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. 

 

 

 

 

 

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. 

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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! 

 

 

 

 

   
  

   
        

Wyatt: 10 Months Old

Wyatt10months1  Wyatt turned ten months two weeks ago! We’ve been so busy this summer that blogging and my updates are a bit behind.

Busy is the best word to describe Wyatt these days.

His personality is shining through and he’s acting like a little boy. We are having a lot of fun together and he’s keeping me on my toes.

There has been so much change this past month, I don’t even know where to begin! The biggest thing to note from this month is the fact that he is sleeping through the night in his crib! I repeat, he is sleeping through the night in his crib. Miracles do happen! The baby who refuses to sleep no more!

Weight: I’d guess around 21 – 22 pounds

Length: I’d guess around 29 inches. 

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Hair: light brown and getting longer. He has a few strands by his ears that are super long. 

Eyes: Blue

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

Likes: Books, Photographs, Music, Playing in water, Dog bowels, Pulling up on things, Mickey Mouse, eating, dogs, opening and closing doors, the piano, bells, his wubanubs.

Dislikes: Getting his diaper changed and getting dressed.  

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

Sleep: Sleeping through the night in his crib! He goes down around 7:30 at night and usually sleeping until 5 – 6 am. Sometimes he still wakes  up around 3:30 – 4 for a quick snack, but that’s few and far between. He then takes an average of two naps a day. 

Feeding: Breastfed every three – four hours and eats three solids a day plus some puffs as snacks. Thank goodness for puffs, he loves them and they entertain him very well. 

Milestones: Sleeping through the night, pulling himself up on furniture, crawling on his hands and knees (not just army crawling), turning pages in books super fast, sharing food and toys with us, and waving. 

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What I want to remember:

 

How he shakes his whole body when one of his favorite songs come on (The Hot Dog Song and Peanut Butter Sandwich)

The way he eagerly wants to share everything with us.

How he can entertain himself for atleast 10 -15 minutes browsing through all of his books. 

His reaction to the ocean waves. 

The way he tossed away a regular pacifier with disgust when I tried to give him one while down at the beach (instead of getting his beloved stuffed wubanub all sandy and wet)

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
  

   
        

My Hope as a Mother After the Orlando Tragedy

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I’m still reeling from the tragedy in Orlando. Powerless, frightened, sickened, frustrated, and devastated. These are all words that aim to describe how I feel. But there are no words to truly convey how the surviving victims and their loved ones feel. My heart simply aches for our country.

Where is our future headed?

We know the facts. That this was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. That 49 were killed and 53 more were injured. That the killer easily obtained an assault rifle despite his history with the FBI. That there have been 141 mass shootings (more than 4 people involved) in 2016 already.

But what makes a tragedy so tragic is the fact that the consequences leave us with a hole that no statistic, justification, apology, speech, vigil, or prayer can fill. How many more holes can our country take before we are so fragile we crumble?

Many people question why one would choose to bring a child into such a scary world. To me, as a mother, that answer is simple. Each and every child is a hope for our future. Each boy and girl has the potential to create change – every little act of kindness as the potential to domino into a life altering change.

As a mother, I look into my innocent baby’s eyes and hope that he will be one of the good ones. I hope that he will always choose love. Hope is a powerful weapon. But it takes more than hope. It takes action – from us all.

Love is not a singular activity. In order to bring change we must act together. As a society we must love one another, help one another, accept one another.

Teaching acceptance, kindness, and love start at home. As a mother I aim to teach my children these basic moral codes. I promise to tell and show my children how to choose love every day.

But we are more than our singular homes. One day our children will leave our homes and the power to teach goodness will not be solely in our hands as parents. These principles must continue to be taught in our schools, our places of worship, and our places of work. It takes all of us. Not just parents, not just teachers, not just leaders. The power to bring about change takes all of us. Straightforward concept, right?

Yet, we are failing. Why is such an easy task, to be kind, accepting and loving, so hard to achieve?

As a mother I promise to never stop searching for that answer. I promise that in every step I take I will choose love. Together I believe we can move forward to peace, I won’t let go of that hope.

Those Little Moments of Joy

Lately motherhood has been messy and overwhelming. 

It has been hard transitioning into a new job and learning how to balance working at home while also looking after a crawling 8 month old while also stressing every day over Ryan finding a job. 

Once again, I feel like we are in this in between stage – waiting for our lives to begin. And it makes me feel so guilty and anxious.

I feel anxious that Ryan won’t find a job that he loves and will take a job to make ends meet. I worry that we won’t be able to provide Wyatt with everything we want to give him. 

I feel guilty because lately I’ve found myself counting down the minutes to Wyatt’s next naptime so I can get some work done. I feel like I’m ignoring him while he plays on the floor by himself and I’m focused on my computer. I feel guilty that I can’t give him 100% of my attention.

But then all it takes is one little moment of joy. One little smile from Wyatt that reminds me that everything is okay. He reminds me to live in the present. That right now all he needs is our love and our smiles. 

Motherhood will always be overwhelming. Life will always be messy. There are no “in between” stages of life. This is our life, right now, we are living it. His sweet smiles remind me to reach out and to capture these little moments before they are gone. 

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On My First Mother’s Day

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I feel like I should have something poetic or even profound to say on my first Mother’s Day. But in honesty, I am overburdened with too many words, too many thoughts, too many emotions to thread them together in a coherent message. The best way I seem to express myself these days are through soft tears that water up my eyes when I take a time out to think about the past 8 months of my life. 

Perhaps that is motherhood’s way of keeping you sane. You are so busy with all of the changes – the diaper changes, the laundry changes, the dishwasher changes, the growing baby that changes daily that you don’t have enough time to reflect on how you have changed. 

The daily life as a mother is so heavy. I’m constantly balancing life as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as a friend, as an employee, and as a woman. Every day I feel overwhelmed. There have been many times where I’ve questioned my ability to be a good mother, many times when I just wanted to give up and stay in bed all day or take the longest shower of my life while the baby screamed in the other room. 

But I did what mothers have been doing for centuries. I took a big breath and kept on going.

Kept waking up every three hours. Changed a diaper 5 minutes after I just changed the last. I sacrificed showers and dinners with friends and time with my husband to care for a baby who seemed to do nothing but eat, cry, and poop. 

You just keep moving. 

The magic of motherhood sneaks up to you in those mundane moments. It happens during that 4 a.m. feeding when you can’t keep your eyes open and you think you will never sleep again, but then the baby smiles at you for the very first time.

It happens when you’re changing your 10th diaper for the day but then the baby rolls over and giggles at you.

It happens when you’re glued to the couch pumping more milk for when you will be apart while working and the baby starts to crawl and looks up at you with so much pride and excitment.

It happens when you are lying awake in bed full of anxiety but then get a whiff of the little newborn, heavy in sleep, lying on your chest and just feel so alive.

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. But, love is all around, even in the middle of the night when you feel nothing but alone.

Just keep moving, the love will surprise you when you least expect it, coming at you full force, fueling up your heart for another day, surprising you and changing you in the most profound way.  

 

Wyatt: 7 Months

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Wyatt turned seven months last Thursday and we are having SO much fun with him. His laughter is infectious and the cutest sound on the planet. 

Every day he is more and more alert to the world around him and loves exploring new people and places. He’s a little squirmy wormy and does not sit still. 

Weight:  18 pounds

Length: 27.5 inches

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Hair: light brown and he has gotten so much more hair this past month!

Eyes: Blue

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

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Likes: Rolling! This guy loves to roll and roll and roll. Don’t blame him since it’s his only mode or transportation! He also still loves all books and singing his favorite songs. Touching our faces and putting his fingers in our mouths. He loves taking walks in our new lillebaby, especially forward facing so he can check everything and everyone out. 

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Dislikes: Sleeping in his crib. 

Clothing and Diapers: 3-6 month and size 3 diapers. 

Sleep: I refer to him as “The Baby Who Refuses to Sleep”. Naps are few and far between and he refuses to sleep in his crib. We try. We try crying it out, controlled crying out, a very in depth routine, different bed times. And nothing works. He will only fall asleep in his rock n play. I don’t know what we will do when he grows out of it!

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Feeding: Breastfed every three hours and eats two solids a day. Usually a fruit or veggie puree that I mix up in the morning and oatmeal at night. So far he has tried sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, peas, butternut squash, avocado, and rice and oatmeal cereal. He likes everything.

He wasn’t too sure of the sourish taste of the apples at first and made this hilarious face. But still ate all of them!

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Milestones: Rolling freely front back to belly and belly to back over and over. Sitting up by himself for about 20 seconds. Grabbing at everything. Shaking his rattles and bell toys with glee.

Attended his first swim lesson! We are going every Tuesday morning for six weeks and he loved it! I hope he’s a little fishy like I was growing up.  He also is showing all signs of teething and gets rather fussy some days but no actual teeth cutting through yet. I also think he’s so close to crawling. My guess is by the end of May. 

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Favorite Things: Cloth books, board books, singing, Mickey Mouse Hot Dog singing doll, bell rattle, panda toy, activity center, Seaseme Street pop up toy, cold teething keys, baby einstein guitar, play cell phone, playing with his feet and sucking on everything!

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What I want to remember:

 

How happy he is all the time! Seriously, he’s such a happy baby and delights in the smallest things. I’m grateful for how I can make him happy by just making a silly face or doing a silly dance for him. 

Reading to him before bedtime.

How fortunate I feel to still be nursing him. 

The way he wacks himself in the stomach when he’s SUPER excited. 

Our first Easter with him.

How excited he was to be requainted with his favorite toy from his newborn days, his panda.

How much fun we had at swim lessons. 

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Dear Wyatt,

I don’t know how it’s possible, but every day I love you more. I love your curiosity and the joy that you experience with every little moment and new experience. The days are going by too fast. How are you already more than half of they way to your first birthday? I’m so lucky to spend the days with you. We are learning new things together, like how to let you cry on your own a little, even though it tears me apart. The fact that you are now eating solids and sleeping in your own room (although in your beloved rock n play) makes me realize that you are not completely dependent on me anymore and it’s so very bittersweet. You’ll always be my special little baby boy and I’ll always be here for you as you experiment with your independence. I can tell that you can’t wait to do more things on your own. I will be standing by watching you with the biggest smile on my face and in my heart. 

Love always,

Mommy