- Severe or prolonged vomiting.
- Persistent severe vomiting leading to dehydration and weight loss, as a condition occurring during pregnancy.
Morning sickness is one of the many “fun” parts of pregnancy. Some ladies are lucky enough to not experience a day of nausea and others are unfortunate enough to get a severe case of HG. The difficult thing to grasp is that there is no textbook reason as to why some get it and some don’t… Some ladies have it in one pregnancy and not another, some with male babies and some with female babies, some never get it and some always get it. Many gynaes have suggested that the reason for HG is your body reacting to the change in hormone levels during your pregnancy but no-one can provide concrete evidence.
As a bit of background… When I was pregnant with SJ, I had some nausea, queasiness and food aversions during my first 12 weeks. I went off cooked meat, vegetables and most fruit – I only ever vomited three times and due to me finishing off my Post Grad studies and not working, I spent my ‘rough’ days in bed, sleeping it off. My gynae prescribed the pregnancy-safe medication, Vomifene to help ease the nausea but it didn’t help much. He then prescribed the pregnancy-safe medication, Asic and after three episodes of ‘temporary paralysis’ (losing all feeling in my body from my neck down and fainting)*, I stopped taking the medication. The morning of 12 weeks, I woke up feeling right as rain again and started my second trimester with no sickness, normal eating and back to exercise. *We learnt that this is one of the very rare side effects*
When I was pregnant with EN, the nausea kicked in around 6 weeks and by 8 weeks, I could not keep any food or liquids down. I had lost a lot of weight and become dehydrated. At 8 weeks, I was hospitalized for a week (put on to an IV drip) and after numerous attempts at anti-nausea medications, my gynae prescribed Stemetil (not proven to be safe or unsafe in pregnancy). This medication helped ease the vomiting and I was able to eat small amounts of dry, bland food and get some liquids in. Weeks 9-12 were spent at home, in bed, sleeping away the nausea and odd vomiting. We were living with my in-laws at the time and I was lucky enough to have the help and support of granny and our nanny with little 18 month old SJ running around. I felt terrible and I really struggled being in bed for so long, not being able to eat and being too physically weak to care for my own family. But at 12 weeks, I woke up feeling much better and slowly started eating and drinking again, gaining my strength and weight back and then being able to enjoy my second trimester.
When MC and I started considering trying for our third child, my biggest fear was the high risk of morning sickness again. I was terrified of being nauseas, vomiting and being bed ridden whilst having two toddlers at home and a traveling husband. But many people convinced me (in hope!) that my third pregnancy would be better and I heard so many stories of friends that never experienced a day of morning sickness! Boy, was I VERY wrong!
No sooner had we seen a positive pregnancy test, did I wake up to the sick and nauseas feeling of morning sickness. It started at 6 weeks with the queasy feeling when I opened my eyes, not wanting to eat much and going off any cooked food or strong smells. Within days, the vomiting had kicked in and I couldn’t keep anything down – no apple, no toast, no ginger biscuits, no juice and not even water. Nothing!
At my 8 week ultrasound, after two weeks in bed, I had already lost 3kgs, I still hadn’t been eating and I was struggling to stand on my own two feet. My new gynae (my previous gynae retired after having EN) prescribed pregnancy-safe medication that did nothing to help besides add to the nausea. At 9 weeks, I woke up one morning to shower and I collapsed – MC had to catch me in the shower and spent 20 minutes trying to wake me up from numerous fainting attacks. He raced me to the hospital and I was admitted for the first time with a diagnosis of HG. From weeks 8-12, I spent days and nights in bed or hugging the toilet bowl, not eating or drinking, or in hospital hooked up to an IV drip. I lived in desperation for week 12 to arrive and for the vomiting to disappear…
Unfortunately, week 12 came and went and the dreaded HG stuck around. Weeks 12-18 were no different – I spent days and nights in bed, vomiting and fainting, still unable to keep anything down, I visited the hospital a few more times and when not in hospital, I was at my doctors rooms each morning for a half day IV drip to try and keep my fluid intake up. I spent my days lying in a dark, black room, alone and unable to move – unable to read a book or watch TV because of the nausea, unable to eat or drink without vomiting it all up, unable to be a mom and wife to my family as I couldn’t move and often unable to even reply to messages because looking at my phone screen made me sick!
Life was hard. Life was emotional. Life was depressing.
After weeks of HG, I began to think that it was never gong to end. That I was stuck with this feeling until 40 weeks, the very end. The dark thoughts and anxiety were often overwhelming, the thought of not feeling human for another 20 weeks scared me. I hated waking up each morning and I dreaded the 24 hours of the day ahead… I was physically and emotionally tired and drained. I was lonely and couldn’t ever explain the feeling so no-one seemed to understand. I was forgotten about as the weeks went on and visits and messages stopped from most ‘friends’ (although this time in my life showed some true and amazing angel friends who spoke to me every day, bent over backwards to help in any way and were there for me, no matter what!). I was consumed with guilt for the stress and pressure this put on my family – my kids never saw me (they came to say good morning before school and good night before bed, and even then their little breaths made me more nauseas!) and my poor husband was left to run our home, do our shopping, ego morning and afternoon lifts and activities for the girls, work a 10 hour day and then come home to feed dinner, bath the girls and put them to bed. Every day. For 16 weeks.
I cried and I prayed. And I merely existed.
At 21 weeks, I was hospitalized for the last time. I spent 5 solid days on strong nausea medication and an IV drip and I managed to overcome the dehydration. I managed to eat some bland food. And I managed to drink liquids again. And after 22 weeks of suffering, I had finally turned a corner. I could wake up and get up, I could assist with caring for my kids, I could leave my house to enjoy the joys of the outside world and I could finally acknowledge and enjoy the little life growing inside of me.
But I was a changed person.
I was no longer my happy, carefree and fun-loving self. I wasn’t my positive, calm and assuring self. I wasn’t my friendly, social and outgoing self. I was emotional, I was sad, I was angry, I was lonely, I was anxious, I was nervous, I was scared, I was pessimistic, I was timid, I was intimidated.
I was depressed.
Days and days of being locked up in a dark room can do that to you. Weeks and weeks of minimal interaction, no conversation or brain stimulation can do that to you. Months of dehydration dn starvation can do that to you. I didn’t want to leave the house, I didn’t want to socialize or interact with friends, I was paranoid about something happening to MC and our girls, I was anxious about crime and accidents and ways we would get hurt. I was terrified of MC leaving my side and not being there for me. But I knew this wasn’t the real me and that I needed help. I met with a local psychologist and together with my GP and gynae, I was prescribed a mild anti-depressant (safe for pregnancy) and after a few weeks, the dark clouds started to lift and I could see the sunshine again. I took things slow and with the support of my incredible husband and a few close friends and family – I made it out.
And even now, at 34 weeks, I am a new, changed person.
I still have the odd day of nausea and vomiting, I have major food aversions and I am unable to exercise. I have all the third trimester aches and pains and our Summer heat can be unbearable at times. But I have a smile on my face in the morning, I am beyond grateful for the blessing of this little miracle, I am excited about meeting this little person and I have had fun preparing her nursery, being spoilt at our baby shower and choosing her name. I have to take it easy and rest so I am still massively supported by MC, our families and the most amazing close friends – and I have learnt to delegate and ask for help when I am stuck or unwell. I have learnt so much during these past 9 months and I am a different person through this experience but already I can see that as terrible as it was to endure, it was His plan for me and it all happened for a reason.
And now we count down the last few weeks to meeting our baby girl and leaving my pregnancy days behind…