“You see all these glamorous photos of pregnant women, glowing and so happy. I used to be like that. Until my pregnancies started getting harder each time. By my 3rd pregnancy I was in and out of the hospital getting IV fluids, weak, and dizzy. I wasn’t clinically diagnosed with hyperemesis until my 4th pregnancy, in 2016. Maybe I had a glimmer of hope my next pregnancy would be different. Yet I ended up having to have weekly IV fluids in an infusion center, and almost had a picc line placed. I was immersed into a whole new world that was basically like survival mode for me.
However, I’ll never forget the first time with my 3rd when I had my husband take me to the er. I was dehydrated, blurred vision, dizzy, and all. The ER doctor came in and said, ‘Well this is normal. This is what happens when you are pregnant, it’s called morning sickness.’ I felt so stupid for coming, but I knew it was more than just morning sickness. Thankfully this was the only uniformed doctor I came in contact with. But looking back I wish I would’ve stood up better for myself. I wish I could’ve told him, this was not normal throwing up all day, unable to keep anything down. So lethargic I could barely get out of bed. It was more than morning sickness. And I should have never felt stupid for coming to the er, and for listening to my body. I knew I was sick. I had to tell him to do lab work on me, for him to realize I was severely dehydrated. Those two litters of iv fluids he finally ordered saved both mine and my baby’s life. Sadly so many women battle hyperemesis in silence, or have to fight to be heard. That’s why I won’t keep quiet.
Back in August 2018 I found out we were expecting number 5. The first thing that popped up in my head was hyperemesis. It has a way of doing that, creeping in the deepest parts of you. But the excitement and joy was much stronger than the darkness of Hyperemesis. Yet like clockwork the vomiting and er visits hit. Add in working 12hr er shifts, house hunting, marriage, and motherhood.
I was weak, and my head was always spinning. I found myself choosing foods that would be best coming back up. No nausea medicine even touched it, except phenergan. I guess it would make me so sleepy the nausea wasn’t as debilitating. I was taking it around the clock at home which left me feeling like a zombie. My husband was doing everything and helping as much as he could when he’d get off from work in the evenings. But I was still trying to stay afloat during the day with 4 young kids. I carried grocery bags to throw up in the car and by my bed. Trips to the grocery store literally made me sick with all the different smells crashing over me at once. I couldn’t do a lot of stuff with the kids, and I felt so guilty. And the awful lingering taste in my mouth would leave me wanting to just vomit. Nothing would get rid of it, I tried everything to take that taste away. My ‘safe’ drink or food would be my worst enemy the next day. ‘But you were able to keep it down yesterday!’ My husband would say questioningly. Not understanding how it worked. Hyperemsis is like a sick cat and mouse game, and you most definitely are the mouse.
The days were so long and so slow. I found myself counting down the days, weeks, and months until I was one step closer to delivery. I even had a countdown app! There were times when I had to leave work early, or run to the bathroom throwing up so much I felt like passing out. Other times it took every ounce of strength I had left to get up and get ready for work. Friends would say, ‘But you sit at a desk for work it should be easy for you.’ They had no clue all my job entailed on top of being so sick; from answering the phones, making calls, chart orders, and making sure the med room was stocked. All while keeping up with the fast pace of an er, while time went so seemingly slow.
It was a vicious cycle, I lost over 30 lbs. I know a lot of people meant well, but being told constantly to try ginger ale and crackers was exhausting. Others would confidently say, ‘It’s just morning sickness it will pass by the second trimester.’ Sadly it didn’t ‘pass.’ And sadly there’s a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about hg. It’s way beyond morning sickness. At a point in time I would just put on a fake smile, choke back the burning bile in my throat and say, ‘I’m fine.’ It was a robotic comment I got used to saying, because I learned quickly people felt like I was complaining. I found myself in tears sometimes feeling like maybe everyone was right. Was I crazy for not just getting my tubes tied? But then my baby kicking, or my children snuggling up with me in bed would give me strength. Strength to keep going, and strength to feel empowered by my choices.
On my darkest days, I was also told to be grateful. And I’ll be the first to say pregnancy is something I don’t take lightly. I’m beyond grateful for all of my kids. But please don’t try to discredit someone’s feelings. Listen to them. Let them cry, let them be heard! Because hg is dark and it needs to brought to the light. Because when we speak up something magical happens. We open up a pathway for connection, and and comfort in knowing we aren’t alone. I was in such a dark place some times I wished I wouldn’t wake up. I was mentally and physically exhausted. ‘You can’t complain you put yourself through it.’ I was told. People even had the nerve to say, ‘You should have just gotten your tubes tied a long time ago.‘ But when I look at my baby girl that was just born April 5th, 2019, I feel victorious. I’d go through hell and back all over again for THIS moment right here. I’d do it all over again for all of my children.
This time and every other time in the past, the hg went away as fast as it came as soon as delivery was over. I ordered a huge cheeseburger and fries. I ate with no vomiting or lingering taste. And it felt divine. I savored a huge hospital mug of iced water, because there was a time when I couldn’t even keep water down. After months of vomiting it feels like freedom slipping back to ‘normal.’ Free to eat whatever without it coming back up. Free to get up without being dizzy. Free to play with my kids without getting sick. But this isn’t just about hg. I know mothers who have to go through IVF, losses, pain, and meds just to stay pregnant. We are all fighting battles, and our journeys may be different but we all have one thing that keeps us going, love. A love that knows no boundaries.
I’ve been called crazy over and over for having 5 kids. And I just may be crazy, crazy in love with this family of mine. The kids are over the moon for their new baby sister. The joy of sibling-hood and their bond unfolding before my eyes, melts my heart. It’s a beautiful sight, and a journey I fought through. So to anyone who has endured or is currently enduring hg don’t be afraid to share your story. A lot may not understand my story, or your story. But no matter what, it’s your story! You own rights to it, not anyone else. You’re a conqueror, a warrior in beast mode, a force to be reckoned with…you are a mother!”
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