Baby Number 2: Surviving Life With Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Written by Rachael Robinson for her blog, Lukeosaurus And Me.
For most couples who have been trying a while for a baby, the news of a successful pregnancy is absolutely thrilling.
Mikey and I were no different. When I found out I was pregnant, we were both over the moon and filled with excitement. This will be Mikey’s first child, so every little thing is brand new and exciting for him. For me…I knew that, all excitement aside, I was about to enter a period of my life I’d gone through before. And I wasn’t looking forward to it.
You see, when I was pregnant with Luke, I suffered from horrific pregnancy sickness. I took all my entitled holiday from work off in one big chunk and locked myself in my bedroom for as long as I could. Back then, I didn’t have any of the support I do now and often had my boyfriend at the time telling me that no body liked me because I wasn’t making the effort to see them. My entire pregnancy, from start to labour, and the Postnatal Depression that followed, was a terrible experience and I was terrified to go through it all again.
Mikey and I had talked lots about having a child together and when we got our positive result, we were both thrilled that it had finally happened. However, in the back of my brain, niggling away, were old memories and fears. Things like miscarriages, hospitalisation, loneliness, depression and sickness. I had expressed all of these fears to Mikey before and said that, because of all my experiences, I never wanted to have another baby…
Oh how things change! Here I am now, 4 months into my second pregnancy, and just about managing to keep my Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) under control. I can only write about my own experiences of HG and the mental health and physical health issues I suffered with. Many other women go through this – some have it less severe, some have it a lot more severe. If you’re interested to know my personal story, read on..!
LIFE WITH HG
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a pregnancy complication that is characterised by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and possibly dehydration. Signs and symptoms may also include vomiting several times a day and feeling faint. Hyperemesis gravidarum is considered more severe than morning sickness.
WHAT IS HG?
Besides answering this with, “the worst experience in the world and I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy”, HG renders you completely helpless. I felt utterly pathetic.
You can’t walk, you can’t move around, sometimes you can’t even sit up in bed.
You can forget eating. Or drinking. And if you think ice lollies or sucking on ice cubes will help, think again.
Forget every trick you’ve ever known about to do with coping with sickness. Nothing, except medication, or a trip to A&E for emergency fluids will help you out of this one. There’s no cure and no way to stop the physical and mental pain…you just have to wait it out and try to remember that there’s a big reward at the end of it all.
ME AND HG
I felt like the loneliest and most pathetic person on the planet. For months I couldn’t get out of bed. That means, for months, I couldn’t see anyone – I couldn’t even manage to talk without throwing up. I couldn’t answer the front door without getting a head rush and throwing up. I couldn’t eat or drink, never mind attempt to get myself anything from the kitchen. I missed my friends, I missed being able to cuddle my son, I missed Mikey when he was at work and I missed being able to hold a conversation when he got home.
The only escape from my own little personal hell was to sleep. I mean, it’s not like I had any other option. I couldn’t move and couldn’t do anything for myself. I couldn’t even shower without help from Mikey. I remember the amount of effort it took to take my pyjama top off for a shower once and how I just burst into tears because it had use up all my energy. For the next twenty minutes I broke down on Mikey, topless, smelling of sick, rocking slightly in the bathroom before violently throwing up from all the crying.
There’s nothing pretty about HG. It strips you of dignity and independence and leaves you feeling numb and empty.
BEING A MUM ALREADY
I really missed Luke. Maybe that’s one of the things that depressed me the most. I couldn’t go and read his bed time story or cuddle and play with him after school. I felt like the worst mum in the world – talk about mum guilt! HG just brings that to a whole new level.
I struggled at first with getting him to school. I couldn’t even get him dressed in the mornings, let alone do the nearly three mile round trip twice a day. He missed a few days of school in beginning when I could just about manage to call them to explain, followed by lots of sickness just from the effort of holding a conversation. I searched relentlessly for childcare providers who would be able to do both school runs but every email, text or phone call was a no. Eventually, I managed to talk to the school’s care coordinator who didn’t have any solutions, except to send him to school and collect him from school, on his own, in a DBS checked taxi every day for months, possibly at this point, for my entire pregnancy.
There was no way in Hell I was sending my 4 year old to school by himself in a taxi. I thought the notion was completely mad. No family or friends I asked could help, not a lot of people were willing to give up their mornings on their days off to help either so I was completely stuck and starting to sink into that bottomless pit of hopelessness again.
Luckily for me, I eventually did find someone who could help out for a little bit and the relief I felt was unbelievable. Now all I needed to do was get Luke dressed in the morning and fed after school. Easier said than done, but somehow, with the aid of my trusty sick bucket (which I cannot wait to burn!), we managed to do that for a few months.
I tried lots of different medicines until I found the ones that worked for me. The trail and error is mentally exhausting. Each time you think something will help and you get your hopes up…
The problems I had when I did start to get things sorted was actually getting my prescriptions and collecting the medication. Without the medicine, I was lying down in bed with no hopes of sitting up. With the medication…well I could sit up and maybe stand and walk around the house for a little bit. I definitely couldn’t get to the GP Surgery.
Again I had to beg and rely on other people to pick up the prescription from the surgery and also take that to a pharmacy and collect the medicine. A tricky problem to solve when everyone you know is at work and your GP closes at 6 – long before anybody gets home from work.
Even if I managed to find people who could help, that didn’t necessarily mean I’d get my medicine. One day, Mikey had used his lunch break to drive all the way back from work to pick up Luke from school and then he had to drive back to work again. When he arrived home, he found my crying hysterically. I’d ran out of tablets and the prescription I had put into the GP surgery 4 days before had apparently never gone on their system. There was no record of it there and I was looking at another 48 hour wait… Mikey had come home to find me moments after I had burst into tears to the receptionist and then thrown up while on the phone to her. I was in a state and completely panicked and in the midst of an anxiety attack. I cried. He cried. We had a cuddle and cried together and then he went back to work. In the end, the poor women I may have accidentally traumatised while on the phone, had managed to push through my request and got the doctor to sign off the prescription within the hour.
Lesson learned: even if you time a prescription request to be in on time before your current medication runs out…double check it’s on the system, especially if you’re going to end up in hospital without it!
IT GOES ON AND ON AND ON…
With morning sickness, you expect the vomiting or nausea to clear up between 12-14 weeks. Sometimes a little bit longer, but you definitely notice it fade.
Sometimes that happens with HG too. I’m one of the lucky ones who, at 16 weeks, is now able to enjoy a relatively normal life again (as long as I continue to take my medication). I can function! I can take my kid to school and pick him up again. I can finally go out for coffee or meals again. I can go for country walks or days out and enjoy having an actual cuddle again – yes, I no long throw up when my boyfriend or child touches me!
Other people don’t get so lucky though. Some women continue their journey through Hell until they’re half way through, some even longer, and some unfortunately souls, suffer from HG all the way up until birth. That’s why it’s so important for those who are suffering to remember that, although you wouldn’t wish what you were experiencing on your worst enemy, at the end of the ordeal, you get to hold your precious baby.
PREGNANCY SICKNESS SUPPORT
Fellow blogger and good friend Emma also suffers from HG. She documented her first HG pregnancy on her blog and is now doing it all over again, both on her blog – which features resources like HG Friendly Play Activities, so that mums can still be a part of their children’s lives – and she also talks about it a lot over on Instagram.
Emma gave me some great advice when I was really struggling and is a trustee at Pregnancy Sickness Support charity. Although I wasn’t brave enough to call up and chat to anyone, I spent a lot of my waking hours reading the Online Support Forum. It’s free to join and is 100% closed off to the public – that means nothing you write will show up on Google searches or anything like that. If you, or anyone you know, is suffering from HG, please do mention the Pregnancy Sickness Support charity to them as it did, quite frankly, keep me sane.
It’s so important to remember that, although HG makes you feel so lonely and depressed, sometimes even suicidal, you are not alone. There are lots of people who have been in your shoes and lots of people who are going through the exact same thing. If you can manage it, having a chat with some other mums to be who understand your mental and physical state completely, will do you the world of good.