In honor of today (May 15th) being HG awareness day, I have decided to share my HG story. For those that don’t know, HG stands for hyperemesis gravidarum. HG is best described as severe morning sickness. It is very intense and you spend most of your pregnancy throwing up. This leads to dehydration and weight loss. Unlike normal morning sickness that typically only lasts the first trimester, HG can last the entire pregnancy. Some woman begin to find some relief between 20-25 weeks, but not always. Doctors aren’t exactly sure what causes it and there is no cure. Thankfully, less than 3% of pregnant woman will suffer from HG. Princess Kate, Amy Schumer & myself were a few of the unlucky ones.
I found out I was pregnant on August 21st 2017. I enjoyed 13 glorious days of pregnancy without being sick. Everything changed on Monday September 4th (Week 5 Day 2). These dates and numbers will forever be burned in my brain. I remember waking up feeling a little nauseous and by the end of the day I was just hugging the toilet. I couldn’t keep anything (food or fluid) down for the next three days and I had my first emergency room visit on Thursday September 7th. I remember they gave me IV zofran (didn’t seem to help), 2 bags of IV fluids & IV Reglan. The Reglan seemed to help a little with my nausea so we decided (my doctors and I) to start taking that daily moving forward. BAD DECISION. A different story for a different time. Anyway, I did find some relief after getting the fluids. For about a day at least. Sometime after this is when I ended up having to take FMLA from work. I couldn’t leave the bathroom floor, let alone do anything else.
I had the honor of being a bridesmaid in one of girlfriends weddings on September 16th (7 weeks pregnant exactly). It was such a fun and beautiful wedding, but lord did I feel like shit. I threw up all morning, warned the ladies at the hair salon to show me where the nearest sinks/garbage cans were, carried a bag in the pocket of my dress the entire time and didn’t ride the party bus. Instead Ryan drove me behind the bus to all the stops so that I could puke in private as needed. If you watch their wedding video you will spot me running across the dance floor during their first dance. I am running to the bathroom to throw up. FYI I made it. 😊 We did end up leaving the wedding before 9pm which was a bummer, but I told them we will have to re-do the wedding another time.
It got to a point where I was throwing up so frequently, Ryan had to start buying more food and different types of food. Once I threw something up enough times I just couldn’t eat it again. I started to find food that would come up easier. Liquids that would taste better coming back up. Things that would burn less. Textures that come up easier. I know, this all sounds disgusting and crazy to think about, but I was literally in survival mode. I would try my hardest to keep the food down for 30 minutes because someone told me that way my body was at least absorbing some of the nutrients. No clue if that is actually true. I remember Ryan feeling so helpless that he would just scrub the entire bathroom to make sure it was clean for me since I spent all my time in there on the floor.
I had my first doctors appointment on September 25th (Week 8 Day 2) and I remember it was about a 35 minute drive. As soon as the car was parked I threw up in the parking lot for about 10 minutes. That was fun. Appointment went fine. Doctor told me the first trimester sucks, but I should start feeling better around weeks 12-14. I could do it, only a couple more weeks! We decided to keep me on the medication for nausea. It seemed to help a little. I told her I hadn’t kept anything down in a couple days and she recommended I go in for fluids again. My second emergency room visit was that afternoon. Same drill as before. IV Reglan & 2 bags of IV fluids. This time I was officially diagnosed with HG.
October was a blur of depression, throwing up and harry potter. My third emergency room visit was on October 20th (11 Weeks 6 Days). I really thought Ryan was going to divorce me because of that one. First, health insurance right now SUCKS! Each time I went to the ER it cost us between $1000-$1500. Second, this time it was at 3am. I knew it was time to go. I was severely dehydrated. My heart was racing, and I couldn’t sleep. I knew I wouldn’t fall asleep until I got some fluids in me. My husband HATES being woken up. The two things in life he hates are spending money and being woken up. So waking him up to go to the ER to spend another $1000 really didn’t sound great to him. But, ultimately he knew I needed to go and we went. And he didn't divorce me. Haha! Same drill. IV meds & fluids.
I had a doctors appointment on November 9th (Week 14 Day 5) and I remember leaving in tears because I couldn’t understand why I still felt so awful. The only answer my doctor could give me was “some woman are sick their entire pregnancy, but find relief around week 20”. That broke me. How was I going to make it another 25ish weeks? I was losing weight, not gaining. I had lost all my muscle. I felt awful mentally and physically. I went from bed to couch to bathroom floor to bed. The days lasted forever. I was already sleeping from 8pm to 8am because sleeping was the only time I could find relief from being sick. It got to a point where I started to throw up blood because I burned my esophagus from stomach acid. I learned this is apparently common for ladies with HG and to not be alarmed. How the hell are you supposed to NOT be alarmed when you throw up blood?! I also was dealing with depression from the nausea medicine they had me on. At this appointment is when we switched over to Zofran instead of Reglan.
A few days later I decided to drive to the dollar store and buy supplies to make myself a chart that I can look at everyday and see how many days of pregnancy I have accomplished. Everyday I would add a sticker to my chart. And I would set small goals for myself. Lets get to halfway! Lets get to 25 weeks! 3rd trimester! Day by day I would mark it off and each day I was one step closer to my goal. Honestly this is how I kept myself positive and sane.
Well, now that I was on the Zofran, I was super constipated. So that was awful. I was still super sick and now not pooping. With some help from suppositories and enemas (thank you for the help Ryan) I was able to go every so often. But still not nearly enough. This is a huge issue HG mamas deal with. I remember this being a huge topic of discussion in our groups. The picture below is of me before my very first enema. You can tell I am terrified. I hope this picture doesn't offend anyone. I want to be as honest with this post as possible.
I remember I started to find some relief around Thanksgiving (around 18 weeks). I wasn’t throwing up all day every day. I was constantly nauseous and still threw up often, but I had some good days. I remember eating Thanksgiving dinner and keeping it down. I was able to keep my mind occupied around the holidays and I started working from home at the beginning of the year. I still spent many days working from the bathroom floor, but my manager was very understanding. I keep saying Kai very well may not be here today if not for his kindness and understanding. Also, glucose testing with HG is a bitch (having to drink this nasty stuff and not throw it up for an hour). But failing the 1 hour and having to do the 3 hour with HG really blows! I have no idea how I survived that.
As many of you already know, I only ended up being pregnant for 35 weeks (due to my preeclampsia), but as soon as Kai was born the nausea was gone. I was hungry for the first time in 7 months. I don’t think I’ve stopped eating since then. Haha! I keep saying I will lose all the weight as soon as I get pregnant again. Unfortunately, from all the research I’ve done and woman I have talked to, it seems if you suffer from HG once you are very likely to suffer from it again. That terrifies me. I don’t know how I am going to do this again with a toddler. Ryan and I joked when Kai was 4 months old that if I had a normal pregnancy, we would totally already be pregnant again (not so much now that he is 13 months – LOL). But unfortunately for us this is something we will have to plan and prepare above and beyond for. I hope someday doctors are able to figure out exactly what causes HG and potentially cure it. I feel like I had one of the milder cases of HG from the research I’ve done. There are woman out there who are hooked up to an IV 24/7 or have a feeding tube. Or have kidney failure! At least us talking about it and raising awareness is one step in the right direction!
,One thing that helped me tremendously during my pregnancy was joining HG support groups on facebook. It was incredibly helpful to be surrounded by ladies who were going through the same thing. Bounce questions off them. Ask for advice. Just knowing someone else out there understands the misery you are going through helps so much. Also, Bruegger’s bagels and iced tea. No idea why, but that was my go to when I needed to keep something down.
Finally, I just want to note that I don’t want this post to come off sounding rude or ungrateful. I am SO grateful for the ability to be pregnant and carry my own child. I know there are so many women out there who can’t and would do anything to be able to. There are woman who would give anything to experience HG and I am sending you so much love! I am very blessed and grateful, but at the same time, I absolutely hate everything about being pregnant.
HG is literally life changing. I almost had to quit my PNC job. I had to completely change and restructure my boutique (turns out it was for the better!) My entire body was pretty much destroyed. Mentally, I was broke. BUT, I will do it all again because it is so worth it. They are SO worth it.
Just Breathe <3