No, it’s not like morning sickness

by Kyla on April 20, 2015 · 12 comments

About 3am this morning I was determined that today I was going home, 10L of fluid and a regular IV of Zofran and Maxolon every 8 hours, switching off so I was never more than 4 hours without a dose had me feeling… Not well, exactly, but good enough that I wanted to be home, resting in my own bed and vomiting into my own toilet. Such is the joy of Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

It’s funny, despite the fact that HG was catapulted into media attention very few people have any real idea what special kind of hell it is. I’ve lost 8kg in 5 weeks purely through vomiting. Pregnancy is the best diet I’ve ever been on but it’s not exactly a healthy one. The babies are fine, they’re parasites who will suck the calcium out of my very bones if they need to. Me? I’m mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted.

Well-meaning people have remarked on how “good” I’m looking with the weight loss (seriously) despite knowing that I’m pregnant and puking my guts up almost constantly. I mention the HG and they say “ohh, like Princess Kate?” and all I can think is that no, no it’s not at all like Princess Kate. Sure it’s the same relentless nausea and vomiting leading to hospitalisation, but, it’s without the palace and servants and unlimited budget, people to step up and look after my son, to do my hair and make me feel pretty when I’m pretty sure my dull grey skin and sunken eyes have me looking more like a chemo patient than a pregnant woman.

Not that I think Kate had it easy either, there’s nothing nice about being unable to keep anything down. Think of the worst gastro you ever had, now imagine that for months on end and you have some idea of what HG feels like. Sure there’s no diarrhoea, in fact, if you’re on Zofran (ondansetron – which is actually used to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by surgery or cancer medicines) you’re likely to be terribly bunged up instead which isn’t much fun either, but the constant vomiting, the inability to even keep down a sip of water or a bite of an icy pole? Now you’re getting the idea.

Ginger doesn’t work, nor does flat coke, mints, sea bands, acupuncture, B6, boiled sweets or snacking on crackers. Sometimes the only relief is to eat and vomit. Food becomes a holy grail because you’re not exempt from the cravings of pregnancy, oh no, you still get insane urges to eat random things but you try desperately to pick food that you know won’t burn on the way back up. I’ve been craving orange juice for days and days, an ice cold glass of slightly sweet freshly squeezed pulpy juice that I know from experience I can’t have because the burn of it coming back up isn’t worth the feeling of satisfaction I get from having it on my tongue on the way down.

You know it’s going to hurt but you get desperate because you’re hungry, so hungry. Your stomach is roiling and you feel like you’re on the ocean during a storm with the nausea passing in waves but underneath it all is the hope that if you can just eat, things will get better. Invariably they don’t and the small amount you managed to eat comes flying back out so violently you often pee yourself as you vomit. You get used to frantically shoving rolled up toilet paper between your legs as you heave over the toilet bowl or a bucket. If you’re lucky you are able to keep fluid down – that’s the key to staying home and out of hospital. Your days are focussed around logging what you do eat and drink, how long it takes for it to make its violent exit and watching for the signs of dehydration that is a danger to you and the babies.

And I have it easy – I can actually get food on my tongue, some women can’t even get that far and spend months in hospital with IV food, fluids and medications.

As for keeping your pregnancy secret? Forget that. Everyone who comes into contact with me knows I’m pregnant, the constant puking makes it hard to hide. By six weeks my whole family and office knew (or suspected) and I was asked outright before we’d even had our first scan. We had to tell Dexter months earlier than we had planned because he was upset, worried that I was dying because I was so sick. He mentioned it to his teachers, to my parents, my sisters and his friends and we had to sit him down and explain that he was going to be a big brother and that mummy was so sick because the babies made her that way. He was thrilled, I will never forget the look of sheer joy on his face and he has been so beautiful and loving, kissing my belly and looking at the scans, talking to the babies every day… but once he knew, the whole world knew – he greets people with “Guess what, my mum has two babies in her belly!” rather than a hello.

The end result will be worth it, time will dull the memory of how awful I feel right now, helped along by the overwhelming love for the little people that are making all that illness happen.

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