Hi, my name is Cate and I'm a survivor of Hyperemesis Gravidarum. For those of you who do not know what that Harry Potter-sounding term means, the definition is simply "excessive vomiting." Hypermesis doesn't have a lot of exposure, and many people don't think it exists. It's been in the spotlight recently due to Duchess Kate having been diagnosed with it for the second time. When you tell people that you've had a pregnancy with excessive morning sickness, they tend to give you weird looks and their home remedies for combating your ailment.
When I was pregnant, I heard everything from ginger, to Sea-Bands. Like the typical first time mother, I tried every suggestion that was thrown at me. The truth is, nothing can stop Hyperemesis but extreme hospital treatment.
Here's a peek into what my world was like.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was overjoyed. My life seemed to be complete. After all, in my world, a baby completed everything. In my eyes, my life purpose was being fulfilled. At the time I had a great, stable job as a secretary for a bank. My plans were to work until I gave birth, then work from home. My plans didn't go the way I planned in the least.
My nausea started out small, at about four weeks into my pregnancy. A trip to the secluded bathroom at work here, an early clock-out there. Nothing too unmanageable. Fast forward to my eighth week of pregnancy, to the county fair.
After stuffing my pregnant face with all the goodies I could, I became uncontrollably sick for a week. I chalked it up to your typical over-indulgent, gluttonous food poisoning episode.
A couple weeks later, the same thing happened. Only this time, worse. My highest record for throwing up was 40 times in one day, and that was a normal occurrence.
My spells of sickness would last about two weeks, if I was lucky. If not, they would last much longer. I went to the doctor, who prescribed me medication for a stomach acid disorder. That wasn't the solution. Soon, routine doctor visits weren't enough, and I graduated to the lovely world of the emergency room. The emergency room held a certain level of magic for me. Often, I would go there late at night, after hours of puking. They would give me an IV bag and the miracle medicine, Zofran.
My emergency room visits became more frequent, providing relief for only a few hours. Finally, my doctor gave me a pass to same-day surgery, where they would spend four hours every three days injecting my veins with fluids and nutrients. No matter what they tried, they couldn't cure my sickness. I reached my darkest point when I was a couple weeks into my second trimester. My throwing up had become so frequent that there was blood in the bowl. I also had made myself a "nest" in my bathroom, which I never left. I started to become so malnourished that 25 pounds had fallen off my small frame, and I started to hallucinate. I have no clue to this day if that is due to the sickness or the 10 different medications I was taking on any given day.
During that time period, I remember praying to die. I felt like I was dying. My hair was falling out, my skin was dull and pasty, and my eyes were glassy. I could barely muster the strength to shower.
My lowest point was about two weeks into my second trimester when a nurse overheard me jokingly say that I wanted to slit my wrists. That landed me a visit in the observation area of the ICU with no cell phone or personal belongings till I was thoroughly evaluated. I had an intensive counselling session with the specialist, where I was grilled on everything from my home life to my acceptance of my pregnancy.
After about an hour of interrogation, the counsellor determined that I wasn't suicidal, just tired of being sick. Even through all the stress, the ICU was a blessing in disguise. I had the nicest nurses and finally received one on one care and a lasting solution. There they gave me a steroid treatment which eventually stopped the vomiting and other symptoms. I would continue to take the steroids for two weeks to build up my system.
Finally, I was able to go through the remainder of my pregnancy without many issues. Hypermesis had a lasting effect on my body, as my son wasn't carried full term. He was born at 34 weeks exactly, and weighed almost five pounds. I still have food aversions, metabolism issues, and anxiety. I can't look at certain foods or think about certain things without bursting into full on tears. I may have made it through Hyperemesis, but I'm not the same girl I was when I went into it.
By Cate Hoepner
Originally published on The Purple Fig
The Purple Fig is an online women's blogazine with an emphasis on realistic and inspiring personal stories from women of all age groups, lifestyles, and nationalities. We feature essays about parenting, the journey to womanhood, feminism, overcoming challenges in both career and personal life, and issues surrounding sexuality, relationships, and family life. This is where women go to be inspired by the knowledge they are never alone.
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