What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum? Yes, I Have It

pregnancy sickness

Day-in-the-life with HG.

It’s really hard to explain what I’ve been through over the last six or so months. Let’s just say, my emotions are not the only part of me that is raw.

So you ask, what am I referring to? What have I been going through? Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I literally want to vomit as I type the words.

I am not ashamed to say being pregnant has been pure hell. And while pregnancy is supposed to be a time when a mother-to-be should be glowing, instead I’ve been throwing-up and mentally and emotionally battling each and every day. HG is a condition that some pregnant women develop. Not only does HG make you feel nauseous 24/7 (think round-the-clock morning sickness from your first trimester into your third), but it has the potential of causing electrolyte imbalances and malnutrition since you cannot keep much food or liquids down. Medication and hospitalization is often necessary. Unfair judgment is almost unavoidable and many women are burdened with deep shame and loneliness as it can be completely isolating in the sense that NO ONE in your little world can relate!

If you also suffer this condition, you may be part of the minority, but let me assure you, you are not alone! HG is rare—studies show less than 2% of women experience this highly unpleasant complication. Although I try to compare HG to morning sickness, it is almost incomparable. Think of the worst hangover, a horrible case of food poisoning, and the most violent stomach bug you have ever experienced—then combine them and try to grow a human–successfully and joyfully might I add.

Pregnant life with HG means that every smell is heightened and sensitivities even to aromas that I would typically find normal or pleasant become stomach churning. For instance, I can tell by smell if someone opened the refrigerator door while I am 30 feet away in another room, with my back turned. Zero exaggeration! I have begged and pleaded with my husband and family not to cook in our home and have struggled to thoroughly brush my teeth, use body lotion, and condition my hair during most of the first two trimesters.

Not only am I ultra-aware of smells while I have HG, but the constant challenge of what to eat and when plagues me!

Meat and dairy are 100% not feasible with my appetite and haven’t been for months. I’ve forced myself to drink 30-40 ounces of water nightly since that’s the only time I can keep it down, and even managed to slowly sip freezing cold tea during the day. At about 12 weeks, all I could handle was a Coke, Doritos and a hard boiled egg. Can someone say, Random?! This does not sound like the ideal pregnancy diet, right? It wasn’t, and it sucked!

During the worst of it (weeks 6 through about 18), I was also hypersensitive to movement and temperature. An uncomfortable cold hard floor might not seem like the ideal place to be. However, staying as close to the floor as possible helped minimize smells, and was slightly cooler. Thank goodness for Fall and the cooler weather in the air! In fact, lying in a pile of snow naked actually sounds AMAZING right now!

As you might understand from my descriptions above, HG does not lend itself well to traveling. I experienced HG during my first pregnancy with Asher so I expected it might surface again with the current baby. However, my symptoms have been significantly worse this go around. Plus, when I was pregnant the first time, I did not have an active toddler, emerging clothing business and fashion shows to tend to.

working mom

Work must continue!

I’m currently in the home stretch and still experiencing symptoms. But, I am beyond grateful for the PROGRESS…the moments of relief that steadily get longer each week, reacquiring an appetite for breakfast foods and actually enjoying some nursery planning as we look forward to baby! Somehow I made it almost ¾ of the way and I know I could not have made it here alone. Let me express my sincerest and deepest gratitude for those who have been solid rocks and pillars of strength in my world…the phone calls, texts, prayers and just the thought of your momentary acts of kindness has literally been my saving grace!

To the strangers, some of whom I have literally never met but have heard my story and uplifted me in prayer, may God shine light into your life for the love you have extended me!

To my friends who have “come my way” for everything from home visits to play dates with Asher to delivering cards and gifts to much needed girl chats, despite what you had going on in your own personal lives…I owe you and I am BEYOND grateful! How blessed am I to have such amazing women in my life!

To my family who has dealt with me on some of the lowest of lows…helping me physically when I literally had no strength to move from the bathroom floor to my bed and listening to my tears of pain and deep, unrelenting frustration, I am grateful and will never forget the love you have shown me.

My dear kid siblings, Rachel and Brooke who gave up much of their summer to help care for my son and serve me, literally standing by my side at every momentary low, I know this was not an easy experience for you and you sacrificed personally to be with me…please know, you are the reason I made it through the absolute darkest days. Your love is respected and your grace was sustaining! I don’t know many people in their teens and twenties, who would give up their social calendar and the beach for countless weeks in the summer! Thank you!

To my dear husband, Jake, please note this is partly your fault, and it still makes me feel 1% better to cast some of blame your way…but, in all seriousness, I am beyond grateful for your sacrifices and advocacy during this time. Helping “explain” what I was going through when I could barely speak for myself! I know it was probably the hardest on you with almost zero breaks, the financial and personal sacrifices and constant professional juggling with a business of your own. I am convinced that our future will only carry more blessings for the resilience and growth we have shared. And while this has not been easy and the fog has not yet lifted, adding another baby boy to our world will carry more lifelong JOY than either of us can comprehend! I ask God to continue to bless you daily with patience, grace, peace and strength and pray you genuinely know without doubt, how much I love, respect and appreciate you and what you have provided our family. I know it is not always properly conveyed! Thank you!

Are you part of the minority, are you suffering from HG or severe morning (AKA all day sickness)? Please tell me how you have managed through this terrible condition. Are you happiest lying on the floor under a fan, or perhaps naked in the snow? Have you swallowed your pride and leaned on family and friends for everything from grocery shopping to personal sanity? Please share your HG-war stories so that we can shed light on this condition and help other women…even if just by relating until they can make it through. Literally knowing you are not alone can be the single most sustaining force on the darkest of days!

mom to be

#worthit

Now I am beginning to rejoice…only a few short months…make that, weeks to go! And of course, IT will all have been worth it!

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