Archive for December, 2012

Writer's Block

With hyperemesis gravidarum in the news, I’ve been feeling convicted to share my journey. However, this is easier said than done. For a while I’ve known that I need to share more than the snippets I’ve included on this blog. So why have I hesitated?

It’s more than writer’s block. It’s fear. If I put my hyperemesis gravidarum pregnancy into words, it suddenly makes the nightmare that was last year more real. Writing my story means reaching inside, waking a person who wants to  hit the snooze button just a little longer. I’ve talked about those months plenty, but writing is somehow more real, more honest, more raw.

Not only does hyperemesis gravidarum damage your body, it devastates your emotional being. It takes time to heal. Perhaps writing my story will help. Until I’m ready to face that task, I’ll continue to offer encouragement to anyone who is struggling.

Today, dear sisters in suffering, that encouragement is written by Amber, a fellow hg survivor. It is these stories like these that helped me hold on during my pregnancy, and I am hoping that her words help you as well. Please read her story, and let me know if you have a story you’d like to share.

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Moon and Saturn / Maan en Saturnus

Moon and Saturn / Maan en Saturnus (Photo credit: Arjan Almekinders)

As those of you suffering with hyperemesis gravidarum know, there isn’t really a light side to this condition. Women with hg suffer through each day of their pregnancy, unable to keep food and water down, weak and alone. Some have PICC lines (internal ivs placed near their hearts) that keep their bodies nourished and hydrated. Some have extended hospital stays. All vomit excessively.

Hyperemesis gravidarum offers the best payoff– a child. Yet the struggle to grow a child does not always lead to a happy ending. Some babies are lost to miscarriage, some to abortion.  It’s easy for those who have no experienced just how wretched a condition hg is to misunderstand, but the intense suffering women go through when they have hyperemesis gravidarum leads many to abort their child. To me, the loss of a life is the darkest event possible.

As someone who was raised in a conservative home, I never believed in abortion. Yet feeling so ill, for so long, helped me understand why someone would consider it an option. I truly felt like I was dying, and there were moments when I would have done anything to find some reprieve from the relentless nausea and vomiting. To me, that is the dark side of this condition. That is the horrific truth.

If you’ve ever stepped into the darkness, hg mama, I want you to know that there is light waiting for you. You may feel lost, like you’re in a dark cave with no light to guide you. But you are not alone on this journey. You have a little one growing inside you. Because you are carrying that precious gift, you have no choice: you must fight. Surrender is not an option. The good news is that you’re fighting for a worhty cause, and you will win this war. It won’t be easy. You will get sick– very sick. But you will also earn a reward, and you will treasure that reward because you had to fight so hard to earn it. You will be stronger, knowing that you can handle anything life throws at you. Keep your eye on the prize, dear sisters in suffering. It is worth all the sick.

Has your HG made you delve into the dark side? Help others by posting a comment below.

Family of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

Family of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hooray! The media is finally talking about hyperemesis gravidarum. As is common these days, it took a celebrity to bring an issue to the public eye. Like many, I’m excited to hear the ‘royal’ news. Yet the news that Kate Middleton is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum does not make me happy.

I’ve often thought that I wouldn’t wish this condition on my worst enemy.  But I’ve never thought about someone I like encountering hyperemesis gravidarum. I don’t know her, but I do like the Kate Middleton I know through the media. As I’ve read report after report of her big news, I’ve wondered how she’s coping. Being pregnant isn’t easy. Being a celebrity isn’t easy. Those two factors added together make for a difficult time. Add hyperemesis gravidarum to the mix and she’s facing a rough nine months. I know she’ll receive good care and plenty of rest (she is carrying the heir, after all). But even with the best care, she’ll still feel like she’s dying. She’ll still feel nauseous. And she’ll still deal with the sad fact that there is no cure for hyperemesis gravidarum.

So what would I say to Kate if I had the chance to write her a letter? After a heart-felt congratulations, I’d tell her to be strong. I’d encourage her to get in touch with her inner survivor, because she’s going to need every part of herself to face the next few months. And lastly, I’d convey to her how entirely worthwhile the fight for your child will be. I would share with her what washed over me tonight as I rocked my little one to sleep: the misery of hyperemesis gravidarum is worth tremendous gift that awaits you at the end.

What advice would you give Cate if you had the chance?

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Last year, Thanksgiving brought a beautiful meal prepared by– still can’t believe it myself– my wonderful husband. Because I had hyperemesis gravidarum, I promptly threw it up.

We’ve all been there. We want so much to be normal, to eat food, to visit with friends and family. But something about the oppressive nausea, excessive spit, and overwhelming fatigue that accompanies hyperemesis gravidarum nullifies any chance at even a slice of normal.

This Thanksgiving, I looked forward to a visit from my parents, and cooking a huge dinner. What happened? I was sick with one of the worst sinus infections ever known to humankind. It was a repeat of last year, in so many terrible ways. Since I’ve recovered from hyperemesis gravidarum, I’ve grown stronger. Sore throat? No problem. Sleep deprivation? Bring it on! But something about being sick on Thanksgiving brought it all back. Another holiday where I was sick? Excuse my profanity, but damn it. Damn it all to hell.

In between the fuzzy haze of sleep, when I had a few lucid moments in which my sinuses did not feel weighted down by a hot anvil, I was able to visit with my loved ones. At my lowest point, when I could barely talk because my throat was on fire and I didn’t have the energy to lift my head, my husband reminded me of how it was last year. Yes, I was sick, but last year I had an iv. Yes, I was sad, but last year I was scared that our child might not live. His words didn’t do much at first, but after another coma-like nap, I felt a little better. He was right. Things were better.

And I want to tell you, my sisters in suffering, that things will get better, too. You will need to be strong, you will need to slog through the remaining days of your pregnancy. But once you recover, you, too will be stronger. I can’t promise you that you will never face illness again. But I can promise you that this illness, this soul-crushing, stomach-roiling, and spit-inducing condition will not last. So hold on. Just one more day, dear ones. And look forward to future holidays, which will not (hopefully) be full of sickness.