Hyperemesis Gravidarum and Me.
As we approach Hyperemesis Gravidarum National Awareness Day, I thought it would be a good opportunity to use Essench platform to share my own personal story on the topic. It’s been 9 years since my last pregnancy and as time has gone on it’s become easier to talk about the absolute hell I found myself in. I’m happy to talk openly and honestly about what I had to do to get through it. I also understand and appreciate that not everybody will agree with my decisions and actions during my pregnancy.
This is my story.
14 years ago I became pregnant with my first child, after trying for 3 years I was absolutely over the moon, and could not believe that I was going to fulfill my only dream of becoming a Mom. 6 weeks into the pregnancy I started getting morning sickness or so I thought. It was severe sickness from the minute I opened my eyes each morning and would last for hours. I couldn’t do normal day-to-day things and affected my going to work. Trying to explain to my employer why I couldnt again get on a bus and sit around people because I was sick, or why I couldnt do my job as a nursery nurse was starting to wear thin. BUT it was the truth. After a few months, the sickness died down, I was able to return to work and I almost time it for when I had to be back home before I got too ill.
Midway through. And again.
After a while I got used to it and was still able to enjoy some of my pregnancy, this is how it continued until I gave birth to my healthy gorgeous son. Fast forward 5 years, during that time I had met my partner christina, we always knew we wanted to expand our family and wanted my son to have a sibling to grow up with. Obviously being in a same sex relationship it took alot of planning and time to become pregnant, I also had reservations and was quite worried about how I’d cope with looking after my son if I was to be that sick again, over time my worries and concerns were over shadowed by our yearning to have a baby, I knew if I got through it once I could do it again.
I mean woman have morning sickness all the time and it doesn’t stop them having more children!. So after careful planning we were so lucky I became pregnant with our now 9 year old daughter the excitement was unreal, unfortunately for me, it was very short lived. The first couple of weeks I was on Cloud 9 noththing in the world could of made me happier, I had two weeks of pure joy before that horrid familiar feeling of sickness came for me, and even then I had no idea what extent it would be. One morning I got up and started my normal routine of getting ready for work, trying desperately to ignore my spin cycle stomach churn, and think of all the times people have told me that sickness is a good sign as it means the pregnancy is strong.
I knew to nibble on ginger biscuits and take tiny sips of water to ease the sickness but this felt different, more intense, and horrid. When I got to work I had to tell my colleagues I couldn’t help with this or that, and again the next day and the next, every day the sickness was stronger and more intense. It was crippling and I wasnt even 6 weeks pregnant yet. By the time I was 7-8 weeks the sickness had completely taken over my life, I was unable to work, look after my son, I could barely function. I had no idea when my doctor signed me off for two weeks I wouldn’t be returning to work for another 5 months. My mouth would fill with thick stringy saliva that was disgusting to swallow, it would fill up within seconds of swallowing so resulted in having a pint glass or bowl attached to me so I could spit out the saliva. id only have to open my lips to talk and it would just spill out, it was so embarrassing and I couldn’t stand people seeing me that way, watching me drooling and spitting in bowls, that alone stopped me from going out or seeing anybody.
The sickness would constantly wake me up whenever I fell asleep, and the vomiting would a painful projectile every time. The acid in my throat felt like swallowing razers, my ribs permanently ached due to constant heaving, throwing up felt like I’d been kicked from every direction, there was no let-up, no breaks, nothing I did helped.
I would have to order a taxi to complete a 5-minute walk to the doctors, where I would cry and plead with them to help me. I had anti-sickness injections, anti-sickness tablets I even took tablets that clearly stated not recommended for pregnant women; as by this time I didn’t care. By the time I was 10 weeks pregnant (very early stages for a 9-month process) I was so low, I no longer wanted to be pregnant anymore. Every minute of being this way felt like years, I had no hope, I hated myself for not being a normal functioning person. I missed cuddling and talking with my son who was struggling not having his mom around and didn’t understand why we couldn’t play anymore or even complete the simplistic of things like watching a movie, even the motion of the TV would make me throw up.
I missed Christina too and felt like our relationship was on the brink. Everything was just so hard, and it seemed nobody understood what it felt like, and how sad and lonely I was. I would watch Chris get up from her chair and just walk across the room to get something and I’d be in tears, I just wanted to be able to do that. I felt like people thought I just being dramatic and they thought I was weak. I just hated who I was as this was happening. My depression grew and grew, every day felt worst than the day before. By now I was not talking to anybody and couldn’t hold a conversation.
I felt so ashamed that for not coping like everyone else, I stopped all contact with the outside world, except a few family members. My sister would be ready to take my son to nursery every morning and have to come back to look after me, do my housework, and collect any shopping we needed whilst Chris was working. As well as feeling constantly sick, I also felt like a huge burden.
Then my sister told me about Hyperemesis Gravadarum and trials they were doing in Jamaica, they were treating women with HG with cannabis, it took several days of tears, and arguments between me and Chris before I finally tried it and can honestly hand on heart say cannabis saved me, and our daughter. It enabled me to gain strength so I could do the basics like brushing my teeth, wash my face, cuddle my son, give him a bath and attend appointments. Being able to eat a few bits of food and take sips of water without throwing up felt like heaven, don’t get me wrong it didn’t cure my condition I still wasn’t able to do things such as a food shop, or go out visiting family and friends it just gave me enough of what I needed to continue with my pregnancy and battle my depression, and that was all I ever needed.
Whenever I got admitted to the hospital and was asked how do I cope I could never be honest, I felt so ashamed and scared for people to find out, the stigma is terrible and I couldn’t handle people knowing. I needed cannabis to help me during the days, even years after still only a close circle of people knew what I had to do to survive, and it was a matter of survival. The day I went into labour and felt those contractions getting stronger I knew this hell was soon to be over, I literally remember shouting “I’ve done it, I’ve made it!” once I gave birth, because no lie I truly believed I was going to die some days.
Although I grew up always wanting a big family I feel blessed with the two healthy beautiful children I have. I now know that with every pregnancy Hyperemesis gets worse, that’s why it was so bad for me the second time around. I am fully aware that a third pregnancy would be horrific and I know I couldn’t go through it again. My heart goes out to all women suffering from this awful condition. Over the years since having my children, Hyperemesis has never left my mind, I quite often think back to my low days where I was searching for people who were suffering like myself to connect with, there’s very little support out there., even with celebrities discussing the matter.
I remember crying to the doctors begging them to come out to me so I didn’t have to sit in a waiting room with my head round my knees because I just could not lift it up, people staring at you whist in your most desperate state, but they just didn’t see it as serious. Nobody saw it as a big issue but when women are having to abort their pregnancies because of how ill they are, it should be a matter of concern. More attention, research, education, and understanding are very much needed in this area.
It’s time to bring Hyperemesis Gravidarum into the spotlight, as women are really suffering and need proper full support.
If you would like further information head to Hyperemesis.org