I will describe Hyperemesis Gravidarum in one word, horrific. A horrifying nightmare, except I’d prefer the nightmare, because in a nightmare one can wake up. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is real and needs to be taken seriously. I believe if men were the ones having babies, there would be a cure or magic medicine for morning sickness, but HG is beyond MS, HG is morning sickness on steroids. HG is not in the same category. This horrible illness has and continues to plaque woman.
In 2014 I weighed 101lbs when I became pregnant, and by the 20th week of gestation I weighed in the low 90s. During my first pregnancy at 5 weeks gestation, I purged for the first time and it did not phase me, but little did I know each day would increase in intensity to the point of exhaustion and near starvation for myself and baby. I didn’t realize a baby so small could cause such havoc in my body. The morning it all started I was taken to the emergency. We waited a grand total of 8 hours. I was given IVs for rehydration and Zofran to help with the purging. For myself HG felt like having food poisoning at all hours of the day, even through the night for 20 weeks.
I was fortunate enough to have my Aunt as my Nurse at my OB’s office. Although I had family to comfort me and a credible and helpful OB, I still felt neglected at times. I felt my OB did not fully understand the severity of my condition, until my second pregnancy. The OB and my Aunt worked quickly to prescribe me dissolvable Zofran, but unfortunately even with the Zofran, I could barely keep ice cubes and bread down. On average I purged between 20-30 times a day. I was dropping weight quickly. By weeks 7-8, my OB prescribed Diclegis along with the Zofran. I was taking both Diclegis and Zofran together which eased the purging, but the purging still came. Instead of 20-30 times a day, I would purge 6-12 times in any given day. The meds helped me enough to swallow small pieces of random foods and carbonated drinks.
Going through HG in my first pregnancy was horrific enough, but the pregnancy also ended in a C-section. Enduring HG was difficult on so many levels. I was trying to grow a human, keep my sanity while barely surviving each hour.
My husband and I decided to have another baby. Ourselves and many family members held on to the hope that my first pregnancy was a fluke of severe morning sickness, and at this point I hadn’t fully been diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
I received the two pink lines, and was overwhelmed with excitement and fear. At 4 1/2 weeks the purging started with a vengeance. I became a prisoner to my room and bed. Once the purging began, it wouldn’t cease. My husband rushed me to the emergency. The lack of knowledge for HG by the medical field astounds me. The Dr. in the Emergency finally prescribed me Zofran through IVs, after they realized the purging wasn’t going to let up. This would continue for many months. I began multiple hospital and OB visits, way beyond the normal number a non-HG pregnancy brings. By the 13th week of gestation, I weighed 90lbs, I’d lost over 15lbs. I’d become extremely dehydrated even with the IVs being administered. I was delusional and on occasion would see spots. I barely acknowledged the presence of my husband when he entered the room nor was I able to hold my year old son. My in-laws came almost every day to tend and care for myself and my son. We were fortunate enough to have loving and attentive family around to help us.
After the 5th week of gestation I was confined to my bed, if I moved my head from my pillow too high or quickly, I’d purge uncontrollably. I was able to crawl to the shower every 1-2 weeks. I purged even in the shower. I’d lay on my pillow shaking, starving and utterly helpless, hoping for even a minute or two of relief. Sometimes the relief came after I’d taken my meds, or after I’d mutter a prayer or my husband had given me a blessing. I was overwhelmed with many emotions. I felt angry, sad, depressed and scared. My biggest fear was having to choose between starvation or giving up my baby. I couldn’t believe I’d even experienced the thoughts, but they were real and I was experiencing the most unbearable pain. HG is truly life threatening. The painful thoughts shook me to the core, but I knew deep down I would not give up and I was willing to die for this baby.
After many painful days/evenings, multiple IVs, bed rest and constant nausea medications around the clock, by week 17 of gestation I began to slowly regain strength and build my weight. With both pregnancies the purging did eventually cease, but the nausea continued until baby was born. At times I felt I’d be nauseous forever. It was a miracle how the pain and nausea disappeared soon after the baby was born. Modern medicine, my strong will and (God) kept me alive. Modern medicine is incredible, but we can do better than Zofran. Both of our babies arrived healthy, but this isn’t always the case with HG pregnancies. There is much more involved with HG pregnancies than what I’ve shared. HG not only impacts the Mother’s life, but that of her spouse, family and friends who are there witnessing the horror. In the end the woman is the only one who must endure.
There are incredible people and organizations who care about Woman and a healthy future for Mom and Baby, such as the Help Her Foundation | Her Foundation and UCLA is working toward finding ways to combat HG. Women are brave and strong. There are many ways to help a woman suffering with HG. To start, be educated and informed.