Hyperemesis is such a debilitating all-consuming illness, it ruined my life for almost the entire 9 months of pregnancy. I felt like I didn’t have a life anymore, I had to distance myself from family, friends and felt bad for Conor as he must have felt so helpless. The sheer amount of isolation that comes with hyperemesis made every day so much harder than the last. I’m so grateful that I survived this illness and am very near the end of my journey.
From the moment, I found out that me and Conor were expecting my heart filled with excitement, only for this feeling to be torn away from me the very next week.
At 3 weeks, pregnant (before I’d even booked my first midwife appointment) what I thought was morning sickness started. But instead of morning sickness, it was all day sickness. Couldn’t really keep anything down, was lucky if I managed to get to work, eat my lunch and keep it down till I got home.
I thought (and was told) that this was normal.
By the time I went to my first midwife appointment I was signed off work with “morning” sickness. I told the midwife I hadn’t been able to eat/drink properly in over a week but she assured me it was all ‘normal’ and to try the usual morning sickness remedies (Ginger, dry toast…) to see if it’ll ease my nausea and sickness.
I battled on a few weeks more surviving off water soups and the odd mouthful of toast that I was able to keep down before going to see my doctor for something to help me stop being sick (I was 9 weeks at this point) was prescribed anti-sickness medication – Cyclizine, to which I felt such a relief that this magic medicine would work and I’d be able to get my life back.
I was wrong.
It caused me the most pain I’d ever felt in my life and made me dizzy, hallucinate and the sickness come on 10x worse. I battled on with the medication for another week, went back and was given a different medication – Prochlorperazine which also didn’t work.
I was very much at my lowest point here, I even considered an abortion. Even after knowing we really want and planned for this baby all my strength had gone. I felt like I was dying and there was nothing that was working to stop it.
At this point, still only myself and Conor knew, we didn’t want to tell our families until we had the first scan, and to be honest, it was the last thing on our mind. It was so difficult as me and my mum have a really close relationship and speak on the phone at least every other day. I fobbed her off with a sickness bug for as long as I could. When she visited me in hospital she was lead to believe that I had a kidney infection and was placed on the gynaecology ward due to overcrowding, luckily she bought it. But I felt really bad for lying to her, even if it was just to give her a much better surprise later on, it still was difficult.
I had my 12 week scan coming up and I just wanted to make sure this baby was ok. I’d lost around 2 1/2 stone through not being able to keep food down for longer than I could remember and the past week had been horrendous with not keeping any water down either because I was being sick every 15/30minutes throughout the day and night and basically being bedridden. My husband having to wash me and my hair in the bath as I could hardly stand and practically be my carer.
One night, I called 111 several times due to my sickness getting worse to the point that I was sicking up blood from the tears in my oesophagus. They booked me an emergency appointment with my doctor for the following morning. The doctor I saw wasn’t my own doctor, so he fobbed me off with norovirus (yeah a virus that’s lasted me 10 weeks) and once again some more anti-sickness meds – Pyridoxine. Went home feeling defeated, as no medicine they were giving me worked, I was so dehydrated I couldn’t even cry tears. So many times I felt like giving up, that I couldn’t do this anymore. That I wasn’t strong enough for this or this pregnancy.
The next day I was barely conscious, because for 48+ hours now I had vomited every 15 minutes/half hour even if my stomach was empty. Conor wasn’t happy with how I was either. I felt like I was drifting off half the day, I had contained haemorrhages in my eyes due to the strain of being sick so much, burst blood vessels covering my face and chest.
So, Conor booked me another emergency appointment with my actual doctor who wanted to admit me to hospital straight away. I panicked and refused and went home with more meds – Metoclopramide, an hour later I broke down, I couldn’t do this anymore. I’d officially given up. So, I called my doctor back and agreed to be admitted.
Once I got to the hospital I was severely dehydrated, hadn’t peed since yesterday and had loads of ketones (excessive ketones in the urine indicate that the body is not using carbohydrates from food as fuel and is subsequently trying to break down fat as fuel. Having ketones is a sign that the body is beginning to operate in starvation mode). It took 5/6 attempts to get an IV in me as I was so dehydrated that my veins collapsed at every try.
Once they hooked me up, I had an emergency scan in the early pregnancy unit and it was so hard to bring myself to look at the screen. I was so dehydrated, connected to a drip, laying there just wishing this was all over. When we first saw that little bean of a baby on the screen I was expecting to feel this over joyous amount of happiness but instead, I felt nothing. Conor was so happy, I could see the tears welling up in his eyes as he looked at our little baby on that screen then down at me, but my tears were not happy ones like his. It made me feel like such a bad mum already, but I was frustrated that this little tiny thing has caused me so much pain and upset for the past 3 months that I simply couldn’t be happy or grateful.
I eventually had over 9 IV bags full of fluid, some vitamins and iron numerous bags of anti-sickness meds and a lot of bed rest for me to finally start feeling human again 4 days later. Conor didn’t leave my side, he stayed just sitting next to me whilst I lay sleeping/recovering for hours on end.
I really couldn’t wish for a more supportive husband, through all of this, once out of hospital he tidied the house as the mess made me feel worse, cleaned my sick bowl for me, helped me out of bed to go to the toilet, learnt not only how to french plait but make sure my hair was always plaited out of the way, washed me in the bath as I was too weak to even lift my arms up to do my hair, up all hours (every 1/2 hour) of the night with me rubbing my back as he knew I hated being sick so much.
I feel that he deserves a medal as much as any woman does who has to go through this terrible illness that constantly gets fobbed off as “acute/severe morning sickness” this is nothing like morning sickness.
HG for me has, unfortunately, lasted the whole pregnancy. At around 22 weeks my medication was settled and I manage on 2 different types of anti-sickness a day (Ondansatron and Promethazine). Some days I wake up so nauseous and others I’m fine.
At 39weeks I’m only half a stone above my pre-pregnancy weight and baby is measuring slightly small.
All this media attention and still no one manages to explain Hyperemesis Gravidarum correctly. I’m so glad these women have spoken out.
I haven’t even suffered as much as some women do but we all agree that is it hell.
I am so envious of people who perfect pregnancies who have no morning sickness, no complications, no hospital visits but I guess every woman is different and I would never wish this debilitating illness on anyone.
If anyone needs support there you are not alone, there is a UK Facebook group that has helped me through with women who understand and have been/are going through it too, along with pregnancy sickness support being there at the end of the phone when I needed them most.