Hi, friends. Today’s post is gonna be a little bit of everything, but my main purpose in writing this is to educate. I want to educate those who may not be familiar with the beast that is HG. I plan on sharing what it is and what it isn’t along with my experience and journey in dealing with it.
.What HG is.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum or HG is severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy that occurs in .3-3% of women. It is Nausea that doesn’t let up the entire pregnancy accompanied by vomiting often resulting in weight loss. It is dehydration due to vomiting and inability to take in adequate fluids. HG is debilitating. For some women it results in having to get PICC lines or feeding tubes. It often results on hospital stays and many times requires regular iv hydration therapy. HG is not curable, only manageable at best typically with a combination of medicines. Until the 1950’s HG was the leading cause of maternal death due to lack of IV hydration.
.What HG is NOT.
It is NOT morning sickness. It is not something that can be cured with nibbling on saltine crackers before your feet hit the floor in the morning or sipping on ginger ale. Essential oils don’t cut it. Seabands and acupressure typically aren’t enough. It is not a normal healthy pregnancy where you can vomit and feel better and move on with your day. HG is not curable and typical treatments for normal morning sickness just don’t cut it. Hyperemesis is not something to be waited out “Wait till you’re second trimester, you’ll feel so much better.” While true in normal pregnancies, this is not true of HG pregnancies.
.My experience with HG.
Goodness. Where to begin. I had HG with Sadie, but it was managed through a combination of medicines. As long as I took them regularly I was able to eat and drink and function. I took medicine the day I delivered, so it never let up for me. I had to get iv hydration 3 different times in my first pregnancy. Looking back I can say that my Dr and medical team didn’t take it serious enough and I should have been under much better care. It started around week 7 and. I tried to wean off of meds three different times and each time was unable to keep food or water down and would be vomiting every 15-20 minutes.
This pregnancy has been entirely different. It has been so much more intense. It started at week 5 and the medicine I took with success in my first pregnancy didn’t hit the tip of the nausea iceberg. I was still having at least two days a week where I was unable to keep anything down and the rest of the time was debilitatingly nauseous. My Dr kept upping my dosage of medicine rather than trying new things. I had already had iv hydration two different times and when I mentioned getting it on a regular basis my Dr said she didn’t feel it was necessary.
After realizing I was taking the same dosage of medicine that they give to cancer patients and was having little to no relief I decided it was time to switch Dr’s and find someone who had experience dealing with and treating HG. After doing my research I only found one Dr in Lubbock who I felt was knowledgeable enough to help and would be willing to do more for me than say, “Sorry, some women just get really sick.” That was no longer an acceptable answer. It took a while to get into his office and the waiting period was brutal and discouraging. When you have a team of medical professionals who don’t take you serious it does nothing short of make you feel crazy and like a wimp. Both of which I am NOT.
I FINALLY have gotten in to my new Dr’s office. He immediately admitted me for a minimum of 72 hr hospital stay for intense iv therapy and to try out new medicine combos, since what I was taking CLEARLY wasn’t working. I received 14 bags of iv fluids over the course of my weekend hospital stay. Fourteen. Basically I was dehydration station. I can’t tell you the peace that came in having someone assure me that I wasn’t crazy, did in fact have HG and had a pretty serious case.
I was miraculously somehow back to my prepregnancy weight after losing about 5-7% of my weight and on the road to finding relief. Being on the petite side naturally, I don’t exactly have weight to be losing. I’m currently still walking the road and trying to find my sweet spot. But, goodness, I’m blessed to have an incredible Dr behind me willing to think outside the box and do whatever is necessary to help me be a functioning human again.
My HG journey has hands down been one of the loneliest times in my life. People mean well when they offer advice, but their comments make you feel like an idiot and that you’re a wimp. “I was sick too, you just have to push through it.” Again, this is NOT normal morning sickness and it is NOT something you “just push through”. I have had moments, sadly more often than not, where it is incredibly hard to find joy in my pregnancy. Which then leads to guilt. Clearly I’m so thankful for the life growing inside me, but when you see women around you pregnant and glowing and happy and healthy it’s hard to not become bitter and wonder why you can’t have that too. A time that should be joyous is instead replaced with grief and a countdown to when it all ends.
20% of women with HG terminate their pregnancies because it is too much. These aren’t just women who “accidentally” got pregnant. Some of these are God-fearing women who long to be mothers. For those women I have nothing but compassion, because I know how lonely this is. I know what it feels like to literally feel like you are dying. I know what its like to not even be able to imagine surviving this for the long 40 week road. That’s what this beast does to your mind and your heart. That’s how difficult and lonely it is.
.My Advice for HG.
If you are a woman walking the HG road, you are not alone. My advice would be find a Dr who takes you serious and is aggressive in treating HG. It is a serious thing with tons of potential harm to your baby. I would also advice you to join Facebook groups for HG support. The Help HER website is an incredible resource as well. To hear other women share their stories is an incredible thing and finding community is so important. Don’t be ashamed when you can’t do all the things. If you can hire someone to clean your house, do it. If you can hire someone to take care of your kids, do it. Accept help. Allow friends and family to come stay with you and bless you. Let them cook you meals and fill your freezer. Give yourself lots of grace. And know it’s just for a season. A terrible awful season.
After surviving one HG pregnancy I can say without doubt that it is worth it, but I can also say I have no judgement for the women who never want to do it again – I’m one of them. I have longed for a big family with four children my entire life, but I cannot fathom putting my body through this another time. It is such a lonely and isolating time and takes a toll on a woman. Physically, mentally and emotionally.
And as always, because the condition of my heart is far more important than anything I put on or in my body, I leave you with this. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10