**Hi all! I wrote this a few weeks ago, but felt I needed to share. I’m still taking medicine but am feeling MUCH better than I was when I started writing this post originally. I’m currently in week 24 but wrote this first part around week 17, and the second part somewhere around 13. I wrote it in portions because it took me some time to get the nerve (and motivation!) to actually finish and post it.**
I’ve always believed we get stronger when we surround ourselves with strong people. I’m telling myself that a lot lately. This very much loved child inside my body is surely making me tougher (although I don’t feel it quite yet), giving me the biggest challenge I’ve ever had in my life.
I happily found out I was pregnant at the very end of January. I had a week of bliss. But, this pregnancy is not magical and it’s hard to know what to say when it’s not going how everyone assumes pregnancies are, all smiles and cute baby bumps. I feel that beautiful experience I imagined has been ripped away from me without my consent. I don’t have perfectly curated pregnancy blog posts with tips and funny anecdotes about my experiences because, until a few weeks ago, just getting the energy and courage to leave the house was a laughable exercise in futility.
I’ve been experiencing what’s called “hyperemesis”, AKA “a severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, generally described as unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids.” (Source: HER Foundation.) It is not “morning sickness”. It is brutal and painful and seems never-ending.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I remember being at work all week and thinking “nothing can EVER bring me down! I don’t know how I could ever be unhappy…we’re having a baby!” I was so full of joy and happiness and couldn’t stop watching YouTube videos of pregnancy announcements and tips and imagining how we would tell our family. Brendan and I spent a lot of time smiling at each other and discussing the future and hugging.
Before I move forward, I’ll say in week 17, I’m finally feeling better as long as I take my medicine at the same time every day. I don’t throw up multiple times a day as much as I used to, but it still takes a lot to get moving most mornings and there’s a very delicate balance of fluid and food intake. Walking is my only exercise…but I’ll take it over what the first few months were like. This is the first week I’ve been able to drink water in almost 3 months. All I’ve wanted for months is huge glass of ice water.
I’m still scared it will all come back in full force.
I’m sharing my experience because when I started researching and finding support from other women going through this, I immediately felt relief, followed by a need to spread awareness and foster a sense of understanding from people who haven’t experienced this.
Why? Because people think you’re just being dramatic or weak. They still expect you to be yourself. They expect you to only exhibit emotions like excitement and happiness, and give you a bit of side-eye when you’re honest about the imperfections. They try to share tips for morning sickness that worked for their friend’s sister or tell you that you have to “deal with it” like every other woman does because you “need to eat healthy/stay in shape/do whatever it is for the baby“, when in reality, I had to do whatever I could to keep myself and this baby safe, even if that meant choking down Wendy’s chicken nuggets and fries because any and all vegetables would come right back up.
My ego wants to pretend nothing ever happened…but I refuse to just be silent. Nor is it fair to pretend everything has been fine, especially when I’ve been sharing so much of my life here for the past 5+ years. I truly feel like this physical and emotional pain has completely changed me and I pray I can find a way to use it for good. All the perfect #fitpregnancy Instagram posts really dug into my soul and I want other women to know it’s okay if it’s not like that. You’re not the only one. I also think that maybe this is a plea to those who know me to understand just how bad it has been…that I’m not making it all up.
So, my full story. I wrote most of this when I was deep in the middle of this experience. I feel as though I lost my entire sense of self and am still trying to figure myself out again. Even reading this now, remembering how I felt during the worst of it, it sounds dramatic. I’m imagining what someone who never went through this must be thinking. Still, these feelings were so real and I’ve decided not to censor them. (Well, maybe just a little. I was vicious!)
***below from around week 13***
I found out very early that I’m pregnant.
In week 5, I became extremely ill – sicker than I’ve ever been in my life. (I already I knew I was pregnant, we found out super early.) I was unable to eat or drink anything without vomiting for 4 days straight. And if my stomach was completely empty, I was still dry heaving multiple times an hour. I only left my bed to stumble to the bathroom to get sick. (I STILL have to avoid the TV shows I watched and turn away from the commercials that were on during this because they remind me too much of being sick.) On the 4th day, Brendan took me to urgent care. I was SURE there was no way this could be pregnancy related. I must have eaten something bad. I have the flu. It has to get better.
They put me on an IV for hydration with an anti-nausea injection and gave me a prescription for medication. I was throwing up while they were trying to put the IV in. I felt delirious. “This can’t be from pregnancy”, I told the nurse. “I’ll die! I can’t live like this!” She sympathetically told me it probably was. I didn’t have a fever.
(I’m still taking medicine daily and it has certainly helped. I never wanted to take medicine but I have no choice. That of course comes with worries of it’s own, but I’ll save that for another day. If you want to talk about what has worked and hasn’t worked for me, feel free to send me an email, I’ll gladly talk about it.)
Since then, I’ve thrown up every day for just about three months, even with my medicine. I ran out of medicine for a few days during our move (yes we were moving in the middle of this, ugh) and the unrelenting vomiting came back immediately, every 20 minutes or so. I cried a lot. Until the past few days, constant nausea stuck with me all day and night. I fell into in a sort of permanent rage, bubbling under the surface, ready to show itself at the next mention of “sea bands” or ginger or crackers. (Which everyone recommends but none of which have worked for me at all.) At the beginning of my second trimester I had lost 7 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, but I’ve recently started to gain it back.
If I had a day of a little less nausea and vomiting, I tried to get outside, even if it was just sitting on a chair in the sun. Spending time with friends helped, but I usually avoided it. Most of my days were spent binge watching seasons of shows I never cared about before, dragging myself to and from the bathroom to throw up. I tried to sleep as much as possible because I constantly felt like I couldn’t get through another day. I lost a freelance job I had, my only source of income once we moved, because I just couldn’t find the energy or focus to do it. I’ve been too scared to seriously look for a job outside the house because I don’t want to leave my house and don’t know how I could actually focus on anything (until this week). I don’t even know how to approach a job search. I haven’t been able to contribute to our move, our family, our finances. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling shame, guilt, and resentment (my own thoughts – Brendan is of course incredibly supportive and understanding!), and I hate it.
I still don’t really have cravings. I have “this is literally the only thing that sounds edible enough to eat right now” urges. My lack of appetite is so strong that when something sounds good, I have to eat it right away or I risk getting into another round of “can’t keep anything down” sickness. And in my case, it’s generally something horrible-for-you and something I’d never normally eat, but plenty of people have reminded me that I should eat whatever I can eat – any food is better than no food at all. I hate eating now…something I NEVER EVER thought I’d say.
For those wondering where the excitement is, why I don’t sound happier or more grateful to bring this child into the world, one we certainly were hoping and praying for…all I can say is that I hope that’s not what you take away from this. Pain and joy are not mutually exclusive. It’s not either/or. I’m allowed to feel both, and I do. I do feel grateful. I also feel it’s important to talk about how pregnancy is life-changing and scary, especially when it doesn’t happen as imagined (does it ever?) and everything you’re “supposed” to do makes you feel worse. It doesn’t mean you did something wrong and it doesn’t mean you’re already a “bad mom”. I’m grateful there is something positive coming out of this and I cannot wait to meet the little one.