A guest post from Jane, for #HGday16
My name is Jane… Mum of 2… Student Midwife. And HG sufferer. Yak. I would not wish this on my worst enemy.
I am writing this guest blog post as a Mum and therefore it does not show my usual academic rigor: this is my lived experience of HG and how it affects my practice as a student midwife and life every day.
My eldest is 9, my youngest almost 5. Ironically I had a molar pregnancy prior to my lovely children with sky high HCG levels and I did not vomit once. I thought I had escaped this curse… my mum had terrified me with her stories of HG having suffered with both myself and my sister. That first pregnancy was not to last (but that is a story for another blog post).
So we decided to try for another baby in 2006. I hoped for plain sailing this time. Those visions we see in the glossy magazine: ‘blooming’ celebs with their neat bump, glossy hair, sparkling eyes, floating dresses and these gorgeous women walking hand in hand with their men through picturesque fields full of flowers…
I had a queasy stomach from a day or two before my expected period date. Two days later I took a pregnancy test – POSITIVE – I was delighted. The vomiting began a couple of day later. Not just first thing on a morning but all day. Was this just a stomach bug? Nope.
I would tell friends I had Hyperemesis.
“Yeah, I had morning sickness too! Have a ginger biscuit before you get up!”.
HG is NOT MORNING SICKNESS. I just wanted to scream this. But albeit I did not have the energy.
The vomiting continued and continued.
Imagine how you feel when you have a stomach bug, one of those 24 or 48 hour bugs where you vomit a few times – imagine doing this for over 200 days… on the trot… with no respite!! Not even the strength or will power to raise a smile to a partner (just looks of “you did this to me”). It feels like poison running through your veins. Like the worst hangover ever: too many cocktails, too many glasses of prosecco with friends. Except now you don’t see your friends. You don’t leave the house except to beg the GP for more drugs. The darkness and loneliness of this condition is terrible.
“It will be pass…”
“Have a ginger biscuit before you get out of bed…”
“Think positively – you are so lucky…”
“Have a dry cracker…”
“Just try eating little and often…”
Eventually it did pass and I gave birth with a traumatic ventouse delivery to a boy, 8lb 15oz. I was amazed to have such a big baby despite my tiny bump.
Thank goodness this nightmare was over. I hated every moment of being pregnant with a passion but now I was a Mummy and it was time to move on.
For years I spoke of never wanting another child – my son was amazing. In reality, I just didn’t want another pregnancy.
I gave in when he started nursery. Returning to an empty house after dropping him off and thinking, gosh, those 4 years went quick. Home alone and lonely.
So, reluctantly, we decided to try for another baby. I tried to think positive, maybe this time would be different.
It was early December and I was pregnant and it all started again.
Christmas Eve morning I was practically carried to the car and taken to my Mum’s house who would look after me and my son while Daddy wrapped gifts. With HG you can lose the ability to simply care for yourself, let alone have to look after a small child as well.
I couldn’t even keep a teaspoon of water down without vomiting. Having been there about five minutes, I had vomited at least ten times. Unbeknown to me, my mum had text someone to phone 111 for advice; 111 then phoned to speak to me at my mums.
I ended up at my local urgent care centre – the doctor was also pregnant and took one look at me with my hanging dehydrated skin and just said right, get someone to get you a bag, you must get admitted immediately.
I felt so angry with my mum. I knew this is what I needed but she had caused this, she had made them take me to urgent care and I was now in hospital. And it was Christmas.
My family took me through but had to leave fairly quickly. Santa was coming, there were still presents to wrap, turkeys to stuff, vegetables to prepare. Meanwhile, me, my IVT and my tummy that actually went inwards felt abandoned on an antenatal/postnatal ward. The women around me obviously had problems otherwise they too wouldn’t be spending Christmas Eve in hospital. I kept looking at their bumps, their massive bumps and feeling their eyes looking at my concave tummy.
I didn’t have the energy to even talk to them. So I just lay in silence.
What I hadn’t realised about spending Christmas Eve in hospital is that Santa actually goes there too. I woke up at around 4am and there was a lovely Nivea set of body creams and bubbles baths in a gift bag next to me. Tears began to flow, what a lovely thought.
My thoughts then turned to my little boy who would be spending Christmas without his mum. I was going to miss the shrieks of excitement when he woke to find a full stocking, those beaming eyes at his presents. It was Christmas morning and I was not there with him.
Suddenly I absolutely hated this baby inside me. I wanted it out. I wanted to be at home. For the first time in any of my pregnancies I wanted a termination. I did not want to feel like this. I wanted to be at home. Why the hell did I even consider another baby, I must have been mad!!
I contemplated this for a few hours and then suddenly realised that I would not feel better today, my HCG would still remain high for a little while and I would still be sick. I would have to suffer and endure it. Only another 230 days to go!
And those 230 days went slowly. It felt like the rest of the world kept ticking along nicely. But I wasn’t a part of it. I felt totally worthless.
Added to this was my excessive saliva, this was just horrible and added insult to injury. Not only was I being sick, feeling sick; I just had to spit constantly. I had a small bucket from the seaside next to me at all times. Someone would walk in and say what on earth are you doing? As they looked at the half an inch of saliva in the bottom of my bucket. Complete gross to witness but unfortunately another thing that can accompany HG and is called Ptyalism.
“Do you want me to get you anything” they would ask; “just a gun” I would jest.
Thankfully by around 8 months pregnant the sickness had started to subside and became just a part of my morning routine: anything compared to what I had gone through was welcomed. My afternoons were mine!
My beautiful baby came early; yet another whopper, and a girl! And I had done it myself. Not a ventouse cup in sight!!
I was THRILLED!! It was INCREDIBLE!!
For days and days and weeks after I cried. I sobbed my heart out. My family thought I was suffering depression at which I would correct them, these are tears of pure joy at the birth experience I had had! After the months and months of being sick, I had experienced something so special, so empowering. At the same time, I was heartbroken: I will never experience this again. I will never feel like this again because of HG. I will never be pregnant again.
And then suddenly it hit me. I just HAD to become a Midwife. This was my calling in life. I wanted that experience again but most of all, I just wanted to help women in difficulties and in similar situations as myself, hating every moment of pregnancy to have that one moment, that one life changing and life defining moment. I felt that it was a gift from my Midwife that day – she empowered me: this is one of the greatest gifts we can give.
And even now I still feel the effects of HG every day. That heightened sense of smell that remains and my complete inability to brush my teeth without my stomach ‘wretching’. I am not sure whether this is just me: I feel it’s something psychological yet I cannot brush my teeth without doing it. Those who know me well often joke, there she goes again. But it is horrible. HG is horrible.
I worked exceptionally hard for many years and I am now a Student Midwife. My lived experiences of all of my pregnancies affect my practice every single day. Whilst there are lots of things you can be taught, there are certain things you can only truly know if you have been there and felt it. For those of you out there with HG reading my guest blog post, please speak to your midwife and those around you and get all of the support you can. I send you all my thoughts and my love through this tough battle that some of us have to conquer to become mums.