Hyperemesis Gravidarum

• 22 February 2012


I've written this post ten times in my head over the past year and a half.  Why it's taken me until now to actually post it, I don't exactly know.  But, what I do know is that I feel compelled to share my experience with hyperemesis gravidarum here with you...in hopes that I help the few of you out there that experience this condition.  A couple of you have written to me over the years when pregnant and we've consoled each other via email, but I feel like it's important to reach more of you and offer up support in the form of this post...chock full of advice, tips and validation.  If something I share helps you in the smallest way, it will have been more than worth my time. 

Described by WebMD as "a rare disorder characterized by severe and persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy that may necessitate hospitalization", hyperemesis gravidarum affects less than 3% of all pregnant women; so chances are you don't know a lot of women who experience HG.  But if you do, it's important you understand what she is experiencing, as best as you can. She will always remember how you stuck by her side during a horrific period and hold you dear for the rest of her life (I know this because I feel that way about those who helped me!).  Or, more importantly, if you have HG, it's important you have as much helpful, positive information on hand about this disorder as possible.

If you're interested in reading more on the subject of hyperemesis gravidarum, please click "read more" below.  As always, please chime in on the comments if you'd like to add to the conversation and share your own thoughts/tips/advice.  I realize every woman's experience is slightly different than that of another so the more information presented, the better :)  Also, if you have any questions for me, please comment on this post so we can all learn from each other.  Thanks!

update: dear friends, those who suffer from infertility may read these words and think, "well, at least you were able to get pregnant...I'd endure anything, including HG, just to have a baby", and I want to say that those are valid feelings.  My heart goes out to you if you are experiencing this challenge.  Pregnancy, in all forms, is a sensitive issue indeed; all we can do is try to support one another and show empathy for each other's different trials in life. 

When it comes to alleviating symptoms, these are the tips and tricks that worked for me during all of my pregnancies.  Keep in mind that every woman's pregnancy is different, so they may not be the perfect solutions for you; but, they should get you on the right path to your own self discovery.  Also, note that none of my pregnancies were exactly alike--they varied due to the baby's sex, how many children I had to take care of while suffering from HG, and my age.  But honestly, all of the things I've shared below helped me during each and every one of my pregnancies and I can only hope they do the same for you.  Good luck and know that my heart goes out to you during this challenging stage in your life.  Oh, and keep in mind these are not professional opinions, only my personal thoughts.  Please consult with your doctor before taking any of my advice :)

Here it goes--everything I want to share with you about HG--in no particular order:

1.  Women who experience hyperemesis gravidarum are more prone to depression both during and after pregnancy.  Make sure those who are close to you are aware of this as you will likely not be able to self diagnose.  You'll be so miserable and focused on trying to make it through your days that you likely won't have depression on your radar.

2. If you feel like a shell of the woman you used to be, rest assured that it's a normal feeling for those with HG.  Feeling like you're operating at 5% is very discouraging and it's very difficult to smile during these times.  Telling yourself that it's only temporary and that you'll feel like your old self in less than one year is key.  You must remind yourself that this is temporary.  And oh how lucky we are that it doesn't go on and on, like many of the health challenges that other people face.

3.  There is a possibility that you will become so high maintenance and unenjoyable to be around that you'll actually lose a friend (or two) during your pregnancy.  Not everyone is willing to stick around when the friendship feels one-sided (i.e. you have zero energy to put into the relationship).  If this happens to you, know that this happened to me too (and other people I've known or heard about).  In fact, during pregnancy #4 a friend asked via text if I was pregnant to which I confirmed 'yes'; and then I never heard from her again.  As painful as it is, I'm grateful I discovered the meaning of a true friend--an invaluable life lesson. 

4.  Zofran will become one of your best friends.  Originally developed as a drug for cancer patients experiencing severe nausea post chemotherapy, it's now prescribed to women with HG.  I've had 3 different ob/gyns for the 4 pregnancies and each had a different philosophy on the usage of Zofran.  I don't know what your doctors' opinions are, but I do know that while Zofran didn't cure my symptoms, it certainly helped take the edge off under certain circumstances.   I found that Zofran's success was greatly due to it being used regularly and consistently and in conjunction with lots of sleep and lots of water (as much as you can keep down).  I found that 8 mg (max dosage I believe), every 8 hours created my best-case scenario--taken right when I woke up, then 8 hours later, then right before bed.  Thankfully a generic version is now on the market (it used to be $42/pill!) and the cheapest place to purchase it is at Costco. 

During my fourth and final pregnancy, I started max dosage of Zofran as soon as I had a positive pregnancy test (I had a prescription in my wallet ready to go from my ObGyn).  This gave me about 10-14 days of moving the Zofran through my blood stream before the heavy nausea and vomiting symptoms took hold of my body.  I found this approach to be helpful and wished I'd learned it sooner!

5.  You will find that you will at times be required to receive IV's at the hospital or your doctor's office and in some extreme cases, a PICC line.  The latter brought me back to life during #3 and while my experience with it was a positive one, it's a dangerous course and is truly a last resort.  Scheduling your IV's with your obgyn (versus going to the ER), will cut down on your health care costs if this is a concern for you as it was for me. 

6.  Lack of sleep exacerbates Hyperemesis Gravidarum so try to get as much shut-eye as possible.  I can't emphasize this enough! During pregnancy #4, I basically had to go on bed rest for the first 4+ months, just to stay alive it felt like.  My husband prepared a simple breakfast everyday of the one thing I could keep down (a scrambled egg with gray sea salt) and brought it to me in bed because I found that trying to put something in my body before getting out of bed greatly increased the chances of it staying down.  After eating your light breakfast, linger in bed a little longer so the power of gravity can make an attempt at helping you out. When you do get up, take it slow. 

7.  Drink as much water (or another liquid you can keep down) as you can.  Try taking frequent, little sips throughout the day.  Maybe warm water will taste good to you, maybe icy cold water with a cucumber slice will do the trick.  I typically found that cool (not warm, not cold) water worked best from me if sipped through a straw.  Super random, I know, but it worked for me.  Find out what works for you, what sounds good, and you'll have a better chance at trying to stay hydrated (very important!).  If you're drinking Gatorade, try the lemon-lime flavor...it's the only one I could sometimes keep down.  Only one.  Lemon lime...not the lemonade :)

8.  Well meaning friends will try to offer you things like ginger, tea and saltines, thinking these will help you feel better.  Say "thank you" and be gracious, but keep in mind that any redeeming qualities these forms of nourishment have do not apply to those with HG.  I won't tell you how often I vomited Saltines, but suffice it to say I do not ever want to eat one again in my entire life.  HG is so beyond crackers and ginger when you're trying to keep down a tablespoon of water. 

9.  Positive self-talk is super important and somewhat relates to the depression mentioned earlier.  I found that making attempts to talk myself out of vomiting helped control the severity of my situation when I was at a point where I could rapidly digress or try to somewhat stabilize myself.  Not always, but sometimes.  I learned to control my mind in a way, and while it never took away the symptoms, it often provided my body with a much-needed distraction.  I know the number of hospital visits I experienced would've increased had I not practiced the power of positive self talk.  You may think this sounds hokey but I promise it works.

10.  Be social...well, as much as you possibly can endure.  I found that I rarely threw up when I was in the company of friends and family (just after and before!).  I'm not exactly sure why this was the case, but I can only deduce that the social exchange was a healthy, mental release from the disorder taking over my life.  These face-to-face interactions presented an opportunity for me to try and feel normal.  Often I didn't have the capacity or desire to be social (even though I knew it would help), so my husband typically created and encouraged them for me.  You too may find that you feel the same, in which case you'll need to enlist your spouse to help.

11.  If you find that you can't keep anything down, try a potato--baked or roasted.  This heavy son-of-a-gun has a difficult time making it back up (thank you again gravity!) and is actually full of nutrients (in the skin mostly).  There was a time when all I ate for 9 weeks straight were roasted potatoes.  I popped them in, one at a time, and offered a silent prayer with each bite :)

12.  Find a series that you genuinely enjoy--one that provides a mental escape.  For me, it was LOST; for you, it may be Downton Abbey.   I'm not a big TV person, in fact, we haven't had cable since 2003, so making this recommendation is definitely saying something.  When you have HG, it's all about survival and you have to do what it takes to make it through another day.

13.  HG is often a genetic issue, but not always.

14.  HG becomes more severe with age and is slightly more challenging when you're carrying a girl.  

15.  Know that upon giving birth, you will feel instantly better.  The Hyperemsis Gravidarum will be gone and you will feel like a normal woman who just gave birth to a baby.  Instead of dreading labor, my attitude was "bring it on!" because I just wanted to feel well again.  The anticipation makes the event even more exciting.  Plus, instead of thinking the hospital food is gross like every other patient, you'll laugh while you're eating it with delight because you'll just be so darn happy you can eat again and know that you will in fact keep it down.  It's a wonderful feeling an I laugh every time I think about how happy I was my tray was delivered to my bedside.  Bliss I tell you!

As mentioned earlier, feel free to share your own stories, tips or questions.  I'm happy to help in any way I can!

image via Justin Hackworth (he also took these pregnancy pics); thank you Justin!

73 comments:

Ana Degenaar said...

This is truly wonderful, Stephanie. I also suffered from it during my pregnancy and that's the main reason why I didn't try for one more. It is truly debilitating in every sense. It took so much away emotionally and physically. I was always losing weight instead of gaining, I was constantly worried about the well being of my baby and people didn't really understand. A lot of people thought I was taking pregnancy as an excuse to miss work or reunions when I was actually in bed, medicated so that I could retain some food. Mine did get better with the treatment and I also think that getting out and trying to maintain a normal life as much as possible helped me. Thank you for posting this!
xo

Sara said...

Thank you so much for this post! I had HG when pregnant with my son. It took as much of an emotional toll on me as it did a physical toll. One thought I might add the discussion: Depression is a major side effect of HG. Though I felt 100% better after delivery, the depression lingered. This was not your average "baby blues". It's important to process these emotions. When my son was one, I finally decided to go to counseling. It was such a healing time to process the fact that I had "lost" those nine months of my life. Oddly enough, I don't associate my pregnancy with my son. I'm so thankful for that protection. Again, thanks so much for bringing light to this disorder!

Rik said...

Wow, I knew you had health problems with your pregnancies, but I had no idea it was this crazy. I'm so sorry you (and the ladies above me) had to deal with this. It's amazing how stable you are! Or at least seem through your posts. :) :) I'm glad you posted this. Thank you!

Jackie said...

OMG...I am one of the 3% that actually knew what the condition in your title is. I cannot believe you had for kids with HG. I only had 2 and then my tubes tied :(. I was told by well-meaning medical professionals that it gets better with subsequent pregnancies. Well, not for me. It got way worse with the second. I was on a zofran pump injecting the medicine continually into my thigh. Plus I was on benadryl and another anti-nausea med. My mom made me homemade bread rolls every week. I kept one bedside everynight and ate it first thing in the morning before lifting my head even. I also carried the rolls everywhere with me to take nibbles throughout the day. I had home nurse care for my IVs and was hospitalized once. I thought I was going to die. I remembered being so scared when the OBGYN at the hospital told me it is so bad for some women they abort the baby to preserve there own health. I did not want to be in that position ever. I am so blessed for my two beautiful boys, but I knew for their sake and my husbands I could not have another difficult pregnancy. Our family was complete. I just had to convince the surgeon I really did want my tubes tied at 29 years old. As soon as I mentioned HG they understood. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

Sarah said...

For those who are saying they are too scared to have another child, I would only offer, don't be! I had HG the first time around (and it took me 4 years to work up the courage to try and have another baby), but we are on baby number 3 and I never have had it again. (I do have nausea, and I do take zofran occassionally, but it is nothing like the HG.)

The depression was certainly the worst part though. I was pretty sure I would have rather been dead and I spent 9 months crying on the bathroom floor. :-(

Simply Mom said...

Ohhh, thank you for this post! I'm not sure that anyone actually believes you when you try to explain how draining it is. I would vomit 60 times a day, I lost 23 lbs with my first pregnancy and 25 with my second. Zofran was my savior, though certainly not a cure. I luckily have a wonderful managed care provider at the University where I work, I would get infused with Zofran and fluids in the morning, go to work and then get infused again at the end of the day. I spent a week inpatient with both kids right around week 12 (when everyone tells you it's going to end).

I think that it was hardest on my husband the second time as we had a 18 month old toddling around and he would say, "you're in bed, again?" I felt like I was letting him and our son down, but I had to keep going to work, so that I would have the time off for when the babies were born.

The newest research suggests that over 80% of the time this is genetic but they're still not sure of the actual cellular mechanics of it all.

Please, if you have had HG go to http://www.helpher.org/ and participate in the HG study. This wonderful organization is making amazing strides and their research is threatened by current federal funding cuts!

The ppd was also very challenging, but when you and those who love you are prepared, you will make it through.

Stephanie said...

Ana, I believe one of the most difficult aspects of having HG is that pretty much no one gets us. But I do :)

Sara, very interesting you bring up this point. I'm very glad you did. I have read that it can linger and to be honest, I believe I was depressed for awhile after I had my last baby. It didn't help we moved and that my husband changed jobs :( Anyway, I'm glad you mentioned that it can linger, because it certainly can...even if you feel better nausea-wise.

One other thing I want to mention...if you know you have HG when pregnant and you plan on ahving another, start taking your Zofran right when you findout you're pregnant...getting it in your bloodstream for a couple of weeks before the really bad nausea sets in makes a difference.

Rik, I tried blogging the entire time I was going through this because I HAD to feel somewhat normal. It was so hard. Can't even tell you. And I know I probably lost a portion of my readership during that time as I was hardly inspiring I'm sure :) But again, it was an attempt to feel normal when I really just felt like a corpse! Thanks for your note!

Jackie, I know what you went through--that was me at #3. The home nurse, the PICC line, the nibbles, the HELL! :) I'm surprised doctors told you it became better with subsequent pregnancies. Au contraire! The only reason #4 was better than #3 for me was because I basically went on bedrest. Had I not done that, I can only imagine what might've transpired. Thank you for sharing your experience! I'm glad it's past you now Jackie.

Simply Mom, I'm so with you on the zofran--can't live without it yet it's not a cure. So, so true. I'm glad you reiterated that. Oh and the Zofran in liquid/IV form is much better I found too. I've heard the oral melt-in-your-mouth version is nice too but my insurance never paid for that and I don't believe it was at Costco so I couldn't afford it. So expensive! And 12 weeks (when you're supposed to be feeling better like a normal pregnant person) is when it starts getting REALLY bad, yes? I never felt relief at all until after 20 weeks...halfway. And vomiting 60 times a day is about the worst thing ever. I thought of every food and drink like this..."what would this taste like coming back up?" as it feels like everything does! You poor thing...60 is so many times...and all that weight. I never lost that much weight. Man, you are a trooper! Thank you for sharing your story and thoughts. This is all so helpful for so many I'm sure.

Stephanie said...

Another thought or two (I have a feeling I'll be remembering more details as the discussion continues)..

This is very hard for husbands...I know my husband struggled trying to take care of me and for our children while I was checked out with HG. We are glad this is behind us.

Also, when I was sick with #1, I remember thinking there was no way I'd do this again. Couldn't fathom it. Couldn't wrap my head around the possibility. But I couldn't shake that I felt like 4 was our number (I believe that number is different for everyone). I do, however, consider bringing these children to earth of my life's greatest accomplishment. Props to all of you for even giving it a go! I will never judge a woman for the desperate measures some take to survive.

Simply Mom said...

To be fair, my body could totally handle a 25lb weight loss, however, it's still very concerning to the Drs and oneself.

I also thought about what everything would taste like coming back up. . .some foods are really just a horror. And if I never see a saltine again it will be too soon!

My symptoms were greatly relieved at 22 weeks with both pregnancies, though not gone until after delivery. I did manage to gain some weight in the third trimesters.

With my daughter, #2, the doctor commented that she had never had a delivery where the mom left the hospital weighing 12lbs lighter than when she got pregnant!

There will only be 2 children for us, but so proudly I delivered my daughter with no drugs, I kept saying to myself, if I could survive all of that puking, I can do this.

Thanks again for shedding some much needed light on the subject.

c said...

Stephanie, thank you so much for sharing your experience, and I'm so sorry to hear you dealt with HG with each of your pregnancies. I hope this helps us all be a little more understanding with each other. I know when I've gone through difficult times, finding a resource such as your story has been so helpful. Just knowing there are others out there who have gone through something so difficult but have survived is such an encouragement. You have a lovely family and blog--thanks for all you do!
Claire

Stephanie said...

Simply Mom, funny story about Saltines...my husband bought a giant package of 4 huge boxes at Costco. After throwing up too many, I didn't want to see them ever again either. So my son had an idea to leave them in the car so we could give them to homeless people. We gave out packages of saltines for weeks!

What a sacrifice you made for your two children...way to go!

Claire, I love your comment...you are right about trying to understand one another and to not judge. Such a great life lesson.

Shannon said...

Stephanie, I just have to say that this post made me love and admire you all the more. You have always struck me as a genuine and exceedingly kind person (verified when I met you at your garage sale before you moved to WA), and I want to thank you for your light and goodness. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, your light.

Caroline said...

Thanks for this Stephanie. I suffered HG with all 3 of my daughters but it went on for 7 months with my 3rd and is the main reason that we decided to stop at 3. She is now almost 2 and I STILL sometimes shutter thinking about that dark time in my life! Like you I was SO grateful for the life inside me, but feeling like you have the flu for 7 months straight really makes it hard to smile. I did not enter my kitchen for the first 4 months and zofran became a necessity. What a gong show that all was! I think it made me very compassionate towards people who suffer cronic illness and struggle with depression. And even more grateful for my health every day!

Kelly said...

As unfortunate as this experience must have been, I have to say this story and your courage is so incredibly admirable and inspiring. As someone who suffers from innumerable stomach problems and what I call "chronic nausea," I can't imagine experiencing something of that severity. Lucky for me, ginger does work for my more mild nausea, and I survive on ginger chews (I buy them at Whole Foods) but I certainly sympathize with never wanting to see saltines again! Nonetheless, thank you for sharing your story, I can only imagine how comforting this must be to others suffering from HG!

Amy B. said...

Oh, Stephanie, I wish that your blog post had been available when I was experiencing HG in 2004 and again in 2007. Thank you for taking the time to post this. I know that it will provide hope and a sense of comraderie for other women going through HG! Your comments about being at "5%" and "a shell of yourself" really hit home for me. It was sometimes hard to convince even myself that this wasn't somehow all in my head and led to depression. The reality was that within hours after delivering both our little boy and little girl, I felt like I could take on the world again. The HD cloud does lift!

karen said...

I certainly could have written this post...it's so familiar to me.

I too, had severe, hospital visit inducing, HG for all three of my pregnancies. I never quite got to that "glow" stage of pregnancy...though I was a lovely green shade of pale!

The N and V were unrelenting. I could never find even "that one thing" that would stay down. Never.

At the time of my first pregnancy I was still working full-time as a Radiation Therapist---even my patients were giving me advice and trying to help (bless their hearts, it still brings a tear when I think about it).

Thankfully I never had the depression side of it. But I was, indeed, very sick. Supportive people are imperitive at this point in your life. Especially when it comes to your OB. Having a progressive thinker regarding medication is literally a life saver. I finally switched doctors for my third preganancy and she prescribed Zofran for me. It wasn't the magic bullet, but did take the edge off (I frequently split the pills in half to extend the relief). As Stephanie stated when you are feeling 5%, you'll take 10% in a heartbeat!

I'm 42 now and getting (intentionally) pregnant is off of the table. But, once in a while, I have a dream that I am half way through a pregnancy and there was no HG...:)

Good luck to all that are doing this for the first time~

[M] said...

The forums at Helpher.org were somewhat helpful. Zofran didn't help me that much but sublingual liquid B12 helped cut down on my vomiting. I read a lot of testimonials about people who were able to prevent HG by doing liver cleanses, taking specific herbs, and going gluten/dairy free for a year before conceiving. I tried it but it didn't work for me. I agree about the soft egg in the morning. My husband makes me one too and it usually stays down. Lime slushes from sonic seem to stay down better than liquid if sipped very slowly...

AlliSMiles said...

Thank you!! Something else you and I have in common!!

I will link others to this post when I decide I can take the plunge with baby #2.

I had HG with my baby Gray, and there were so many times I thought I was going to die. In an out of the hospital, ivs, and a pulmonary embolus just to make things more interesting. So, add the daily injections of blood thinner into the belly to make things even more fun.

Zofran did NOTHING for me after a few weeks. Phenergen in suppository form helped--but it would knock me out cold, so I'm not sure it will be much of an option with the next baby, since I'll have a toddler to care for.

It seriously scares me that you say that HG gets worse with age, etc.. I didn't really think it possible. But I guess it is good to know that going into it, so there are no surprises.

Since this was my first full-term pregnancy, everyone kept telling me it would get better after X trimester. Boy, were they wrong. It's so true that it gets worse at 12 weeks. That's when I suffered my PE, quit my job, went on bedrest. I didn't lose as much weight as the others, but losing 10 lbs of my 105-lb frame was almost more than I could bear. It took me till almost 30 weeks to get back up to my 105 lbs.

I experienced everything you did, as well. Soft-cooked eggs usually stayed down. I never found anything that was always a sure thing. And liquids were SO hard. But man, the depression. I wish people understood this. Mine lasted months after.

In the end, it's all about survival. I still tremble at the thought of being pregnant with a toddler. But I know he needs a sibling!

Azúcar said...

Oh Stephanie! So miserable!

I didn't have HG, but I vomited every day of my second pregnancy. It was just wonderful! I discovered Zofran with my 3rd pregnancy. I second you on those baked potatoes! They got me through the worst of my 3rd.

A funny story: my mom was teaching school while pregnant with me. She had to eat a box of Saltines a day just to function. To this DAY I cannot stand Saltines. I've never liked them, not even as a child.

karen said...

It definitely got worse after week 12! Weeks 12 to 20 were the worst for me. Around week 27 is when the throwing would finally slow down. But the nausea was only resolved with delivery~

A note on the nausea...sniffing a cut lemon helped *a little*. I had such aversions to scents. I would struggle to even hug or kiss my husband for 5/6 months (not that he was foul smelling :) but, for what ever reason his underlying scent just did not agree with me). Poor guy! He was such a saint!

Emily Foley said...

My sister suffered with HG through 4 out of 5 of her pregnancies (interestingly the one she didn't was her one boy) and I still can't believe she made it through 5 pregnancies (and a few miscarriages). Being that sick...I just don't know if it's worth it. When the pills were $42/pill my parents had to help her and her husband out because she had lost 25 pounds in her first trimester and had to have it, but her husband is a teacher and they just couldn't pay it. Thank goodness there's a cheaper option now. Her last pregnancy my sisters and I went to Paris and she couldn't come because she was so sick, and I think that contributed to her severe depression. Thanks for your insights and information, and thank goodness you're done having children. :)

Kelly said...

My friend just forwarded me this and I'm glad to see it. I am just over 12 weeks on my second pregnancy. I can't function and have spent most of the last 2 months in bed. I was never this sick with my first child and can't believe how sick I have been with this pregnancy. My doctor prescribed me the anti-nausea meds but sadly my insurance will only allow me 10 pills, not the full prescription the doc signed. That is 3 days worth so I have been really spacing them out.

I am mostly happy find something I can forward to my husband. I don't think he quite understands how severe this is and just how sick I am. I get the feeling he thinks I am just being dramatic.

I second the cut lemon suggestion from Karen. That helps me a lot. I bring a slice on a little plate with me to bed and keep it on the nightstand. When I start feeling queasy I just grab it and take a whiff.

Mary said...

By the response from all these readers, I have to believe it affects more than 3% of us!
I had horrible morning sickness with my first, I lost 10 pounds, but after the 15th week, things were fine.
When I got pregnant with my twin girls, it was a whole other story. Calling it debilitating doesn't give the feeling justice!
I ended up losing 20 lbs during my pregnancy, and after the 15 lb mark, my obgyn decided to give me the infusions. I felt like I was dead. Honestly, I would get up from a 7 hour infusion and I would walk straight to the bathroom and throw up again. It did very little for the symptoms I was feeling, but I know they were helping the babies to receive a little something.
I had to move in with my parents so they could care for my 2 year old whom I was no longer able to care for & who couldn't go with me to my 7 days a week infusions. It is frustrating when people think you need to suck it up, or are just being a baby about throwing up. It is a real thing, and I prayed every day that I would get through it. I was lucky to have my parents help me. I don't know what I would have done without them.
One thing that put my condition into perspective was that I would get my infusion in a room full of people getting chemotherapy infusions. It made me feel so guilty, like I didn't deserve to walk in there in my pajama's everyday looking like death, when most of them were facing real death. That part was one of the hardest.
I honestly never knew that depression was a side effect of it until I read your post, but it makes so much sense now. I was completely depressed during the pregnancy. I was having twins, I should have been elated, yet I couldn't even get out of bed most days, let alone think about the future. I feel like my brain shut off during that period.
It was a definite strain on my relationship with my husband, who took on all the household responsibilities, yet 'lost' his wife and child who were now living 30 minutes away.
I guess what I'm trying to say, is thank you for posting this, and validating what I felt and feel as someone who suffered this condition wholly.

Anonymous said...

Zofron was a good friend to me during my pregnancy. I tried not to take too much, but it always made me feel much better.

Megan said...

It's nice to not feel crazy! We've had to use fertility treatments for my first two kids which was emotional enough, then to go through an entire pregnancy of nausea, vomiting and fainting (with my daughter, not my son) was excruciating. I'm currently 18 weeks pregnant with my 3rd and my husband deployed to Afghanistan a month ago. It's easier this time knowing what to expect and how to cope. I've been way more proactive this time with scheduling IV's, knowing what to eat and when, and coupled with the 5 medications they have me on (Zofran, Phenergen Unisom, B6 and Zantac). Even with all that I still vomit 1/2 of my meals. Thanks for posting this! I'll refer others to it often!

Katie said...

I too have HG. I'm currently pregnant with #2. While I remembered it was Hell the first time I still forgot how bad it really is. I guess that is so we'll do it again :) I agree with everything Stephanie said and just want to add my two cents.

Mine is a little different than most where I spiral down really quickly and then stop vomiting around 16 weeks (but am never symptom free 'til after the baby is born). The first pregnancy was emotionally more difficult (I think because I didn't know what was going on or when it would end) and this one has been physically more difficult. I was never hospitalized with #1 and I was at 8 weeks with this one, with IVs 3 times a week after that (my savior those IVs). My advice follows:
1. When you haven't kept anything down for 2-3 days- it is time to call your doctor. It is true that dehydration exacerbates nausea and vomiting. I think of it as a downward spiral and you need help to get back on top. For me, this meant an IV (or several).
2. It is really difficult for EVERYONE in your life. Those who have never experienced HG CAN NOT relate. It is impossible to imagine. So it is difficult for them to be patient with you and you with them. Talking about how hard it was with my husband and asking him to be patient with me went a long way in saving our relationship during this time. I also totally agree with the "shell of a person" comment and explaining that to loved ones helps.
3. Bedrest helps. When at all possible rest. We had tons of child care during this pregnancy for our toddler. If you can afford it, DO IT, and as much as possible! You can make up for lost time after you have the baby. On a side note, I find I throw up a lot less when I'm laying down. I also agree with Steph's distraction comment. Netflix is my friend.
4. A couple of quick tips, stock up on air sickness bags from the seat pockets on airplanes. Put some in your car and in your purse. They work the best for those "I don't have time to get to a bathroom" moments. Second, my doctor recommends Jamba Juice because they are packed with calories and helps with the constipation that comes with Zophran. It worked for me when I slowed down throwing up because fruit juice coming back up is no good. One last one, some mentioned smelling lemons helped get them over that rising nausea that will lead to vomiting, or when around bad smells, well smelling rubbing alcohol worked for me in the same manner. Although I've heard it doesn't work for everyone and not even for every pregnancy. I asked my doctor for some of those wipes they use before they draw your blood and carried them around with me. They worked some of the time...

Most importantly remember, this is a short period of your life, get through it the best you can and be grateful for your otherwise health.

Carissa said...

Steph,

I'm so glad you posted this. Since it is not a common ailment, there is not a lot of information or support available to women experiencing it. When I was pregnant with my first child I was hospitalized twice and vomited every day for 9 months. We kept a bowl in our car so I could throw up as we drove places. Even though it goes completely against my values, there were times when I was laying on the floor in our bathroom wishing I could die that I considered abortion. On top of the H G, I also suffered from insomnia which, as you mentioned, only makes the nausea worse. The one advantage for me was that I never had to worry about PPD because I was so darn happy not to be pregnant and sick anymore.

Liz said...

I'm glad I found this. People didn't understand what I was going through and wondered what the big deal is. I'm a little scared to have a girl now since its supposed to be worse (I have 2 boys). Also, they do have in home IV and zophran pumps too but they cost soooo much.

I agree with cold water in a straw, lemon lime gatorade, and plain corn chex.

Hadley Duncan Howard said...

I had my first child at age 30, and swore I'd never have another. I threw up (like clockwork) seven times a day --that's every 90 minutes -- for nine whole months. This was before there was a generic for Zofran. I think we worked out that to pay for it out of pocket for 9 months would have cost us 50+ thousand dollars(!!). I had all manner of complications to go along with HG, too, such as what my very experienced OB called the worst case of toxemia she'd ever seen or heard of -- despite all the throwing up, I still managed to gain about double the recommended weight gain. (And, no, toxemia doesn't magically go away when the baby is born, unlike HG.) but, even if I don't take the other complications into account, I hold up the memory of that pregnancy as one of the worst trials of my life. It was just so unimaginably difficult. I saw a friend a couple days after the baby was born, and she said, "Oh my goodness, you're smiling! I haven't seen you smile in almost a year! You're back!" It took a lot of faith to have another child. It was a real decision, a choice, a selfless leap of faith with the sole intent of providing a sibling for our oldest child. Pregnancy #2 was also hard, but not nearly as, because by that time Zofran was in generic and I took it religiously. Oh, how I thanked God for Zofran! I still felt awful, but could at least partially function in life. I had about five girlfriends who were all due at the same time, and we were all having girls, so I was blessed to have a little community with whom to share the grievances of pregnancy. It was a sisterhood, and it helped. After all that pregnancy drama (5 miscarriages included), my husband and I are delighted with the two children I somehow managed to grow and deliver. They were hard won -- and worth it. Sending hugs and good vibes to any sick mommies out there -- it's hard to see it when you're in the thick of it, but this too shall pass.

Julie H. said...

Thank you. Ditto to everything that was said. It is HORRIBLE--some how we made it to 4- 2 girls, 2 boys. My youngest is 2 & the sight of a pregnant woman brings on serious anxiety. Thanks for the post.

Jen said...

I too experience HG during pregnancies, along with not being able to keep food down; I also experienced ptyalism (which is just terrible). I had IV's every other week, sometimes more. I was so dehydrated and exhausted however, I could not keep water down. The taste of everything changed, I could not handle any sweeteners or sugar. That ruled out Gatorade and any like liquid. I found that if I watered down apple juice it worked that best. Diced roasted potatoes and a sunny side up egg were the only things that would stay down - most of the time.

Having someone I could talk to that had experienced the same thing was the biggest help for me. I count my blessings that I have a friend like Stephanie. She truly helped me through probably the toughest experience of my life thus far (No. 3 - a girl). Just being able to talk to someone that understood was better than Zofran.

Stephanie said...

Carissa, yes I know what you mean. Lying on the cold tile bathroom floor thinking all sorts of things...

Liz, I can't believe you stomached corn chex...I couldn't do any cereal. Tried rice chex and well, you know what happened there :) I'm glad you found a group here who understands you!

Hadley, wow you fought more than a few battles. I'm so sorry about your miscarriages and then your HG. You are a tough cookie! I love what you said there at the end especially..."this too shall pass". That applies to every trial, now doesn't it?

Julie, I know what you mean about the anxiety...:)

Jen, thanks for chiming in here...I love that we all understand each other here. I am so grateful for you too--you are a dear friend! Miss you! xo

Landon said...

Thank you so much for posting this! A friend emailed it to me and it was so comforting to read what you wrote and everyone's subsequent comments. I'm pregnant with my first - my husband and I tried for almost two years to get pregnant, and after two miscarriages and starting infertility treatments we finally got pregnant. (Mind you, I'm 25 and he's 27 and the doctors could find no reason why we couldn't get pregnant.) After getting pregnant, we were so excited! And then the HG set in. I had to go on bed rest/disability from work because I couldn't help customers because I was in the bathroom throwing up most of the day. The doctors are getting ready to put in a PICC line for me. No medications have helped, although Zofran does take the edge off. I've lost 15 lbs at this point. I was diagnosed with depression/anxiety before I got pregnant and being pregnant with HG has made it worse. There are days when I just stay in bed. I know it'll be worth it when my baby boy gets here, but some days just seem so bleak! But this has been a great reminder that I'm not alone, even though it's lonely :) Thank you!

Melissa said...

Stephanie, thank you! It's nice to know that other women know how I felt when pregnant. The extreme nausea and vomitting is not like having a tummy bug it consumes you! Zofran was my BFF that took the edge off so when I got out of bed in the morning I didn't have to puke just because I lifted my head off the pillow. To top off my pregnancy I had pelvic instability and then after I laboured for 20hrs my baby pushed his cord out so we had a cord prolapse on our hands. Thankfully after all the drama filled pregnancy and labour I got a calm, relaxed go with the flow baby boy :)

Lulu the Baker said...

Stephanie, such a wonderful post! While I was never officially diagnosed with HG, I had extreme morning sickness for at least 4 months with both my second and third pregnancies. I had one particularly bad week about a year ago, and my mom happened to be in town. I felt so bad that her trip turned into a mission of mercy, but I was so grateful she was here to help. I spent about 4 days straight semi-concious on the couch. I don't know how I would have made it through with her! And for me, it's the fruit punch gatorade that saved my life. My husband always knew when I was having a particularly bad day because I would ask him to pick some up on his way home from work! Those tiny sips of gatorade tasted sooooooo good! The only thing that I still can't stomach is warm water. When I was pregnant with my youngest, I couldn't be the one to give my older two a bath, because watching them spit bath water at each other made me throw up. Good times!

Em said...

Thanks for taking the time to treat this so seriously. I unabashedly tell people that I hate hate hate being pregnant, but I love my kids. I pretty much lie on the couch and don't move and spend all my energy thinking about not vomiting from week 6 to week 25. And from there to the end it only gets incrementally better. So yes, my mothering goes to pot. I start looking forward to that first hospital meal from the very beginning. And I never ever complain about the 3rd trimester, because it's my most human of the 3. (I'd also rather give birth a hundred times than do the first half of pregnancy - true story)

My doctors tend to put me on a milkshake diet - trying to get as many calories in me as possible without requiring me to chew. Plus cold thick drinks (like a jamba juice/smoothie) are pretty bearable coming back up, and the cold has a numbing effect on the esophagus and on the tastebuds, so it's less likely to trigger the hyperactive gag reflex.

I'm actually staring this one down the barrel right now, psyching myself up for an attempt at pregnancy #4 so this post came at a perfect time.

Stephanie said...

Landon, wow you really have a double whammy. I am so, so sorry. I understand how bleak things seem right now. Some days/weeks/months are very dark indeed. There were times I'd lie down next to the fire and close my eyes, trying to pretend I wasn't alive. But there is an end in sight and things will get better. When you are healthy again, you will appreciate life and healthy and strength and everything else so much more and I feel like this is a great blessing! Good luck and remember that here, within this post, you are in good company. On tough days come back and reread this post and subsequent comments and hopefully you will feel a wave of support! Oh and you will really appreciate that PICC line. It's a pain sometimes (make sure you ask for the backpack so you don't have to schlep a pole around the house) but so worth it. I literally felt water running through my veins and it really saved me. Just be careful and safe so you avoid staph.

Lulu, your bath water story is such a great one! I hope you don't mind, but I had to chuckle a little...:) Thanks for sharing Lulu! Oh and your mama is a keeper!

And it reminded me of something important I failed to mention in the post...I also had this weird spitting thing when I was pregnant. My glands went into hyperdrive and I had to carry a cup around with me. I felt like a pirate. So gross. It has a name, but I can't think of it at the top of my head now. Anyway, maybe some of you other readers experienced this too?

Em, I remember what it was like to have 3 and be thinking about a #4. I couldn't shake the feeling there was a little boy who needed to join our family, but honestly it about killed me just to think about becoming pregnant again. He is the most adorable thing though and such a joy to our family in so many ways so it was worth it (of course), but that anticipation of HG is tough stuff. Email me if you need a pep talk at some point :) And I can't believe you could do dairy! So lucky. I couldn't do a milkshake at all...or a jamba juice. It's strange what works for each of us and how it's all different!

lynne said...

Oh my goodness. I realize that I've known women with HG, but have never fully understood exactly what they were going through (in fact, Carissa who commented above is a friend of mine and I feel terrible that I did not realize the scope of awfulness she was experiencing. Carissa, if you come back to read the rest of the comments, I suck for not bringing you dinner EVERY NIGHT!!) Thank you for sharing what you went through, Steph. Anyone reading this will be more sensitive and supportive of those superwomen who suffer with HG. I am in awe of any woman who endures this. You are amazing and graceful.

Eva / Sycamore Street Press said...

Steph, Thank you so much for posting this. I only had normal "morning" sickness (don't know why it's called that since I felt it 24/7). It was horrible. And even with that, people didn't understand that I was really feeling bad (my mom included -- she never felt sick when pregnant). I can't even imagine what it would be like to have HG, which is so much more severe and prolonged! After being pregnant, I already feel empathetic towards any pregnant woman -- especially if she is feeling sick -- but now even more so towards women suffering with HG. You truly are a hero to have had 4 children knowing you'd probably get this with each subsequent pregnancy. xo

~ Junkyard Jennifer said...

This post hits close to home. I'm pregnant with baby number 4 and I had severe HG in my first and second trimesters. (I'm 34 weeks and feeling great now.)

I lost 7 pounds in 5 days when it first hit. And I literally slept around the clock for almost two weeks straight because I was so physically (and emotionally) exhausted from HG. It is such a debilitating thing. But I did do plenty of sleeping for several months due to exhaustion!

I had it with my first, a girl. My 2nd and 3rd children are boys - and I was really sick but nothing like HG. When I got HG this time, I greatly suspected a girl - and we found out via ultrasound that she is! :)

I took generic Zofran for the first few months of this pregnancy. Like you, it merely took the edge off - I was still horribly nauseous and tired all the time. I could barely function. But that all feels like a distant memory now. (Thankfully!)

I feel for anyone who has to go through this. It is such a tough, tough thing. But I'm just so grateful for the gift that comes in the end - a precious little baby. As horrible as it is, I'd do it all again just for that gift. That is the part that got me though it, picturing that light at the end of the tunnel.

~ Jennifer

~ Junkyard Jennifer said...

One more thought... I had moderate to severe PPD after both of my boys. But ironically I didn't after having HG/after the birth of my daughter.

And this pregnancy, I feel really great mentally. Something I'm thankful for after having suffered through over 3 years with PPD and depression in the past. I'm hoping and praying that I don't get it after the birth of this baby this time.

~ Jennifer

Seth and Brooke Merrill said...

I am 21 years old and 11 weeks pregnant with my first baby. My mom and sisters were sick when pregnant, and so I thought I was prepared for what it would be like. Not by a long shot. I was throwing up every ten minutes. So violently that I pulled a muscle in my chest and developed ulcers in my throat and nose. I went one full week without being able to keep even an ice chip down. I went to the hospital everyday for IV phenergan and fluids. Even with that, I couldn't keep water down. Finally, my doctor decide to place an NJ feeding tube. It goes through your nose and into your intestines, bypassing your stomach. Now, for two weeks I have had that, and it has reduced the vomiting to three or four times per day. Much more manageable. However, not eating anything for the past two weeks and still feeling nauseous has been very discouraging. Glad to know there is a light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

Stephanie said...

Lynne, I'm sure you were a great friend to Carissa...you ARE a great friend.

Eva, I truly felt that #4 was my number and I had to get to it somehow. I took it one pregnancy at a time, but words cannot express how happy I am to never feel like that again. I have to say I have a renewed appreciation for people who are starving for whatever reason. Feeling starved day after day, week after week, month after monk is a miserable feeling that not only physically affects you but messes with your mind too. Plus, once you have food, just b/c you are starving and severely dehydrated doesn't mean your body will let you have it. It's a cruel trick!

Junkyard Jennifer, I think you summed up exactly how I feel in your comment. You hit the nail on the head.

Brooke, you sound like you need a PICC line (in your arm) and Zofran in your IV. Phenergen not only didn't help me (or anyone else I've known) but it caused me to have a seizure. I had to have one after over about 9 days of not keeping down a tablespoon of water. It did wonders for me after a couple of weeks. The Zofran in liquid/IV form was more helpful than the pill. I would try both of those...PICC and Zofran. I think that's the combo that might just work for you. Keep me posted!

Jennifer said...

Stephanie:

My eldest daughter, now 24, sent this to me. She had heard me telling the tale of my 3 nightmare pregnancies, all girls, youngest 15, none of which were ever diagnosed and never treated with anything. I'm so happy to hear that there is some help for you all. I was also naive enough each time to think it wouldn't happen again. I guess ignorance is bliss. There was no internet. I vomited at least 12 - 14 times a day, 4 months for the first, 6 1/2 months for #2 and over 7 months for the #3. I used to joke, finally catching on by #3, that if I had had #4 I would've vomited on the way to delivery. It was no joking matter, but humor helped me through it.

I didn't stop doing much of anything since I wasn't really supported so I really didn't hide it or get to stay home.Consequently, co-workers, friends expected me to get sick wherever we were. None of my friends to this day ever got it, I was the only one.

I am not excited to see it may be genetic as I could not wish this on anyone, especially my daughters. I did wait 4 and 4 1/2 years between the pregancies. Thats a pretty big spread now but I couldn't get my head wrapped around doing it again before it was a distant memory even if I didn't believe it could happen. At least they would have a sympathetic mother and possibly some relief in Zofran.

One thing that I used to do which hasn't been mentioned was to eat whatever was on hand regardless because I wouldn't keep it down no matter what...nothing ever...but then I discovered that right after I got ill, if I visualized something that I did want to eat and I could visualize it being down and ate it almost immediately, say within 15-20 mins, it would stay down. I also would get sick more often if I didn't snack or eat frequently so I ended up eating a saltine every 2 hrs and then eating a snack follow-up. Regular 3 meals were completely out of the question.

I worked full time and I got so used to getting sick while being in meetings with #3 that I hate to admit I stopped going to the restroom. I had an office so I just used my office trash can since it was mostly the water I was drinking. I know it sounds gross, but I did what I had to do to function. With the last one I finally took to the bed and my oldest became a little mother to #2. Hard on her too. Exercise helped a lot too, not the gym, but walking in the neighborhood. I got adept at just letting it go so to speak. Instead of freaking out every time I got sick, I just started expecting it and then I could deal with it better.

The best part is giving birth. I had so much energy, I felt like dancing after #1, even walked back to recovery with #3 and had Jerry's Deli delivered to my room by my family. Just hang in there and thank goodness for the internet..for words of comfort and wisdom from afar. It would have helped me a great deal.

Eva / Sycamore Street Press said...

Steph -- Yes, you must be very empathetic to people who are starving. And again, thank you for sharing your story. It's posts like these that make blogs such a wonderful thing.

AlliSMiles said...

Steph, yes! I was always spitting, too!

Michelle said...

What a special post! Thanks for sharing!

Stephanie said...

Jennifer, I found myself nodding "yes" over and over as I read your story. So true about visualizing food. And so true about spacing pregnancies and not being able to wrap your head around another one. I felt hte same...hence the 3.5 year gap between my last two, which is not how I wanted it to be. Thank heavens that's behind you and if/when your own daughters experience HG, you will be overflowing with empathy and great advice. Thank you for sharing!

Eryn said...

Stephanie,
I'm so grateful you took the time to post this. I have 3 children and I've gone through 3 miscarriages. And I suffer with HG. My second miscarriage I struggled with HG for a first trimester and than miscarried at 13 weeks pregnant. That was a difficult time, to be so sick and not have it result in the sweet blessing of a baby. And then it was physically and emotionally challenging to start over for our third child. She's two now and I wish that I didn't have to go through all that to get her hear, but it was worth it. Last spring we felt we should have another baby and so we tried again for a fourth baby, I was so concerned about suffering through a pregnancy and deeply concerned about another miscarriage. I was so ill, and didn't think I could get through the pregnancy--doing all the things you talked about in your post (zofran, phenegran, unisom, IV's). We were monitoring things closely with ultrasounds because I needed to know from the beginning that this was a viable pregnancy. Everything was looking great and then at 16 weeks I miscarried. A sweet little boy. It's a very long story and we are in a good place now. It's been a difficult time and so surreal to have another miscarriage. We were feeling confident that we were having a baby. We have to make a decision if we will try again, but in the meantime it was comforting to read your post and you put into words how I have felt, so thank you.

Stephanie said...

Oh Eryn, your story makes me my heart sad. You've suffered so much! I am so sorry for your losses. Please keep me posted in the future as to how it all works out. I'll keep you in my thoughts and wish you lots of peace. xo

Melissa said...

Someone forwarded this article to me, and it is wonderful--so are the comments. While I don't think I suffered as much as some, my pregnancy was awful and it is nice to read up on some things that worked for others to remember for next time. People kept telling me about the "magic" week where the nausea would end. Twelve weeks, eighteen, twenty two, all went by and it never did! I didn't actually eat something and enjoy it until they brought me stale fruit loops and a bagel an hour after my son was born... The good news is, my five month old baby boy is completely worth it, and I'm so lucky to have him.

Shannon said...

Hey Stephanie! I came to your house in August of, I think 2008, for a brunch thing where you taught me and about 4 or 5 other women how to cook some things. I still have my recipes and make those things often. Love them!

Thank you for posting about this. My younger sister suffers from Hyperemesis. And she actually found out that there was an actual name to all of it. Thanks for helping make people aware of it.

-Shannon Hadden

Stephanie said...

Melissa, you really sum it up perfectly. When I was pregnant with my first, my younger sister, who also had HG, was pregnant too. But she already had one child and had been through it all so she coaxed me a little. I remember her saying, "just wait until 12 weeks"...and then it would arrive and I still felt awful; so she would say, "wait until 16 weeks...it'll get better"; then 16 weeks came and went without any relief; then she said 20 and so on. Seriously, it never ends...but she couldn't tell me that because I would've died if I k new there was no end to the misery (at least for 9 months). I'll never forget vomiting in the car, on the street, everywhere. It was awful. Hospital food after giving birth was the equivalent of Thomas Keller's French Laundry. I was sooo happy to keep food down! But yes, they are worth it. You're absolutely right.

Shannon, I'm so glad you said "hello"! Long time no see/chat/hear from you, etc. I hope you are well! I'm glad you are still enjoying those recipes. I'm sorry to hear your sister experiences HG too. DRat. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but I hope she finds some solace here. xo

Becky said...

I too had HG during both of my pregnancies and I couldn't eat or drink anything during the duration. With my daughter (born in 1998) I was hospitalized twice and had a PICC line and was being fed TPN (total pariental nutrition). I carried a backpack with me 23 hours each day. Zofran was definitely what got me through that one and at that time they referred to it as liquid gold. It was soooo expensive. (My first pregnancy, delivery not included, cost over $43,000 and the second well over $100,000. Fortunately I had good insurance.) I had home care nurses come in 2x each week. They were able to remove my line at 20 weeks. Then with my son (born in 2001) I was soooo much sicker. I was hospitalized three times, had the home health nurses and I had 2 PICC lines (one infected, one infiltrated) and eventually a Groshong put in my chest. When I came out of that surgery the doctor (who had actually placed two of my PICC lines) told me he had checked for veins and he couldn't guarantee he could save me the next time. That was when I hit rock bottom. I knew this was my last and yet I didn't want to be pregnant anymore. It was really hard. Zofran worked some during that pregnancy but the zantac helped the most that time. I also had TPN during that one. I had my Groshong pulled at 27 weeks.

I remember having dreams where I could actually smell the food. I also couldn't handle sound. The sound of the dishwasher, vaccuum, washer, and dryer made me vomit. Just using the energy it took to go to the bathroom made me vomit. And no one gets it. I was told that "if you believe you're not sick, you won't be sick" and that "fresh air will cure you." And the chaplain at the hospital wanting me to tell him "what happened in your childhood to make you hate this baby your carrying."

My depression was mostly caused by the fact that I didn't have a choice to stop having children and I thought we'd have five. I ended up having to grieve the children I'd never have in order to deal with it.

I'm glad you're making people aware. During my pregnancies there was so little research that even the doctors were stumped. Fortunately they never let on how sick I was until I went in for my six-week checkup (after the first)when the doctor admitted that he really thought I was going to die. And yes, I still had the second one. (Wow, I'm still surprised at how emotional this topic makes me.)

My husband was a ROCK STAR. He worked full-time, went to school part-time, was EQ president and still took excellent care of me. I honestly don't know how he did it. But, I wouldn't change how much this trial strengthened our relationship and bond.

Honestly the only thing that got me through was the fact that I knew it would end. So many others have illnesses that they can't ever put an end date on. But I could at least do that. And the ultrasounds. I got to see my baby every 4 weeks. If I wouldn't have been able to put a name and face to it I don't think I would have had the strength to survive.

Thanks for giving me a forum to ramble.

au said...

Thank you for sharing and educating others. I had HG in the early 90's and was a guinea pig for Zofran. This was before it was protocol and luckily I was under the care of a doctor and pharmacist who were inspired (I believe) to try it out on me. This was AFTER hospitalization, TPN, picc lines, etc. I was really near death, and ended up in bed for 8 months. I really look back at that time as my crucible, the time when I felt closest to the Lord, the time when I could have chosen to just slip away. But I didn't.
I now have my two beautiful daughthers. Luckily, I had a supportive husband and, with the second pregnancy, my mom who lived with us and took care of my first daughter. It was as if I was in a coma...and then I suddenly emerged when my daughters were born.
I had my tubes tied when I had my 2nd c-section, the doctors said that I was near kidney and liver failure as a result of the TPN. Although, at the time, I would dream of being pregnant and glowy and active, I know that this is something I had to go through and am more grateful for my children, and more grateful for my life.
Thanks for opening up this subject. It is one I rarely discuss. :) My daughters are 17 and 14, and I am worried for them, but know that the treatment continues to get better and better, and I will be there for them when and if they have to experience HG during their pregnancies. I pray they don't

Stephanie said...

Becky, I am so glad you shared your story. It wasn't rambling at all! It feels good to be able to talk about this with those who understand. When I was pregnant, I had 3 people in my life that understood HG (b/c they had it themselves). Three. That's not a lot of support. I swear everyone else thought I was a hypochondriac, but I'm actually the opposite. I push through a lot physically and I don't like taking medication. I hate being sick and I do all that I can to avoid being so. Having HG is a living hell b/c I'm helpless, despite my efforts. Anyway, thank you for sharing Becky!

au, how interesting that you were a guinea pig for Zofran. We all salute you and thank you!! I appreciate you sharing your story.
I hear you on the PICC line and the home nurses and the insurance costs...that was me on #3. You are so lucky you had family to help...I can only imagine how helpful that was. If your girls end up with it someday, you'll be the best mom ever, coming in to save the day and being the support to them that your mom was to you.

Stephanie Grant said...

I also have Hg. It is such a horrible thing. I am currently 8 weeks pregnant. I am on my fourth pregnancy. In my first I became so dehydrated I developed dvts. Deep vein thrombosis. Which my main artery in my leg shut off and I had tons of blood clots. So everyday I get to have shot of lovenox. Which is a very expensive blood thinner. My second pregnancy was also very difficult and my third I miscarried. I feel good about saying this is my Last pregnancy because I don't think my body can survive doing this again. I cried all through your post about Hg. It is exactly how I have felt and feel about this sickness. I read it to my husband it was so helpful to have some one know exactly how I feel. I have so many memories of just staring at the toilet laying on the tile floor. I also loved what you said about people who can not get pregnant. I often feel really guilty for feeling so miserable, it makes it hard to complain about it because we get such a beautiful gift in the end. My heart goes out to people who struggle with infertility. I have 32 more long weeks ahead. My constant nausea and throwing up last THE WHOLE NINE MONTHS. Without ever letting up. Thank you for you incite. Thank you for your advice. One day my husband was at work and his coworker said tell her to try ginger ale or saltine crackers. I could hear his advice from the phone. It made me so angry I went off to my husband saying, "wow what a smart man if only I has tried ginger ale I would not be sick anymore he has some amazing advice." I have learned that Hg is beyond any home remedies or any advice that anyone can give you on what worked for their pregnancies. It is about survival mode. It is about getting through one day at a time. It is to do everything you can not to move or get up in hopes that you can keep nutrition in your body. My sisters and mom and hubby are taking care of my kids while I am only focussing on one day at a time.

Stephanie said...

Stephanie, thank you for sharing your story and I'm so happy that you found some respite here...amongst all of us who've suffered the same thing! (or close) I'm not sure I will ever be able to stomach a saltine ever in my life...so don't be surprised if you feel the same! People are well meaning, but they really have no idea. And honestly, if you've never suffered this way, it would probably be easy to just think we're a group of hypochondriacs, but thank heavens there is medical science to back us all up! For that I am grateful. YOu are very lucky to have a team supporting you. My poor husband handled everything solo and it was extremely difficult for him. He did it well though but yes, we are done now :) Good luck with this last pregnancy. Just tell yourself that you'll never have to do it again. Adnt hat it's all about survival. Don't feel guilty about anything!

Bonnie said...

My daughter is 16 weeks pregnant and she has been vomiting since before she had a positive pregnancy test. Her husband has been working on his chemical engineering degree and was having a difficult time taking care of her and himself. We brought her to stay with us so that there could be someone with her. She has been hospitalized twice and now has a picc line at home. She was doing a little better for a few days but she is now back to holding very little down. She has already lost 30 pounds. The Doctors don't seem too concerned about that because she was plus sized to begin with. I'm just worried about her emotional well being.

K.C. said...

I had 3 pregnancies with daughters and suffered HG. My first and third pregnancies were the hardest, with my third pregnancy being the most severe.

With my 1st baby, yes, Zofran was my friend. I remember the eggs in the morning too. It lasted more than 12 weeks for me as well.

My 2nd, I was under the care of a midwife. She stayed on top of my care so proactively. She insisted I eat protein first (that must be why the eggs were so helpful). She said that protein would help the "downward spiral." Which always seemed counter-intuitive b/c it is not a time in my life where I can even think about meat. But getting protein in early on made such a difference!

My 3rd, possibly my hardest case with HG. There were many weeks were nothing solid would stay down. My mom and husband tried every form of different drinks too. The one that helped me for many weeks was chocolate Ensure. I think that sounds crazy, but we would get it chilled in the freezer. Almost slushy-like. Drink slowly from a straw. It had protein and calories and wasn't a nightmare to "loose."

Hope that helps women - trying to find the one thing that works. I've been there. :)

Nay said...

Hi..ur blog and all these comments and experiences of women have made me cry and i cant stop...i have hg and this is my first pregnancy..i live in the part of the world where there isnt any awareness or support about hg what so ever.no one believes me when i tell them how i feel.not even my own sister understood and shes a doctor..eventually when she came over and saw my condition she freaked out and knew it was real not just some rare condition she read in her medical books..
I went through weeks of continuous vomitting without being able to keep a drop of water down..first the food came out,then water,then i vomitted yellow stomach bile,then green bile..when nothing else was left i vomitted out foam and saliva and after that just gagged continuously coz there was nothing left..i lost 7kgs in two weeks...it was the worst 4 and a half months of my life..i couldnt go to the toilet unassisted, id vomit in a bowl..my mom would clean up for me..i didnt have energy to talk..if i was lying down i needed someone to help me situp so i could just vomit..everyone wanted me to get an abortion...voices in my head screamed to say yes and make the pain stop..but i just didnt have the courage to do it..i just couldnt live with myself knowing i killed my baby coz it was temporarily inconvenient for my health...i thought it wud b easier to die from hg then live with the decision to terminate..
I am now 18weeks pregnant..and my baby is healthy..the severe hg has gone..but every few days i have an occasional vomit and its pretty scary..i lost alot due to hg..i had to take time off from work..now im better and want to return but my boss doesnt want me around..she looking for excuses to terminate me..shes the type who never got married and never had kids..she doesnt understand or care..and has clearly said shes going to give me a hard time if i come back..i dont know what to do..i need the job..financially its a real good paying one..my husband has been in between jobs for the past two years..so my pay is going to take care of the baby..hg has completely ruined my life..im soo tired of being sick,no one understands whats happening to me..mentally and emotionally im a mess..im in a dark place right now im stressed about my job..and its bringing back that feeling of nausea..i think im going to be vomitting all night..i had to give up a lot of things bcoz of hg and also being pregnant..its making me sooo depressed..my husbands not much help..he doesnt understand and refuses to go online and read abt hg..the doctors are useless..they dont know how to treat hg.ive had 5 different doctors with no luck...i feel helpless and confused..y did i have hg..?

Anonymous said...

So good to hear that I am not the only one going through this. I start getting sick at 3-4 weeks pg.I was so sick with my first daughter I was in and out of the hospital and nonfunctioning. I took zofran and unisom b6, doesn't seem to help but take it.We lost our first daughter-still born. Then a year later had a healthy baby-my HG started right away and lasted 20 weeks. I am currently pg again 13wks and still very sick, this time going in for ivs on a regular basis but can't drink anything and spit every few seconds-this is the first time I can't swallow my saliva at all. It is very difficult to stay positive when I never leave bed.

Stephanie said...

Nay, what part of the world do you live? I am so sorry you aren't finding any empathy. I think all of us with HG have found few people who understand and are empathetic. That is why it's so wonderful to connect here with those that do get it. Your comments about being depressed are normal, but rest assured it will get better! Once the baby is born you will feel immediately better I'm sure (This has been my experience). I always told myself, "this is a stage" to get myself through it. You are going through a big trial right now, but I know you can do this! Hang in there!

Anon, I hear you on the saliva thing. I hated that. I carried around a spitoon and it was gross. I know how hard it is to be positive and can empathize with how you feel. Like I shared with Nay above, please tell yourself this is a stage. It will get better and all will be well. You just need to get through the next 5 months. Do whatever it takes to survive and remember that you will feel like yourself again down the road. It won't be long!

Sweepy Hi said...

Hello everyone. I had HG with my first pregnancy from week 6-16. It was such a hellish experience that I vowed never to have children again. I love my daughter so much but the suffering that you experience and the inability for others to truly understand what you are going through was so emotionally debilitating. I was stuck in bed everyday and I would drag lifeless body to the bathroom to vomit, sometimes 20 times in a day. I was alone most of the time so I had time to be depressed and feel sorry for myself. My friends just thought I had morning sickness, to which I would respond with the most evil tone I could muster, 'IT'S NOT MORNING SICKNESS!!!!' I lost 20lbs and wouldn't even look in the mirror because my face was gray and sunken in. No matter what it was, ice chips, water, rice, crackers, it came back up. Though I vowed to never do this again, I have to share that I did just find out I'm pregnant. I did this willingly because I see my daughter who is now 3 years old and I love the end result of this hellish experience called HG. I am hoping beyond hope that I might get lucky and skirt around the HG this time, but I know my odds are high of getting it again. My mother had it with both my brother and I, and we both have O- blood which apparently, according to some research, makes you prone to HG. Yay O- blood :( So here I am, in week 6, excited and absolutely TERRIFIED that any day now, it will hit me. I wish you all so much luck and love and please keep posting. I read things like throughout my entire HG experience last time and every single post helped me get through another 5 minutes of the worst day ever. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Stephanie- Thank you so much for writing this. Especially about the depression that can linger long after the actual experience is over. I just wanted to add a quick comment as my depression and anxiety got really bad when I started thinking about having another child. It was heart breaking and I felt very alone. After much consideration, my husband and I decided to pursue adoption. Our second daughter was born in February and our adoption journey has been such a MIRACLE. It was absolutely the right decision for us. I remember the day we decided to move forward with adoption, I literally felt like the weight of the world was off my shoulders. Anyways, just wanted to add our experience and send huge hugs to anyone experiencing HG. We understand.

Janelle Nelson said...

Great post. Had HG with my son... felt like I lost a year of my life. Terrified about getting pregnant again.... I get depressed just thinking about it. How did your other children manage during your pregnancies? I am worried about the effects it will have on my son...

I have heard that HG is a result of a woman's body being "allergic" to estrogen--- her own hormones. That possibly a diet of anti-inflammatory foods before pregnancy could help.... Anyone else here of any recent research?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post, and all the comments! The hardest thing for me having HG is the lack of understanding from the outside community.. everyone seems to think it's just normal morning sickness and doesn't understand why I can't do ANYTHING! This is my second pregnancy, I had HG from week 1-16 with my first and now am on week 10 with my second. Princess Kate in England having it has helped some with public awareness, but because (for me) I don't vomit with HG (I just feel like I'm about to vomit 24 hours a day) everyone thinks I'm exaggerating. That's what gives me the most depression, how little people sympathize or understand, and how much they assume I'm just being weak. My husband is amazing and has taken months off work to help take care of me as I'm not even capable of getting myself a glass of water most days, but sadly most friends just drop off the grid. It was really helpful to read about the link to depression because I had no idea about that. I've been so depressed this time around and felt it was just to do with normal worries about what it's like to have 2 kids. But really it's hard to be excited about a pregnancy when you can't even move your body for fear of more nausea coming. I feel terrible for my toddler, who wonders "where is mommy" most days and for my husband who has had to take care of all 3 of us while holding down his job. Anyway, I'm rambling.. it's just so nice to speak with women who have had HG and understand and don't judge the way most people do. HG can be very lonely and it can be exhausting trying to defend yourself while also just trying to find the energy to open your eyelids!

Anonymous said...

I am currently in my fourth pregnancy and twelve weeks along. I lost the first at ten weeks and the third as well. was horribly sick. during my second pregnancy, and first live birth, I was extremely sick from nine weeks until the day I delivered. I list thirty pounds. gained most of it back in swelling before delivery. started at 193, gave birth at 193, and within a month was at 158. I had an older doctor that just patted my head and said honey your just pregnant. no one in my family all the way back three generations even vomited once during pregnancy. so no sympathy was forth coming. this time it started at 3.5 weeks and is worse than last time. at twelve weeks I have list twenty pounds. I have a zofran pump and home-care come in. this will definitely be my last. even with the pump I have bad days. I can call for two extra doses a day but don't simply because I will have to move the infusion site sooner. sticking myself every eighteen hours is enough thank you. and when I get a dose I have to change it within the hour. I'm hoping its going ti ease up soon but not holding my breath. this is so much worse I'm wondering if its a girl. the last was a boy. he was absolutely healthy at two weeks early and 8 lbs 2 oz. I really wanted to enjoy this one. its pretty bad though when your 22 month old goes to the toilet and trash can and leans over them and makes retching sounds. he's seen it way too much.

Carli Lillies said...

Hi There from the UK......I too suffered with extreme HG in both of my pregnancies #1 lasting 20 weeks and #2 lasting 30 weeks although the nausea and vomiting lasted till the end. My boys are now 10 and 5 and we have reached a place where we are considering trying for baby number 3.
This time I have been sensible and have seen the Pre-natal team to discuss HG with them and the advances in treatment over the last 5yrs. This has reassured me somewhat but still am filled with that utter fear and dread of what "could happen" with baby number 3.
I look back on those times through the eyes of an outsider looking in on myself, reliving those darkest moments of crawling to the front door to answer it, waking up curled around the toilet and feeling so weak that i couldn't stand up.
If it were just sickness I feel I could have a "take the bull by the horns" attitude and ride it out. But it's not JUST sickness, it is physically and mentally soul destroying. It takes over your body and turns you into a fraction of your old self. You feel guilty constantly, guilty for not enjoying being pregnant, guilty for wanting it to end, guilty for missing out on family time anf guilty for not being a proper mum.....I felt so alone.
I was effected massively by smells....even the good ones!! I couldn't kiss or hug my husband, even his smell would make me vom.....i couldnt even cry as the jiggling of your tummy when crying would cause me to throw up.
The depression and anxiety was also horrific and such a low time for me.
I could go on and on....and it is these feelings that fill me with fear in having another, could it be worse?, what if its twins(dear god can you imagine the sickness)?but still that desire won't go away........I look at my beautiful people, that are happy and healthy and Im proud that I managed to get through it and produce such little miracles..........
I pray for anyone with HG, take everyday one day at a time......and anyone considering another baby after HG I cannot express how important the preventative treatment is....start 3 months before, milk thistle and b6. And get on the meds as soon as that beautiful blue line appears.

I would like to thank you for this post and everyone for their comments, we are NoT alone. Thank you x

Anonymous said...

I am on my 3rd pregnancy and my 3rd HG.
I know all of these things you've said are true because I've experienced it all (hospitals, picc lines, zofran, friendships) it's just still so difficult. I am completely depressed and feel so hopeless. I hate this so much. We've just moved which makes it even harder. I would just like a hug from someone else who's been there. I don't know anyone who's ever as sick as me and it feels really lonely. I'm crying as I type this which is ultimately going to make me feel worse. I'm just so sad and sick.
Thanks for your post. I know I'll survive.

Claire said...

Hey all of you out there! This blog just nailed it. It is my 4th pregnancy and I am just getting out of hg in my 15th week. Unfortunately though, in this pregnancy I also have hypersalivation which is disgusting and is persisting. People dont understand what you go through. my only advice is to take it day by day and cross it off the calendar. Keep in mind IT WILL PASS someday. If you are really weak and cant stand on your feet, go to hospital for i.v. fluids. At least your brain starts working again and you can actually focus when you look at something. Look at photos of your previous babies and look at your scans to give you courage. Still, depression does tend to set in - I spent days without showering or washing my hair, refused to get out of the house or out of my pyjamas, days in bed in a state of semi consciousness. Call friends who tend to be funny and light hearted and dont talk about yourself. My colleagues used to call me and tell me about the funny things that happened at work or gossip, or whatever. It helped me to know I hadnt been completely forgotten at work. I cant offer advice about medication or what to eat - nothing worked and i never got the hang of it myself. I just kept saying to myself that one day i will feel better - if i survive. When the kids are born and grow up, you'll forget about what you've been through. Good Luck to all!

Anonymous said...

I am currently recovering after taking the heartbreaking decision to terminate my planned, 2nd pregnancy at 7 weeks due to the severity of HG. I suffered from HG for the whole 9 months of the pregnancy with my 2 year old son & was off work for 3 months from when the HG kicked in, totally unable to get out of bed despite being treated with Ondansetron (which I think is the same as Zenflon). I was vomiting constantly & could keep only small bites of food & water down. I had HG also with my first preg which I miscarried at 12 weeks & it was the same - hospitalisation for drips etc. This most recent preg was dearly wanted but the HG appeared suddenly at 5 weeks (up & about on thurs then off work in the throws of HG by Friday). This time it was much worse. I was hospitalised on the Sunday & given drips etc before being allowed out Monday night. Despite trying to control the HG with Ondansetron & Cyclazine 8 times a day (I had to set alarms for all thru the night too or I would wake up vomiting) plus antacids, by the Friday I decided that a termination was my only option as I had been unable to keep down ANY food at all. I went from the fri - tues with NOTHING to eat & vomited up most sips of water. Hospitalised again on the tues then had therapeutic abortion on the wed morning. Upon waking from the op I felt instantly better & was able to eat a meal. I am glad I made the decision to terminate as I was unable to even look at my son let alone care for him. I lost 16lbs, my bowel stopped working & I could literally feel my body shutting down. It was total hell & anyone who thinks I am selfish for doing it should spend an hour in the throws of HG then I'm sure they would reconsider. I just wanted to post this incase anyone else is suffering as severely (and I sympathise with u all regardless of the severity of the HG as it is truly horrific in all it's forms) to let u know u have my support if u feel a termination is the only option for u & ur family. I know I made the right decision. I am now just trying to deal with the fact that I won't be having anymore kids as I am terrified that the HG will strike again & I am not physically or mentally able to endure that experience again. I am deeply saddened by this but I need to think of my beautiful son & ignoring him for months on end is not an option for me. For those of you who are continuing your pregnancies, stay strong & don't feel guilty about the amount of help & support u need from friends & family. My husband & I had to move in with my mum for the whole duration of my first 2 pregnancies as I needed to be cared for. It is very difficult on relationships, especially with ur partner (anyone else vomit as soon as u 'smell' him?) so I would advise you to get him to read as much as he can on HG. In my experience I become extremely introverted as I just do not have the energy to talk & interact with ppl. This can be especially hard on children & ur man. On a positive note, with my son the HG instantly disappeared as soon as my contractions started - so bear this in mind & have something in the freezer so u can grab a meal as soon as you can! And pack ur hospital bag with everything u have fantasised about eating during ur hungriest moments.
My love & support go out to u all & to Stephanie for get original post (thanks) xxx

Anonymous said...

I am just new to your blog and I read your article about HG during your 4 pregnancies. Wow, did I laugh and nod my head in agreement as I read through it. I also suffered terribly with HG with all of my 4 pregnancies too. Baby #1 (girl) I vomited at least once a day for the entire time. I was against taking any medication, so I suffered through it. Baby #2 and #3 (boys) I also battled through without medication (why - I don't know!) then Baby #4 (boy) I lived on Zofran EVERY day - what a life saver! I simply could not function without it. At one stage I ran out and rang my obstetrician and he posted a script to me. It didn't arrive in the post until the following day at 12 noon. So my neighbour had to take the older children to school as I was vomiting so much I couldn't leave the house. I then rushed to the chemist to get the Zofran. And just like yourself, I was so excited to go into labour - yep, bring it on. I had terrific quick labours and instantly felt normal the second our babies were born. At one stage with pregnancy no. 3 at an obstetrician appointment, he asked me "So, how crap do you feel today?" my answer was "I'm going to drive to the nearest vet and ask them to put me down, because I can't take this anymore!" I have to admit, I spent many moments crying due to the HG.
Thank you for this post - I felt like I was reading something I would write about my own experiences. Thank you :-)
Monique - Australia

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