Posts Tagged ‘Family’

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.

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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.

Patriotic Comic

Got your attention, didn’t it? I stumbled upon this comic on Pinterest this evening. What a poignant and meaningful depiction of the sacrifices our soldiers have made for our freedom.

While you’re not in a military conflict, you are sacrificing yourself each day you carry a child in your belly. How much is this costing you? I know many women who have lost their jobs as a result of having hg. I know even more women who have suffered strained relationships with their significant others and family members, too. The effects of hg are not limited to the physical and mental. They reach out like tentacles, grasping even the miniscule in our lives.

When I had this condition, I often asked myself “is this worth it?” Is the all of the physical pain, the mental anguish, the strained relationships, the job that asked me to work while I was on short-term disability… is it worth it? As a first-time mother I couldn’t comprehend the joy having a child would bring. I simply knew that I was miserable, that I felt like I was dying, and that there was nothing in the world that could take the illness away except giving birth.

The price my husband and I paid for our child was high. Was it worth it? Definitely. Would I do it all over again to have my child? Without hesitation. That doesn’t mean that being pregnant with hg wasn’t the most difficult, and miserable experience of my life. It just means that enduring months of misery was worth the joy of having my child.

Reading my words won’t make it better. There is nothing I can say to take away the nausea, hypersalivation, or dehydration. But I can encourage you. When you’re in pain, when you’re miserable, when you’re counting the cost… know that your child is worth all of the suffering (and more). You may not feel it now, you may  not see it now. But that is the truth, and the moment you hold your child in your arms is the moment that you’ll know: it is worth the cost.

Weight Loss Progress

Weight Loss Progress (Photo credit: Lexinatrix)

It could be worse. That’s what people say. Sure, you’re experiencing unrelenting nausea that’s more painful than food poisoning and the stomach flu combined. Sure, you can’t drink any liquids or eat any food without having it come back up. But hey, you could have leprosy, or shingles, or even cancer, right? Yes, it could be worse. But for some reason, knowing that things could be worse doesn’t always help us feel better, does it?

When you hear that, and you will hear it often, it’s okay to bristle inside. One of the most hurtful things I heard when I had hg was how great it would be after I had the baby because I wouldn’t have to worry about losing weight. No matter that I was losing two to five pounds a week, was terrified that my baby wasn’t getting nourished and felt that I was going to die– I should be happy because I was losing weight and hey, it could be worse!

Here’s what to do when you hear that phrase: allow yourself to feel upset for a moment or two. Then, do the best you can to turn your energy in another direction. Stressing about how people don’t understand what you’re going through won’t affect anyone but yourself. Give a tiny nod of acknowledgment toward the person who said “it could be worse, at least you don’t have (fill in the blank)” because s/he is probably trying to make you feel better. And then move on. Dwelling on things like this won’t help you feel better.

P.S. What things are the people in your life saying to encourage you? Share how you feel by posting a comment below.

 

Tough Mudder PA #1

Tough Mudder PA #1 (Photo credit: The 621st Contingency Response Wing)

Maybe you’ve always wanted a child. Maybe this is an unplanned pregnancy. Maybe you FINALLY conceived. Whatever the reason, you’re expecting and it’s not going the way you’d hoped.

It’s okay to say that pregnancy stinks. There’s no sugar coating this. You’re in for a grueling fight. The next months, weeks, or days are not going to be easy. You will vomit. You will feel nauseated. You will struggle to stay hydrated.

It will be rough.

Yet there is hope. This will not last forever, and when it’s over it will be over. And you will have a lovely child–and a huge meal.

So for now, embrace the suck. And keep that little bit of hope in  your mind. It’ll keep you going.