Thank you to everyone that has been praying for and checking in on me since we announced our pregnancy (and before for the people that knew what we were going through). I finally have some time and energy, now that my mom is here to help with Oliver, to write a little about what we have been dealing with.
I have a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG for short) that effects approximately 2% of all pregnant women. With today being national HG awareness day, it is the perfect time to share more about what living with HG looks like.
In as simple an explanation as possible, HG turns regular pregnancy related morning sickness into all day, non-stop nausea and vomiting causing you to lose over 10% of your body weight and leading to boughs of dehydration. Most women with HG end up in the hospital multiple times during their pregnancy for fluids and other complications. My friend Melissa Anderson also suffers from HG and wrote an AMAZING article titled Hyperemesis Gravidarum Makes Pregnancy an Absolute Hell that you should all read for a raw look at what living with HG looks like.
I actually have a very mild case of HG and am constantly shocked and awed by women that suffer far worse then I do. I have been able to avoid a stomach pump that delivers chemo-grade nausea medication and have instead been able to take my meds orally or intravenously when in the hospital. I have also avoided an in-home IV that many women need to keep them alive. Currently at 16 weeks pregnant, I have been to the ER 3 times for fluids to prevent dehydration, spent 3 nights in the hospital, thrown up blood only a handful of times, and lost 21lbs. Those numbers are a trifle compared to many women that suffer from HG. They would read this and laugh about how easy my life has been!
It hasn't been a fun few months, BUT I have a healthy baby, I am alive, and I thank God daily for giving me the ability to carry a child into the world no matter the circumstances. Please know that all of the calls, meals, and free baby sitting has been such a blessing to our family!
* If you are not comfortable with gorey details, stop reading now. I am about to explain some ways to survive HG and the imagery will not be pleasant. You have been warned!
For anyone suffering from HG and wondering how to survive it, or for any woman with stronger than normal pregnancy nausea and vomiting, here are a few practical tips that you may find helpful.
1. When throwing up, sit on the floor and aim for the back of the toilet rather than for the water in the bowl. This angle will keep the vomiting from coming out your nose (my least favorite thing in the whole world).
2. Ignore everyone that says "eat saltine crackers" or "drink ginger". Find WHATEVER you can eat and stick to that. Most likely it won't be what worked for everyone else. For 3 months I ate watermelon, drank orange gatorade and that was it. Find anything that you can stomach and run with it.
3. Embrace modern medicine. I am currently taking Reglan, Diclegis, Prilosec, Tums, and supplementing with Zofran when needed. I was scared to take a lot of medicine but soon learned that without it I wouldn't be able to nourish the baby.
4. Assume the ER doctors know NOTHING about pregnant women. Twice the ER doctors tried to give me Reglan and Phenergan together despite the fact that they shouldn't be mixed during pregnancy. I had to repeatedly tell them to change the medicine order. During my last pregnancy, they gave me too much Phernergan and it caused muscle spasms. Make sure to advocate for yourself and call your OBGYN if you are unsure about the medicines they are giving you. Another time they told me I might need my gall bladder removed because it had slug in it which is a common occurrence in women that vomit continuously during pregnancy. My OBGYN laughed when I told her!
5. No matter how tough you think you are, don't go to the ER alone. Talk about one of the most difficult emotional experiences of my life.
6. Throwing up blood is very common and not a reason to run to the ER or hospital. The first time it happened to me I was freaking out and rushed to the ER. Definitely call your doctor when it happens, but don't panic. It is normal for the esophagus or stomach lining to tear from continuous throwing up.
7. Ask your doctor about acid reflux medicine immediately. This has helped me more than any nausea medicine. I didn't start Pepcid until my first hospital stay and have gradually moved up the ladder to Prilosec which has been the best (you can't start Prilosec until your 2nd trimester) for controlling my stomach acid content. Throwing up food is much more pleasent than throwing up straight buckets up stomach acid.
I hope these tips are helpful for someone and, like always, please email or comment if you have any questions! Wishing everyone healthy and complication free pregnancies.
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I am 25 years old with a 2 year old son and a wicked handsome husband living in Birmingham, Alabama.