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.
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.