I’m not going to lie, writing about my experience with Hyperemesis Gravidarum is tough. However, I think it’s important to write about because it’s more common than I think we realise. My main aim for doing this (and setting up this blog) is to let other women know that pregnancy can be really hard, and that that’s OKAY. I’ve had lots of well-meaning comments about how sad it is that I can’t ‘enjoy’ my pregnancy and that I should be ‘blooming’. Not only did I feel awful because I had HG but I also felt like I was Doing Pregnancy Wrong. I wasn’t. Millions of other women aren’t, either. It’s just, sometimes, pregnancy can be really, really hard and women who get through it are superstars. That’s it.
It’s difficult for people who haven’t been through HG to understand what it’s like. What I can say, at nearly 16 weeks pregnant, is that the last 10 weeks of my life have been THE hardest, most difficult thing I’ve ever been through. In context, I’m quite a healthy person; I have never been in hospital, never broken any bones. The worst illness I can remember having was tonsillitis. So, this was my first experience with a condition that was truly debilitating and truly, in my view, life-altering.
My HG symptoms started at 6 weeks, with severe nausea, while on honeymoon in the Maldives. Instead of swimming with dolphins and chilling out on sunloungers drinking (non-alcoholic) cocktails, I spent the majority of the time lying in bed unable to move. It wasn’t quite how I’d pictured it but, hey, that’s what HG does. The nausea was severe enough that I was limited to eating only a few things: bread, water, clear soups, etc.
At 8 weeks, the vomiting began properly. I spent hours, days in bed not moving because, if I did, I would throw up. I lost about 8 kgs and became so weak and listless that getting from my bed to the sofa was the most effort I could manage in a day. I was dizzy all the time and dehydrated because keeping liquids down was difficult. The days varied from moderate – when I’d throw up a couple of times – to bad – when I’d vomit everything up.
At 14 weeks, the vomiting began to lessen. I’m now nearly 16 weeks and am vomiting maybe once every couple of days. The nausea hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s constant from the moment I wake up to the moment I sleep, although the level of nausea goes up and down during the day. I still have to watch what I eat but I can eat a lot more than just bread and water now. I have left the house to see family and go shopping but I have to be careful as pushing myself too far can exarcebate the HG and make it worse again – my biggest nightmare. I’ve been off work for 10 weeks.
My HG isn’t as severe as others have experienced it. I had ‘better’ days when I could keep things down and I managed to avoid being hospitalised. But, even so, the impact it has had on my life has been profound. If you have or are suffering, then please know it’s not your fault, there’s nothing you can do and you should not feel guilty. All you have to do is get through it and, if you do, you’re awesome and I salute you.