Hyperemesis Gravidarum Story: One Woman’s Experience with Severe Pregnancy Nausea

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If you’re looking for stories about hyperemesis gravidarum, you’re not alone. Many women have experienced the debilitating effects of this condition during pregnancy. In this post, you’ll find a personal account of what it’s like to live with hyperemesis gravidarum, or HG.

As a two-time HG survivor, the author shares her experience of hospitalizations, a PICC line, daily IVs, home health care, and premature birth. She hopes that by sharing her story, she can help raise awareness about this under-acknowledged, under-researched, and under-funded pregnancy complication.

Key Takeaways

  • Hyperemesis gravidarum is a debilitating condition experienced by some women during pregnancy.
  • HG can cause hospitalizations, IV treatments, and premature birth.
  • By sharing her story, the author hopes to raise awareness about this under-acknowledged pregnancy complication.

How My Hyperemesis Gravidarum Story Begins

You found out you were pregnant in early February last year. A week later, you started experiencing nausea, which you thought was just normal morning sickness. However, a few days later, you realized that you would probably be sick all day, every day for weeks to come since you were so early in your first trimester. This thought was overwhelming, and you were desperate to get to your first doctor’s appointment.

By the end of the weekend, you had tried all the usual morning sickness suggestions but to no avail. You felt sick, struggling, and losing. You didn’t realize that any of this was abnormal, and you had never read other people’s hyperemesis gravidarum stories. Later, you learned that your pregnancy hormone levels were higher than expected.

Luckily, your doctor recognized your symptoms right away and told you that you shouldn’t be that sick that early in pregnancy. You received a presumptive hyperemesis gravidarum diagnosis and discussed how to keep you from being hospitalized.

You made it through a week before you had to go out on leave, spending the rest of your pregnancy at home. Looking back on that moment, you feel sadness and compassion for who you were at that time. It was a tough time, and you didn’t know how to deal with it.

In summary, your hyperemesis gravidarum story began with you experiencing severe nausea and vomiting during the first trimester of your pregnancy. Although you initially thought it was just morning sickness, you soon realized that it was abnormal and overwhelming. Your doctor recognized your symptoms and provided you with a diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarum. You spent the rest of your pregnancy at home, dealing with the condition.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Story One Woman's Experience with Severe Pregnancy Nausea

What is Hyperemesis?

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a rare pregnancy disease that affects 1-3% of pregnancies and is characterized by severe nausea or vomiting. It is a debilitating condition that can cause significant weight loss and dehydration, and there is no uniform diagnostic criteria for this condition. Women with HG often present with indicators of starvation or dehydration, and many require hospitalization.

HG is under-recognized, under-researched, and under-funded, making it difficult to study and understand better. Women with HG suffer for months on end, possibly their whole pregnancy, and many are unable to work due to the severity of their symptoms. They face mental health challenges and socioeconomic vulnerabilities both during and after pregnancy. The malnourishment and bodily stress also pose potential risks for the baby, including early birth.

The Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation provides a great overview of the toll HG takes on women, their babies, and society overall. The condition is costly not only because of the medical and hospital costs but also the lost earning potentials of those unable to work, to say nothing of the burden placed on caregivers.

Symptoms of HG include severe nausea and vomiting, dehydration, and significant weight loss. Women with HG may also experience fatigue, dizziness, and fainting. Research into the condition is ongoing, and treatment options include anti-nausea medication, intravenous fluids, and hospitalization in severe cases.

In summary, HG is a severe pregnancy disease that can have significant physical, mental, and socioeconomic impacts on women and society. It is essential to recognize and understand this condition to provide better care and support for women with HG.

My Hyperemesis Experience

If you have experienced hyperemesis gravidarum during pregnancy, you know how challenging it can be. While some women have a more severe experience, others, like yourself, may have a less severe one. You were fortunate to have a proactive and kind doctor who started you on Zofran early, which spared you from vomiting excessively. You only had to be hospitalized once, which was a relief. Additionally, you were not socioeconomically vulnerable, which is a significant advantage.

However, hyperemesis gravidarum still took a toll on you, and seven months postpartum, you are still recovering. Your hyperemesis was most intense during the first half of your pregnancy, but you felt sick and struggled to eat throughout the entire pregnancy. As your hyperemesis lessened, your cervix began to give way, making your pregnancy more complicated.

Hyperemesis is a very isolating experience, and you may have found yourself spending most of your days alone on the couch. Your pregnancy complications also affected your partner, who became a caregiver much earlier than expected. If you are struggling with hyperemesis gravidarum, it is essential to seek medical attention from a physician or an OBGYN. You can find a geneticist or other medical professionals who can help you manage your symptoms and ensure the health of your baby.

Physical Toll

Dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) can take a severe physical toll on your body. The constant nausea and vomiting can lead to a lack of caloric intake, which can cause weight loss and malnutrition. Even on your less-nauseous days, you may feel depleted and weak. Simple tasks like going to the grocery store or opening the fridge can become overwhelming and physically revolting without warning.

HG can also affect your social life. You may no longer be able to share meals with friends, try new restaurants, or cook with family due to the constant nausea and vomiting. This can lead to feelings of isolation and a loss of joy in food.

In severe cases, HG can lead to hospitalization and the need for IV fluids and medication to manage the symptoms. Medications such as Zofran, Reglan, Diclegis, and ondansetron may be prescribed to help with nausea and vomiting. Prenatal vitamins and antacids may also be recommended to help maintain nutrition and manage symptoms.

In addition to weight loss and malnutrition, complications such as dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can occur. HG can also increase the risk of hospitalization and preterm labor.

It is important to seek treatment for HG to manage the symptoms and prevent complications. Treatment may include medication, IV fluids, and nutritional support. In some cases, a PICC line may be inserted to provide long-term IV nutrition. Morning sickness remedies such as ginger and acupressure may also be helpful in managing symptoms.

Self Doubt

Self-doubt is a common experience among women who suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum. Even with overwhelming evidence of their condition, many women constantly doubt that they are “sick enough” to claim hyperemesis as their own. They read other women’s stories that are full of incessant vomiting, PICC lines, feeding tubes, and extended hospital stays. They worry every single day about whether they are sick enough to justify being out of work or whether they could try harder to work, live, and eat. This self-doubt can lead to feelings of guilt and shame, making it even more challenging to cope with hyperemesis.

Women with hyperemesis often feel weak and dramatic, even as they watch the number on the scale drop, even as ketones, a starvation indicator, are found in their urine, and even as nurses and doctors tell them that “the sickest ones never complain.” This self-doubt can be debilitating, making it difficult to seek the help and support they need.

In some cases, modified bed rest is prescribed to help manage hyperemesis. While this can be a relief for some women, it can also increase feelings of self-doubt. They may wonder if they are really sick enough to require bed rest, or if they could try harder to manage their symptoms without it.

It is important for women with hyperemesis to recognize that self-doubt is a common experience and that they are not alone. Seeking support from loved ones, healthcare providers, and support groups can help them manage these feelings and cope with hyperemesis more effectively. By acknowledging their condition and seeking the help they need, women with hyperemesis can overcome self-doubt and focus on their recovery.

Postpartum Recovery

Postpartum recovery can be a challenging time for new mothers. It is important to remember that recovery is a process and it may take longer than expected. After delivery, your body needs time to heal and regain strength.

Physically, postpartum recovery can include symptoms such as lightheadedness, fatigue, and weakness. It is not uncommon to experience these symptoms for several weeks after delivery. It is important to take it slow and not push yourself too hard during this time. Low-impact exercise and physical therapy can help you regain strength and build back up your body’s reserves.

It is also important to remember that postpartum recovery is not just physical. Emotionally, many new mothers experience a range of feelings, from joy and elation to anxiety and sadness. It is important to seek support during this time, whether it be from family, friends, or a healthcare professional.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Story One Woman's Experience with Severe Pregnancy Nausea

It is common for new mothers to feel pressure to bounce back to their pre-pregnancy body quickly. However, it is important to remember that every woman’s body is different and recovery times may vary. It is important to listen to your body and not compare yourself to others.

Additionally, some women may experience lingering aversions to certain foods or have difficulty eating normally in the weeks following delivery. This is normal and can take time to resolve. It is important to eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated during this time.

In summary, postpartum recovery is a process that can take time. It is important to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally during this time. Seek support when needed and listen to your body’s needs. Remember that every woman’s recovery is different and there is no one “right” way to recover.

Mental Health

Recovering from hyperemesis gravidarum can be an emotional journey that can take a toll on your mental health. Many women experience baby blues, feelings of sadness or nostalgia around their pregnancy experience, and anxiety. It is important to have a support system in place, whether it be friends, family, or a support group.

It is common to feel like your identity has been consumed by being a “sick person” during pregnancy. However, with time and work, it is possible to rediscover yourself and find joy in the little things again. Grocery shopping, for example, can be an emotional minefield, but with each small victory, it gets easier.

Returning to work can be a difficult decision. Women may feel pressure to return to work due to guilt over their long medical leave or internalized societal expectations. However, it is important to prioritize your mental health and well-being. If you are struggling to cope with leaving your baby or feel overwhelmed at work, it is important to seek help.

If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider. They can provide resources and support to help you through this difficult time. There are also online support groups and communities for HG sufferers that can provide a sense of community and understanding.

It is important to educate yourself and others about hyperemesis gravidarum and its potential impact on mental health. Lack of knowledge and understanding can lead to feelings of isolation and PTSD. Raising awareness and advocating for better resources and support can help improve the experience for future HG sufferers.

In summary, recovering from hyperemesis gravidarum can be a challenging journey that can take a toll on your mental health. It is important to have a support system in place, prioritize your mental health, and seek help if needed. Educating yourself and others about HG can help improve the experience for future sufferers.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Story One Woman's Experience with Severe Pregnancy Nausea

My Initial Recovery Stage

After being diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum and cervical incompetence bed rest, you may think that you will recover within three months. However, according to your doctor, even the best of pregnancies are not recovered at three months, so it is preposterous to think that you would be recovered from your highly complicated pregnancy and starvation. Your doctor referenced wartime research on prolonged starvation and its lasting cognitive effects. She said you need to take in way more calories than normal to cue your body that you are no longer starving.

Until this point, no one had ever said the word ‘starvation’ to you. You had to increase your calorie intake as much as possible, work on your sleep, and follow up with extensive lab work and a nutritionist. Although everything your doctor said made complete sense and was a relief, you were angry that no one had mentioned the prolonged recovery or re-feeding considerations during your obstetrics visits. You were so sad that there wasn’t an easy fix.

The next day, you saw a psychologist and she echoed the doctor’s sentiment. Your pregnancy was not normal. You are not recovered and are depleted. You did not have the reserves to cope with leaving your infant, working, and recovering simultaneously. At your very first appointment, she floated the idea of you going back out of work.

It took almost two months of appointments to be able to accept that decision and restart maternity leave. You had to work through your feelings of failure and worries about your identity, relationships, and professional future. Again, you found yourself struggling with self-doubt. Doubting whether you’re really not recovered enough to justify being on work leave, wondering if you’re weak. You recite the psychologist’s words to yourself often to quiet the doubt.

You’re honestly not through this season of hyperemesis yet, and you imagine you’ll get more insights as time passes. This still feels fresh, raw, and hard to write. But you feel like this latest leg of the hyperemesis journey is perhaps the most important to share because you don’t think you are alone here and don’t want others to be caught unprepared.

You don’t blame your high-risk OB for overlooking this part of hyperemesis. Pretty much anyone who has ever given birth knows that the American standard of only one postpartum appointment is insufficient and ridiculous. Until there is meaningful change to postpartum care, you have to fill in the gaps for yourselves by swapping your stories from the trenches. You hope your HG blog post helps this cause. For those looking for more ways to connect, you also highly recommend the Hyperemesis HER Foundation monthly support group which you attend frequently.

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