I always wanted to be a mother. Even when I dreamed of being a flight attendant, an artist, a mechanic, and a teacher....I ultimately always wanted to be a mother. I didn't have much exposure to what pregnancy is or would be like. I always admired the beautifully curved pregnant women I'd see out running or in the gym. I imagined I would be like them. Active, fit, clearly feeling good. As a nanny I recalled the mother telling me how much she loved pregnancy. That she never felt so strong and beautiful, her hair and nails would grow, and she just loved it. I thought it would be like that. Sure I'd heard of morning sickness, saltines, and ginger ale. But I had never heard of someone being sick their entire pregnancy. I had never heard of hyperemesis gravidarum.
In my freshman year of college I took an early childhood development class, where I learned about the importance of maternal health and diet in the years prior to bearing children. This resonated with me, so even while single, with no relationship prospects, a college career path set, and only cafeteria food available to me, I often thought about what I put into my body - opting for salads loaded with veggies over other, uh, often shady foods. Despite this, or even because of this, I had been rather physically ill in the years leading up to getting married, due to a combination of chronic stress and unknown food allergies. At one point I was even diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (though I have always questioned that diagnosis - I'm now questioning my own questioning).
So young...so naive
Fast-forward post wedding day. I knew I needed to be in better health physically before I had a baby, and so I started working on this about the same time I, unfortunately, got pregnant. I was mostly excited, though a little disappointed because there were things I wanted to learn about fertility, but it was okay because new life! All of our friends who had bet "less than three months" at our wedding were also excited that they were right. From the get go my pregnancy symptoms were strong. I knew I was pregnant just three days in. Everything I read on the internet said "No, you can't have any symptoms before such and such a time in pregnancy." From day 2 or 3 I had a stomach ache. This weird gurgling feeling that didn't go away. On day 4 my breasts began to ache (and as my friends later joked, they were the only part of me that grew for the first 2/3rds of pregnancy). Then I finally got that maybe-positive pregnancy test (you know, the one where the second line is faint, and I'm brand new to this, but I thought it meant negative, and then emailed my husband later that day with a link to a forum telling us it was actually positive...because over email is the perfect way to tell your new husband there's a baby coming).
Momentous first "belly" pic
I don't even remember when the sickness hit. I do remember that the day it hit I was making my own variation of spanakopitas. And through the rest of my pregnancy, the very thought of those horrible little pies (though hubby really liked them) would make me throw up in an instant.
It was paralyzing. I could only walk at an infant's pace. We lived in the city with all of its restaurant smells just out the window that would make me so sick. I had to walk down the street with peppermint oil in a tissue. I had my "throw up bush" outside of the grocery store that I'd hit up before and after going in to get groceries. Well-doers gave us all the suggestions we'd already tried. We had to buy a car because I could no longer walk or bike. My hubby felt helpless. I threw up day and night. I survived off cheddar goldfish crackers, seltzer water, loaded baked potatoes, and McDonald's (I hadn't eaten fast food in four years, but for two months I ate McD's and it was the only thing I never threw up). I lost 8% of my body weight - which is really a lot when you 're only 107lbs to begin with. My hair was falling out, my skin was greasy, and I was gaunt. So much for being that glowing, strong pregnant woman.
2nd "belly" pic and so sick
It was a very lonely time as we were new to the city with little to no connections, but ultimately we made it through. My husband was my saint and I'd have been so much worse without his back rubs, his help cleaning, his night runs for broth, his ability to work from home so I wouldn't be alone, and his care and love. During that time I tried Reglan, to no avail, I had an IV at one point early on, but my veins were too dehydrated to fit the infant catheter and the fluids went into my muscle. I opted to just wait it out. I discovered little quirky things that helped keep me hydrated - drinking with straws, not drinking during a meal, frozen orange juice, popsicles, and frequent baths. Around 6 or 7 months I started taking Unisom, which took my vomiting from seemingly constant, to once a day, then once a week, then finally only once the final month. I had to have another IV later in pregnancy, but I still managed to gain my 30 lbs (which is painful to do in 3 months, holy cow!). I didn't even need maternity clothes until I was 39 weeks pregnant (went to 42).
After the pregnancy there were still lingering affects of going through HG - heartburn for 15 months postpartum, any time I'd cough suddenly my husband would jump up as if to run to the bathroom with me again, and there were some music and smells (pumpkin spice) that continued to make me nauseous years later because of the association. Ultimately I recovered and after some solid dietary changes, I healed from some of my prepregnancy issues, too.
Then I decided more needed to be done before getting pregnant again, only to find out I was pregnant the very week I began working with a doctor. I was more armored this time. I'd read a few things. I started taking Milk Thistle and Wild Yam Root Tincture right away, took magnesium orally and topically, and started Unisom the day the nausea started. I drank mineral water with lemons squeezed in, and took some time to have acupuncture done. I wore seabands constantly and ate ginger chews and drank raw milk. I focused on my hydration instead of eating. I sought out help when I couldn't take care of my family. It helped that we had moved back home and had family, friends, and a church community nearby again.
The week the nausea started, 2nd pregnancy
The second pregnancy was much better with the steps taken. Though I continued to have aversions to anything green, all proteins, anything that was too crunchy or chewy or bland. I had aversions to sights and sounds. I threw up frequently, but much less than in my first pregnancy. I never needed an IV, though there were days in a row that nothing would stay down. I had nearly zero heartburn thanks to drinking alkaline water. I took bellydance lessons through the entire pregnancy, and I did feel strong and beautiful by the end. The pregnancy was better, but it was still very hard, and I developed depression during it that left me dark and ragey. This pregnancy took much longer to recover from, both physically and emotionally from the depression.
I now know more than I did before. There are even more resources available to me, even preemptively, that will help me during a third pregnancy. I will thrive in spite of HG. Because the end results are, in fact, worth it.