Celebrating Life as a Hyperemesis Gravidarum Survivor!

HG Awareness Day

Happy Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day!  Okay, if you are new here you may be scratching your head a bit so let me start at the beginning.  There are really no words to explain what HG is but here is the best way I have found courtesy of the HER Foundation

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

HG is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening pregnancy disease marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and/or vomiting with potential adverse consequences for the newborn(s).

HER FOUNDATION – Hyperemesis Education and Research

I was diagnosed with HG with my pregnancy with my daughter and the effects of this condition long outlast the 9 months of pregnancy.  HG is a horrible condition that takes away lives before they even have a chance to begin and before modern medicine many mothers lost their own lives because of it.  It tears families apart because of the emotional toll it takes on caregivers and causes thousands of babies to be born premature from serious complications.  Back in December most of the world learned about HG for the first time from the announcement that Duchess Kate Middleton’s was expecting but that she had already been hospitalized for HG and it was rumored that she was not even 12 weeks along.  In comparison with my daughter, by 9 weeks I had already been to the doctor 5 times to receive IV fluid treatments and had already lost 14 pounds.  By 12 weeks I had lost almost 30 pounds. Despite most of the media labeling her as having “severe morning sickness” let me make it VERY clear that Hyperemesis Gravidarum is NOT morning sickness!

It has been 654 days from the day I gave birth to my little girl and I still have bad days but I am so happy to say that I finally feel like over the past year there are actually days were I can go without thinking about it the horrible things I went through.  As an HG survivor I have learned to celebrate life from a different perspective.  I try to take advantage of the time I have with my kids and thank God every second that I can that I have two very healthy children.  I still have bad days like when stranger comes up to me and says “Aww she is so cute!  Don’t you just want another one??”  The answer is “HECK NO!”  Don’t worry I’m usually very polite and simply say “We are very happy as a family of four!” but how do you explain to a complete stranger that at 25 you were ready to tie your tubes for good and you still are?  Any time anyone mentions more children , I see a newborn baby or talk to other mommies who are currently suffering through an HG pregnancy,  I get torn up emotionally.  But here is the thing, as an HG survivor we are a very tight-knit community and we are there for each other no matter what.  There are dozens of women I have never met and will probably never meet but they are the other family that kept me going through my pregnancy and as hard as it is some days I know that I have to be there for the other girls going through the same thing.  So to celebrate HG Awareness Day I want to share with you my story.  I finally wrote it last year for the first annual HG Awareness Day and after reading it again I’m a mess and crying like crazy, but I’m looking at my daughter’s door to her room as she is quietly sleeping and I count my blessings that she is here with us and we both made it to the end.  Please take time to read my story and pass it along to anyone who is willing to listen.  We need to educate the world about what HG really is!

Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011

It has been 42 weeks and 1 day since my suffering with this debilitating disease came to an end with the amazing birth of my baby girl.  Its been 295 days and I still have flashbacks.  I still have nightmares.  I still blame myself.  I still would never wish this disease on my worst enemy.  Jeremy and I waited so long before we felt like we were ready to have another baby.  My pregnancy with Jake was hard for many reasons which is a story for another day.  I wanted to have another baby so bad.  I bugged Jeremy for years…yes I’m serious…years to have another baby.  I was only a couple of days late in December when I finally gave in and bought a pregnancy test.  I told myself I wouldn’t take a test unless I was  a significant number of days late because I knew it would take some time.  After all my OB had just reminded me that I only had a 40% chance of getting pregnant in the first 6 months.  I waited until after I put Jake to bed while Jeremy was at work to take it.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was positive.  I took another one because I refused to think that we actually were able to get pregnant that fast.  I told Jeremy that night and I cried.  I was so excited but I was so scared.  I wanted this time to be different.  I had dreamed of how different this pregnancy would be.  I wanted to be able to show off my growing belly and wear cute maternity clothes and be that “glowing” mommy-to-be.  I knew this time would be different!

 I could hardly wait but we decided to hold off until Christmas morning to tell our family.  Within a couple of days of taking the test I knew that it was real when the nausea started.  Just a bit here and there but nothing big.  The next week my parents took Jake to Disney World as part of his Christmas present and I was so excited to be able to have a quiet week to myself.  A couple of days before they left things started getting worse and I was getting sick quite a bit.  I kept telling myself it is all part of being pregnant!  Be happy!  The night Jake left I could hardly keep it down when my parents came to pick him up.  After they left I went to the drug store and picked up all the natural anti-nausea remedies I could find.  I bought Sea Bands and ginger gum and ate crackers and ginger ale.  It didn’t work.  After a couple of days of not being able to keep anything down I called my OB and they wanted me to come in to check me out.  My best friend had stopped by the house and I knew there was no hiding anything from her anymore so I shared with her our amazing news and she took me to the doctor since I was already too weak to drive.  That afternoon they gave me some drugs to calm down the nausea and some IV fluids to keep my hydrated.  I felt so much better when we left, but that was short-lived.
Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011 The next couple of days I didn’t move off of the couch.  Jeremy left for work and came home and I never moved.  I watched Law and Order and old seasons of Bones on Netflix.  The only time I moved was to rush myself to the bathroom.  I couldn’t eat or drink anything that I did came right back up.  By the time Jake came home Jeremy and I told him that I had a bad stomach bug and I wasn’t feeling well.  We tried to tell my family the same thing on Christmas Eve while I barely made it through church service.  I think the only reason they bought it was because my grandfather actually did have a stomach bug at the same time too.  Christmas morning came around and I was excited to tell everyone but more excited that I didn’t have to hide being so sick anymore.  Jake wore his new big brother shirt proudly  as I proudly hugged the toilet most of the day.  The days and weeks that followed became a blur.  It was a fight to make it through each day.  In January I had my first official appointment as a mommy-to-be but by that point I had already visited the doctor’s office 5 times for IV fluids.  It became a joke what my pre pregnancy weight really was since by my first official appointment I had already lost 14 lbs.  Yes 14 lbs in a month.  I was 9 weeks pregnant at my first appointment.
That first ultrasound made me feel like a million bucks.  There was my baby!  I could do this!  At this point I was getting sick over 25 times a day.  We called a good day one where I only got sick between 16-18 times a day.  That ultrasound gave me hope.  The next couple weeks I basically made an appointment every three days to go back to the office for IV fluids.  If I needed them sooner all I had to do was call.  Somewhere between my 9 week and my 12 week appointment I was officially diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I can’t even remember when because again most of these days to me were a blur.  I’ve heard of many other women who have suffered also have a hard time remembering details of their pregnancy.  I’ve been told it is our body’s way of trying to help us mentally heal.
Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011

I do remember one afternoon I ran into one of my neighbors at the store and she proclaimed that “I looked amazing!”  I wanted to scream!  After I kindly explained to her that I was almost three months pregnant and my weight loss was from a horrible condition I was suffering from her only words to me….”Have you tried saltines and ginger ale?”  ARE YOU KIDDING ME??  Yes I tried that months ago and I’ve tried everything else in the mean time.  My doctors are prescribing me heavy duty drugs and they can’t even help….so no, thank you but saltines do not work.  Do you think I want to be starving myself?  Do you think that I feel good about the fact I am passing on NO nutrition to my unborn child?  My favorite was when people told me, “they knew what I was going through.”  Again, have you lost your mind?  Until you have been where I have you will never understand.

Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011

By my 12 week appointment I was down another 15 lbs bringing my weight loss to almost 30 lbs in a little over two months.  The doctors were going back and forth and having me try new drugs to see if anything could help.  Nothing.  As I lay on the examining table my OB asked if I wanted to hear the heartbeat.  I had heard it the last time I was in for IV’s but I craved that sound.  I wanted to hear my baby.  It was like a glimmer of hope to me.  After what seemed like forever of her moving the wand across my belly there was still no sound.  I felt my own heart stop beating.  Tears began to roll down my cheeks because I knew what was wrong.  She told me that the baby was just probably sitting farther back and we were going to do a quick ultrasound to double-check.  That walk down the hallway seemed like forever.  Every thought went through my head.  My face was red and I couldn’t stop crying.  All of the nurses looked at me with sad faces.  It was like they knew what was happening.  I laid down on the table and this time I heard it.  I heard it over and over again.  My doctor reached across the table to hold my hand and I will never forget her words, “Its okay Amber the baby is okay.”  In that moment I felt the biggest relief.  I was so relieved not only that my baby was okay but minutes earlier I thought if I had lost her I didn’t think I could bring myself to get pregnant again knowing that I would probably have HG again.  HG only happens in 0.3-2% of women but usually if you have it once you will get it again.

Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011
Many dark days and weeks followed and things didn’t get better for a long time.  I was so tired and so weak walking up and down the stairs was too much for me.  I could barely take care of Jake.  He came home from school each day and picked out his own snack and I basically lay lifeless on the couch.  He would cuddle up next to me and tell me he loved me and wishes I would get better soon.  I thank God that he was as old as he was and that he could do a lot of things on his own.  I couldn’t imagine having HG with a younger child.  I remember the day I looked at myself in the mirror and it was almost like I didn’t recognize myself.  I looked pale, weak and sick.  My arms and hands had painful bruises from the IV’s and I was so sick and tired of getting IV’s that I tried to skip them for a couple extra days but I soon had searing pain in my back.  The next morning I was kindly told by the nurse putting in my IV line that the pain was from my kidneys struggling to work.  There were days where Jeremy and I fought because he couldn’t stand to see me so weak.  He would insist that I would eat something and I would refuse.  He would tell me over and over to get up and at least walk around.  I would pull the blanket up over my head because I couldn’t and I didn’t want to move.  If I stood upright I would get sick.  But if I stayed still there was a chance I could keep something down.  Those months were the hardest.  There were more hospital and office visits for IV’s then I could ever count.  I still have a hard time remembering most of those days and that is fine with me because I wish I never had to remember them.

Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011

My about six months I felt like things were starting to get better.  I was actually able to keep down food on occasions and I learned my triggers.  Between 7 and 8 months I was actually able to gain some of my weight back.  Everything was going fine until I went for my 36 week check up.  I mentioned casually that sometimes when I was sitting down it felt like my heart racing but I had become concerned when in the last 24 hours I had started to lose my vision during these spells.  I figured my elevated heart rate was just part of the later stages of pregnancy, I mean it had been 7 years since I was pregnant so I did forget a lot of things.  My doctor didn’t take my spells very casually though and sent me to a cardiologist.  So after a whole bunch of tests I found out that my uterus had become so large that it was pushing up on my heart and twisting it backwards.  Again its very rare in pregnancy but it looks like lucky me had one more thing to worry about!  They put me on beta blockers and I had to constantly monitor my heart rate.  I felt like an old person but it worked!  My heart calmed down and I thought I was in the clear.  Until a week later the spells were back and I was told that we needed to up my dosage.  Again my spells disappeared but within a couple of days they were back again.  I was in the final weeks of pregnancy where you grow fairly quickly.  The only cure for my spells was to deliver.  So after my cardiologist and my OB agreed I was scheduled for induction.  The idea scared me but I was 38 weeks.  I didn’t want to take any more drugs that could hurt my baby.  I couldn’t do it.  I was so physically and emotionally drained I just couldn’t take it anymore.  The idea of being able to deliver and get rid of my HG, my tachycardia and being able to hold my baby all at once still felt so far away.

Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011

At 38 weeks Miss Emma Grace was born weighing 6lbs 8oz receiving a 1 minute APGAR score of 9 out of 10 I couldn’t be prouder.  After suffering for so long I had convinced myself that when she was born there was going to be something wrong.  Something that the doctors didn’t see before.  I had nightmares constantly that the toll HG took on my body would affect her.  But it didn’t.  She came out perfect.  Ten fingers.  Ten toes.  Two dimples and a set of beautiful blue eyes like her big brother.  As soon as she was born Jeremy asked if I was hungry and I screamed yes!  I felt like I could eat a house.  So before I was even moved out of the labor and delivery room he was back at my side with a Bojangles Supreme Dinner (it is a southern thing!) and I ate every last piece of it.  It was like everyone said.  Within no time at all the nausea was gone.  I was eating again.  I was drinking again.  I felt like a person again.  It was the most amazing feeling.  Don’t get me wrong it was the most amazing day of my life because my daughter was born but it also marked the day that I overcame what I thought was impossible.

Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011

So, like I said its been 42 weeks since I became a HG survivor and I still have trouble coming to terms with the long-term effects it has had on me.  I know some women who never made it very far and ended their suffering by their own choice.  I am thankful that I never went to that dark of a place during my suffering but I know many women who did.  I know women who were diagnosed with PTSD because they couldn’t overcome the disease even after delivery.  I know many women who had a such a severe case of HG in their first pregnancy and didn’t have the courage to try again.  But I also know women who have suffered through this horrible disease several times because once it is over you really do realize it is all worth it.  It was the most horrible darkest days of my life but looking at my beautiful baby, it does make it all worth it.  Would I do it again?  God blessed me with two children and I think that our family is complete, so I am thankful that I never really had to consider it.  Do I still get flashbacks when I see someone get sick OH YEAH!  Do I still get feelings of jealousy and hate when I see a happy pregnant woman?  You bet!  They are things that I’m not proud of but I’m proud of how far I’ve come.  I’m proud that I am a survivor.  I am proud that I am MOMMY STRONG!

Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns copyright 2011

If you know someone who is showing symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum let them know they are not alone.  The best thing to do is educate yourself on the disease, be supportive and find a health care provider who is familiar with as well as supportive of patients with HG.  Visit the HER FOUNDATION for Hyperemesis Education and Research where there are links for mothers as well as family and friends.  If you are an expectant mother and think you may have HG be proactive!  There are other women out there who have been in your shoes and we are a strong community who reach out to everyone we can.  BabyCenter.com has a wonderful community forum for you to meet and interact with other women who are suffering or are survivors of HG.  My journey was long and difficult but the one thing that kept me going was knowing that there would joy at the end.  The joy of being a mom again.  The joy of knowing I can get though anything.  If you are suffering or know someone who is drop me an email.  I’m here to help and there are hundreds of other women who are out there to help too!

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Hyperemesis Gravidarum is NOT morning sickness!

I’m sure by now as long as you have not been living under a rock you have probably heard that Duchess Kate Middleton is expecting!  I get so excited at the news of a sweet new baby coming into this world.  The idea that two people can create a new life is nothing short of a miracle and a true blessing.

KateMiddleton

On a heartbreaking and more serious note the Duchess unfortunately has been hospitalized and  diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  It is an illness that most of the world knows nothing about.  The HER Foundation for Hyperemesis research and education defines HG as a debilitating and potentially life-threatening pregnancy disease marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and/or vomiting with potential adverse consequences for the newborn(s).  For those of you who are new readers and may not know, I survived HG with my daughter.  Earlier this year 42 weeks after I gave birth I finally gathered the courage to write my story which I would love for you to read here if you can.

It has now been 1 year, 4 months and 4 days since I met my daughter for the first time.  492 days since I was freed from my HG nightmare and not a day goes by that I don’t think about it.  Everything triggers flashbacks.  Sometimes it may be a hint of a smell in the air or I drive by the road that I had to stop on more than once because I couldn’t make it home without getting sick.  HG started for me right before Christmas so even sitting on my couch looking at my tree reminds me of the days and hours on end I didn’t move because I was so sick.  I think back to how much I missed out in my son’s life while I was pregnant.  I fought like hell to bring my little girl into this world.  Every day I was pregnant I constantly feared I would loose her or that she would suffer because of what was happening to me.  So to hear someone belittle or call HG “morning sickness” infuriates me.

Last night as I tried to get some work done I found myself in front of the TV until the wee hours of the morning listening to every late night gossip and talk show discuss how the Duchess has been feeling “ill” or “simply can’t keep down food or water.”  Then in the same breath goes on to criticize her for playing field hockey with some small children days earlier in high heels.  *Gasp* Or “Because of her condition she is more likely to have twins!”

Let me explain something to you.  Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a disease that for most women will last their entire pregnancy.  Some women become sick even before getting a positive pregnancy test and end up being hospitalized before they even have the chance to tell their family.  There are reports that Kate is not even 12 weeks along.  By 9 weeks I had already been to the doctor 5 times to receive IV fluid treatments and had already lost 14 pounds.  By 12 weeks I had lost almost 30 pounds. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is NOT morning sickness.

What the TV shows and ill-informed news broadcasts aren’t telling you is that HG is a potentially LIFE THREATENING disease.  There are women who have died because they did not receive the proper treatment.  There are women who fought through rounds and rounds of infertility drugs and finally became pregnant with their miracle baby only to be diagnosed with HG and weeks later find out that their little miracle didn’t make it.  I have heard first hand stories from women who never believed in abortion but had to make one of the toughest decisions of their life because they had to make a choice between their life and the life of their unborn child.  I know women whose husbands walked out on them because fighting the disease was just too much.  I know women who lost their jobs, their houses, they lost everything because of the financial burdens HG brings.

My heart aches for the Kate and William as the next six months are going to be the hardest months of their lives.  It has always been a firm belief of mine that God never gives you more than you can handle and everything happens for a reason.  I hate that the royal couple are going through this but at the same time I see the glimmer of hope that possibly the world will become more educated about HG.  I prayed for the longest time last night laying in bed because I couldn’t sleep.  I had so many thoughts running through my head.  I always try my best to keep my blog full of inspiration and joy but today I had to share this with you.  So today I BEG of you, please pass along either my story or the stories of other strong HG survivors to anyone who is willing to listen.  Please help to educate our world so that no one else has to suffer through this horrific disease by themselves.  If you have time I would love for you to visit the HER FOUNDATION for Hyperemesis Education and Research where there are links for mothers as well as family and friends and please check out a couple of the blogs I follow written by HG survivors!  To all of my sister survivors I would love for you to share your stories with us.  Feel free to email me at amber@jroxdesigns.com and I would love to add a link for you below!

HG Survivor

Rachel shares not only her personal HG stories while trying to educate the world about HG but also offers wonderful words of encouragement to women who are suffering so that they too can become survivors!

Knocked Up – Knocked Over

A Mom of two beautiful girls and two-time survivor of HG shares her journeys though motherhood while also sharing wonderful advice on green living, natural birth, breastfeeding and more!

Prisoner In My Own Body

Mimi is currently battling her second HG pregnancy while raising her sweet toddler Annelise (who is only a couple of days older than Emma Grace!)

The Leaky Boob

A must read as the hilarious and emotionally touching truth behind HG’s newly found publicity from a HG Survivor who battled HG SIX times!

Media Coverage

Katie Couric

An interview with HER Foundation Co-Founder Anne Marie King!

Inside Edition

Interveiw with Mimi from Prisoner In My Own Body

NY Daily News

Mimi does it again!  She wrote a sweet open letter to Duchess Kate on her blog that was then published by the NY Daily News!

jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2012

HG Survivors – We call ourselves Mommy Strong because there is nothing we wouldn’t do for our children.

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Hyperemesis Gravidarum – When is it more than just morning sickness?


When is it more than just morning sickness?

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

HG is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening pregnancy disease marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and/or vomiting with potential adverse consequences for the newborn(s).

HER FOUNDATION – Hyperemesis Education and Research

It is hard to put HG into words but this is the best explanation I have found.  This week along with HG survivors world wide we all celebrated the first annual HG World Awareness Day.  The date had sat on my calendar for weeks.  I just keep staring at it knowing that I need to do something.  I want to share my story.  I want to get out there and help other women who are suffering but for now this is the best I can do.  I am going to share my story with you.  It has been 42 weeks and 1 day since my suffering with this debilitating disease came to an end with the amazing birth of my baby girl.  Its been 295 days and I still have flashbacks.  I still have nightmares.  I still blame myself.  I still would never wish this disease on my worst enemy.
Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011
Jeremy and I waited so long before we felt like we were ready to have another baby.  My pregnancy with Jake was hard for many reasons which is a story for another day.  I wanted to have another baby so bad.  I bugged Jeremy for years…yes I’m serious…years to have another baby.  I was only a couple of days late in December when I finally gave in and bought a pregnancy test.  I told myself I wouldn’t take a test unless I was  a significant number of days late because I knew it would take some time.  After all my OB had just reminded me that I only had a 40% chance of getting pregnant in the first 6 months.  I waited until after I put Jake to bed while Jeremy was at work to take it.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was positive.  I took another one because I refused to think that we actually were able to get pregnant that fast.  I told Jeremy that night and I cried.  I was so excited but I was so scared.  I wanted this time to be different.  I had dreamed of how different this pregnancy would be.  I wanted to be able to show off my growing belly and wear cute maternity clothes and be that “glowing” mommy-to-be.  I knew this time would be different!
I could hardly wait but we decided to hold off until Christmas morning to tell our family.  Within a couple days of taking the test I knew that it was real when the nausea started.  Just a little bit here and there nothing big.  The next week my parents took Jake to Disney World as part of his Christmas present and I was so excited to be able to have a quiet week to myself.  A couple days before they left things started getting worse and I was getting sick quite a bit.  I kept telling myself it is all part of being pregnant!  Be happy!  The night Jake left I could hardly keep it down when my parents came to pick him up.  After they left I went to the drug store and picked up all the natural anti-nausea remedies I could find.  I bought Sea Bands and ginger gum and ate crackers and ginger ale.  It didn’t work.  After a couple days of not being able to keep anything down I called my OB and they wanted me to come in to check me out.  My best friend had stopped by the house and I knew there was no hiding anything from her anymore so I shared with her our amazing news and she took me to the doctor since I was already too weak to drive.  That afternoon they gave me some drugs to calm down the nausea and some IV fluids to keep my hydrated.  I felt so much better when we left, but that was short lived.
Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011
The next couple of days I didn’t move off of the couch.  Jeremy left for work and came home and I never moved.  I watched Law and Order and old seasons of Bones on Netflix.  The only time I moved was to rush myself to the bathroom.  I couldn’t eat or drink anything that I did came right back up.  By the time Jake came home Jeremy and I told him that I had a bad stomach bug and I wasn’t feeling well.  We tried to tell my family the same thing on Christmas Eve while I barely made it through church.  I think the only reason they bought it was because my grandfather actually did have a stomach bug at the same time too.  Christmas morning came around and I was excited to tell everyone but more excited that I didn’t have to hide being so sick anymore.  Jake wore his new big brother shirt proudly  as I proudly hugged the toilet most of the day.  The days and weeks that followed became a blur.  It was a fight to make it through each day.  In January I had my first official appointment as a mommy-to-be but by that point I had already visited the doctors office 5 times for IV fluids.  It became a joke what my pre pregnancy weight really was since by my first official appointment I had already lost 14 lbs.  Yes 14 lbs in a month.  I was 9 weeks pregnant at my first appointment.
That first ultrasound made me feel like a million bucks.  There was my baby!  I could do this!  At this point I was getting sick over 25 times a day.  We called a good day one where I only got sick between 16-18 times a day.  That ultrasound gave me hope.  The next couple weeks I basically made an appointment every three days to go back to the office for IV fluids.  If I needed them sooner all I had to do was call.  Somewhere between my 9 week and my 12 week appointment I was officially diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I can’t even remember when because again most of these days to me were a blur.  I’ve heard of many other women who have suffered also have a hard time remembering details of their pregnancy.  I’ve been told it is our body’s way of trying to help us mentally heal.
Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011
I do remember one afternoon I ran into one of my neighbors at the store and she proclaimed that “I looked amazing!”  I wanted to scream!  After I kindly explained to her that I was almost three months pregnant and my weight loss was from a horrible condition I was suffering from her only words to me….”Have you tried saltines and ginger ale?”  ARE YOU KIDDING ME??  Yes I tried that months ago and I’ve tried everything else in the mean time.  My doctors are prescribing me heavy duty drugs and they can’t even help….so no, thank you but saltines do not work.  Do you think I want to be starving myself?  Do you think that I feel good about the fact I am passing on NO nutrition to my unborn child?  My favorite was when people told me, “they knew what I was going through.”  Again, have you lost your mind?  Until you have been where I have you will never understand.
Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011
By my 12 week appointment I was down another 15 lbs bringing my weight loss to almost 30 lbs in a little over two months.  The doctors were going back and forth and having me try new drugs to see if anything could help.  Nothing.  As I lay on the examining table my OB asked if I wanted to hear the heartbeat.  I had heard it the last time I was in for IV’s but I craved that sound.  I wanted to hear my baby.  It was like a glimmer of hope to me.  After what seemed like forever of her moving the wand across my belly there was still no sound.  I felt my own heart stop beating.  Tears began to roll down my cheeks because I knew what was wrong.  She told me that the baby was just probably sitting farther back and we were going to do a quick ultrasound to double-check.  That walk down the hallway seemed like forever.  Every thought went through my head.  My face was red and I couldn’t stop crying.  All of the nurses looked at me with sad faces.  It was like they knew what was happening.  I laid down on the table and this time I heard it.  I heard it over and over again.  My doctor reached across the table to hold my hand and I will never forget her words, “Its okay Amber the baby is okay.”  In that moment I felt the biggest relief.  I was so relieved not only that my baby was okay but minutes earlier I thought if I had lost her I didn’t think I could bring myself to get pregnant again knowing that I would probably have HG again.  HG only happens in 0.3-2% of women but usually if you have it once you will get it again.
Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011
Many dark days and weeks followed and things didn’t get better for a long time.  I was so tired and so weak walking up and down the stairs was too much for me.  I could barely take care of Jake.  He came home from school each day and picked out his own snack and I basically lay lifeless on the couch.  He would cuddle up next to me and tell me he loved me and wishes I would get better soon.  I thank God that he was as old as he was and that he could do a lot of things on his own.  I couldn’t imagine having HG with a younger child.  I remember the day I looked at myself in the mirror and it was almost like I didn’t recognize myself.  I looked pale, weak and sick.  My arms and hands had painful bruises from the IV’s and I was so sick and tired of getting IV’s that I tried to skip them for a couple extra days but I soon had searing pain in my back.  The next morning I was kindly told by the nurse putting in my IV line that the pain was from my kidneys struggling to work.  There were days where Jeremy and I fought because he couldn’t stand to see me so weak.  He would insist that I would eat something and I would refuse.  He would tell me over and over to get up and at least walk around.  I would pull the blanket up over my head because I couldn’t and I didn’t want to move.  If I stood upright I would get sick.  But if I stayed still there was a chance I could keep something down.  Those months were the hardest.  There were more hospital and office visits for IV’s then I could ever count.  I still have a hard time remembering most of those days and that is fine with me because I wish I never had to remember them.
Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011
My about six months I felt like things were starting to get better.  I was actually able to keep down food on occasions and I learned my triggers.  Between 7 and 8 months I was actually able to gain some of my weight back.  Everything was going fine until I went for my 36 week check up.  I mentioned casually that sometimes when I was sitting down it felt like my heart racing but I had become concerned when in the last 24 hours I had started to lose my vision during these spells.  I figured my elevated heart rate was just part of the later stages of pregnancy, I mean it had been 7 years since I was pregnant so I did forget a lot of things.  My doctor didn’t take my spells very casually though and sent me to a cardiologist.  So after a whole bunch of tests I found out that my uterus had become so large that it was pushing up on my heart and twisting it backwards.  Again its very rare in pregnancy but it looks like lucky me had one more thing to worry about!  They put me on beta blockers and I had to constantly monitor my heart rate.  I felt like an old person but it worked!  My heart calmed down and I thought I was in the clear.  Until a week later the spells were back and I was told that we needed to up my dosage.  Again my spells disappeared but within a couple of days they were back again.  I was in the final weeks of pregnancy where you grow fairly quickly.  The only cure for my spells was to deliver.  So after my cardiologist and my OB agreed I was scheduled for induction.  The idea scared me but I was 38 weeks.  I didn’t want to take any more drugs that could hurt my baby.  I couldn’t do it.  I was so physically and emotionally drained I just couldn’t take it anymore.  The idea of being able to deliver and get rid of my HG, my tachycardia and being able to hold my baby all at once still felt so far away.
Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011
At 38 weeks Miss Emma Grace was born weighing 6lbs 8oz receiving a 1 minute APGAR score of 9 out of 10 I couldn’t be prouder.  After suffering for so long I had convinced myself that when she was born there was going to be something wrong.  Something that the doctors didn’t see before.  I had nightmares constantly that the toll HG took on my body would affect her.  But it didn’t.  She came out perfect.  Ten fingers.  Ten toes.  Two dimples and a set of beautiful blue eyes like her big brother.  As soon as she was born Jeremy asked if I was hungry and I screamed yes!  I felt like I could eat a house.  So before I was even moved out of the labor and delivery room he was back at my side with a Bojangles Supreme Dinner (it is a southern thing!) and I ate every last piece of it.  It was like everyone said.  Within no time at all the nausea was gone.  I was eating again.  I was drinking again.  I felt like a person again.  It was the most amazing feeling.  Don’t get me wrong it was the most amazing day of my life because my daughter was born but it also marked the day that I overcame what I thought was impossible.
Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns Photography copyright 2011
So, like I said its been 42 weeks since I became a HG survivor and I still have trouble coming to terms with the long-term effects it has had on me.  I know some women who never made it very far and ended their suffering by their own choice.  I am thankful that I never went to that dark of a place during my suffering but I know many women who did.  I know women who were diagnosed with PTSD because they couldn’t overcome the disease even after delivery.  I know many women who had a such a severe case of HG in their first pregnancy and didn’t have the courage to try again.  But I also know women who have suffered through this horrible disease several times because once it is over you really do realize it is all worth it.  It was the most horrible darkest days of my life but looking at my beautiful baby, it does make it all worth it.  Would I do it again?  God blessed me with two children and I think that our family is complete, so I am thankful that I never really had to consider it.  Do I still get flashbacks when I see someone get sick (thank you producers of House and Grey’s Anatomy the past two weeks!) OH YEAH!  Do I still get feelings of jealousy and hate when I see a happy pregnant woman?  You bet!  They are things that I’m not proud of but I’m proud of how far I’ve come.  I’m proud that I am a survivor.  I am proud that I am MOMMY STRONG!
Newborn Photography by jRoxDesigns copyright 2011
If you know someone who is showing symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum let them know they are not alone.  The best thing to do is educate yourself on the disease, be supportive and find a health care provider who is familiar with as well as supportive of patients with HG.  Visit the HER FOUNDATION for Hyperemesis Education and Research where there are links for mothers as well as family and friends.  If you are an expectant mother and think you may have HG be proactive!  There are other women out there who have been in your shoes and we are a strong community who reach out to everyone we can.  BabyCenter.com has a wonderful community forum for you to meet and interact with other women who are suffering or are survivors of HG.  My journey was long and difficult but the one thing that kept me going was knowing that there would joy at the end.  The joy of being a mom again.  The joy of knowing I can get though anything.  If you are suffering or know someone who is drop me an email.  I’m here to help and there are hundreds of other women who are out there to help too!