I collapsed on the doctor’s floor covered in sick and tears streaming down my face. Exhaustion, dehydration and frustration had caught up with me, and after shamelessly blurting out I didn’t want a baby this much, I realised I had hit a new low; but I didn’t care. I hadn’t got the strength to care. All I cared about was making it stop.
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Over the past 14 days I’d vomited at least 20 times before midday (impressive when I could barely eat or drink), peed in a cup my husband held underneath me because I couldn’t physically get out of bed, not showered nor brushed my teeth because I didn’t have the strength to even lift my arm and lost 3 kilos, along with my dignity.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Two words that you might’ve heard in the media recently due to Kate Middleton and Frankie Bridge suffering from what has been described as “acute morning sickness”. And good on them for talking out about it! Although I have to admit seeing Kate standing on the steps of the hospital, smiling and waving, made me feel a little jealous; I couldn’t stand without support, let alone keep my chin up long enough to smile.
Only a month earlier we’d found out we were pregnant (link to pregnant post), and for the first week I physically felt no different (except HUGE excitement, obviously!). The second week I remember going from sitting at my desk perfectly happy one minute to urgently needing fried chicken and crackers the next, and feeling constantly nauseous but never actually being sick. I was strangely happy; cravings and nausea confirmed that there was a little person growing in there when there wasn’t a bump to prove it yet.
A few days later everything changed and morning sickness hit fairly hard straight away – ironically never just in the morning. It wasn’t until I projectile vomited in the Apple store (dignity officially gone), and then on the way home continuously threw up on the bus in the dog pooh bags (classy) that I had in my coat pocket – to the point someone asked if I was drunk – that I realised something was wrong. I Googled what the ‘normal’ amount of sickness was in pregnancy, because I literally had nothing left inside me; the majority of my sick was now bile and I couldn’t even keep water down. For nearly two weeks I spent on average 20 out of 24 hours wrapped around the toilet seat with a severe headache, the sweats, achiness and shaking uncontrollably. My throat was burning, it hurt to pee and I was shattered. It was a total out-of-body experience.
I hadn’t even heard of Hyperemesis when the Doctor rushed me into hospital. Ironically I needed fluids (and drugs!) injected, but my veins had collapsed through lack of liquid because I hadn’t had the strength to drink so at first they couldn’t get the needle in. I spent until week 12 in hospital on a drip, and even when I was home I couldn’t look after myself; I was so weak and food wasn’t staying down.
People said “Oh I had sickness too, have you tried ginger/wristbands/tea?” and quite honestly I wanted to poke them with a wet fish! Hyperemesis isn’t morning sickness: when it strikes your whole body stops functioning. It’s not the same as having flu or being sick constantly – your mind switches off too. I couldn’t see an end to the pain and I felt like I wasn’t me anymore.
Being so weak meant walking was hard and my ligaments were soft, and in week 15 I was faced with further complications – I slipped a disc and trapped a nerve. I was bedridden for three weeks, not able to move the top half of my body from the bottom without being in agony, which made vomiting a whole new level of pain. It took my husband, crutches and military movement to get me to stand to go to the bathroom. One day the pain was so unbearable I fainted and vomited black liquid and I was rushed back to hospital in an ambulance. It was around this time the doctors discovered that I had an underactive thyroid…
Honestly, can someone just give me a break?!
This wasn’t related to the Hyperemesis, but it certainly didn’t help the healing process, and we made a fairly quick decision to move back to the UK to be closer to family, especially as I was now having routine scans because Baby Pinner wasn’t growing to the ideal weight. I spent the whole flight lying on the bathroom floor (thankfully stretched out in Business Class!) and the whole of the descent filling up Emirates’s sick bags!
They say that your last trimester is the hardest but I actually loved it. I stopped being sick at week 34, albeit from week 26 I was only sick once a day, and I finally could eat more than chips and coca-cola… living the dream! It was during this time that I asked my husband when we might try for another... well, he did vow to love me through sickness too!
For more information on Hyperemesis Gravidarum http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/severe-vomiting-in-pregnancy-hyperemesis-gravidarum.aspx