Hyperemesis Gravidarum –
I’m a HG Survivor
Hyperemesis Gravidarum, HG Survivor. Sounds serious, right? It is, and I was unlucky enough to be diagnosed with Hyperemesis at 4 weeks into my pregnancy. It’s a condition that affects less that 2% of pregnant women in the world. It is greatly under-researched which leaves these women undiagnosed and often ignored.
The definition of hyperemesis is severe and prolonged vomiting that leads to weight loss and dehydration during pregnancy. And well, gravidarum is just a fancy name for pregnancy.
I can vouch that the definition is accurate; I threw up 30 plus times a day and lost a lot of weight. I was unable to eat anything without throwing every bit of it up. Even a touch of water on my tongue was enough for me to empty my stomach. I was on track of losing about 10 pounds every 2 weeks. I lost so much weight that they hospitalized me for 2 weeks and still didn’t gain my weight back.
They ended up discharging me after inserting a PICC line. If you don’t know what that is- it’s a tube that is inserted into a large vein in your upper arm and it stops right above your heart. My PICC line was used for around-the-clock fluids and different medications to help with my constant nausea, GERD, and lack of nutrients from having HG.
If you still aren’t familiar with what Hyperemesis Gravidarum is, maybe this will ring a bell:
Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre, died in 1855 from complications during pregnancy. At that time HG was unknown but all of the symptoms were the same.
Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge. She suffered with both pregnancies and she was the first case that brought to the condition to national news in 2013 while being pregnant with Prince George.
Kelly Clarkson, American Idol winner in 2002, had HG in 2013 and was quoted saying, “It’s horrible. It’s like the darkest places I’ve ever been in my life.” I can agree with that.
Somehow, someway, both Kelly and Kate always looked stunning while in the spotlight during their pregnancies. I guess around-the-clock health-care and professional makeup artists can make them look fabulous but I know personally how they were really feeling on the inside; they wanted to crawl into bed and sleeps away all 9 months.
I felt and looked like death. Remember the 2 week stay in the hospital and PICC line I mentioned? The PICC line required Home IV therapy, weekly shipments of lactated ringers, banana bags, and my IV medications such as Zofran and Protonix.
Even after all that, I couldn’t move without it turning into a vomiting fest that lasted for hours. I just laid there bedridden for months hooked up to IV’s listening to the inhale/exhale of the fluid pumps all by my lonesome. The PICC line saved both mine and my unborn child’s life. I am grateful for my midwives whom pushed so hard for me to get it although my days became hooked up to tubes and when I did get up to walk, such as to the bathroom, a trail of tubes followed along beside me and my IV pole. That was my nutrition was months until I got to my almost 3rd trimester. Eventually, I was able to start eating again – All bland foods and a very little at a time.
For months I slept over 20 hours a day. My body shut down and just would not let me function despite my efforts. For months my only visitors were my home-health nurse and my husband. Once a week my home-health nurse came in, checked my PICC line for infections, replaced tubing, gave my arm a new dressing and went on her merry way. Every night after working a full day, coming home, cleaning the house, wrestling the kids with homework, dinner, and bed, my husband would change my IV’s one last time, inject my nightly medicines, change my batteries out of my IV pump and hang out next to me on the bed while I slept.
Because of how sick I was I only took a shower once a week because the event in itself was exhausting, nauseating, and triggered all the horrible symptoms of HG all at once. My husband usually ended up picking me from the bathroom floor and carrying me to the couch where he brushed my hair and began the nightly routine of changing out my fluids. Then we would begin the dreaded ascend to our bedroom where I desperately just wanted to lay in bed. Most of the time I didn’t even make it to the bedroom before I started vomiting all over again and just ended up lying in a heap on the floor. Only to once again be helped up by my husband and carried to bed. I usually passed out fairly quickly as it was the most I had done all day.
HG robbed me of everything that I held dearest; Most importantly my children. I rarely saw them. I went from playing the largest role in their life to it being as if I didn’t exist. I don’t have any memories of them during my pregnancy except one. My youngest daughter who was at the time 4 years old made a snack for herself and curled up next to me in bed and watched Finding Nemo while I slept. That memory still breaks my heart-and, it’s one that she cherishes.
Hyperemesis robbed me of my job. We went to a two-income family to one income very quickly. I remember leaving work because I was so insanely sick I couldn’t stand without the room spinning and buckling at the knees. I remember driving to work and getting 5 minutes down the road before I had to pull over into the grocery store parking lot to puke. I remember violently shaking and panicking due how sick I was. I remember being terrified that I was suffering another miscarriage.
After that day I never went back to work. I worked for my company for a total of 6 years. I was reliable and I was really good at my job. I enjoyed it as it was fulfilling for me and of course helped us financially. The day that I came home from my 2 week hospital stay with my newly inserted PICC line, I got a phone call from my boss saying that “my services were no longer needed; we wish the best for you, really.” I remember hanging up the phone and breaking down to tears.
I was fighting for my life, my unborn son’s life, and the burden of financial responsibility became all my husbands, just like that. Anger and guilt filled me for most of my pregnancy. Thankfully, my husband was my rock. He was supportive, even with all of the weight bearing down on his shoulders.
About nine months later I gave birth to a healthy almost 9 pound baby boy at 39 weeks and 2 days. This is my story, there are thousands more like it; yet this condition is usually just chalked up to “morning sickness.” Hyperemesis Gravidarum is real-and I’m a survivor.
Below is a link to HelpHer.org. This organization is dedicated to funding research and providing helpful information to families and pregnant women who fall victim to this disorder. Hyperemesis has no known cause or cure. This organization is working to find answers for the thousands of women just like me. Click the link and check it out. It has a section for signs and symptoms for sufferers. Share the information with a loved one who may be suffering, most obstetricians have no clue what HG is. There’s even a place to donate to the cause. You may just save a life.
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