Oh my hyperemesis friend. We meet again after a few years distance, but like all meaningful old friends, it is like no time has passed.
Before this year, I could recall parts of you and stories that themselves had been told so many times it was the telling of the story I could remember more than the moment itself. We first met in ’08 and then again in ’10 at which time I was onto your modus operandi. To no benefit however, your prowess too strong for my earthly powers.
I lay in bed for months because I couldn’t bear to stand up for the assault on my senses that would trigger violent, painful vomiting or the most unbelievably, unimaginable nausea. Bottle that moment just before you do vomit and then feel and live that, the heat, the overwhelm. The sensitivity and distress. Make yourself eat through the feeling, drink, be. Live it and live with it for months. My diagnosis was severe hyperemesis gravidarum those first 2 times, but in reality there were cases far more involved than mine. Women tearing their windpipes with the violence of the illness, confined for months of hospitalisation or in and out of that care and on every anti-emetic [stop-me-vomiting] drug available sometimes to little effect.
My relationship with the illness had become stories. Yet, here we are together again: I remember everything so clearly. It’s only been a few weeks now but already I feel like familiar friends with you and caught up on all your happenings.
Suddenly the reality of being able to tell what my husband and now children have eaten for lunch hours after they ingested it seems so much less interesting than the telling of that superpower in years gone past as I tried to explain the nuances of HG to others. The excessive saliva, the mind games after weeks of bedrest. The reality of the gut twisting disgust of the stench of the world isn’t so appealing. You all smell so very bad, the world smells bad actually.
And then there are my food thoughts. So, there are some foods that I can’t even think about. Think about. Not even see, not smell. Think about. The bowl sitting across the room from me with the skerrick of leftover gluten free pasta and basic tomato sauce is a vile assault and from across the room is tickling the back of my throat. <Holding my breath to attempt a run with it to the kitchen so that I can continue>. Even running through my house is an effort when you cant get enough calories in to sustain any sense of energy. Then there are foods that suddenly launch into my mind as the most appetizing culinary wants of my life. So I grasp onto that if I can in these early days. Grateful of what I might be able to eat and treated by that as I didn’t have that pleasure in my last 2 pregnancies by 7 weeks. If I have support to prepare that food, I can share my desires and when they are met the food is the most delectable morsel for a brief moment. The plus side is that with the blessing of my mind saying it is delicious, I can take that food in and keep it.
My senses are on fire, ablaze with the intensity of something completely uncontrolled.
The thick hanging fog of nausea is the feature of my experience in this pregnancy, less so than the actual ejection and that in itself is a blessing and something for which I am grateful. I am grateful for the heavy nausea because it alone won’t tear apart my insides or melt away my teeth enamel and it won’t affect my hydration which is key. The last times I had some IV fluids and severe dehydration the keystone of a hyperemesis pregnancy along with not being able to get enough nutrition in for healthy bodily function. Baby however does mostly very well, taking what it needs from Mums stores. I believe that because nausea is my constant companion and not so much vomiting this time, I expect to escape even IV, hospitalisation, and the tormenting decisions to take the anti-nausea drugs that are essential to many. Some women are taking these drugs and yet still vomiting 10, 20, 30 times each day. I will go so far as to say: my HG is mild this time, so far.
I know that because here at 7 weeks pregnant I can manipulate this mate of mine. I have been unwell since around 5 weeks. I can be attempt an outwit. Despite being revolted by most food and eating through the decided message from my body that what I am eating is truly revolting, I start my day with my usual green protein smoothie as quick as I can. I feel some days, like if I wake up quicker than HG does, I get a head start for about 15 minutes.
I succeed and have a brilliant morning, feeling well enough to claw back some sense of order in my home and contribution to maintenance and I even put rubbish out using a peg on my nose. I feel this so-close-to-normal for an hour or so and in that time, it’s a mind-fuck too. You want it to be awesome and essentially you do make it awesome because worry isn’t productive anyway. But still, all the while pushing away thoughts like: “Is this too normal?” “Is something wrong?” “I feel well, is my baby ok?” “What has changed?”. And you don’t want to ask for help, because you know this is so much bigger than the help you could reasonably expect from any other person friend or family – it is months of need.
So for an inkling a moment when your stomach begins to jump again and you feel that need to sit down to reduce the stimulus you say, thank goodness. I want this baby. I’m grateful for being so sick. This isn’t morning sickness and no amount of ginger tea or biscuits are going to perk me up. Acupuncture helps me, but for the hours of improvement versus the hours of travel to get there equal not always worthwhile. If you could get a home visit though, maybe that would be valuable.
I’m a strong woman and I’m not ready to be vulnerable, to impose. I’m not interested in being limited by HG – no woman is. I resent the pressure it places on my husband when he is the only person who can handle food in our home. Yet it just is. I know, I know the drill. Next year, no-one will remember. Even I won’t forget this experience but the physical symptoms are temporary. If it is 18 weeks, if it is 20 or if it is the full 42 or 43 weeks, we will cope. In the meantime I will be in bed and blog my way through, each word on a page to you a little productivity in my stationary state.
I was ready this time, stocked up on craft supplies, labelled my house mental so that anyone coming to help could find their way around. Knew of a good cleaner, sorted my life – my banking, bought 6 month supplies of soap (body, dish, laundry). Got ourselves a routine steadfast enough to provide a firm skeleton for us to live with. Then a few weeks in, supplies run low and you see that no matter what you do reality is that you might have to lean on your supports even just to take your complaints. But it isn’t falling apart. We are all alive, and in some realm happy. I’ve even been functional – taking my son to school. Able to eat some things as long as other people prepare the food. Simple joys.
I knew. I knew. So I did what I could for 18 months prior to heal my body, I was already changing my lifestyle from way back and I believe that things I did especially the Magnesium supplementation and gut health focus have put me in the best possible spot to get through this, this time, in a gentle way. To have the most light on HG of my 3 pregnancies. I am open to this and inviting it. That said, if you think that HG can be controlled by optimism I encourage a re-think. The women who are struggling, in hospital, away from their loved ones, tormented by day upon week upon month of starving while their little one grows: they might have lasted a week if this was somehow something we could opt out of. Particular if mental strength was all that was required, HG Mamas seem to have that in abundance. You grow it, like getting stronger through daily torture and a mental/physical test?!
I’m not going to dwell on things that do frustrate, like that everyone knows I am pregnant early on because they see me pulled over to vomit in the street or avoiding food like I have an eating disorder, which in itself is not something to shame over but you follow me. I remain fully aware that I am a lucky one. I choose and am able to carry another person into our family to welcome, nourish and grow them. I grow really great people 😛 and they are absolutely worth every moment of discomfort. These are the thoughts that bring an HG Mama through each day of pregnancy.
Smiles from my HG land x