Saturday, 25 May 2013

HOPE - Sophie's Hyperemesis Gravidarum Story

HOPE - Helping Others and Promoting Education - This is Sophie's story -

Before I was pregnant I thought I would go on shopping trips with my mum and sister, choosing cute baby clothes. However I couldn't even force my weak body to walk round the block let alone get in a car to look around shops. The reality was I had mainly second hand clothes that kind friends donated and a few bits people bought me new as congratulations gifts, because if I moved I felt sick. Before I was pregnant I thought I would enjoy decorating a new nursery but I couldn't move off the bed let alone open a tin of paint.

Before I was pregnant I thought I would work until I was 36 weeks pregnant to get as much time as possible with my baby. However, I had 4 months off work on sick leave and then went back part time and started maternity leave at 30 weeks because I could not manage nursing my patients any longer. I love my nursing job but I couldn't really care attentively or as patients deserved whilst I was pregnant with hg. I would have had longer off on sick leave but my manager was being a pain about the amount of time I'd already had off. I thought my work colleagues would support me through hg (being doctors and nurses) but how wrong I was! They just didn’t understand the extent of my symptoms and I got the impression they thought I was a drama queen!

Before I was pregnant I thought I would be so relaxed and ‘blooming’ going for coffee (decaf obviously lol!), enjoying spa days and reading my pregnancy magazines. I thought I would enjoy spending time with my other half eating out ‘for two’ and not having a hangover the next day. The reality was that I couldn't stand even the smell of coffee and I couldn't stand pregnancy magazines that made me jealous and envious of people who had lovely happy pregnancies. I didn't worry about not being able to eat brie or pate or homemade mayo because I couldn't even eat a slice of dry bread without throwing up! My other half couldn’t cook in the house because the mere smell of food would result in a vomiting episode and the oven was out of bounds because I couldn’t stand the smell when it was turned on. My other half had to come home from work on his break to check I hadn’t passed out from dehydration. I spent (more like wasted!) my wages on acupuncture sessions and ginger capsules that didn’t work at all.

Before I was pregnant I thought if my other half proposed at some point in our relationship it would be in a romantic setting and I would be overcome with happy emotions. I knew it was on the cards as we had been together for 5 years already. My other half did propose but it was in the harvester car park (less than 5 minutes down the road from our house) because he couldn't get me to go anywhere else!!! Even that was a struggle and when we got inside I had to come out to sit in the car as soon as our food was served because I felt so sick. My other half had cancelled a weekend break to St Ives in a 4-star hotel in exchange for a car park! He had no choice but to propose then as he had bought the ring 3 weeks before and the size could only be changed within 4 weeks so time was running out! I said yes followed by hurling my stomach lining out the car door and crying that I needed him to take me home so I could lie down.

Before I got pregnant I thought I could spend my spare time having fun days out with my other half and my son, Thomas (he just turned 2 years when HG started). HG had other ideas; in fact my HG pregnancy tested my relationship with my partner to the max and it made me feel like I was neglecting my son and as though I couldn't care for him properly. I actually consider myself lucky that my other half and my mother were so supportive during this time to care for Thomas between them as I know there are many people who don’t have help with their other children and have to get on with things as best they can. My sister came over to wash my hair and give me a bath as I could go days on end without washing because moving around during the worst of the HG (between 6 weeks and 23 weeks) was pretty much unbearable most of the day.

Before I was pregnant I thought my true friends who would support me best and be there for me whenever I needed them were the ones I had the longest – I still think this but I now understand that the majority of the population are so uneducated about HG even my best friends. When I had HG it made me question my friendships because I felt like no one remotely understood or tried to genuinely help or even think about what they were saying to me, even my other pregnant friends. I felt like my friends felt sorry for me, expected me to get on with life as it was before pregnant (pretty much impossible for a woman with HG – fact!) and generally thought I was over-reacting. This response from my friends made me wish they would experience a day in the life of me with HG so they could get a taste of what I was really going through! This may come across as cruel but I couldn’t make people understand and I was too tired of trying because I felt so ill so I only had my thoughts going round and round my head whilst I led in bed. I never wished them to actually have HG, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy!

Before I was pregnant I though the NHS was brilliant for the service it provides to pregnant ladies and I had faith in midwives, doctors and the other healthcare professionals. I had such a positive experience with my first born but no HG at all –I could hardly believe how two pregnancies could be so different and how I could be treated so differently. Having HG with my second born (Lydia) made me doubt most things about the NHS system and the so-called healthcare professionals who work in it. These are strong words coming from me as I am a Registered Staff Nurse and I know how difficult it can be working in a hospital for many reasons!


My GP would not prescribe anti-emetics (anti-sickness medication) because he said ‘they are not licensed for prescription during pregnancy’. I then got so dehydrated I was admitted to hospital for IV fluids and IV anti-emetics. The majority of the midwives on the ward I was placed were unattentive and made it clear they were frustrated (the way I which they spoke to me) that I kept calling them to give me medication (despite that being the reason for me being there!) until eventually they kept taking a long period to answer my call bell (effectively ignoring me!). The consultant discharged me with oral ondansetron, metoclopramide and prochlorperazine maleate (stemetil). When the meds ran out I requested a repeat prescription from my GP who came back with the same excuse that these meds were not licensed in pregnancy and he was not prepared to prescribe them. I saw another GP at the practice who also refused me repeat meds and told me to try ginger (ahhhhh!). I then went home defeatist and ended up readmitted into hospital for IV fluids and anti-emetics. The consultant called the GP with some stern words and I eventually got my meds. This was not the end because my GP called me back to lecture me; he told me I had embarrassed his clinical knowledge! I didn’t give a **** what he was saying by this point and I’m being polite because this is a public blog!

All in all the reality of my pregnancy was that I had Hyperemesis and it was bad. I felt worried throughout the pregnancy that my baby would be affected negatively in some way. I was taking a concoction of anti-sickness medications, I was dehydrated and I couldn’t stomach my prenatal essential vitamins.

I felt abandoned by the medical profession that I though I could rely on and by my closest friends. I felt scared that no one would help me and that I only had a pregnancy support group to guide me. You were all amazing and I doubt I could have got through it without you all but the whole experience left me isolated and frightened.

I considered terminating my pregnancy at various times throughout and I resented my baby for the horrendous way I felt thinking I would not bond well with her. This now leaves me feeling guilty when I look at my healthy, beautiful baby girl. It turned out that I did bond well with her, even better than my first born. Luckily for me HG didn’t affect how much my baby means to me; I don’t love her any less, my love for her is immense and she is all the more precious because of what I went through to have her. Days of nausea and vomiting, days of lying in bed or on my sofa with my thoughts or willing, begging for the sickness to go away – each day a step closer to being with my daughter.

2012 was what I would describe as the worst year of my life; some parts are a blurry haze and some parts are as clear as two hours ago. Unfortunately, most of the good parts are hazy and the horrid HG parts still seem somewhat clear as day. I still have psychological effects left from having HG (as I think most sufferers do individually to them and their experience). I still gag when I brush my teeth, the thought of being sick has turned into a phobia and I now have a dislike for the warm weather/summer months because it brings back fresh memories and opens still raw wounds of what I went through last year. I wanted a big family and I know I am lucky I have two children but I can never bring myself to go through pregnancy again……ever.

It was really challenging to write this post because it made me feel very nauseous and my stomach is still churning. However, it has also been really empowering and a bit of the weight has been lifted emotionally. It has helped me to express myself and say things that have needed to be said aloud for what I feel has been inside of me for a long time.

Before I was pregnant, I never knew HG existed. I was as uneducated as the rest of the population!

I’ve come to realise the importance of raising awareness of HG and hope to raise some money for the charity that is so greatly needed for research into HG and to make people aware how serious this condition is.


If you have a story you would like to share; that could help others please do get in touch. I welcome any subject and if required I am happy to post anonymous. 

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