posted in Pregnancy
We hear it again and again: “Morning sickness has a purpose.” “Morning sickness is worth it because you are rewarded with a beautiful baby in the end.” “Be grateful it’s only temporary.”
All this may be true, if you’re one of the lucky ones whose worst pregnancy complication is your garden variety hormonal “queasiness.” But what about those women whose morning sickness is something bigger, something more extreme, something more deeply toxic than a week-long tequila and cigarette bender could ever induce? What about women who suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG)?
Never heard of HG? Picture this:
Imagine being so sick you can’t keep even one sip of any liquid down for longer than ten minutes.
Imagine getting so dehydrated you need to go to the ER for intravenous hydration, sometimes weekly.
You eat nothing, so you have to go to the ER for intravenous nutrition.
Instead of gaining 8 pounds in the first trimester, you lose 20.
You vomit so violently and so frequently you have to go to the ER for intravenous, prescription, anti-emetic drugs.
You will possibly need to continue taking these drugs, orally if you’re lucky, through a PICC line if you aren’t, until you deliver your baby.
You feel fear, and intense guilt because, while the drugs are helping you survive, no one really knows what they are doing to your unborn baby.
Imagine being so debilitated you miss weeks, even months, of work. You might even lose your job.
You are so miserably ill, 24/7, you can’t perform even the simplest of household chores or childcare tasks.
You can’t move, you can’t read, you can’t watch TV, you can’t tolerate any scent other than fresh air.
You can’t bear to be touched by your husband and children.
Your misery extends well past the first trimester — so long your doctor, your husband, your mother, your best friends might start to wonder if it’s all in your head.
You start to wonder if it’s all in your head — that you are somehow causing this to happen.
You get depressed.
You throw up so much — once per hour, maybe more — you begin to think you might die from puking.
You start to believe dying is a better option than continuing to suffer like a martyr.
It occurs to you, against your deepest desires, that the only total relief from your misery is not being pregnant any more.
You feel so desperate, hopeless, and worthless as a human being and a mother, maybe you decide to terminate your pregnancy.
If your intense, relentless nausea subsides after only 18 weeks, you can consider yourself one of the lucky ones.
No matter what, you feel completely alone in your feeble inability to handle being pregnant.
You will very likely live in terror of ever getting pregnant again.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, and you haven’t yet been diagnosed with HG, go see your doctor, immediately and demand treatment. Because HG is no joke. Enduring HG is not a way to prove yourself worthy of motherhood. No one should suffer through the hell of HG without help and support.
For anyone who has survived HG, what did I miss?
Read here for more info about hyperemesis gravidarum.
This post was originally published in February 2017
All images from iStock