“Imagine always being hungry but eating literally anything makes your body sick. Picture thirsting for water constantly, but even water sends you running for the toilet. You are supposed to be glowing and showing off your cute pregnant belly, instead you’re watching the bones in your chest pop through as your body is wasting away.
After battling infertility/IVF, and surviving our NICU chapter, we were hoping to settle down and catch our breath. We uprooted our entire lives and moved from Texas to Washington for a fresh start. Everything seemed to be going seamlessly. As seamlessly as moving with two toddlers under two could go, anyway!
Three months after moving, I woke up feeling extremely nauseous. THE nauseous feeling, that I have only ever felt during my previous pregnancy. I packed up the twins and went to the store. I grabbed a pregnancy test feeling totally embarrassed for getting my hopes up. I took the test at home and it instantly turned positive. I started shaking, and I asked God ‘Is this a joke?’ I was told by SO many doctors that I would never get pregnant naturally. We weren’t trying because this was a dream we had let go. My full body filled with joy and panic simultaneously.
I suddenly remembered that I am 10 times more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy.
After telling Richard and my parents, I called my doctor. They urged me to come in immediately. I got a blood test and ultrasound that same day.
BLOOD TEST: PENDING
What does this even mean? I thought the only roller coaster I was on that day was my positive pregnancy test and pending ectopic test results.12 hours later, I woke up to my daughter gasping and turning blue. Within 20 minutes, we were on an ambulance dashing to the hospital.
While my daughter and I spent the week at the hospital, I had to get blood tests every day to make sure baby didn’t get too big. If they did not catch baby growing in my fallopian tubes, I would die. My heart was split between my daughter in the hospital, my daughter back home who had never gone so long without me, my amazing husband, and this baby that may or may not be growing in me.I felt torn into so many pieces; I did not know how I would be put back together.Please save my family, I prayed.
By God’s grace, my daughter healed, and my baby was growing right where she should be. I finally exhaled.
I felt sick and threw up every single day, but I chalked it up to regular morning sickness. As the weeks passed, my symptoms kept getting worse instead of better. I tried my hardest to hide my pain. How could I possibly complain about a miracle pregnancy after battling infertility? Then I realized that trying to conceal the severity of my symptoms for the sake of ‘keeping my chin up’ was incredibly dangerous. I needed help. My precious baby needed help.
I have been throwing up every day since week 4 of pregnancy.
First, we tried oral medications, Zofran, Bonjesta, Reglan. Every new medication helped a little bit, but my diet became more and more restricted as the vomiting continued to get worse.
I had to go to the emergency room twice for fluids before I was 12 weeks pregnant. At the time, I didn’t understand what was going on. The doctors mentioned Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), but it is so rare I pushed it out of my head.
At 17 weeks I returned to the clinic twice for fluids when I could no longer take the splitting dehydration headache. I kept waiting for things to get better, like everyone said it would, but things only got worse. By week 18, I couldn’t even keep down sips of water. I remember ordering a scone at the local Farmer’s Market, and that was the last solid meal I have had since. We have tried IV medications, nutrition replenishment, timed meals, dietary changes, medication suppositories, everything…
At week 21, I now have a central line, which is the only way my body gets fluids and nutrients. I am on continuous TPN (Total parenteral nutrition) on a pump that I wear on my back. I have a team of nurses that come to my home, so that I can remain with my children as long as I possibly can.
Unlike when you are sick with a stomach bug, my appetite is entirely intact. I have been in a constant state of hunger and thirst for months without any relief. Every time I eat or drink, I feel like I am torturing my body. The anxiety builds with every bite, because I know it is just going to come right back up. I throw up so often and violently that I am now a high risk for ulcers and esophagus damage. I can’t even get through writing this without vomiting multiple times.
I feel incredibly isolated, because it is hard to connect with others when you can barely get off the couch. People have a certain look in their eyes when they see me. I can tell it is a mixture of sympathy and not knowing what to say.
I have a difficult time asking for help, but even my two-year-old daughters’ sense that I need it. They both try to bring me crackers or water and beg me to eat or drink. HG has taken me away from my children, and they don’t understand why. It takes all of the energy I have just to read them their bedtime stories.
My body is forced to keep my baby alive by slowly killing me in the process. Without constant medical support, I would not be alive. The question everyone asks me is ‘When will you get better?’ No one truly knows, but statistics strongly suggest my HG will last the entire pregnancy. Every day I choose to focus on my growing daughter’s safety. The longer I can fight my HG, the better chance she has at being born healthy. I lived the NICU nightmare with my twins already, which is the only pain I have ever felt that is worse than life with HG.
I trust God is using this chapter of my life for a reason, which is why every day I fight a lot of dark thoughts in order to choose joy.
So why am I telling you all of this? My goal is to spread awareness on a condition that many women suffer in complete silence.
The norm is for pregnant women to have an unmistakable glow. Usually, families are celebrating the most exciting time of their lives. That’s not true for everyone, though. Please take notice of the woman who has started to disappear.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum is incredibly isolating. People don’t know what to do with the weight of this illness. They are quick to say things like ‘It will get better soon!’ or ‘Morning Sickness doesn’t last forever!’ Those comments are well intentioned, but not helpful. Sometimes people just need to be heard. To be understood without having to constantly explain.
Offer to visit and bring flowers. Help out with any household chores that you can. Show patience and grace if you don’t hear from them. Don’t unpack your emotional baggage on them. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure your friend doesn’t feel forgotten.
It helps to acknowledge that this is HARD. Give them the space to fluctuate between staying strong and feeling entirely broken.”
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