Surviving Hyperemesis Gravidarum

posted in: Parenting | 2
Today I’m welcoming Emma from Adventures of Adam! The snapshot below has special meaning to Emma because of what she had to go through to have her son. In a moment, she’ll be sharing her story with you.

After a very difficult pregnancy, during which she suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), Emma vowed to make every day an adventure. Her blog is the outcome of completing a 100 day play challenge with her toddler as part of that promise. On her blog, you’ll find HG-friendly play activities that require no preparation, do not involve smells or food, and are easy to clean up. These activities to allow moms suffering from HG during pregnancy to still enjoy playing with their children.

— Betsy

Surviving Hyperemesis Gravidarum

39 weeks and 4 days of pregnancy
35 weeks suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum
245 days of vomiting and suffering from nausea
Over 2,200 tablets taken
1 month in hospital
Countless medical tests
Pre-eclampsia

This is what it took to get this photo of my son, Adam.

Adventures of Adam - Surviving Hyperemesis Gravidarum - BPhotoArt.com

I had never heard of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) until I was 7 weeks pregnant and found myself unable to function. I was vomiting 20-40 times a day and unable to go about my day-to-day life. Nothing would stay down. I would eat an ice cube and seconds later bring it right back up again. Even the mention of food made me vomit.

HG completely took over my life and has changed my view on so many things. It is such a debilitating and all consuming condition; it robbed me of everything. I was unable to have any type of life, lost my independence due to needing full time care, and became dependent on my family and medication to keep me alive.

As if that wasn’t enough the isolation and misunderstanding of the condition made the vomiting harder to deal with.

My Breaking Point

Eleven weeks into the pregnancy, I was at my breaking point. It was weeks since I had eaten anything substantial and it was a constant battle to keep any fluid down.  After talking to a midwife, I was introduced to the world of “ketones” – a word that every HG sufferer dreads. Excessive ketones in the urine indicate that the body is not using carbohydrates from food as fuel and is subsequently trying to break down fat as fuel. Having ketones is a sign that the body is beginning to operate in starvation mode. I was severely dehydrated and admitted to hospital where I spent an entire week on an IV drip.

It took several lengthy hospitalizations to reduce my ketone levels and find a combination of medicines that reduced my vomiting. I was still sick frequently, but I was starting to retain some fluid.   Despite the improvement, Hyperemesis never leaves you; even when the sickness was controlled the condition still took over my life.

I felt dizzy all the time, was left confined to my couch with no energy and unable to prepare food myself. The nausea was unrelenting and felt worse than the sickness. My sense of smell was heightened so much that I could not stand the smell of my own husband and couldn’t go near him without vomiting. I couldn’t go into our kitchen due to the smell and I was unable to wash myself due to exhaustion. I couldn’t cope with noise, light, heat or movement. The only thing I could do was lay still and wait. This state continued on for me, week after week, month after month.

Adam’s Birth – And Relief from Hyperemesis Gravidarum

As soon as Adam was born the May 2nd, 2012, the vomiting stopped. I no longer felt nauseous and wasn’t reaching for the sick bowl. Still, recovery has been a long process. Because I was bed ridden for so long, my muscles didn’t  work well; oedema worsened the problem. The emotional impact of my condition resulted in my having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Support Networks

When Adam was 7 weeks old, I found out about the Pregnancy Sickness Support (a UK charity). It’s unfortunate I didn’t learn of it sooner.  The UK charity is the only one supporting women with nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) and Hyperemesis Gravidarum; it provides a telephone helpline, a national peer support network and educates healthcare professionals treating the conditions.

I have volunteered for the charity for two years.  I now administrate their online forum for sufferers and survivors, and have recently become a trustee.

For International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day I created this video (mobile version):

For those in the United States, the Hyperemesis Education and Research (HER) Foundation is a worldwide network of HG survivors, and a great resource for information on HG. The Hyperemisis Education and Research Foundation is dedicated to helping hyperemesis sufferers (and surivors!) and to finding a cure for HG. and its complications.

— Emma

Other Articles on Hyperemesis Gravidarum

What About You?

The last article listed above, by the Syndey Morning Herald, mentioned 70% of pregnant women are affected by nausea and vomiting — and up to 3% of pregnant women experience HG. It also discusses how Charlotte Bronte suffered from HG and did die from the condition according to The Life of Charlotte Bronte (#afflink) by Elizabeth Gaskell.

Have you had acute morning sickness?  Do you know someone who survived HG?  I’ve love to hear your stories in the comments below.

2 Responses

  1. Lara
    | Reply

    I have three children and with each one I suffered from Hyperemesis. Plus, it got worse with each pregnancy. I always wanted more children than 3, but after my third I knew there was no way I could put myself through that again! I’m so thankful for modern medicine that helped, but it was still incredibly rough! I had a PICC line for my second until about two weeks before I delivered, and with my third, I spent a week in the hospital, and then was released with a Zofran pump. Both things helped greatly, but as you said, I was still sick for all nine months, and still vomited daily.

    I love your baby’s onesie! And I love that you are advocating and providing awareness for this condition. Thank you!

    • Betsy Finn
      | Reply

      Thank you for sharing your story, Lara. That sounds like such a tough journey for you as well. ((Hugs))

Leave a Reply