Pregnancy has been a hot topic of conversation ever since the newest ruling on Roe vs. Wade was released by the Supreme Court. Regardless of where you stand on that decision, there’s something we should all be able to agree on: pregnancy is hard. Something else we should all agree on: pregnant women need more help.
Because of these two factors — pregnancy being hard and not enough help being offered — I’ll never be pregnant again.
You see, I’ve been blessed with two beautiful daughters, but both of my pregnancies were challenging. While I was lucky enough to not have any life threatening diagnosis for me or my children, what I did have was overwhelming nausea that lasted much longer than the usual first trimester. In fact, it lasted the entire pregnancy both times.
If you haven’t heard of Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), let me tell you a little about it. It’s nausea to the point of being debilitated. It’s dehydration to the point that one of my pregnancy cravings was ice water, and several times I was almost hospitalized to simply put fluids back in my body. It’s being underweight while pregnant, to the point doctors start talking to you like you have an eating disorder. I didn’t have an eating disorder; I just couldn’t keep food down or was so nauseated I wouldn’t eat it in the first place. The treatments for nausea are pretty few and none of them worked on me. I started vomiting blood sometimes because the acid from vomit was eating away at my esophagus. I had a basket full of medication prescribed to make it stop, but nothing worked. Most made me pass out for hours, unable to care for my five-year-old. One made me so dizzy I was scared to drive. Another created a reaction that made it so I couldn’t lift my arms. And another one required my husband to go through a consultation to even leave the pharmacy with it because it’s usually only prescribed in the ER and under medical supervision. Thankfully, that one kept me out of the hospital, but I feared its side effects so much that I only took it on the days I couldn’t even keep down water. Some medication could make the vomiting stop, but nothing ever took nausea and fatigue away.
I stopped being able to work and had to cut down to part-time status. Socially I was a ghost, able to count social outings on one hand for my entire pregnancy. I only made it to big, important things like a friend’s baby shower and a parent’s 70th birthday party. Even at those events I felt terrible and left early.
Even with my constant complaints, doctors at my first OB/GYN office were very dismissive and prescribed me the same medication three times, even after I held the exact same medication in my hand, showed them the label, and let them know it did nothing to help stop nausea. After I switched doctors, I felt more heard but ended up trying a long line of medications with crazy side effects, like potentially causing permanent paralyzation of one side of your face. After one medication caused extreme dizziness and made me lose the ability to lift my arms for five hours, I stopped trying new meds. I had gone through the regular prescriptions to no avail and was taking meds with much more severe side effects, and since nothing worked anyway, I stopped trying to find a medication that would stop nausea.
I trained myself to binge eat when I felt good enough to keep food down because I desperately needed the calories. I carried ice water around 24/7 in a Yeti cup to avoid dehydration. I cried when I apologized to my daughter for not being able to care for her, much less take her on fun outings all the time like we used to. I dropped a load of dirty laundry on the steps to run to the bathroom, and it sat there for three days while I was too sick to even be able to load the washer. My husband had to do everything.