The Dark Cloud: My Struggle With Hyperemesis Gravidarum
They say that breastfeeding can be an effective contraceptive for some women. This was true for me. I got my first postpartum period when my son was 16 months old and after two full cycles, we decided to try for another baby. A 2.5/3 year spacing would be great for our family.
My body has never been subtle about changes so I was sure even before I did a home pregnancy test, one day after my period was due, that I was pregnant. I waited a couple of days to tell my husband because we had just experienced a financial setback and I didn't know how he would take it. But he seemed to be more excited than I was.
Just over a week later, symptoms hit with full force. As with my first, I experienced nausea, food aversions, vomiting, etc. Things went downhill very quickly. We were in the midst of moving homes and unable to eat or drink, I got sicker and I lost weight rapidly. I struggled to care for myself and my family. Crackers, ginger and other home remedies did absolutely nothing. I felt life slowly draining out of me. So I went to see my GP. He diagnosed Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). He didn't prescribe any anti-sickness drugs like they had done in my previous pregnancy. Instead, he sent me away with B-Vitamins. It is claimed that a deficiency in these vitamins could be one of the causes of HG. I thought he was crazy of course but left there determined to be brave and power through the sickness. I tried my best to eat, I couldn't stomach anything. I tried to drink, everything including water came back up. I was vomiting up to 8 times a day.
I went to see my midwife for my booking appointment around 10 weeks. She weighed me. I had gone from 70kg to 54kg in 4 weeks. She tested my urine, which contained -4 ketones (my body was burning stored up fat to sustain us because I wasn't eating) and I was severely dehydrated. She referred me to the hospital immediately. I stayed there for 2 days, had 4 bags of drips and various anti-sickness drugs. By the time I left, I could eat a cheese sandwich. They sent me home with a cocktail of drugs, which I stayed on for 2 weeks. I am now just over 18 weeks pregnant and doing much better. Once I started eating, there was no going back.
I am very grateful for being able to conceive and carry my babies but in that moment of sickness, I hated being pregnant very intensely. I contemplated all sorts of things I would rather not share. I literally felt like I was face to face with death. I felt so alone. Everyone including my husband kept saying things like "just try to eat." Didn't they understand that if I could, I would? Why would I deliberately harm myself or my child? The only person that really understood was my mother having suffered the same sickness with her three pregnancies. Unfortunately, she was too far away in Nigeria to be of much help except through prayers and words of encouragement. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is not mere "morning sickness." It is something worse and some women have it far worse than I did, with some reporting vomiting up to 50 times a day and sickness lasting their entire pregnancy.
Some of the drugs I was prescribed. They gave so many because there wasn't enough time to investigate which ones I would respond to. Thankfully a combination of Cyclizine, Metoclopromide and Ranitidine worked and I never had to take Domperidone. I also continued to take vitamins including folic acid.
I am happier now. Also healthier and more energetic than I was in my last pregnancy. I'm able to care for myself and my family and really looking forward to baby joining us. The dark cloud has passed. I am immensely grateful to God.
Did you experience HG? How did you cope? Please share! Are you currently experiencing HG? Please know this, you are not alone and you will get through it. I know it feels horrible right now but you will be okay eventually and you will be able to enjoy your blessing.