Hyperemesis Gravidarum: a Mom’s Scary Journey Through Severe Morning Sickness
People don’t tend to be secretive when it comes to how their pregnancies go. Call it part of the mommy wars or what have you, but women love to share the ups and — especially — the downs of pregnancy. So, we grow up hearing all the horror stories about the crazy cravings, horrible morning sickness, extreme pain in childbirth — and don’t forget the horrifying tales about your mom’s cousin’s best friend’s brother who gave birth in the car while stranded in 4 feet of snow.
With all this talk about scary pregnancy issues, why don’t we know more about Hyperemesis Gravidarum? Especially since, in my opinion, it’s the worst pregnancy symptom out there.
When I got my positive pregnancy test (all six of them!) I was thrilled! And I’d be lying if I said all those horror stories didn’t cross my mind the minute I saw the positive, but the joy of that little pink plus sign was worth so much more than the worry of crazy symptoms and birth stories.
At 5 weeks and 3 days, I experienced my first episode of morning sickness. It was early morning and it came on so suddenly. I was sick all over the floor of my shower, then again, 30 minutes later in a travel mug in my car. As I drove myself home that evening, I was green. I had thrown up ten times that day! I was starting to feel better though, so I made the egg sandwich dinner I was craving, and enjoyed the evening with my husband. As soon as we went to bed, the sickness was back. I spend the entire night throwing up. It was clear that “morning” sickness was now “evening” sickness, and it was still kicking my butt.
By the end of the week, I had been sick more than 12 times a day for four days straight and I was in the ER with a drip, trying to get fluids back into my system. Over the next 4 weeks this happened 2 more times, and my OB started talking about Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I was losing weight and my doctor was concerned. I was on my second prescription for an anti- nausea medicine and nothing was working — I had never been so ill in my life. I was in and out of the hospital, getting injections and IVs, constantly throwing up, often times convulsing so hard that I’d pee on myself! My throat was so sore for weeks and for a while there was even blood in my vomit.
To be honest though, my case of HG wasn’t nearly as bad as some others. For one thing, I didn’t have to have any long stays in the hospital, like Kate Middleton did. And around 20 weeks we finally found a medicine, Zofran, that seemed to do the trick, and I went from throwing up 10-15 times a day, to only 4 or 5. During my second trimester I had a couple of weeks where everything was under control and I was able to manage. There were a few days during my pregnancy during which I didn’t throw up at all!
However, around 32 weeks my HG came back with a vengeance. It was as if my body became used to the Zofran and it just stopped working. I was put on a modified bed rest and told to watch my liquid intake very carefully. I was getting dehydrated often and having light contractions because of it. Throughout my pregnancy my midwife had sent me for growth scans to keep an eye on our baby and make sure he was thriving. At 34 weeks and 4 days we had one that was concerning. Our fluid levels were lower than average, and we were sent to Labor and Delivery for some fluids. Then, at the next week’s appointment, we had another scan and this time fluid was at half of the average amount and our baby wasn’t moving much.
Again, we were sent to labor and delivery for three bags of fluids. When I left that day, my amniotic fluid level was at a 6. The next day we were called to come back and for a recheck. I was still throwing up a few times a day, but I had been pumping myself full of water and only moving to go to the bathroom, so I was confident that everything was alright, despite the fact that baby wasn’t moving too much.
When we got in and did the scan, we found that our fluid level was now at a 2. But the most concerning factor was that baby hadn’t grown at all since our scan at 33 weeks 6 days. It was time to induce. We headed home, gathered our bags, ready to return to the hospital that night.
As if my body knew it was time to get my baby out, my labor started while we were in the car. I was having contractions that were painful and my water broke the next morning. Fortunately, I wasn’t getting sick that much while I was in labor. Though, I did almost get sick in my poor midwives face while pushing! I was in labor for 10 hours and I only pushed three times. After that, my sweet boy was in my arms, looking with such a confused face at his daddy and me! He was small, considered a late-term preemie, but he was safe.
Not to be stopped, my HG continued for about a week after I gave birth. The pregnancy hormones were leaving my body and taking my extreme sickness with it. But when I had my baby in my arms none of it mattered anymore. I’m not even sure when I last threw up! HG made my pregnancy so hard at times, but having a beautiful little boy to love on somehow makes you forget all of that!