Living with HG

Note: I’ll be going into some specifics of my life related to pregnancy and a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarium.  If this post doesn’t interest you, please move along now.  ^.^

Learning that you are pregnant (when you want to be) is an amazing feeling.  Excitement mixes with nerves and you become so jazzed up that you immediately start making registries, planning the nursery, and looking up names; at least I did.  This feeling lasted about a week and a half and then I began to feel sick.

It was shortly before a major game development conference (GDC) that the hubs had paid out of pocket for me to attend.  At first I just assumed it was regular morning sickness and I was ill but excited for the normal pregnancy sign to rear its ugly head, but none of the typical remedies worked for me.  Ginger, crackers, pregnancy pops, sea bands…the list goes on.  Think of any nausea remedy you’ve ever heard of; I tried that.

The plane flight to the conference was short and not remotely sweet.  I was barely able to attend the conference and spent most of my time sick in the hotel room.  When I say sick…think of the last time you had a bad flu and you may begin to understand.  I was vomiting continuously to the point where I had trouble breathing.  Vomiting until there was nothing left.  I could barely keep enough liquids down to survive, let alone thrive, and I couldn’t keep food down at all.  The flight back was worse.

As soon as we were home Jared also got sick, so we assumed that I had gotten the flu and given it to him, and then he had given it back to me (to explain how long it was lasting).  Turns out he did get the flu and give it to me, but that was only a couple days of my now roughly 2 week long illness.  He took a few days off work after the conference to get better and help take care of me, but it was clear before he went back to work that I was delirious and dehydrated.  So off to the emergency room we went, they pumped me full of IV fluids and sent me home.  I scheduled a follow up with my doctor as instructed, but couldn’t get in for another week, so I ended up back in the emergency room once more before the appointment.

At this point, I had lost almost 10 pounds in a very short amount of time and I was pretty sure I knew what was going on after copious amounts of internet research (hello WebMD).  The doctor confirmed my online prognosis and told me about Hyperemesis Gravidarium, or HG.  HG symptoms include:

  • 5% or greater loss of pre-pregnancy weight
  • dehydration (due to excessive vomiting)
  • lack of proper nutrition (due to excessive vomiting)
  • difficulty leading normal life
  • imbalance in metabolism

Note: If you think that you or someone you know might be dealing with this condition but is undiagnosed, don’t panic!  You can make it through!  Speak to your doctor right away, treatment works better when started as soon as possible.  If your doctor refuses to acknowledge your suffering, contact the people at HER Foundation for help and get a second opinion.

Once I was diagnosed, things began to get better.  My doctor was supportive and put me on two different medications to control the vomiting and nausea.  She also set up 3 times weekly appointments at the hospital for IV hydration and vitamins for me.  My case was determined to be relatively mild  compared to what some women experience and I feel immensely bad for those women who have it worse.

When I say that I began to feel better, I mean that my vomiting went down to only once a day, which was a huge improvement from 8+ times a day.  I had to drop my classes because I was exhausted all the time and couldn’t focus; I basically became a vegetable that could (usually) walk from the couch to the bed and back again.  I continued loosing weight, but much slower, only another 10 pounds over the next few months.  I couldn’t eat any significant amount of food unless it was a comfort food that my mom had made me growing up.  I couldn’t drink enough fluid to keep me from being dehydrated within two days.  I couldn’t clean house or cook because the smells would send me on a downward spiral.

This lasted for the first half of the pregnancy.  Yes, you read that correctly; it lasted for 4 months.  That is the typical time frame for HG.  Most women will see symptoms disappear at around 20 weeks, but there are some that will continue to have symptoms until they give birth.

My HG did not disappear but it did ease.  I began to be able to focus enough to start planning the nursery (not doing any work towards it, but planning).  I was able to leave the house again for short stretches.  Still taking medication, I was able to begin drinking enough water to cut back on hospital visits.  I could eat more normal foods (most days).  I was even able to start taking prenatal vitamins!  I started gaining back some weight around the middle (as pregnant women should).

At 31 weeks, I can now spend around 2 hours a day on productive endeavors.  I still can’t cook certain foods and cleaning is rough, but I only throw up about once a week and sometimes less.  I can drink all my fluid, so no more hospital visits!  I’m still on meds full time, but if I’m late on a dose then it doesn’t wreck my week, just one day.  It is really nice to have time to work on the nursery, the house, or just spend some time sketching.

I know in the long run it will be worth it and I probably won’t even remember the rough parts.  However for now I just want to offer support for women who are in the same boat.  This is hard, but there are people who understand what you are going through.  Drop me a line, we can be disgusted by other women and their normal pregnancies together. ^.-


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