Updated: Sep 7, 2022
How is it possible to be this sick? Upon testing positive I woke the next day feeling hit by a freight train. My stomach hurt and at first, I thought it was because of the nerves and anxiety surrounding being pregnant. But it turned out to be much more. By the time I was a week out from my positive pregnancy test I was unable to keep food down.
The sickness overtook my being and every day became a battle to keep what I had eaten down or to attempt to stay hydrated. I had no clue what was happening. I had heard about morning sickness. I had never heard of all-day, all-night sickness. I also all of the sudden smelled awful, despite showering multiple times a day. I was also incredibly triggered because after all the work I put into recovering from my long-hauler COVID issues, I was right back to how I felt after I had COVID. Nausea, weakness, and dizziness all accompanied days when I would lay in bed for hours, not wanting to move. I didn't know it was possible to be this sick. Memorial day weekend I spent two days back to back in the ER asking for them to do anything to make me feel better. My lips were chapped from being so dehydrated. Nothing stayed down and I was desperate. On the first ER visit, I got fluids and began to feel better when the doctor came in and gave me the news that no pregnant woman wants to hear. He told me that my being so ill could really harm the development of my baby, but offered no long-term medication to help the sickness because he wasn't an OBGYN. Which, was fine if it wasn't for the fact that I couldn't see an OB until I was further along. Pure clown business. truly.
The second time I went into the ER the doctor I saw was incredibly dismissive, and kind of shrugged off my sickness as a normal thing that happens in early pregnancy. I remember being so desperate that I reached out to an internet cousin for advice. She was the sweetest and sent me lollipops to suck on! God bless the community care I received from friends who would come over and check in on me. Watch movies with me, and bring me Gatorade. Thank god for my husband who was constantly smelling me and telling me I smelled fine despite the hormones making me think I smelled awful. It was the worst though to not really receive proper medical care, just a wait-to-see solution.
When I finally went and got to my OB appointment the doctor immediately prescribed me Zofran and diagnosed me with Hyperemesis in pregnancy. Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is marked by extreme vomiting and nausea that does not subside. It's usually accompanied by weight loss, which for me was 25 pounds. If you want to learn more here's a really helpful link that compares morning sickness, and hyperemesis.
Overall, this sickness can last only the first trimester or your entire pregnancy. For me, it lasted the first and second trimesters and subsided a little bit at the very end of my pregnancy. It's one of the greatest reasons why I never want to be pregnant again. It was an incredibly draining illness, especially because when all I could think about was when I may be sick, or what I needed to eat or drink to not be sick. It left no room for anything else. It also was really hard for the first weeks when I wasn't seeing my OB because it sent me spiraling thinking I was the problem. I hadn't ever heard of anyone else being this sick.
With that being said, I'd like to take the time to thank Halsey! I know they will probably never read this but their article in Allure Magazine changed my life. I was feeling so lonely, and I read that article and it changed everything for me to feel so much less alone. They described being so sick that they didn't take their prenatal!
“I took them the first two months, and then the vomiting got really bad, and I had to make a choice between taking my prenatals and throwing up or maintaining the nutrients I did manage to eat that day,” they recalls. “I was on so many medications — Diclegis and Zofran and all these anti-nausea, anti-vomiting medications. I went to my doctor, crying my eyes out, and I was like, ‘I haven’t taken my prenatals in six weeks. Is my baby okay?’ I was so angry with myself. You have one fucking job! One job! Take your prenatals! Your body’s doing everything else, you can’t even do that. I felt like such a failure.”
It was truly life-changing to hear this real account that was so closely aligned with mine. I want to say here and now that if you are feeling alone in a journey dealing with HG just know you aren't alone. It is so so hard and can feel like you and your body is failing but know you will get through it and that you are never alone. There are things that can help and here's a list of things that helped me get through it:
Water: Drinking a cup of lukewarm water every couple hours.
No Gatorade, but instead something like Liquid I.V. electrolyte packets.
Anything icy and cold
Mints that I could suck on
Watermelon and other juicy fruits
Plain and bland foods like rice, and potato.
Peanut butter sandwiches at night before bed
Constantly having a cracker or similar snack nearby.
Eating as soon as you wake up.
A doula/support person who may be able to give you advice and support.
I hope this helps and makes you feel less alone if you are dealing with a similar illness right now. If not I hope this opened your eyes to the possibilities and difficulties that pregnancy can bring.
There is more to come. Next part: Tennesse Blues: Part 3