No, Saltines Won’t Help: My Experience With Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Close up saline IV drip for patient in hospital.

Disclaimer: I am truly fortunate to be pregnant with my second baby. My heart goes out to all those wishing to be pregnant or to be parents. Please do not interpret this article as me complaining about being pregnant but as a way to educate and inform on the condition of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). 

I suffered debilitating nausea and vomiting for weeks during my second pregnancy.

It has taken me months to write this article as it was hard for me to look back at this season of life and I have the tendency to downplay my symptoms in order to not seem dramatic. It’s not like this is something I LIKE to talk about. 

I shied away from public life and didn’t even like discussing my condition because being flooded with people well-meaning comments of “Oh I was so sick when I was pregnant too! It made going to work so hard!”,  “Have you tried saltines and ginger ale?” “Make sure to keep crackers by your bedside” “Just tough it out, it will pass!” 

The fact is, the condition I had, Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is NOT just your typical morning sickness.  

Some facts for those that know nothing more than “that thing Kate Middleton had”:

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a rare condition, with fewer than 200,000 cases a per year. It is a severe type of nausea during pregnancy combined with endless vomiting, weight loss, and malnutrition. I was lucky that my symptoms dispersed around 17 weeks. Some women experience HG their entire pregnancies and some are admitted for long stays in the hospital until the birth of their child.

Distinguishing between morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum:

Morning Sickness: Hyperemesis Gravidarum:
Nausea sometimes accompanied by vomiting Nausea accompanied by severe vomiting
Nausea that subsides at 12 weeks or soon after Nausea that does not subside
Vomiting that does not cause severe dehydration Vomiting that causes severe dehydration
Vomiting that allows you to keep some food down Vomiting that does not allow you to keep any food down

My Story:

I found out I was pregnant mid-January. It came as a little bit of a shock, we had just started trying for baby number two and were expecting another year or so long journey. But there were no denying those two pink lines on the pregnancy test I took on January 16. 

With my first pregnancy I started feeling nauseous around week 5, so I braced myself to feel sick around that same time with this pregnancy.  5 weeks came and went and I crossed my fingers that maybe this pregnancy was going to be different and I would be one of those lucky women that never get sick. 

Boy was I wrong!

On February 10, at seven weeks, the nausea struck! And then a week later the vomiting stuck. And then it struck, and struck, and struck. I could not stop vomiting.

I tried crackers and pretzels – they instantly came back up. I’d take a sip of water and vomit it up a few minutes later. Any thought of food would have me dry heaving.

I called my doctor and got a prescription for Dicligis – a safe medication that I took while pregnant with my first-born. It was all I needed to help relieve my nausea and vomiting that first go around. 

I stayed optimistic but the vomiting did not stop. 

I tried to brave it out for another day or two, but after two days of non stop vomiting my body and my soul were worn down. 

I was extremely weak and dizzy and could barely stand on my own. Taking care of my 18 month old was out of the question and I leaned heavily on family for support. Those two days felt like eternity. 

I finally called my doctor. I had held off because I know that vomiting is a part of pregnancy. I didn’t want them to talk to me condescendingly or think I was exaggerating and being a crazy hypochondriac. But as I explained my symptoms to the nurse she told me to get into the ER triage as soon as possible. 

I was admitted to the hospital for the day and got hooked up to IV fluids and Zofran. I started to regain some color and feel a little more human after 4 hours. I was given a prescription for Promethazine suppositories (fun!) as the Zofran can be linked to birth defects.  

I went home hopeful that I had found the solution and I could live with just being nauseous and vomiting once or twice a day. On the first night the suppositories caused incredibly painful cramping and abdominal pressure. I was up all night in pain and still vomiting. I continued with this for another day or two before calling my doctor back. 

She was not happy that I was still unable to keep any nutrients down and was sent back into the hospital for more fluids and rest. At this point I was 9 weeks pregnant and unable to do my work from home job. It was impossible to explain my symptoms to my male boss. 

I had already lost 8 pounds. I never thought I would look forward to going to the hospital, but those IV drips were the only thing that made me feel like I wasn’t going to die. This time I was sent home with a prescription to Zofran – the chance of birth defects were lesser than the side effects of me vomiting non stop. 

The Zofran pills were not as strong as a Zofran IV drip and I ended back up in the hospital the following week.

At this point I felt like a shell of my former self. I was in a deep depression from being so sick for so long and not being able to function normally. I couldn’t parent my son or be a wife or friend. I felt completely isolated from the outside world and helpless. The pregnancy became a problem rather than something to celebrate. 

This time, the doctors discussed getting a PICC line put in so that I could have a constant supply of medicine flowing into my system. Sadly, I was a little excited for this type of relief, however inconvenient it may be for the next few weeks. There was no telling when my Hyperemesis would ease up, and I would give anything to be able to read to my son again and function at half my capacity. 

I got lucky.

Within the next few days my vomiting slightly ceased and I did not have to get the PICC line inserted. The Zofran medication was finally enough to get me to stop vomiting everything I digested. I was still getting sick 3 – 4 times a day, but I was able to hold in water and some food.

Online support groups were everything to me during these long weeks. There is no more lonely feeling than being sick non stop and having no one understand. 

The most helpful was HER, Hyperemesis Education and Research: 

I FINALLY started to feel mostly all better by 18 weeks. That’s when I stopped vomiting all together. However the depression, anxiety, and overall fatigue on my body stuck around. In some ways I still feel like I’m recovering. This sickness was a deciding factor in quitting my job this past May so I could focus on my health and spend time with Wyatt. 

I lost a total of 11 pounds, a lot of confidence, and time. My depression was in full swing. I’m sure this is my last pregnancy because there is no way I’d voluntarily go through that sickness again. 

I stopped taking Zofran around 20 weeks and have had a normal and healthy pregnancy since! I’m very fortunate as some women suffer until they give birth. Fellow sufferers, the end will be in sight! 

I share this story not to complain but to raise awareness of Hyperemsis Gradiverdum. I want to educate that it is not JUST morning sickness and that you can find support and help. I would have been lost without the support of my family. I have no idea who I would have found to watch my son while I was sick all those weeks and will forever be grateful for their support and love. 

If you come across this article while googling HG symptoms as you are lying on the bathroom floor, please feel free to reach out to me! You are not alone. 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Weeks with Baby Mac 2

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I’ve gone back and forth a lot on whether I should keep this space open.

Back when I was pregnant with Wyatt I posted weekly bump dates as well as several other blog posts a month.

Back then, blogging was a great resource for me to get in touch with other new moms and pregnant ladies as none of my close friends were at the same stage. It allowed me to connect with women from all over the country – we traded tips and fears and I’m so thankful for that.

Back then, Ryan worked long days and went to school at night. We barely saw each other. Blogging filled up my time and gave me a social outlet. 

Flash forward two years and I’m now a full time stay at home mom with our own house and a 20 month old boy to keep me busy. This blog was the last thing on my mind. 

But lately I’ve been missing having a place to document our life. I’ve been checking back on my weekly bumpdates throughout this pregnancy, comparing and remembering and I got a little sad that I haven’t given this pregnancy as much attention as my last. I want to be able to look back and remember it well and allow my baby girl to read about it to one day. 

So here I am! Trying to remember my WordPress log in and how to work this old blog again. Hello!

I can’t believe we are already halfway through this pregnancy. Wait…yes, I can. It’s been a long one already. I’ll get around to doing a first trimester recap one of these days but I don’t think I’m ready to relive those days yet.

So here we are:

How far along: 20.5 weeks! Halfway!

Due Date: September 25

Gender: Girl!!! We are both very excited to experience both a boy and a girl. And I can’t wait for all things girly and to relive part of my own childhood, however selfish that may sound!

Baby Size: About the size of a banana – 10 inches and 10.6 ounces. 

Weight gain: Well I lost a little over 11 pounds in the first trimester, so right now I’m the same weight I was when I first got pregnant – the weight it just positioned differently. I’m also carrying so much different than I did with Wyatt. This time the baby seems to be spread out all across my waist, not just in a little ball. My hips are much bigger this time too. 

Movement: Not feeling much movement yet. Like with Wyatt, I have an anterior placenta, so there is a little bit of extra padding between me and the baby. I feel some light fluttering every now and then. 

Best Moment Lately: Finding out we are having a girl! Truly, my first trimester was so complicated and hard. Knowing what sex the baby is allowed me to bond with it more. I now feel more connected to this pregnancy and can picture an actual human at the end. We also had a wonderful little getaway, just Ryan and I, last weekend. We visited Deep Creek Lake, MD and had fun sleeping in, reading, and simply relaxing. 

Looking forward to: Feeling the baby move. Hopefully soon! I worry so much when I can’t feel anything. Those mom fears never go away. 

Food Cravings: Ice water with a little bit of lemonade, chex mix, pimento cheese dip, anything salty and savory. 

Mood: Tired but excited and so grateful to have made it this far!

Symptoms: Tired. Sore hips, especially at night. When we moved last November, I threw out my pregnancy body pillow that I used while pregnant with Wyatt. It was all dirty and flattened and I didn’t expect to get pregnant so soon. I held off on purchasing one until this weekend. It should arrive today and I hope it allows me to sleep better. 

How were you second pregnancy’s different from your first? How did you maintain your energy with a second child to look after?

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Wyatt: 12 Months

wyatt12months2 Confession: Wyatt turned 12 months well over a month ago, I just haven’t had a chance to post his update yet. Seems kind of silly to post it so late in the game, because honestly I feel like he has grown SO much since September 7, but darn it, I dilgently took these photos and posted these monthly updates and I’m not going to quit on the last month! 

So here we go!

I have a one year old! How?? How did this happen?? My little baby is turning into a toddler more and more every day. 

Weight: 23 pounds

Length: 26.5 inches tall

Hair: light brown and starting to fill in more. 

Eyes: Blue

Nicknames: Wy, Wy-Wy, Mr. Man, Binky. Stink Bink

Likes: Books, Photographs, Music, Dogs, Mickey Mouse, Blocks, Doors, Exploring, Wagon Rides, the Pool, Eating, the Dog Leash and Bowls. 

Dislikes: Getting his diaper changed and getting dressed. Trying new food. 

wyatt12months1

Clothing and Diapers: 6-12 months clothing, size three diapers. Adding in a few 12-18 months clothing. He’s getting so tall!

Sleep: Wyatt usually goes to bed around 7:30 and sleeps until around 4 when he gets up for a little snack and then goes back to bed until 6:00ish He’s still taking 2 naps a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. 

Feeding: Breastfed every four – five hours and eats three solid meals a day plus snacks throughout the day. He loves bananas, cheese and puffs. He’s a hungry boy.

Milestones: Speed crawling around the house. Saying Da-Da CONSTANTLY (but no ma-ma), climbing stairs like it’s an olympic sport. 

 

I expressed my feelings on one year of motherhood here. It’s been a big beautiful blur. Wyatt – I can’t believe you are your own little person now. You love exploring your world. You are a little cautious of new things but once you figure it out you get obsessed with new things. You can wave bye bye to us and love waving your hands around to music. Your first birthday was a success! (even if you did not have a clue what to do with your cake) We love you more each day and can’t wait to see how much you continue to grow! 

 

 

 

 

   
  

   
        

One Year of Motherhood

wyattweek1.13

One year ago today, I gave birth to a 7 pound 13-ounce baby boy via C-section. He smelled like home, fit perfectly on my chest, and made us a family. He was perfection.

Today I woke up with a little explorative toddler who shrieks as he covers my face in big sloppy kisses. He is perfection.

Throughout my pregnancy and the first few months of Wyatt’s life, everyone whispers the same telling advice, “Enjoy every moment!” To a new mom that hasn’t showered for 3 days, is running on two hours of sleep, and doesn’t know why on earth her baby won’t stop crying, that phrase feels more like a guilt trip than words of wisdom.

There were days that felt monotonous and never-ending that I wished away so I could sleep. There were nights of cluster feeding and a baby that refused to sleep that I wished away so I could sleep. All the while those little words, “Enjoy every moment” haunted me. I knew the year would go by fast but sometimes the days felt like years.

But most moments were blessed with happiness. We met each new month with joy and surprise over the changes it brought. Smiling! Rolling over! Sitting up! Grasping toys! Babbling! Crawling! Pulling up! Every day was a new adventure, we never knew what to expect. Life was full of fun and ups and downs and laughs as we bumbled our way together as a family of three.

We watched our little swaddled baby afflicted with torticollis develop into his own sweet little personality and it all felt unbelievably surreal.

Last night, on the eve of his first birthday, I nursed my baby before his bedtime and started to cry. In my hands was a long, lean, and strong little boy, holding onto my hand as he had his nightcap. This will be the last time that I lie my baby down in his crib before he is officially a toddler. Where did my baby boy go?

Despite all the warnings, I still found myself surprised to find that time had slipped through my hands.

I look around his nursery and I can clearly picture myself sitting in this same glider, rocking a little 8-pound newborn at 2 in the morning, almost in tears myself because I was so exhausted. I remember her well. She feels like this night will never end, that her baby will never sleep through the night. She fears that she is doing everything wrong. She innocently doesn’t think that one day she will miss peering down at her sweet baby’s delicate face. She is clueless has to what the year will bring. She is clueless as to how much bigger her heart will grow in the next twelve months.

It’s been a wonderful year of change and milestones and I can’t wait to see how much we will all grow as a family in the months and years ahead.

But nothing can compare to that bittersweet first year where so much change happened in such a short time; it seems like a weird lucid dream.

In a matter of twelve months I gave birth to a baby and then helped that baby grow into a sweet, calm, happy, and curious little toddler. I still have no idea what I’m doing as a mother but each day I learn a new lesson and love him a little bit more than the day before.

Happy First Birthday, Wyatt. You are our entire world. We love you so much!  

 

 

Wyatt: 11 Months Old

wyatt11months2 How is it possible that I have an 11 month old? This summer has been flying by and Wyatt’s first birthday is only a few weeks away. I get a little teary eyed whenever I think about it. 

He is developing at lightning speed and his fun, curious, and sweet personality is shining through more and more each day.  He loves to laugh and be silly but he is also very cautious and timid. I think it’s a great mix and I can’t wait to see how he continue to grows emotionally. 

Weight: I’d guess around 22 pounds

Length: I’d guess around 30 inches. 

wyatt11months6

Hair: light brown and longer. He has these cute long curls in the back that kind of sort of resemble a mullet. 

Eyes: Blue

Nicknames: Wy, Wy-Wy, Mr. Man, Binky. Stinky Face. 

Likes: Books, Photographs, Music, Playing in water, dogs, Mickey Mouse, blocks, pulling up on everything, doors, food, phones, remotes, bath time. 

Dislikes: Getting his diaper changed and getting dressed, long car rides.

wyatt11months5

Clothing and Diapers: 6-12 months clothing, size three diapers. 

Sleep: Wyatt usually goes to bed around 7:30 and sleeps until around 4 when he gets up for a little snack and then goes back to bed until 7:30ish. The past couple of days he has been waking up at 5:00 – 5:30 for the day…I hope it’s temporary! He’s still taking 2 naps a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. 

Feeding: Breastfed every four hours and eats three solid meals a day plus some puffs or cheese as snacks throughout the day. He’s a hungry boy.

wyatt11months4

Milestones: Waving hi and bye, pulling up on everything on site, high fiving, sharing politely, taking a few steps assisted with our hands, “throwing” the ball for Maggie, turning book pages at lightning speed.

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Yep buddy, that sticker say 11! I can’t believe it either!

What I want to remember:

How excited he gets when playing ball with Maggie. He loves her soooo much and she could careless, unless she’s eating his scraps from the highchair. 

His big sloppy kisses he gives me on my mouth. 

The way he cuddles with me when he first wakes up from nap time (the ONLY time he wants to cuddle)

How proud he looks when he is trying something new, like trying to walk, or stacking blocks, or pulling something off a higher shelf.