Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

My little J is almost a year old and I've been getting sentimental and looking back at photos of pregnant me. Towards the end I look happy and glowing. For the first 6 months I looked like death.

I mentioned in a previous post that when I was pregnant with J I suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Basically, this means I turned into a puke-monster for about 5 months. I vomited all over Dublin (there's an extensive list) and also a lot in Austria  (including in a little hole I dug in a snow bank) while we were there on holiday as well. I vomited outside posh restaurants, in gardens, pulled in at traffic lights, the moment I stepped off buses and one memorable time on an icy cold morning at Kylemore Luas Stop. A friend moved into a new flat recently and Mr HNW was coming to pick me up. I directed him there by telling him "it's that road near Blackrock that you had to stop and let me vomit on and that guy in the BMW screamed at us". My vomit spots have become landmarks.

When I found out I was pregnant I was nervous about the whole morning sickness thing. My Mum, Aunt and Grandmother all suffered very badly and my Mum used to talk about how sick I made her all the time. She was living in America while she was pregnant and has an extensive list of American vomit locations - including in the middle of 5th Avenue in New York.

The nausea kicked in at about 6 weeks and things rapidly went downhill after that. I couldn't stomach any food and anything I did eat came back up. I have never been so miserable in my entire life. There were times I thought I was going to die (a bit melodramatic, yes but I genuinely thought this!). I became a recluse, only barely having the energy to go to work. Where I worked at the time was in a very awkward location that meant I had to drive there. When I became too sick to be able to drive myself Mr HNW used to drive me most of the way, then get out and make his own way to work while I drove the last ten minutes. I was so exhausted I spent every lunch break sleeping in my car, cradling a sick bowl.

I lost 10% of my body weight in about 3 months. I was skinnier at 16 weeks pregnant then I had been since I was about 18. I had to go into hospital and go on drips as I was becoming dehydrated. There, I would be told by the nurses that I had to eat, that my body was eating itself. Obviously I knew I had to eat but if nothing stays down, what do you do? After some debate with the doctors and against the advice of my GP I took anti-nausea medication. It didn't work so I gave that up pretty quickly. No point in taking it if it's not 100% safe and doesn't work anyway.

The only things I did eat and could stomach were McDonald's chips, Coco Pops, Rowntree's Fruit Pastille Ice Lollies and lots and lots of milk. Occasionally, they'd stay down. You know those really bad hangovers where you've gone on the absolute tear, where you're vomiting until 5pm and you feel like you will never be well again? It was like that but it never lifted, and I never got the fun drinking part either.

When you are that sick it is impossible to hide that you are pregnant. Everyone knew. When I told people at 12 weeks that I was pregnant nobody was surprised. Everyone thought I was having twins.

People tried to help, telling me to nibble on ginger nuts or peppermints. One, very pregnant lady sitting next to me at the hospital told me to start eating mints while I was hooked up to a drip. Gee, thanks. It didn't occur to me to try mints. Guess this drip is just not necessary then, as you have the solution. She was just trying to be nice and I didn't have the energy to say anything to her anyway but I just wanted to scream at her. Everyone told me that the sickness would lift soon. Every week, my Aunt and Mum would say ooh, I think this is the week my sickness lifted, just to try and get me through it.

There was one upside, when I went into labour I was only 4 or 5kg over my pre-pregnancy weight. As J was over 3.5KG and the fluid and other bits weigh 1-2Kg it means I was lighter just after giving birth then I was before getting pregnant. Also, the sickness seems to have had no negative effects on J at all. He was a bouncing 8lbs 1oz and healthy as a horse.

I genuinely believe that being that sick has changed my relationship with food. Although the sickness lifted at about 22/23 weeks when I gave up work and could sleep whenever I wanted (it's believed fatigue can aggravate it) I never fully got my appetite back until after J was born. Then I was breastfeeding and was hungry all the time. It took a long time for me to get over the novelty of being able to eat whatever I wanted and having a good appetite again and I went a bit mad. That was the weight I had to lose, not baby weight, it was cake weight! Also, although I never fully regained my appetite I did stop getting sick, some women have it right until the end so it could have been a lot worse.

Anyway, this post has turned out to be a lot longer than I expected but it's been very cathartic.If anyone out there is suffering from HG you have my utmost sympathies. It was a horrible time. If I could I'd hold your puke bowl and stroke your hair and tell you that it sucks. Everybody said it would be worth it. When you are that sick this makes you want to punch them in the face. but they were right.  It was worth it.  J is a joy and even though I remember the sickness very well (including getting actual flashbacks sometimes) it feels like a different time. It was so worth it that it hasn't put me off wanting number two at some stage!



  1. Sounds truly horrible N........give us some hope, would you go through it again?

  2. I would - it was horrible but totally worth it!

  3. It is so awful & I suffered terribly with my daughter! I was sick every day for 4 months & it was truly awful! I felt so rough & had a 2 year old to look after! I hated getting out of bed as I knew the first thing I would do was be sick!! You do forget but at the time you feel so bad but once it lifts its such a relief! Ax


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