Apparently my mom told me stories of her “difficult” pregnancies before I was expecting my first, but I don’t remember that at all. Mom was really sick, and lost a lot of weight, and couldn’t keep working. I have a new appreciation for her pain now that I have (barely) survived hyperemesis gravidarum during all three of my pregnancies.
What this diagnosis meant for me was early weight loss, throwing up every day of all three pregnancies (including while I was in labor) sometimes more than 30 times in a day, IVs of fluids, and feeling like I “couldn’t” do a myriad of things at any given time. I can’t drink anything but gatorade, I can’t be in the house when someone opens the refrigerator, I can’t touch lettuce, I can’t smell fresh bread baking in the oven…you can imagine the list is long and exhaustive…without becoming sick. It can look different for many women, but even with our differences we are all in this terrible club we wish we could opt out of. This club can change our future family planning (we always wanted four kids), can make us feel depressed and like giving up, and can cause us to worry about the health of our babies…but we’re not alone.
If you’re a newbie to this club, first of all I AM SO SORRY! But secondly, you’re not alone, and you’re going to make it through. And most importantly, the little life growing inside you is so worth it.
Here’s the candid truth about HG, if you have it:
- Feeling depressed is normal: I would say things while I was pregnant that just are not me. I felt so hopeless. I felt like I was dying. I never wanted to go anywhere, and felt I could not go anywhere. I hated in subsequent pregnancies how my older toddlers were noticing my malaise. Looking back, I wish I would have talked through some of my thoughts more thoroughly with a trusted friend. Be honest with yourself, and when you are having down thoughts take a minute to work through them instead of suppressing them with logic.
- You will get back to yourself: During pregnancy I didn’t want any baby showers (normal Rachel loves parties), I didn’t get into makeup (normal Rachel has always loved makeup), and I ate the worst I have in my whole life, including high school. I really actually care about eating great food, but during pregnancy I majored in Pringles for breakfast. And in not taking pre-natals, ever. Y’all. Ever. I remember making a joke the first day after my first baby was born, and saying to my hubby “Oh REMEMBER!?!?! Real Rachel is FUNNY!” And then “real Rachel likes ______” for the next few weeks. If you have HG you are not yourself right now. But you will get back to you, and the baby is so worth it!
- Lower your expectations: Don’t try to cook. Don’t worry about laundry. Ask for help with what you need, and say yes to help when it is offered. Forget trying to be productive. Maybe you had to quit your job because of HG. Maybe you have a full time nanny because you stay home and you can’t watch your kids. Even laying in your bed you are working because your body is sustaining a new life inside of you! So pat yourself on the back, grab your puke bucket, and renew that Netflix account because baby, you have some shows to catch up on.
I am aware that this whole deal may sound discouraging if you aren’t struggling with HG, but if you ARE I hope that it is validating. There are people who understand what you are going through! If you have been recently diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum in pregnancy, I encourage you to reach out and see if you can text or email or call someone who has been there, and made it through. You’ll make it! It WILL end someday – and even though your due date probably feels like forever away, that baby will be so worth it!