The day after I saw those two pink lines on my pregnancy test, I threw up while eating my breakfast. “Well, I guess that’s the morning sickness.” I shrugged it off and figured it was nothing more than another confirmation that I was pregnant. What I didn’t know was that I was about to spend the next 6 weeks of my life bedridden, intensely sick with something called Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
It started with just more vomiting than expected, then I couldn’t eat anything other than hashbrowns and tea. I bought preggie pops, all forms of ginger, acupressure wrist bands, even over-the-counter medications. I quickly began worrying about my baby and my body. My doctor just gave me the “all is well–take your prenatal vitamins and try to eat” sort of schpeal. But I knew I couldn’t continue to live like this.
Whenever I battled through the strong aversion toward any food other than potatoes, it would come right back up. This became more severe, and I would lay in bed all day, repeating the cycle of vomiting and sleeping. My husband would come home after work to care for me, and I’d try to eat something other than potatoes again. Nothing worked.
My doctor had been tracking me and I had officially lost weight. She said it wasn’t within a concerning parameter, and it could be normal. I was astounded. I had been crying about my struggle to eat, but didn’t feel heard. So one day, I looked in the mirror and saw a pale, sickly, hollow version of myself. I hadn’t been able to function normally in over a month. So my husband took me to urgent care. They gave me anti-nausea medication and said that I had something much more than morning sickness.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or HG, is defined as “persistent severe vomiting leading to weight loss and dehydration, as a condition occurring during pregnancy.” It occurs in approximately .5 to 2 percent of all pregnancies.
I had never heard of it before, and especially never known someone who had it. The doctor told me I was dehydrated but didn’t need IV fluids yet. But if it got any worse, go directly to the ER and get fluids. The medication they gave me kicked in within 15 minutes and I ate an entire meal that night! The first glimpse of relief I had felt in over a month.
I brought up the medication to my doctor, and she said that I couldn’t be approved for it until 12 weeks. She told me the possible risks and said the decision would be mine. I was so scared. And I felt like I was already failing my baby. I knew I needed to eat. I was terrified of being one step away from an ER visit and my body (and mind) couldn’t handle it anymore.
With the approval of my doctor, I tried Unisom and B6 at night. Then I began taking prescription anti-nausea medication at 12 weeks. I took it for a few weeks and then only relied on the Unisom at night for the rest of my pregnancy. After about 16-18 weeks, the nausea and aversions mostly ceased. I was eating again, I was gaining healthy weight, and my baby continued to measure well.
Looking back, I’m just thankful that my son stayed safe and healthy through an ordeal that I consider to be one of the hardest times of my life.
I am, admittedly, intensely terrified to ever have another child and face the possibility of HG. I know that I’ll be able to advocate for myself and understand that this isn’t just morning sickness. HG is different for everyone. I’ve now heard of women who needed consistent IV fluid treatment and who dealt with intense sickness throughout their entire pregnancy. My hope is that HG would be well known and that women who have to go through it are aware of the signs. If you are battling HG, I see you and I care so deeply about you.
Interested in learning more? Here are 7 things you still may not know. If you have any further questions about Hyperemesis, feel free to reach out to me!