckiest woman alive. I knew it was something around a 20% chance of getting pregnant in the first month of trying, so how did that luck lead me into the tiny 1% of women that suffer from HG?
There was a song that constantly played in my head. A song I learnt when we were little and sang before each meal at the table- “Some have food but can not eat, some can eat but have no food, we have food and we can eat, Glory be to thee O Lord”. It was the first time in my life that I truly understood how some could have food but not eat and why it was such a powerful reference point in prayer. I literally dreamed of being able to eat. I would devour everything in sight and wake up with a satisfied smile on my face, till it dawned on me that it was all a dream. My reality was a nightmare cocktail of starvation, nausea and anti-sickness meds.
My life with HG was riddled with guilt. Guilt of feeling so disconnected from my pregnancy, sometimes considering it “disappeared” just for a moment of relief. That guilt was unimaginable. I remember reading how some women had degenerated so badly from the condition, they had to terminate the pregnancy. Then there was the guilt of feeling like a burden to those around me. I literally couldn’t do anything without help, even going to the toilet.
What made me feel the most isolated, were the attitudes towards the condition, even from some doctors. They could see I was in a really bad way, constantly in hospital on a drip caused by the dehydration. They could see my already small frame wasting away and could see my almost lifeless blood shot eyes, but somehow they just didn’t know what to say. Some would suggest I ate “Ginger”, others would tell me to be “grateful”, some just called it morning sickness. They might as well have told me to “snap out of it”. How was it that no one in the whole world seemed to understand me?
My life with HG ended when I was 20 weeks pregnant. By 20 weeks I could eat and the vomiting had stopped. I was still on anti-sickness meds and could not be around my “triggers”- certain smells, certain food and even certain songs. But I made it. Some women are not so lucky. They are struck down till the day they give birth. These are the women my heart goes out to. Only us HG survivors will ever understand.
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a pregnancy condition, characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and dehydration. Its causes are unknown. In fact it has only become mainstream in the media since the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton suffered from it with her pregnancies.
May 15th is International Hyperemesis Awareness day. I will forever shout to the rooftops about the condition. To anyone reading this that is suffering from Hyperemesis, I understand your pain and loneliness. Relief feels so far away, but it will come. Hold on to that thought every day. Soon, this will be a distant but painful memory. The joy that baby will bring will cloud every ounce of pain, but its ok to not want to think about baby today. Instead, think of you as a mother- Believe it or not, you are a good mother, equipped for the most challenging task of bringing life to this world. The journey is not easy, but you can do it and you will do it. You are one day closer to being yourself again- a more powerful self.
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