Blog Takeover - HG and me

HG and Me - by Cassie @mamas_little_squares

New Mum Blogger

The two pink lines!! 
The excitement and joy! 
The endless questions I asked myself 'a boy or a girl? Will they have my nose (please let them have MY nose!) What fun way can we tell our family and friends?!'.

Never did I ever expect to ask myself "why? why me?!". 

And why might I ask myself if I can survive a pregnancy? 
Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
That's why. 

Often the condition associated with the lovely Duchess of Cambridge... probs the only thing Kate and I will ever have that connects us.
This completely debilitating condition was present in both my pregnancies and continues to affect me almost 2 years after my sons birth.

People will often say “ow yes, I had morning sickness” or “my friend/neighbour/sister/colleague was awfully sick - they used to drink flat coke and eat dry toast to help!” 
As kind as the intention is, telling someone with Hyperemesis that you know what it’s like (unless you have truly experienced it) is extremely disheartening and hopefully this blog will help everyone understand just why.

Comparing HG to morning sickness is like comparing a paper cut to a severed leg.
Dramatic comparison, I know however, it is true.

The best way to describe HG in a nutshell is; imagine having norovirus and food poisoning combined, with the worst hangover you’ve EVER had x10 all whilst being tied upside down dangling over rotten food on a swaying ship. 
Lush.

Hard to imagine, I know. I wish I could say I’m over exaggerating but I can’t.

My second pregnancy hit me ever harder than the first and even with all the wishing and hope, HG came at me with all the aggression of a bull to a red rag.

2 days before my due period I noticed the familiar rising in my throat while cooking dinner that had been the start of my first pregnancy (I remember first time feeling excited by this sick feeling and what I might mean).  
 
By 6 weeks pregnant I was vomiting 5-10 times a day and managing snacks with a sip of water here or there.

8 weeks was when I entered a new level; all food, smells, certain sounds and even colours would trigger vomiting.  Nausea was a constant feeling and my energy was slowly depleting.
Enter Ptyalism! This one is an added bonus of endless and relentless saliva production that would leave me feeling like I could drown if I didn’t spit it out.  I’d need to carry a tissue constantly and couldn’t go longer than 2 minutes maximum without desperately seeking a vessel/bush/loo to drool in to.

Now, this is where it gets a bit dark I'm afraid. 

At 9 weeks in, I was completely bed bound.  Preparing my toddlers meals was pure torture and I'd take regular intervals to the kitchen sink to be sick throughout his mealtimes.  To the point where my little boy mimicked my retching sounds (sorry!) and even started standing over the toilet making sick noises.

Food became an impossible and cruel thought, I longed for a huge glass of ice cold water to quench my endless thirst.  However, every time I so much as sipped a drink I would then vomit back up 5 times the amount. 
I attempted sucking ice cubes - the sensation of having something in my mouth triggered a horrific instant reaction and no, ginger based drinks DO NOT work.
More about ginger later... 

By 11 weeks I had lost 15lb in weight, not eaten in 7 days (my last actual meal had been 3 weeks prior) and not kept any fluids down for 5 days. 

That weekend was one of the most painful experiences of my life, not just physically but emotionally. The dehydration was causing me to feel faint and every time I had to get to the bathroom to be sick, I would now crawl there.   I began seeing shadows in the corners of the room and on one occasion felt the presence of my mum (who passed away in 2012) stroking my cheek and telling me to hold on and get help.  
 
I began having dark, dark thoughts and although I never considered termination (1,000 women a year are left feeling they have no choice because of this devastating condition), I found myself wondering how it would feel to hurt myself.   Not because I wanted to actually hurt myself; because I wanted to feel something other than the endless debilitating nausea and sickness.  

My little boy would creep into my bedroom and cuddle me while I wept.  The guilt I felt at not being available for him was heartbreaking.

I finally gathered the energy to get myself to the GP and before I'd even reached his door I was weeping. Unable to speak loudly or clearly because my throat and mouth were dry and cracked,  I slowly whispered  "please help me, I haven't drunk anything in days and I feel dizzy all the time". Thank goodness I had a great doctor who (after a measly urine sample revealed my severe dehydration) instantly admitted me to hospital. 

At hospital it was confirmed my kidneys were starting to fail and I now weighed just over 6 stone.  My skin was so dehydrated that when the nurse pinched the flesh on the top of my hand, it remained peaked like a little mountain and slowly deflated like a teeny punctured balloon.

After 2 days in hospital, 6 continuous  bags of fluids, 3 unsuccessful medication trials and my first meal (actually LOVED my hospital grub!) I was finally allowed home with my bag full of drugs and hope that I was going to feel good from now on! 
I don't regret feeling optimistic, I needed to feel positive for the rest of my pregnancy... sadly, HG stayed until the bitter end yet thankfully, medication literally saved my life and enabled me to stay hydrated and able to eat.  I just had to live with the crippling nausea every day. 

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is more than the physical symptoms, it left me with anxiety and a darkness at what is also the most incredible and exciting time. 
My social life disappeared, my business completely dissolved and my husband essentially became my carer in my darkest hours.  
It was only by around 30 weeks that I felt I could begin to think about names, clothes and the arrival of the little bundle... after months of being unable to even look at a baby book for fear of it triggering sickness.  
Yes, books, air (the air from my microwave after warming my sons bedtime milk was the worst) movement, smells (oh the smells!), the fridge - sometimes just walking past a closed fridge - and sounds would prompt an upsurge of vomiting. 

Finally, I mentioned ginger... now I know that many swear by the stuff for easing sickness but let me just tell anyone who is thinking of suggesting it to a woman suffering with HG... DO NOT SAY GINGER! 
It doesn't chuffing work!
Research has actually proven that it has the opposite effect for HG sufferers and they will often be violently sick and violently want to smash you over the head with said ginger. 
 

Other things that do not work (well for me) include:

  • Flat Coke/lemonade 
  • Acupressure/travel sickness bands 
  • Acupuncture 
  • Reflexology 
  • Mints
  • Eating 'little and often'
  • Crackers/dry biscuits 
  • Sucking on ice cubes 
  • Special aromatherapy oils 
  • Thinking about something else
  • Licking a lemon
  • Or tying a piece of raw ginger to your big toe while you sleep.... actual advice once given to me.


If you are (or someone you know) experiencing sickness in pregnancy that is effecting your day to day life then PLEASE get someone supportive to take you to your GP or call 111. 
You need and are worthy of the help.
Extreme sickness in pregnancy doesn’t always have to be ‘just one of those things’. 
Also, take a look at Pregnancy Sickness Support for advice, guidance and help.  They have a forum and helpline especially for pregnancy sickness.  
You are not alone. 

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