I was always so smug about pregnancy. I used to tell people that pregnancy was fine. That was the easy bit! It was the birth that I couldn’t deal with. The ending was where I failed. The rest, I sailed through. And then I got hit with a HG pregnancy, and all of a sudden everything I knew about carrying a baby in my belly was wrong. The travel sickness bands, the ginger crackers, the ice cold water. None of it worked. All of it mocked me. Ridiculed me. Kicked me into the dust, pointed a finger and laughed at me. Nothing worked. Instead, tablets. Strong, scary sounding medicine to put a stamp on a pregnancy so unlike any other.
I’ve asked so many doctors why I would experience HG in one pregnancy and not in three previous pregnancies. Same father, same lifestyle. There are no answers. Like so much when it comes to HG, more research is needed and too many answers are missing. But what I do know is this: a HG pregnancy is hard.
My first pregnancy was unbelievably easy. I think I had heartburn maybe once and that was truly my only symptom aside from the swelling belly. My second was harder (subsequent pregnancies usually are, with other children to look after too) and at six weeks I had my first taste of morning sickness. For me, this was a horrid burning nausea that started from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning, to the moment I went to bed. There was very little I could eat, or enjoy eating, and even water tasted vile. I suffered lots of headaches, took lots of time off work, and generally moped around until my maternity leave began. Once on leave from my teaching job, the nausea disappeared but to tell the truth the damage had been done. I didn’t enjoy this pregnancy and went into that final trimester with a touch of depression and anxiety.
My third pregnancy started badly. The same old nausea. The same old headaches. The same old stress. But, miraculously, all of those symptoms disappeared around 16 weeks and I went on to revel in a smooth pregnancy and a calm birth experience.
So far so good.
Like many women will tell you, morning sickness is often part and parcel of pregnancy. For some women, its the first indication they have of even being pregnant. For some, it’s a welcome sign that the pregnancy is strong, and that the hormones are doing their thing. For some, it’s short lived and mild, others not so much. But the fact remains: morning sickness is to be expected. It’s normal.
HG isn’t normal.
Spending entire days on the cold bathroom floor, too afraid to move even the slightest muscle, is not normal. Crushing headaches that send wave after wave of nausea shrieking through your body is not normal. Hiding away from people- even months after baby is born- is not normal.
After three ‘normal’ pregnancies, to suddenly find yourself incapable of putting your own socks on is not to be expected. After three ‘normal’ pregnancies, to suddenly find yourself unable to even brush your teeth without vomiting is not to be expected. After three ‘normal’ pregnancies, to suddenly find yourself retching and retching and crying and withering away is not to be expected.
HG isn’t morning sickness.
Vomiting up to 50 times a day is not morning sickness. Losing so much weight that your own children cannot recognise you is not morning sickness. Wanting to curl up in a ball and shut the world away forever is NOT morning sickness.
This time, it started at six weeks. There was no slow introduction; I opened my eyes one morning and BAM there it was. I spent days sucking on ice cubes, until my lips were so sore I could barely open my mouth without them cracking and bleeding. I spent days lying so so still on my side, closing myself off to my family and the rest of the world. I Spent nights silently sobbing, hoping that when I woke up the next morning, it would all be over.
I regretted being pregnant. I wanted it over. I’d made a mistake. I couldn’t carry on like this for another eight months.
The first medications I was offered did nothing but send me into a stupefied state of drowsiness and depression. I found I could only take these tablets once the kids were in bed, so my days were hellish and frightening. After a week and the threat of hospital admission, I was given some different tablets to try. Three little white pills every day, and some relief at last.
What I was left with was the crippling nausea that I experienced throughout my second pregnancy. What I was left with was anxiety whenever I stepped out of the house, sure that at any moment the HG would kick back in again and leave me a weeping shell on the floor. What I was left with was broken friendships, battered relationships and shattered dreams. My last pregnancy wasn’t supposed to be like this. So unlike any other.
May 15th Is #HGday16- HG awareness day. Please join us on Twitter to raise awareness and help women find the support and help they need to get through a HG pregnancy. Tweet me @ghostwritermumm and @HGSupportUK