I Had Hyperemesis Gravidarum: 3 times
Tara Carpenter, NC., CPES.
I had severe morning sickness, a.k.a. hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), with all three of my pregnancies and each was worse than the one before …. 12 weeks with my first son, 15 weeks with my daughter that I miscarried, and the full 40 weeks with my second son.
Labor was easy compared to the weeks and months living in a nauseas torturous state where I was unable to lift my head, read a book, or drink more than a teaspoon of water. I’d give birth any day if it meant avoiding the nausea and suffering, I felt during pregnancy.
My first pregnancy …
I was young and idealistic. My partner at the time was about my age and knew of my long held in desire to have a baby sooner than later. We were building a round house in the woods of Floyd, Virginia in a community with a herd of goats that we milked and made chevre cheese with to sell at the local farmer’s market. We gardened and built our home and socialized. I felt confident that a bringing up a baby in this lifestyle was a healthy one.
We did get pregnant and 3 weeks after conception, I woke one day unable to get out of bed. I was forced to though by the endless round the clock, every few minutes need to throw up. When I realized the feeling was not going away, I brought my pillow to the toilet and started sleeping on the bathroom floor. I did not know the extent of what was going on, only that I must have morning sickness. I did not ask for help.
I figured lots of moms feel queasy in those first weeks; don’t all moms throw up what feels like battery acid every 5 minutes round the clock or curl up on the bathroom floor? The answer is NO. Morning sickness this severe only affects 0.5-2.0% of pregnant moms. I had HG for 12 weeks on the dot with this 1st pregnancy.
More about hyperemesis gravidarum here.
The second time, goodbye baby girl…
The 2nd time I got pregnant was a surprise and I wasn’t prepared mentally or physically. I was terrified to get sick again. I hadn’t researched how to avoid HG. I was a single mom working 60+ hour weeks with no time to lay in bed too nauseous to move or work. That’s exactly what happened for a total of 15 weeks. I lost that baby one day after my body stopped feeling sick. She was a girl, which dispels myth you only get sick with boys.
Miscarriage is common with HG because mom is malnourished, dehydrated, with a depleted immune system. That’s what happened with my baby girl. The day I stopped feeling sick I rejoiced to eat everything under the sun!! To feel the normalcy of being a woman pregnant and feeling baby flutter inside. To wake up the next day and start life in a more upbeat way. If you’ve had HG, you know the achievement to get through each day. The hard work, day in and day out, for 15 weeks only to lose baby. I lost myself for a bit and struggled with what felt to be unfair.
The third time …
The 3rd time I got pregnant, I knew I’d get sick and didn’t care. After miscarrying my baby girl I wanted to be filled with a child inside me growing and alive. I didn’t spend time building up my immune system or putting on weight in anticipation of losing 25 pounds. I couldn’t bear the emptiness in my belly after losing my baby girl and within 4 months of that also my father unexpectedly of a sudden heart attack at the age of 62.
I jumped into getting pregnant again and though I was not a spring chicken, I believe that being so is what helped me move out of the slump and grief I felt. I knew how bad life would become. I thought only for 3-4 months. I wasn’t expecting to be sick with HG up to the moment I pushed my baby boy into the world.
I can’t let myself get pregnant again. Being pregnant destroyed my health and stole chunks of my life. I wouldn’t wish severe morning sickness on my worst enemy, though I am envious of moms who only get nauseous!! My dream of having four kids is out the window, yet I have reached a place of peace inside where I am grateful for the two that I have. They are enough and I worked hard to grow them 😉
I offer support by phone/email for women with severe, endless morning sickness. Please share this post. If you know a woman in the throes of severe morning sickness – HELP HER. By doing so, you can stop a condition which, left to itself, can require hospitalization. Dehydration and malnourishment can occur after only 1-2 days of persistent vomiting. Watch for this and notify doctor. There can be underlying physical causes for severe vomiting during pregnancy, but don’t think for a minute that her vomiting is psychically based. Make her a tray of ice cubes using Pellegrino sparkling water and lemon rind.
Place a sliced clean lemon in her hand to smell and keep close by. Peppermint also great. Be inventive. My mother-in-law sent a pile of colorful, food magazines to pilfer through and see what jumped out. I could look through 10 of them and come up with 1 food, say strawberries. So hard.
Have hope …
The best suggestion I have, no matter what form of morning sickness you get, is to implement a preventative lifestyle or diet changes soon as you can. I wish I’d prepared myself for months, even years, before conceiving. Who knows if would have helped. Back then there was not the internet and cell phone group chats. I suffered alone in a dark bedroom or more than not, on the bathroom floor, lol. Nowadays there are Facebook groups and forums of women sharing their experience about what helps and commiserating together about feeling awful day after day after day after day. You can do this. If you can’t, then seek out support.
My three lights at the end of a long, pitch dark tunnel…
Severe Morning Sickness…what to eat when you can’t
Morning Sickness x’s 100…meet hyperemesis gravidarum
Morning Sickness: 10 foods for all shades of grey
May all bellies be happy!