The main reason I wanted to post about my Hyperemesis Gravidarium pregnancy is so that I could then write about the things that people should and shouldn’t say to me or any other woman with this condition. Consider this a PSA on how not to talk to women with HG.
Don’t mention how nice it is that she is at least loosing weight.
I’m fully aware that I started out overweight; this is not news to me as some people seem to expect, I didn’t suddenly wake up one day like this. Not all women with HG start out overweight, in fact, most of the women I’ve met who had it started out petite or fit. Regardless of what weight you start out at, most doctors will not advise you to loose any significant amount of weight (no more then 5% of your pre-pregnancy body weight) while you are pregnant. I lost 12% of mine within 3 months and some women loose more.
Pregnancy is when a woman is supposed to be fat and happy, not gaunt and starving. I might have been happy to loose 20 pounds a year ago, but at this moment what I want is to make sure that the child growing inside of me is getting all the nutrition she needs to grow strong and healthy. I want to not be starving or vomiting all the time. If you think that I want to hear about how thin I look, you are incorrect.
Don’t say that you can relate because you had morning sickness too (or a really bad flu one time).
Morning sickness and HG are technically both pregnancy sicknesses but unless you have had HG, you can’t possibly relate. After trying to explain what was happening to friends and family, I gave up. I’ve been known to tell people now who haven’t heard of it that HG is “severe morning sickness”, but this doesn’t come close to describing what is happening, I just say this to end the conversation quickly so that I don’t have to talk about it anymore.
Don’t ask if she has tried _____.
Fill in the blank with whatever you want: ginger (ale, tea, snaps, candied), crackers by the bed, sea sickness bands, small meals, sour candies or fruits, peppermint, popsicles, vitamin B6, drinking only between meals instead of during, salty foods, sleep, hypnosis, prenatal vitamins without added iron, acupuncture, smelling salts, aromatherapy. Honestly the list goes on and on and if you are dealing with morning sickness (not HG), I encourage you to try some of these things, because they may work for you.
By the time that I was able to talk with friends and family about my illness, I had been sick for quite some time. I surfed all the same websites that everyone else did for how to get relief and tried everything I read. When I started being able to talk about it, I was already on medication to help control it as well as can be controlled. When you ask/tell me to try something that isn’t a treatment for what I’m suffering from, I have one of two reactions: I either want to punch you in the face or break down into tears.
Don’t ask how you can help.
I’ve got some great friends and family in the area, but they often ask “can I help with anything?”. The fact of the matter is that I can’t even think about making you a list of tasks. There is a ton to do around here, but most of us aren’t close enough for me to ask you to do specific tasks, I don’t even know what you would be comfortable doing. So before you offer to do anything, think of a few specific tasks that you think I might need (bring over a meal, help build nursery furniture, take out the trash, do laundry) and that you will actually be comfortable and able to help with. Ask if you can help with those specific tasks instead of asking me to stress out over a list of things that need to get done (which is an endless list).
Don’t ask how she is feeling or if its getting better.
This is probably the hardest one for you to follow and I understand. When you know that someone has been miserable for a while the only thing you can often think of to say is “how are you feeling now?”.
I could say that I’m fine (not great, but okay); this is a lie that I’m hoping you will accept so that during this one conversation I can attempt to feel like a normal human being again. I could tell you the truth and say that I threw up last night after sitting up in bed with a trashcan in my lap for an hour at 3AM. I could tell you the truth and say that I’m better then I was yesterday, but that just means that I was able to sit in front of my computer for a few hours instead of sitting in a daze on the couch all day long.
If you know me at all, then you won’t have to ask when I begin to feel better because you will be able to tell. And if you can’t tell, then I’ll probably mention it because I’ll be so thrilled to be feeling better.