What’s Hyperemesis Gravidarum like? Part 3

What made HG a million times worse was the lack of support from GPs and nurses that I came across at the start. I’ve since met a GP who took HG, and me, seriously but I know from other HG sufferers that unsympathetic healthcare practitioners are more common than they should be. My first GP signed me off but kept saying “Morning sickness is hard”. This was not morning sickness and the majority of pregnancy women thankfully do not have to go through this. But for the ones that do, a little more understanding is needed.

There is medication HG sufferers can take – most to either help the nausea, vomiting or both. But, like EVERYTHING you do as a pregnant woman, the whole world will have an opinion on it and condemn you somehow. I had begun to take medication at 8 weeks until my symptoms worsened and I found myself at my healthcare centre talking to a nurse who was VERY disapproving of medication during pregnancy and asked me if I had ever heard of thalidomide. Frightened out of my wits that I was going to have a two-headed baby, I stopped the medication and didn’t try any again until I met a much more sensible GP when I was 14 weeks. Unfortunately, this meant that during the worst period of HG, I wasn’t on medication that could have helped me.

My lifeline during HG was found online. In particular, I found a very active thread on mumsnet for women suffering from HG. I went from feeling like the only person in the world suffering like this to realising there were lots of us. And there is strength in numbers. During my darkest days, it was a comfort to know that other people understood and had been through this. I wasn’t alone. Realising this gave me strength when I most needed it and, to all of those women, I can’t thank you enough. They are one of the reasons why I am blogging about this now – I don’t want anyone else to feel alone and isolated with HG. That’s not fun and it’s not necessary. You are part of a group of awesome fighters. Welcome.

For more posts on my experience with HG, check out my Hyperemesis Gravidarum tag. Thanks for reading!

What’s Hyperemesis Gravidarum like? Part 2

As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to shed some light into what having HG is actually like, as I’ve noticed a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about the condition. Everyone’s experience of it is individual and I’d love to hear from some fellow sufferers too. The below are my key takeaways.

  • HG is like having the worst hangover in your life coupled with food poisoning. But it never stops, it just goes on and on and no matter how many times you throw up, the nausea doesn’t go away and you never feel better.
  • HG is hugely, horrendously isolating. At my worst, all I could do was lie in my bed because moving, talking, watching TV made me vomit. I couldn’t tell my friends because I was so early in my pregnancy (although with close friends, I had to) and I couldn’t go to work. I didn’t leave the house for about 6 weeks except to go to the hospital/GP. I had no social life, no work life, basically no life and the only people I saw were my wonderful family who kept me sane.
  • The vomiting is crap. Crap is an understatement. The worst are the days when you’re SO exhausted that getting to the bathroom – dizzy, ill, knackered – seems like a mission to Mars and, once you’re there, your stomach heaves with nothing but bile and you can’t hold your head up because it’s too heavy. Vom in hair is gross, trust me.
  • The nausea is also debilitating because, on the days when I wasn’t vomiting as much, the sickness was so bad that I physically couldn’t push food past my throat. I was STARVING but everything made me retch.
  • Not eating and drinking properly means I was exhausted. I couldn’t stand up or walk around on my own because I was so dizzy and weak.
  • My relationship with food became a total nightmare. Every day was a challenge of trying to figure out either (1) what food I was likely to keep down or (2) what I wouldn’t mind throwing up again. I would wake up in the morning and feel a sickening sense of dread that, today, the whole cycle of drama would repeat itself again.

It’s a nightmare. It does, slowly, get better but those weeks when the symptoms are bad are a constant battle of endurance and, also, mental strength. I was very lucky in that my Mum, who lives abroad, stayed and looked after me throughout the worst of it. Between her and my husband, I had people to keep me company, a real lifeline when you have HG.

Today, I am 15+6. The nausea is bad today but I haven’t thrown up for a couple of days. Take that, HG.

What’s Hyperemesis Gravidarum like?

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.