Friday, 24 July 2015

Hyperemesis Gravidarum - my personal story

Its not morning sickness.  That's the first thing you need to know.  A pregnancy should be a time of joy but many woman suffering with Hyperemesis Gravadum know all to well how it can soon become a nightmare.  Even now 6 weeks after my ordeal the emotional wounds of suffering from chronic pregnancy sickness are still very much raw.  I have decided to share my story to educate those who want to know more about the condition and try my best to reassure and help those who are suffering with it now.

An Introduction

When I fell pregnant with my first I had never heard of Hyperemesis Gravardum and many people who knew me hadn't either.  Hyperemesis is a form of severe morning sickness that has no cure and occurs at all times of the day.  Bouts of violent sickness are often frequent and painful and can last beyond the 20th week but many woman report to feel better by that time.  Many of us have heard of the Author Charlotte Bronte, well she is believed to have died of the disease in 1855 four months into her pregnancy.  Lucky enough advances in modern medicine now mean that such an event these days is very rare.  With Englands very own princess Kate suffering from the dreaded sickness it has helped shed a light on the condition and make people more aware of its existence.  The condition is said to worsen with each pregnancy and so I share with you is the story of my second pregnancy.

What is it like to have HG
At my worst I was being sick around every 5 to ten minutes, this would last all day for several days with no relief apart from when sleeping.  I had never experienced a kind of nausea before that I would describe as physically painful.  I could not stand the smell of food, in fact everything smells bad, bedding, food even other people or even your own body smell.  I could not stand to have my own husband or daughter around me as their smells triggered my sickness.  Even bright lights and some noises would trigger the sickness off.  Keeping down water was impossible even frozen or in small sips, keeping down my own saliva also became impossible.  I spent a collective of just over a month in hospital receiving treatment and eventually being found a medication to help alleviate the symptoms.  Sometimes the sickness can be so bad you may be prescribed sickness tablets that are given to chemo patients to help with sickness. During the peak of my sickness I was unable to walk or sit up for long periods of time.  the furthest I walked was probably three meters to car to go back to hospital at these points due to weakness and a poorly tummy, even making it to a toilet was impossible also given the amount of times I was sick I ended up with a bucket by my bedside.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure you are well rested in this scenario.

Seeking medical attention
I cannot stress this enough, but if you feel you cannot cope with your sickness or have any of the symptoms above take yourself down to a hospital or doctor.  You are not wasting any ones time.  Even if your symptoms do not seem as severe as mine.  As said before this is not normal sickness and you do not need to feel silly or guilty.  This can be a serious illness.  You can be given things that can help you.  Even a stay in hospital helped me to feel a little better as I was being hydrated and kept away from nasty smells.

Dealing with those who don't understand and the "your pregnant not sick" mantra.

There will always be people who don't understand what you are going through. Mainly down to the lack of knowledge of the illness and also because its something that is hard to understand if you haven't truely experienced it. Something that got said to me a lot, and I have heard other suffered say that is said to them is that you are "Pregnant not sick" When the truth is you are both pregnant and sick.  Surround yourself with people who are able to help you.  This is a time when you really need to stick up for yourself and tell people you need their help right now.  Don't let anyone make you feel like you are failing or that you can help the way you are feeling.  This is not something you can prevent or help.  Do not stop people from allowing you to seek medical attention.

The Housework.  Uh oh...
This is something that really stressed me out.  I hate any kind of mess and I also suffered with a feeling of guilt and failure that I wasn't able to keep up with and do the things I usually did.  The fact is however, at the end of the day sometimes you simply cannot do it.  You will have to ask for help (something im not very good at). Looking after my daughter also became a huge issue and I felt very guilty that I could not play with her or give her the attention I usually did.  Do not feel to blame when your stuck on the sofa watching endless reals of netflix with your kid because you can't move or physically do anything else.

Dealing with depression and unwanted throughts
With unforgiving sickness and hours spent alone in bed or struggling to do normal day to day tasks, unsurprisingly can become a cause of depression. Hyperemesis made me feel very secluded and lonely and I would find myself crying for what felt like hours sometimes being so dehydrated that producing proper tears wasn't happening.  At my worst I found myself pleading with my family to help me terminate my pregnancy, something that now I couldn't even imagine contemplating and this is why it is important to make sure you have a good support network to help you through.  Such unwelcome thoughts are not unusual amongts sufferers and not something you should feel guilty for regardless of your beliefs.  Just know you will get through this and the pain and sickness will subside in time and that it is perfectly normal to just want anything that will help the sickness to go away but remember this wont last forever.

It is very normal to feel sad about other people enjoying their pregnancies.  I know what it is like to watch other pregnant woman enjoying cinema trips, swimming and shopping whilst you are stuck in a hospital bed or on the sofa in a dressing gown. I have no photos of either of my pregnancies and zero happy memories.  I also had a hard time attatching to my pregnancy and loathed it.  It almost made me feel like a sick animal or an alien.  Be reassured this is normal and there is nothing wrong with you. 

Seek help and talk to someone if you need to.  Suffering with a bad pregnancy can leave you at higher risk of postnatal depression and even post traumatic stress disorder. There is plenty of professional help for woman suffering with stresses and depression during pregnancy and is nothing to be ashamed off.

Ways to manage HG
Whilst I am sure if you have found yourself here you have tried everything you can with no relief.  bare in mind different things work for different people here are some things that helped me.

  • Whilst some people found that some motion made it worse, for me getting my husband to take me for car rides with cool wind blowing in my face helped a little to subside the sickness.  It was a pleasant distraction from laying in bed and allowed me to get some fresh air.  Just don't forget your bucket.
  • Eat what you crave, when you grave it.  Don't worry about a healthy diet at this current moment.
  • Sleep alone if you have to,  The smell of other people can be triggering.
  • drink ice cold fresh water in small sips
  • Keep the room dark as strong light can make sickness worse and trigger headaches.
  • wash clothes and bedding as often as you need,  i washed mine every two days wich sounds excessive but  the smell was too much to handle.
  • Show relatives online leaflets and internet articles blogs to relatives to help them understand the condition.
  • Seek advice and vent online.  I found the mumsnet pregnancy HG support thread very helpful.  its full of information and people who understand, listen and care.  

    A happy ending

    With the correct medical care and support it is highly unlikely that your baby will come to any harm although some are likely to have a slightly lower birth weight.  Both my babies were healthy weights and had no complications and both of my births were fairly strait forward.  In both cases the sickness subsides immediately after birth.

    Remember this doesn't last forever and you will get your lovely little baby at the end of it.

    If anyone has any questions or want to add anything/share their experience please do so in the comments below.

 and here is a picture of my happy healthy little boy who caused all my troubles and I wouldn't have it anyway.


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