My Hyperemesis Pregnancies {Part 1}

By Meg - 2:09 PM

If you follow the British Royal family at all you probably heard the term "Hyperemesis Gravidarum" when Kate Middleton was pregnant with her first baby. If you haven't, it's a form of severe morning sickness with severe and persistent nausea and vomiting that can lead to weight loss, dehydration and possible hospitalization. Guess what lucky girl has the Kate Middleton experience when she gets pregnant... yep! This girl! Hearing about Kate Middleton's experience was the first time I'd ever heard of Hyperemesis and while I find the Royal family intriguing and will occasionally read an article or two about their lives I wouldn't say I follow them, so after hearing about it I didn't think much about it until a year later when I got pregnant for the first time.

Along with all of the exciting things that happen when you find out you're pregnant, I knew some "morning sickness" was coming my way. I'll never forget walking into church the Sunday after we found out we were expecting and thinking how cute it was that I was feeling a little queasy. The thought of it being more than that wasn't in my head yet. I just want to go back in time and give my former naive, little self a hug and tell her she has no idea what's about to come.

 I was about 6 weeks when the hyperemesis set in with Reaghan. At the time I thought it was normal, that this was just what morning sickness was like and that I just needed to toughen up and get through it. I didn't know any different and I was a little embarrassed to admit to people how hard of a time I was having. They would suggest eating crackers before I got out of bed, or nibbling on crackers throughout the day while sipping Gingerale. They suggested sucking on hard candy or peppermints. All of the usual remedies for morning sickness weren't doing anything for me. No matter what I tried, I threw it up. 

I was working full time then and 3 days a week I had to be at the clinic for a 645 am patient. Looking back I'm not sure how I survived. I remember frequently having to leave my patient in the middle of the gym as I ran to the bathroom or a nearby trashcan to vomit... or many times just dry heave as there wasn't much in my stomach to throw up. It was miserable and obviously I wasn't able to keep my pregnancy a secret for very long at work.

I have vivid memories of having to pull my car over on the way home from work or on my way to get lunch because I was getting sick, or pulling whatever receptacle (like the plastic covering of a news paper) that was in my car and throwing up WHILE driving because it was either that or puke all over myself.

I couldn't stand the smell, sight or thought of food. Commercials, billboards, grocery stores, restaurants - they all threatened to be the death of me! I swear I could smell food THROUGH the closed refrigerator doors! I was able to eat cold deli sandwiches with the most success, but even that wasn't full proof. I would crawl into bed every night after work begging for sleep to get a little relief from the nausea and vomiting. Mark did his best to get me to eat and drink and was always trying to bring me new solutions like Gatorade ice cubes to suck on to keep me hydrated. He watched movies with me in bed on the weekends and did all of the grocery shopping and dinner making for himself.

I tried my best to function during that time because I didn't know how sick I was. I went to work, tried to make it to family functions, and made myself go to church when I could. Like I said, I thought I was just doing a poor job of handling the morning sickness and needed to toughen up.

I lost 15 pounds the first couple of months of my pregnancy and didn't put back on any weight until the doctors finally prescribed me some anti nausea medication and I finally started taking it. I was hesitant to take it regularly because I didn't want to put anything in my body that wasn't necessary. (Which was totally a first time mom way to think and didn't make sense because food and fluid were what my baby needed and I wasn't getting that to her unless I took the medicine!) The meds helped curb the vomiting enough that I could start keeping food down but it never took away the nauseous feeling so it was fantastic and a little bit of a disappointment at the same time. I was desperate for the 13 week mark when people told me I would start finally feeling better, but I didn't start to feel like a normal human again until 19 weeks. I'll never forget the first day I woke up and didn't puke right away and then made it to lunch time before getting nauseous. I celebrated in my car that I finally felt normal! I had bouts of nausea and even some puking on and off for the rest of the pregnancy but after the halfway point it was completely manageable. Even eventually without the medication. I just had to make sure I ate every 2-3 hours. I can't be 100% sure, but I think what I feel the second half of my pregnancies is what most women feel in their first trimester, or at least a minor form of that.

While I threw up during labor with Reaghan, thankfully every symptom was gone the minute she was out of my body and I ate my "after birth celebration meal" without any repercussions!

When we decided to get pregnant with Lilly I tried to research everything possible to lessen my chances of getting sick again. I took magnesium and Epsom salt baths because magnesium deficiency is supposed to be a contributing factor. I also tried my best to change up my diet in the weeks leading up to conception to help with any other deficiencies I might have had. Unfortunately it was no use. I ended up getting just as sick and it was twice as difficult the second time because even though I was only working 2 days a week, I had a 2 year old that had to be taken care of during the day. Again I tried everything I could to keep food down. Eating bland foods. Eating protein. Eating small amounts. Sipping on ginger tea. Sucking hard candies. And while some things like sucking on lemon drops helped in the moment, long enough for me to change a diaper or get Reaghan dressed, it wasn't long before I was rushing to a sink or a toilet. It was nearly impossible to even make it through a shower without throwing up in the shower.

Mark took this picture of Reaghan napping with me on the couch one day.

You can see from my journal entry that I eventually ended up in the emergency room the second time around due to dehydration. My brown pee staring back at me from the cup made me cry as I waited for the IV fluids to get into my system. I asked my OB for the medicine immediately after that night and took it everyday right away this time around. I was at a new OB and they weren't aware of my previous experience, but by now I knew it wasn't just me being a wimp at morning sickness and I needed to be able to function enough to care for my toddler and the growing babe in my belly.

Taking the Zofran regularly helped me get to the manageable point a few weeks earlier than I did with Reaghan, but Mark still had to handle all of the meals and grocery shopping. I was still extremely sensitive to smells, I even hated the smell of the new house we had moved into right when we found out we were pregnant! Mark did everything he could in the evenings and weekends to care for Reaghan. I still puked my brains out many mornings and at the very least carried the nausea around as I had with my first pregnancy. By the Grace of God somewhere between 17 and 19 weeks I was able to wean myself off of the Zofran and keep food and water down without it.
I got dressed nice and smiled for our announcement pictures, because I really wanted 4th of July themed pictures, but I was miserable and felt like fainting during most of this photo shoot. I could barely function the rest of the day.

Both times the ability to drink water again was a huge milestone that I was so thankful for. Being desperate for water but throwing it up immediately after drinking even a small glass is miserable. It was only possible to take the smallest of sips several minutes apart to have any hope of keeping it down at all. Thankfully with Lilly, once I got to the point of keeping food and water down, (with the Zofran) I was able to start being more active and even got back into running a little bit and that was able to continue after stopping the medicine! I always have to remind myself in the hardest moments that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! The tunnel might feel long and dark at the time but it does have an end!

I want to tell you all about my 3rd and possibly hardest experience with HG that I went through earlier this year and that I'm still dealing with with baby girl #3, and also share how God's grace is sufficient and has enabled me to journey through it... buuuut this post is already so long and wordy! I'll end here and follow up in a Part 2!

If you're here and reading this I'd love to hear your experience with morning sickness. I've met some women who have had similar experiences to mine, some who were hardly sick at all and some who experienced it differently with each pregnancy! 

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