Living With Hyperemesis Gravidarum

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There’s so much I want to say and have wanted to share about life with HG but I haven’t because talking about it actually makes me feel sick. That said, I have explained at some length what Hyperemesis Gravidarum is, as well as informally mentioning it during my first pregnancy, before I really understood it.

I’ve had Hyperemesis Gravidarum both times, and true to form, this time has been worse, sickness wise, but it has been ‘better’ living with it due to the fact that it’s been managed by Ondansetron (Zofran in the US), a drug actually meant for treating sickness in chemotherapy patients.

The sickness and its associated problems aside, one of the hardest things about living with Hyperemesis for me has been people and their intended-to-be-helpful comments. “Have you tried sucking on Ginger?” Yes. “Ginger snaps before getting out of bed in the morning really helped me.” Then you didn’t have Hyperemesis. “Everyone gets sick during pregnancy, you’ll get through it.” Yes. But not everyone loses 20kg (3 stone, almost). Or doesn’t eat for four months. Or can’t keep down water. Or vomits up blood from tearing their stomach lining and oesophagus from the sheer violence of the sickness (me neither, thankfully). Not everyone can’t move out of bed, or are unable to look after their toddlers.

Living with Hyperemesis is a disability, recognised or not. It requires adaptation and assistance from your nearest and dearest.

When I was pregnant with Ameli, I tried medication, but it made me sleep for about 6 hours straight – not ideal when you’re working full time. I was desperately weak but dragged myself to work every day. If I walked past someone smoking or drinking coffee, I threw up.

If someone walked past my office with a cup of coffee, I threw up.

If the neighbours cooked with garlic, I threw up.

If the pub on  the corner put a burger on the grill, I threw up.

On the up side, I was so weak and tired, I was in bed by 8 every night, having slept most of many afternoons too. My husband would come home from work around seven, and wait till I’d gone to bed before making himself dinner. He would close all the doors between me and the kitchen, put a fan at the door blowing in the direction away from me and open the back door (in the freezing UK winter!) and cook his dinner and eat it standing up in the kitchen so that the smells wouldn’t travel to me. If some did escape or the wind blew the kitchen smells towards the bedroom window, I threw up.

I lost teeth from the constant vomiting. Every time I go to the dentist I get a lecture on oral hygiene. I have such bad teeth now, they think I don’t brush!

We had to cancel a weekend in Spain because I simply couldn’t move without being sick, much less sit on a plane and stay in a backpackers lodge.

Garlic, meat- especially burgers – and coffee were the worst things in my world. I couldn’t stand fish, chicken or anything green. I basically didn’t eat.

This time round, the sickness has been ‘managed’ by medicine, something I deeply regret as my baby has more medication In Utero than his/her sister has ever had. But by six weeks pregnant, I couldn’t get out of bed.

This time I’m fine with garlic, but have been off meat for five months.  I knew I was pregnant before I had positive pregnancy tests, partly because the thought of coffee made me feel sick. I love my milky coffee now, but until about a month ago, no coffee could cross my lips.

The big thing for me this time has been water. The smell of laundry drying makes me vomit. The smell of the fishtank makes me vomit, and at one point in the first trimester before I finally found the right medication for me, the water coming out of the shower made me vomit – once I puked blood in the shower, that was when I decided I had to get treatment.

That’s been a trial, to say the least. Our laundry pile is almost up to the ceiling, because I can’t stand the smell of the washing machine, and having laundry hanging on the line on the conservatory makes the whole house smell, making me very ill. We tried using the drier for a while, but the smell of that is the worst thing I’ve ever smelt. (No one else can smell it, by the way. It’s just me!)

When we’ve been desperate and out of clothes I’ve taken everything to the Laundromat to wash and dry, but honestly that’s a very expensive solution.

We’ve had to switch to disposable nappies for Ameli as I can’t wash and line or tumble dry cloth.

There are certain theme tunes I can’t abide because they make me feel sick – the sound of them, that is. (I can’t remember who, but I remember reading another Hyperemesis Gravidarum sufferer saying the sound of the phone ringing made her puke. I was so relieved to hear it wasn’t just me!) Peppa Pig’s videos are banned in our house (I hate the male ‘rolemodels’ in the programme anyway, so I’m not unhappy about that) because I can’t stand the theme tune. (Ameli still loves her Peppa doll and the books. I’m okay with that.) One of Ameli’s musical toys has ‘disappeared’ too, as the songs on it make me sick too.

It all sounds rather crazy, doesn’t it? Sounds? Water? Who’d make this stuff up?

Well, this is life, my life, with Hyperemsis Gravidarum. Thank God it’s only a pregnancy thing.

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18 thoughts on “Living With Hyperemesis Gravidarum

  1. I just popped over to get the link for Mamatography and saw the link to this post and had to comment. I cannot remember whether the reason I stumbled across your blog in the first place was because of HG but for some reason in my mind I had no idea you had been through 2 HG pregnancies!

    I had HG in my pregnancy last year. By week 6/7 I was bedbound. I always felt like maybe I shouldn’t say I had HG because I never actually vomited. But then I realise that the only reason I never actually threw up was because I never managed to get anything down in the first place and I did a hell of a lot of dry heaving. Getting out of bed made my retch. Putting anything to my mouth made me gag. Talking set off the heaving. Coughing made me retch. And crying, well crying was the worst of all and boy did I want to cry!!

    I was given Buccastem from wk 7-13 and then had to fight for cyclizine which I got at 21 wks and finally managed to actually get out of bed and go to work (only 2 hours per day) without my constant mantra of “please don’t throw up”. For the first 12 weeks just walking to the bathroom made me retch and there was no way I could have worked.

    Recently I started thinking about whether I would have been better able to cope had it been managed better earlier on. The Buccastem did nothing and sheer willpower just to get 800ml of liquid down me per day (which was an improvement on 400ml which almost landed me in hospital) kept me going. That and drs constantly telling me to “suck it up”. I feel bad for thinking I’d only ever do it again if I had meds from the very beginning but I can’t even imagine being that sick (or worse) again and yet my heart breaks thinking I’ll never have another baby. HG traumatised my whole family, but when I think back on how much better I was, though still nauseous, after getting the cyclizine, I cannot help but wonder whether better treatment earlier on might have prevented the need for so much later as my HG lasted the entire 9 months.

    Isn’t HG hell? It makes me cry often to think of how it ruined my dream of having 2 or 3 kids because it just isn’t that simple anymore and my husband isn’t even sure he wants anymore kids after last year!
    Amanda’s last blog post ..2011 – The Year in Review

  2. Thank you!! for posting your experiences. I’m a first time Dad with my wife experiencing this in the past so I’m looking for advice on how to support her this time round. It’s something that is totally overlooked and most people think of it as normal morning sickness suggesting Ginger, Seabands etc… Very frustrating! It’s great to be able to read about other people’s experiences and advice – I know this is something that wasnt available for my wife’s previous suffering… x
    HG Dad’s last blog post ..Possible Physical Triggers of HG

  3. @Luschka, I certainly didnt forget, I always knew we’d have Dylan (7) so knew I had to do it again but was terrified. But as i said I didnt have it with him so decided a third was in order but knew if I had a girl I was going to suffer but eventually the desire to have a third overtook the fear of sickness and bang – I got pg and sick!! I knew I was pg from five weeks when the sickness started and knew it was obviously a girl. At my 20scan they couldnt tell the sex, but I said no prob I know anyway! I was buying dresses etc and at a 32 week scan I was proved right! There was no doubt in mine and husband mind because of the sckness!
    Emma’s last blog post ..week 3 Slimavite

  4. @Emma, oh wow! Is that because you ‘forgot’ between 11,7, and 2? Or simply chose to do it again? I ask because people always tell me I’ll ‘forget’ and want more, but I’m pretty sure the people who ‘forget’ didn’t have HG!

  5. @Luschka, I get what you mean about family size – hence I have three very spaced out children! 11, 7 and 2. But like you I couldn’t do it again now.
    Emma’s last blog post ..week 3 Slimavite

  6. @Emma, Thank you so much Emma. It is the worst thing I’ve ever experienced, and it’s determined my family size for me, which is sad, but it is what it is. I know I don’t have it in me to go through it again. I am already mortified that I’ve had this for at least 7 weeks longer than I did with Ameli, so the thought of having it after birth is more than I can cope with! I feel for you 🙁 You are right though – the only people that understand are the ones that have been through it too.

  7. @MumReinvented, Thank you MR. You did make me laugh. I don’t think I’ve ever been called skinny before! Made my day in a sad kind of way 😉
    I must say your sickness is very reminiscent of HG. In fact, one of the ‘symptoms’ is this extremely heightened sense of smell. I am glad you’re better now, and hope it doesn’t return! Thanks so much for the supportive comment!

  8. @almostsinglemom, Thank you. I’m so sorry that you recognise and empathise, but grateful for the support.

  9. @Zoie @ TouchstoneZ, Thank you Zoie. I talk about it to anyone who would listen, because I think it’s so important that people realise how disabling it is. It may only affect 2% of women, but that’s still millions of mothers, wives and sisters.

  10. I’ve heard so much about this, but I still don’t think most people are aware of how different it is to pregnancy morning sickness. Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope it will help more people understand it’s not just “drink some tea” and “eat some ginger” etc.

    Also, huge ((hugs)) for all you’re going through, especially while already parenting.
    Zoie @ TouchstoneZ’s last blog post ..Making Compassion my Hoe

  11. almostsinglemom

    I have been there. Heck I am there! It is awful, hellish, wretched stuff. I am so sorry you are suffering.

    Please do not hesitate to reach out to others.
    almostsinglemom’s last blog post ..What depression looks like

  12. I’m completely thick, I knew you have HG yet I kept seeing these very skinny pics of you plus bump and was wondering how on earth you’d lost so much weight before getting pregnant – I clearly have baby brain myself!

    I suffered from sickness a lot in the beginning of this pregnancy to the point where I wondered how on earth I would have worked had I been working at the time. I didn’t leave the house for about 7 weeks and could smell someone smoking in the next street, let alone cooking smells etc. Luckily it got better after I was about 13 weeks and was gone by 20, it has returned in the last few weeks but luckily it’s not half as bad as it was. My doctor prescribed tablets and wanted to admit me to hospital at it’s worst because of the weight I was losing (not to mention the lining of my stomach – don’t you just love throwing up blood etc!) but luckily I managed to get through it without either and relatively quickly, I can’t imagine how you must feel right now if you’re still so ill and with your gorgeous little girl to look after too (I was lucky mine was away with her nan for the vast majority of the weeks I was particularly bad). I hope you get a break and it starts to lift soon x
    MumReinvented’s last blog post ..35 weeks

  13. You poor thing and I say that with understanding. Its truely awful, I had it with both of my girls, being hospitalised for dehydration. I recall Lee getting me to an emergency doc one eve, i could barely stand and couldnt speak. The doc asked how many times Id been sick that day and Lee replied at least 20+ and doc said when was last time. Again Lee replied just outside on your flower beds!! I was zapped with antisickness injections after that. Also after delivery with both girls I started being sick again and I just cried. Midwives said it was the extra hormones leaving my body that caused the sickness, at that point and I required injections again. No one can understand how debilitating this is unless they have been there. Hope you get some respite soon.

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