Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a severe medical condition that some women battle during pregnancy. Here’s one mom’s story of struggle with HG, and encouragement to other moms with this illness.
May 15 is Hyperemesis Gravidarum World Awareness Day, and I’m delighted to have my good friend Lexie of Lexie: Naturals guest posting again! I hope you’re truly blessed by Lexie’s transparency in sharing about the illness she endures while pregnant.
Guest Post by Lexie of Lexie: Naturals
I want to preface this post with this disclaimer: I realize that some women reading this are suffering with the sadness of a miscarriage or infertility. Some women would give anything to be pregnant right now–no matter what. This post is not meant to make you feel worse than you do; it is to help those who suffer in another very real way. It’s a very honest post about my own experiences with pregnancy, God’s grace and love, and how I deal with Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
In 2007, when I became pregnant with my first child, I remember sitting down on my couch and praying. I specifically remember telling God that it was okay if I needed to experience morning sickness (as if he needed my permission). I thought of the women I’d met in Africa who endured pregnancy with no bed, no mattress, nothing nice by our standards. So I thought, with all the luxuries of the Western world, I’ll be able to make it through just fine. I soon started to regret that prayer. Honestly regret it.
I suffered with what I now know is Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). Women with HG experience severe vomiting and nausea that does not end after the 12-week mark like typical morning sickness. They are often hospitalized for dehydration because they are unable to hold down any form of liquid or food.
HG commonly causes weight loss of 5% or more, fainting, confusion, headaches, food aversions that last beyond pregnancy, extreme fatigue, anxiety, depression, and many other symptoms. It is NOT the same as morning sickness and is not treated as easily or at all.
Unfortunately, many women do not even know what HG is, much less that they have it. I did not know that this miserable condition had a name until my second pregnancy. I had a good friend, who was pregnant with her 5th child, tell me that what I was experiencing was VERY abnormal. She did some research and informed me that what I was experiencing was Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I asked my doctor about it; she confirmed the diagnosis, but she offered me very little help.
Some days were harder than others, but there were occasional brief moments of sanity. However, I couldn’t cook or smell food. I would make my husband eat dinner in his car. I couldn’t snuggle with my precious daughter, and she felt so sorry for me. Some days I wanted to give up. Really give up.
Diana (from Hormonal Imbalances Blog–now closed) expressed perfectly what I felt for most of both of my pregnancies: “Every night I dread going to bed and every morning I dread waking up.” I kept track of my illness, and some days I threw up 10-15 times! I ended up losing 15-20 pounds in both my pregnancies and became very depressed.
But then, there were my Days of Grace. These were the days that God gave me to remind me of His love and goodness. These were the days that kept me going.
Well-meaning people kindly gave me cliche advice that only threw me into a deeper depression. Eat crackers and ginger cookies in the middle of the night and before I get out of bed? Some days I couldn’t even look at food! I learned to base my eating choices on what the food would look like coming back up, because I knew it would. I survived an entire week during my second pregnancy exclusively on Sprite. Nothing else.
After one of my hospital visits for IV fluids, I threw up 6 times in the parking lot before we left. No one’s advice helped, and I didn’t want to hear it!
I’ve never been one to ask for a prescription for every little illness. I always try to let things run their courses or seek natural remedies before heading to the doctor. However, after trying everything from soda crackers and pressure points to sour candy flown in from Belgium, I finally begged for something more from my doctor.
None of the typical pregnancy medicines helped me. I was finally issued a pump (similar to a diabetic insulin pump) that injected a medicine, usually given to cancer patients, into my thigh every 30 seconds. It was expensive and it was a hassle to deal with. But it digested my food more quickly, which helped me not get sick as often.
The Lord used it to bring me some daylight after a long period of darkness, and I don’t regret using the medicine. With both pregnancies, I was able to wean from the medicine some time in my third trimester and finally function somewhat normally for a while.
Some of you may know someone with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or you may suffer with it yourself. To those of you suffering, you are not alone. God made you and loves you in the same way that He loves and is making your baby. Even though people close to you may not understand, there are women around the world who do. Don’t give up. It will end.
To those of you who may know someone with HG, please be sensitive. HG is NOT the same as morning sickness, so please don’t call it that or give off-handed advice for treating it. What a woman with HG really needs is loving community to help her cope. Bring her family a meal (ask about food aversions first), offer to keep her other children for a day, send encouraging verses and messages to her, or go sit with her if she’s feeling up for it (but don’t expect her to be the normal hostess). Whatever you do, be a blessing.
For more information on Hyperemesis Gravidarum, to seek help, or to find out how you can make a difference, visit the HER Foundation.
Have you ever heard of Hyperemesis Gravidarum? If you’ve experienced HG, what’s the best way that other people can support you during pregnancy?
Lexie is a follower of Jesus, the wife of the very talented Stephen McNeill, and a stay-at-home mother of two exquisite girls (ages 3 and 15 months). Her passions include spending time with friends and family, reading, traveling, and teaching. In an effort to live more naturally and frugally, she began making and selling her own lotion, lip balm and diaper cream. She loves sharing these passions with others and helping other families catch the vision of living more natural lifestyle.
Check out the other posts in this series:
- 10 Reasons We Opted to Give Birth at a Birth Center
- Pregnancy Posts Around the Web
- A Tale of Two Births: Medicated vs. Natural Hospital Births, part 2
- A Tale of Two Births: Medicated vs. Natural Hospital Births, part 1
- How to Achieve a Natural Birth in a Hospital Setting
- Real Food Pregnancy Cheats/Shortcuts
- OB or Midwife: Finding the Birth Provider Who Works for You
- A Comparison of Birth Settings: Home, Hospital and Birth Center
- Resources for a Natural Pregnancy