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.

Advertisements
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?

Related articles

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.

 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Lietuvių: Fra...

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Lietuvių: Franklinas Delanas Ruzveltas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes, we only focus on part of a quote. Doing so often robs us of valuable information. Take Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous statement on fear: “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” We are all familiar with the first part of that quote, but how many of us know the rest of the sentence?

Fear is indeed nameless, unreasoning, and unjustified terror. And it does have the power to paralyze us. So let me encourage you, dear sisters who are suffering with hyperemesis gravidarum, to fight any fear you might feel in your life. Before I was diagnosed with hg, I was terrified. I thought I was starving, and that my child would not survive. How did I combat that fear? Information. I spent a lot of time researching hyperemesis gravidarum and talking to my doctor, nurses, and other moms I found online. Some days, knowing what was going on was helpful.

Yet other days, the fear stemmed from the lack of control I had over my body. I did indeed feel paralyzed. Some days, I there was nothing I could do to make things better. That sense of powerlessness is terrifying. How did I combat that fear? Mostly by reaching out to those in my life who cared.  Once a week I dragged myself to a counselor. Talking about it, sometimes ad nauseum (pun intended), seemed to help.

One of the hardest parts of struggling through a hyperemesis pregnancy is fighting the fear. But doing so is an essential part of survival, hg mama. Do not retreat. Do not let fear rule your life. You are stronger than that. Combat your fright by seeking information, connecting with someone who cares, and continuing to hold on. You are doing this for your child. You are doing this for yourself. It is grueling, horrific, and takes everything you have, but you have to hold on. Believe me, the fight is worth it.

Last week I found myself in a scary place. I had avoided going there for nearly nine months. It wasn’t that this place was dangerous. I had avoided this place because I knew that going there would unearth carefully buried memories of when I had hyperemesis gravidarum.

As I walked into my ob’s office, I noticed the worn leather couch. When I was four months along, I shed overwhelming tears, leaning on my mother’s shoulder for support. I was miserable, scared, and far past the embarrassment one feels at showing such vulnerability in public.

As the receptionist asked for my insurance card, I recalled her annoyed voice on the phone when I called to speak with a nurse. I don’t know why I never see her smile, but she always conveyed her ‘suck it up, it’s just nausea’ voice on the phone.

As I was led into the examination room, I reminded myself to breathe. This is where I had a seizure when I was about seven months along. It’s was where I begged for options, for medicine that would make a difference, and where my on told me that some women choose to end their pregnancies because hyperemesis gravidarum is just that rough.

I’m glad I faced these memories, but it was not easy. And I know that what you are facing right now, my sisters in suffering, is not easy either. There is truly nothing I can do to make it better. I can tell you, however, having survived this terrible disease, that it will be okay. You can do this. It is not easy. It is not fun. It is a rotten, miserable existence. But you are not alone. And, thank the Lord, this will not last.

So right now, no matter how difficult the journey, no matter how demoralizing the reactions from those who cannot understand– keep going. Hold on. If you are like me, you can’t feel it, so just know it: the suffering is worth it. Why?

I posted a picture of my reason why below.

20121016-210725.jpg

Cover of "Bad Hair Day (All Aboard Readin...

Cover of Bad Hair Day (All Aboard Reading)

I have a confession: this is the second day in a row that I haven’t brushed my hair. Am I embarrassed? Maybe a little. But my life as an equation = newborn, + full-time job + housework. Added up, and I find a deficit of time to take care of things.

As I thought about my hair, pulled together atop my head in what my wishful thinking brain hopes is a sophisticated, bohemian-type bun, I recalled this time last year, when I was suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. I had just started experiencing vaso-vagal episodes (fainting), carpal and tarsal tunnel, and the never-ending excess saliva induced vomiting sessions. My life was miserable.

Sure, I had hope. I understood that the hyperemesis gravidarum would eventually go away. I could feel my child’s little kicks and smile at the thought of holding him in my arms. But when you’re a dehydrated, medicated, vomiting mess, it’s hard to be happy. I had no choice but to stop caring about my hair, clothes, and housework. What was important was to find a way to get through each day so that I could deliver a healthy child.

If you’re at this point, I want you to know that you’re not alone. Many women understand how you feel. How do you deal? Grit your teeth, dig your feet in, and hold on. Push away the worry over your hair, the yoga pants you’ve been wearing since last week, and the spit bucket near your bed. It’s not easy to let go but you’re struggling with a serious medical condition. Think about what’s truly important, dear hg mama, and focus on that. You’ll have plenty of time to worry about your hair after the baby is born. Maybe.