Being Preggo with Hyperemesis Gravidarum
PREGNANCY! What a beautiful exciting thing! Or so I thought at first … which might sound like a terrible thing to say until I explain to you what I’ve been going through the past 3ish months.
Most of you might be wondering, “what the heck is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?” and don’t worry for a while I was just as confused. I’ve had it for three months and I still question wether I am saying and or spelling it correctly. The majority of us who have it just call it “HG” for short.
HG - in short - is when you have severe all day morning sickness or nausea. For some reason when I say it like that it doesn’t really sound all that bad. But let me tell you - the word SEVERE is very important here. So, non-scientifically, I’ll try to explain what I’ve read about HG when my doctor first told me this was what I was experiencing. The first thing I heard was that both the Duchess and Amy Schumer both experienced this horrible thing I was going through, little did I know it was actually quite a rare thing to experience. Don’t quote me on this unless it’s not correct but I am pretty sure on one of the websites I read that only like 3% of pregnant women experience HG. Therefore, a TON of people won’t understand what HG is or what I am going through.
HG is so much more than throwing up morning till night. It’s extreme exhaustion, constant stomach pains, dehydration, lack of nutrition, enamel wearing on your teeth, dry heaving when there’s nothing left, dislocated ribs from heaving, greasy messy knotted hair, smelling from lack of showering, wearing the same pajamas for 3-4 days straight without changing, sleeping on the bathroom floor, high sensitivity to smells, and even high sensitivity to sounds. I wonder sometimes how to explain to people that when I hear my security system chime that there’s someone opening a door, or when I hear a doorknob turn loudly, that I have the sudden urge to puke. LIKE WHAT? How does that make sense. My poor husband! Needless to say we haven’t been intimate in months and sometimes I barely let him touch me because of my sensitivity to touches and movement.
Some women have it even worse and I can’t even imagine. My doctor said my HG wasn’t as bad as it could get and I quickly learned that some women are hospitalized because of it, put on IV drips because they are so dehydrated and lacking nutrition. How scary is that!? As sick as I am, I felt blessed that I hadn’t been pushed to that brink. But still, it has been bad enough that I couldn’t get up from bed most days do work (and I work from home).
As the days and weeks flew by around me while I lay in bed, I started to worry about how far behind I was falling in my work (not to mention how depressing it is and can mess with your mind to be laying in bed that long). I am a wedding videographer and a huge chunk of my job is editing and delivering those videos. Day by day I thought about my clients, patiently waiting on their videos with no idea that I felt like I was on the brink of death. I reached out to a Facebook Group I am a part of and asked the ladies in the group what they would do if they were me. A: Explain to my clients what I am dealing with and risk them not understanding and being very upset, or B: Not tell them and let them wait on their videos because some videographers actually take much longer than myself and maybe what they don’t know wouldn’t hurt. I ended up going with option A because people agreed that knowing and understanding was better than being left in the dark and honestly because it was the right thing to do. Thank God most of my clients are complete angels and I even got a few prayers in from those who really understood!
Now that I am through my first trimester, the HG has lessened in the mornings (that doesn’t mean it’s gone though) and the symptoms are worse in the early evening and into the night. Therefore, I take that time in the day to work as much as possible in a short span of time before the nausea comes back in full force and hits me like a ton of bricks at the 3 or 4 o’clock hour.
SO I don’t know if that explains or not how bad it is and can be but I wanted to take a second for those who don’t have HG or maybe for those who do and want to know - some things that have and haven’t helped me (and this doesn’t apply to or work for everyone because everyone experiences HG a little different and has different “triggers”)
Things that Helped
1. REALLY Hot Showers
First of all I should mention it’s winter where I am and I live in an old house built in the 30’s that has horrible insulation and is always freezing. It’s a cute remodel but does not get warm AT ALL. So, when and if I can find the energy, I take my mini portable heater and plug it in near the bathroom facing in towards the shower, turn the water as hot as it gets, and stay in there till I feel like I’m gunna pass out. I know that sounds ridiculous but sometimes momentary relief is worth it. When I get out of the shower I am so exhausted from standing that I LITERALLY sit down and get dressed and then get back in bed until my hair is basically dry in my towel because blow drying is heaps of effort that I don’t have to give.
2. ZOFRAN and Phenergan
This is a super controversial one but both were prescribed to me by my doctor. How she explained it was that if I was throwing up and not keeping food down, that was worse for the baby than taking the medicine. The reason people freak out about these medications is because people have said they can cause birth defects or issues for the baby. Honestly it could be true or it may not be as related as people think. The reason people don’t have solid statistics on this is because they can’t test these drugs on pregnant women for results so you kind of just have to trust your doctor when they say its safe “enough”. Obviously safe and safe enough isn’t reason enough for some people and they choose to skip the drugs and suffer. I am a wimp and I can’t at all - nor could I imagine myself hospitalized for this if I DIDN’T take the drugs so I chose to.
Zofran is one of the most popular that I’ve seen / heard of HG ladies taking and then the Phenergan is a new one to me. Zofran is commonly used for cancer patients to help with their nausea. There are a lot of other things doctors might prescribe based on your medical needs or what your body is better at handling such as Diclegis, B6, Unisom, ETC. I may be spelling some of these wrong but I am no expert I have just seem these drug names thrown around.
Anyways, while on these drugs I don’t feel 100% myself or magically better, but I notice a slight improvement that allows me to somewhat function like a human and not a sloth living in a garbage can.
3. Help from my Husband and my Mom
I have to say that the times when my husband is home or that my mom was visiting and helping to take care of me, I felt a LOT better. I think it’s because the burden of doing things was taken off me and I’m able to focus more on myself and my health rather than things that need to get done. It’s so nice to be able to ask my husband, “Can you run to the kitchen and grab me some chips?” rather than having to get up and get them myself. Seriously, sometimes I’ve been on the brink of puking and I’ll say like, “Quick! Can you grab me a spoonful of peanut butter!” or whatever my body thinks its craving at the time, and the second I have it in my mouth I feel a little better. Whereas if I had to get up and get it myself maybe I wouldn’t have made it and would have to detour to the bathroom instead. Also things like, taking the dog out to go to the bathroom, doing the laundry, things that would take a lot of body work — having someone to do those things for you can really be the difference between puking on the floor and puking less and being able to make it to the bathroom.
4. Changing up What I Eat
If I eat too much of something that has been helping me, it strangely has been bound to make me feel sick eventually. TRIGGER WARNING HERE if you don’t want to hear examples about food. For instance, one week I was all about Cape Cod Chips. I ate a whole entire bag in one sitting because of how good and not sick they made me feel. My husband went out and bought two huge bags of them the next week only to find that I couldn’t stand them any more so now we just have two huge bags of chips that no one is eating… Also pasta was SO good to me for a while and was so nice plain with butter— but after I threw it up two times I couldn’t even bear the thought of it. Enough time has passed now that I can at least talk about it. Once you throw something up it’s hard to imagine eating it once more. Especially if you have something that tastes HORRIBLE on the way up. I remember buying these lime popsicles that I thought were lifesaving then I threw it up an hour later and it stung and was so sour tasting that I was like oh god never again. SO I try to buy newish things each week that my body thinks it can handle (which is TOTALLY different for everyone) but by switching it up, I am able to not be reminded of the past and how something made me feel icky.
5. Flavored Water
For a while I was drinking all different kinds of tea and gatorade and even ginger ale because they were easier to drink than RAW PLAIN water which was just so HARSH on an empty stomach. Those words are in caps to emphasize how shitty water felt going down and staying down. Then one day at whole foods I bought Flow Water that was flavored and it was so much easier to keep down. I think the slight hints of either watermelon or cucumber distracts my brain and tongue. I have been ordering 12 packs of this stuff so that I can stay hydrated!
6. Gummy Prenatals (During the Right Time of Day)
Of course everyone always emphasizes how important taking your prenatals are but there was a period of time I had to skip them all together. The ones I started on originally were capsules and the smell of them alone would make me want to vomit. So many bloggers I knew were taking these ones called New Chapter (which actually are great for you if you can handle them) but the second I opened that bottle I had a vomit trigger. SO I switched to Smarty Pants gummies and they had a much more manageable flavor for me. They don’t taste as delightful as their regular Woman’s vitamins but they’re the best prenatal gummy I could find. I found that if I took them during my “fluffier” hours I was able to keep them down better. For me, the mornings are when I feel the least sick so I started taking them after breakfast then chasing them with a nice fruity snack like strawberries or raspberries.
7. Moving my Desk into my Bedroom
By creating a workspace that was near my rest space, I felt more inclined to get work done. If my desk was still in it’s original place outside my bedroom, I would continue to feel the hassle of going all the way outside my room into a change of temperature and environment which could throw me off altogether and cause me not to get work done. Now I have a cozy space super close to my bed that I can transition to easily. If you have or can work from a laptop I highly recommend this (I only have a desktop).
8. Fresh Air When it’s Warm
Sometimes, on my fluffier days, when it’s warm, I step outside and feel a million times better. I keep telling my mom that if I just had a vacation to somewhere warm I’d probably be healed. I know that isn’t the case but the weather truly can make you feel more sick or less sick. When it’s warm out and I can sit on my front porch or even take my dog outside to let him run around with the sun hitting my skin, I am so much happier. Can someone transport me to a beach in Hawaii plz?
9. A Clean Rug on the Bathroom Floor
Honestly this is a sad one but the reality hits sometimes and you gotta be in the best place for the emergency. When I can’t stop feeling sick and I can’t stop throwing up, I dress really warm (so I don’t get the shakes after throwing up), and lay on a clean rug soft rug next to the toilet. Something about the ground being solid and my body being flat on it’s side helps, whereas when I’m up high on my bed and the environment is squishy and my husband is jostling around on the other side I can’t stand it. Sometimes I’d rather be in the bathroom on the floor than in a squishy bed with a bucket.
It helps so much to binge a Netflix series when you need to take your mind off the sick feeling. It’s so weird how like I can be watching a show and so invested in it and then the second the show ends I feel like I have to puke. It’s like my brain switches it’s priority to the show instead of my sickness and for at least an hour or a half hour I am distracted enough not to throw up (even if I still kinda feel like I have to). Also on my fluffier days and on Saturdays with my husband, I like to get out and go places with him where I FORCE myself to feel better. I normally just throw my hair in a bun and wear workout clothes so that I don’t have to waste energy on getting ready and then feel sick again. Still, getting out of the house and into a change of environment can be such a nice distraction. Funny because like a half hour into getting home from our outings I always feel sick again but you know I can’t stay out forever.
AND For those of you without HG who want to add things to this list that you think help, they probably don’t or I would’ve mentioned them. Here are some common misconceptions about helping people with HG.
1. Eat Small Meals Frequently
While this might work for some nauseas women, some of us can’t eat all day long. There are periods of time where if I eat anything it’s just going to come right back up! We eat when we can but don’t ever try to force us in hopes that it will make us feel better.
Honestly I thought crackers were cool like the first week of my nausea but then I got SO sick of them and also they weren’t really helping so then I got over them when I realized there were other foods that basically did the same thing crackers did, which was, nothing.
3. GINGER, ginger ale, ginger supplements, raw ginger, ginger tea, ginger gummies and candies, etc.
NO, ginger doesn’t make us feel better. YES, we have tried it.
4. Throwing Up and Getting it Out of Your System
Sure for like 5 minutes. Then the sickness is right back again.
As important as it is, it doesn’t help the feeling of sickness to stay hydrated.
6. Drink tea!
Honestly tea makes me feel more sick, especially on an empty stomach. BLEH.
We hope you’re joking when you say this one because we can barely get out of bed. I think I got as much exercise as I could handle for a week when I showered today for the first time in 3 days.
8. Wait Until the First Trimester is Over
Guess what? It’s over, and I’m still sick.
Sometimes it is nice to smell a peppermint or lemon flavor and it does ease the mind for like a few minutes but unfortunately doesn’t stop my stomach from turning. Great smells though!
10. Controlled Breathing Exercises
Laughing at this one right now because (I LOVE YOU MOM) my mom has told me to do this so many times when I feel sick. I can hear her now “BREATHE DEEP! DON’T THROW UP!” Like is anyone really that strong mentally? Maybe, but not me.
I hope this can kind of help those who didn’t know about HG get a better understanding about it for those who do, and for those who do have HG I hope you can relate to this on some level and maybe laugh a little bit or just commiserate and know that you’re not alone and we’re going to get through this together. #HGWarriors ;)