(Disclaimer: This may read as a “poor-me pity party”, but I promise that my intention is very simply to share my story for others who may be affected by this. And I talk about puking a lot, so maybe don’t read this while you’re eating lunch.)
Last week while Cookie was napping, I checked in with my good friend, The-US-Weekly-App, and learned the wonderful news that Kate Middleton is expecting again.
My heart sank. And then I wanted to puke.
You see, I kind of feel like Kate and I are soul sisters. When she was pregnant with Prince George, I was pregnant with Cookie. And we were both simultaneously puking our guts out and suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum.
Despite the miles apart (and the fact we’ve never met)—that shit CONNECTS you with someone.
Let’s start from the beginning.
During my first pregnancy, I started feeling horribly nauseous at 5 ½ weeks. By 6 ½ weeks, I was throwing up all the time. By 12 weeks, I had lost 9 pounds (which is a lot for someone who is 5’2”).
I had heard about morning sickness, and of course heard the ever popular “they shouldn’t call it morning sickness, but all day sickness”, but I was still shocked. The only things I could eat during that time were smoothies, bagels with cream cheese, an occasional saltine, and sometimes grapefruit, so I packed those items with me and brought them to work each day.
Work. I kind of lucked out. During that time, Mac Daddy worked down the street, so he drove me to and from work every single day. I would recline the passenger seat as far back as it would go, lay on my side hugging a pillow, and try to not throw up for the next hour on the 405.
I thought this was normal. I thought this was morning sickness. And I didn’t have a doctor to talk about it with. During my first 16 weeks I went through 3 doctors, not by choice. The first doctor (who I loved) was a new mom and decided to stop delivering babies to lighten her practice; the next doctor retired two weeks after I met with him; and by the time I got to the doctor who I stuck with, my sickness was finally winding down.
But let’s go back to 11 weeks. At 11 weeks, one of my best friends from high school was getting married and I was a bridesmaid in the wedding. This wedding was one of those “once in a lifetime” events for all the attendees. It was ½ Indian wedding, ½ American wedding, and five days of super fun and amazing events planned in beautiful Santa Barbara. I still remember my mom asking me how I was planning on participating, but it wasn’t an option. I WANTED to be there for my friend; I HAD to be there, no matter what.
I didn’t make it to the wedding.
Well, that’s not totally true. I (somehow) made it though the first 2 days of events, with my bagels and smoothie ingredients packed into our hotel mini-fridge but during the intimate ring blessing ceremony on the morning of Day 3 (the day of the big Indian wedding), I fainted in front of about 35 people.
Way to help make her special day memorable.
When I came to, we called my (former) doctor who assured me the baby was ok, but that I needed to seriously rest. So I did. In the hotel room, with a baby-sitter at all times (either Mac Daddy, my mom, or my dad) for the rest of the weekend.
At 12 weeks, I finally took my (soon-to-be-retired) doctor’s recommendation of taking the anti-nausea medicine Zofran. Ask Mac Daddy—I was literally kicking and screaming taking it that first time. Medicine while pregnant?! While everything that I was putting into my mouth was organic?! This was NOT how I had envisioned my beautiful, majestic, smiles-all-the-time, flowers-singing-in-the-background pregnancy to be! What finally convinced me was when the doctor said, “I don’t think it’s good for your baby to have you be in such distress from the sickness.”
Well played, Doctor-who-Retired. Well played.
I swallowed that Zofran while hysterically crying…and then threw up five minutes later. I quickly learned that while Zofran may help curb some of the nausea, it doesn’t always stop people from being violently ill.
I still continued to take it and each day waited for it to work. Finally at 16 weeks, I stopped throwing up. By 20 weeks, the debilitating nausea finally went away.
And that was my easy pregnancy.
After this experience, I often looked back and felt like a failure. When I told people I was sick during my pregnancy, I would hear even worse stories, like women who were only able to eat watermelon once a day, women who were hospitalized for dehydration five times during the pregnancy, women who could not even tolerate the taste of their own saliva and had to spit in a cup. I didn’t have it THAT bad, so I often discounted my feelings and even my memories. I must have dramatized the situation.
Which brought me to the realization that I wasn’t a very strong woman. And sometimes the word “ungrateful” would sneak in there too. I have a perfectly healthy, happy baby son, so what’s the problem? I’m complaining about feeling lousy during my pregnancy?
I was terrified to go through it all again, but we wanted to have (at least) one more little. Perhaps I could redeem myself by toughening up during the next pregnancy. Everyone told me, “Don’t worry—each pregnancy is different. I’m sure your next one won’t be so bad.”
I never believed them, because I had to mentally prepare in case I was right.
I was right.
To be continued…