This post is written by a fellow Hyperemesis sufferer as part of the HOPE project.
What have I learnt from having Hyperemesis? Well I’ve learnt a lot and most of it is positive in a strange way. But as my ‘pregnancy song’ ‘Kelly Clarkson Stronger’ says ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’ and this is very true for me. The physical symptoms of Hyperemesis are along the same line for most women with serve nausea and vomiting, dehydration, weight loss and usually lasts past the 12 week mark, but the mental effect of Hyperemesis are different for each woman. Even though the physical effects of Hyperemesis still haunt me the mental affects have changed me for the better.
My Hyperemesis journey started at seven weeks only ten days after I found out I was expecting. To be honest I did expect some morning sickness and when it did start I thought it was normal but by the second day I knew something wasn’t right. I left work at 630am and by the time I started at 7am I was sick three times, then by 11am it was 15+ times. I felt exhausted and drained by time I finished work at 9pm, I had lost count how many times I was sick by this point, nothing I ate or drank stayed down. To me it was like having a really bad hangover when each time you move you’re sick. This was my last working day during this pregnancy.
I went to see the GP the next day where he prescribed me with an anti-sickness tablet and to rest for the next 24-48hours. he also suggested I try ginger biscuits, sea bands, dry crackers and biscuits and sipping water but none of these worked for me. Unfortunately I was unable to keep the tablets down long enough for them to work and the vomiting got worse. I would wake up vomiting; I passed out in the bathroom a few times I couldn’t move I was becoming weaker and weaker. My then husband (Mark) thought I was over-dramatic with my vomiting that if I had a fry up I’d be fine.
The vomiting was making me exhausted, it felt like my insides were shrinking and I was being beaten up all over inside and out. After 5 days of this I spoke to the midwife who was concerned that I was becoming dehydrated and asked me to get the GP to refer me to the hospital for rehydration. I arrived at the hospital and was admitted to the maternity ward as the Gynaecology ward was full. Mark left me on kick out time at 2100 hours and didn’t come back till I was discharged 40 hours later. I had a scan the next morning to see if I was pregnant and that it wasn’t multiple pregnancies. This was the first time I saw my baby and it did lift my spirits if only for a bit. It took the midwife 21 hours and lots of attempts to get a cannula into me for me to have some fluids as I was dehydrated my veins had collapsed. I only had 1,000ml of fluid in the 40 hours I was in. I was given anti-emetics (anti-sickness tablets) by injection in the leg three times a day. I was discharged with a prescription of Cyclizine 50mg three times a day.
Within 24 hours of being discharged the vomiting came back with vengeance. Every waking minute was spent being sick. Nothing I could eat or drink stayed down. A week after I was discharged I was re-admitted for rehydration. Again I was put on the maternity ward but they managed to get a cannula into me straight away and were given 4,000ml of fluid in 24 hours. I was also given regular injections of Cyclizine. Mark left me at 1900 hours. My mum came and sat with me the next day till I was discharged at 1800 hours. I didn’t see Mark till the following day when he came collected me from my mum’s. This was the last time I was admitted to hospital, yes I believe I was border line dehydrated for a while but this was also the start of my journey to becoming a stronger woman.
I spent all day everyday unable to move otherwise I would start vomiting again. I was unable to bath, wash or do teeth for many days as it would make the nausea and vomiting worse and then knock me back so personal hygiene went out the window.
I think my worse public vomiting incident was at about 16 weeks, Christmas shopping and I was in the shopping centre and I said to Mark I was going to be sick, so got one of my freezer bags that I took everywhere with me as sick bags and went to be sick but it went all up my face and down me and I just cried out of embarrassment and Mark walked off and left me standing there while people stared at me. I felt so humiliated but also felt so alone in this journey to fight Hyperemesis. Bless this one old lady who gave me a tissue and asked was I alright, did I need a doctor and was I with anyone. I said no I was on my own because, to be honest I was.
By 20 weeks the vomiting had eased of and with regular medication and lots of rest I managed to cope better and was starting to be able to eat even if it was limited foods such as curly fries, Young’s fish pies and plain pasta. I had however lost nearly 2 stones bodyweight due to the vomiting.
I was unable to lead a normal life and to be honest I didn’t what normal was anymore. A lot of people around me just thought I was pregnant and should carry on as normal. Yes I was pregnant but I was ill too as Hyperemesis is an illness. This took me a while to accept that it was an illness and not being a weak person. I lost people who I thought were friends as it appeared they didn’t respect me for who I was as a person but what I could do for them and this was my first lesson from this a true friend respects you for who you are. On the other hand I have gained many friends. Even people who I haven’t met personally but ladies who I have met through having the same condition as I had during my pregnancy and I class them as friends because they are understanding and supportive.
When I was on my own I thought a lot and I became mentally drained. I couldn’t understand how to love this thing growing inside me. How could I love something that was causing me grief, pain and made me so unhappy? In life people wouldn’t expect you to love someone who physically or mentally hurt you and this is how I felt to my unborn baby.
Hyperemesis put a massive strain on my marriage. I never understood and I still don’t know what my then Husband, Mark, felt towards Hyperemesis and what sort of strain it placed on him accept what he showed towards me and our unborn child and this was just negativity.
Due to my Hyperemesis I was signed of work sick from week seven for the whole pregnancy and this was held against me by Mark due to money as there was only one salary coming in. this made it harder for me to cope with the pregnancy as it felt that I was the only one fighting the battle of functioning every day. Yes he did help around house and doing food shopping but this wasn’t because he wanted to but had too. I still had to empty my sick bucket and clean toilet even though I really wasn’t mentally or physically strong enough to do that but somehow I managed to but its more the fact I had to.
From week 20-30 I would class my sickness nearer to morning sickness then Hyperemesis and I was able to manage more than just lying about doing nothing, like folding washing and having a shower/bath every third day rather than once a week/fortnight. By 30 weeks it came back strong but not as bad as it was week 7-20 though. By this point I was concerned when my baby arrived I would hate it, resent it because I couldn’t understand the thing that was growing inside me, making me ill was the same thing many mothers loved having inside them.
It was hard enough to deal with daily life and Hyperemesis but to deal with the death of a loved one and to support someone through that death when they weren’t supporting you in your time of need was very hard but I did manage to support Mark but the mental and physical drain again had a knock on affect to my sickness. I managed to attend the funeral to Mark’s Nan and put a brave face on to the world to support Mark but inside I was breaking too.
So at 34 weeks pregnant I was being sick three-four times a day and I can ensure you being sick when this far gone is not comfortable. At this stage and probably earlier on in pregnancy I had to sit on toilet to be sick because 90% I would wet myself at the time. This is how I spent the remainder of my pregnancy till the day I gave birth to my little girl.
I write this a year after my Hyperemesis journey has finished and even though it was a traumatic time for me mentally and physically I would do it all again for my little girl. I still a year later I find vomiting and nausea very hard to deal with as it brings back so many emotions but I look in the mirror and realise I’m stronger than that. I have become a stronger person through all this and that’s the only thing expect my daughter that I can bring out of this horrible experience. I’m now in the process of starting my life as a single mum to my little girl as the respect I was shown by Mark during Hyperemesis is something I cannot cope with in everyday life and I feel so strong that I can do this and this is thanks to Hyperemesis.
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.