(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.)
Mac Daddy and I were thrilled to learn we were expecting baby number two. D-Bop was a little over 2 ½ at the time, and we were ready. Then it hit.
Earlier this time.
At 4 ½ weeks, the extreme nausea set in. By 5 ½ weeks, I was puking my guts out. And everyone was right—it was very different this time.
With my first pregnancy, I never knew when I would be sick– each day was completely different. With my second pregnancy, it was like clockwork and my days looked like this:
- 9am: Crawl out of bed and force myself to eat a bowl of Cheerios.
- 11am: Force myself to eat more cereal or mashed potatoes.
- 12pm: Drink some water
- 1pm: Lay down and get sick, over and over and over….
- 9pm: Try to sleep.
But again, I was lucky. My boss let me work from home and I was only working 3 days a week; my nanny (who watched D-Bop when I worked) would stay until Mac Daddy got home; my “angel” parents (who literally saved me during this time) drove 30+ minutes each way every day to care for D-Bop. Because I could not get out of bed and I could not care for my child.
How could I not care for my child??? Hearing him cry and not being able to comfort him; hearing him yell at a caretaker and not being able to reprimand him; hearing him laugh and not knowing why; it was so…incredibly…painful.
For the first time in my life I felt absolutely worthless. And I was so angry at myself for not being strong enough to at least put on a happy face for him.
After two weeks of this new existence, my husband called my doctor. A new one, of course—our insurance changed and the one who delivered D-Bop didn’t accept our new plan. It was a blessing in disguise because this doctor gave me INCREDIBLE, above-and-beyond care.
(O…M…G… I just cried a little bit thinking about how amazing she was.)
Anyway (sniff), she immediately diagnosed me as having hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition that affects less than 2% of pregnant women, and sent out an in-home nursing company to put me on an IV and train me about how to use a Zofran pump.
Yes, that’s right—more medicine, and A LOT MORE OF IT this time.
I only had to be on an IV for a couple of days, but the Zofran pump was my new bestie that went with me everywhere for the next two months. Let’s quickly define Zofran pump: a Zofran pump is a contraption that allows you to pump Zofran into your system 24/7. It’s a small machine that you carry with you at all times, which releases Zofran through a tube directly into your stomach. Each day, you have to stick your stomach with a needle. This blog explains it MUCH better than I just did.
You stay on the Zofra pump literally 24/7 until your nurse tells you that you are well enough to stop its use, so you sleep with it, shower with it, and leave the house with it (which of course you only do if you have a doctor’s appointment). You change the needles every day (meaning you find a new spot on your stomach, stick yourself with a new needle, and hook up the tube to the new spot), which resulted in painful bumps all over my stomach that took months to disappear. Oh and it *severely* constipates you. Which means more evil drugs. (Don’t worry- I won’t expand further on that topic.)
I used the pump for 2 months and then I was finally cleared to go off the pump, which meant the vomiting had been reduced and I was gaining weight. I then took the Zofran pill a couple of times a day for the rest of my pregnancy. I stopped vomiting around 20 weeks, but the debilitating nausea lasted my entire pregnancy. Most days it wouldn’t kick in until about 7pm, so I at least was able to function a lot more during my days.
So let’s wrap this up and get back to my soul sister, Kate Middleton. Thanks to her courage to share her story and raise awareness, people actually now know about hyperemesis gravidarum. More women can now identify it and ask for help; and more doctors can look for it as well (and hopefully take their patients complaints and symptoms seriously). Her story broke literally 1 week after I had been diagnosed with it myself. It was so helpful when I described what I was going through to others:
(Warning: I’m now going to get obnoxiously cheesy.) So Duchess, my soul sister—I’m sorry that I’m abandoning you and leaving you to do this pregnancy on your own. But I am here thinking about you, sending you healing thoughts, and wishing for it to pass for you soon. Oh—and you are superhuman because even with hyperemesis gravidarum you look AH-mazing. (I mean, when you checked out of the hospital after that first bout of dehydration with Prince George– whaaaaaaa?! The hair! The dress! The smile! And how were you even standing?!) You are a strong woman, Duchess, and I am forever grateful for your help in getting me through it last time.
And I’m sorry I’m not there for you this time, but our family is now complete. ❤
Things I learned from my experience:
- How to ask for help: This was a hard one for me, but there was no other option. “It takes a village” and I was incredibly lucky to have an incredibly supportive village made up of Mac Daddy, my parents, my nanny, co-workers, and friends. If you need help, ask for help from anyone and everyone to get you through this time.
- The importance of having a good doctor: My doctor never once questioned my sickness. She believed me and went above and beyond to listen to me, empathize with me, support me, and help me. She would call me on Friday nights, call multiple times throughout the week—just to check in and assess me. If your doctor ever belittles your feelings, find a new doctor. And don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for help. Looking back, I know I had hyperesmeis gravidarum with my first pregnancy as well, but it went undiagnosed because I thought it was normal to feel that way and did not have a doctor who supported me during that time.
- Hyperemesis gravidarum has nothing to do with how tough or strong you are: This condition has nothing to do with your “mind over body” abilities, or how tough you are, or karma getting back at you from a past life—it just is what it is: a very serious condition that requires early treatment and very thorough monitoring. We all have our things, and this was a card I was dealt.
- We are all on our own journey: It doesn’t help to compare your stories to others to determine the severity of it. Just because you have heard a worse story does not mean that your feelings aren’t valid. If you need some help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.
- Hyperemesis gravidarum is hard on those around you: Obviously it was trying on everyone who was helping me as they rearranged their schedules and picked up my slack, from our nanny to my co-workers to my parents, but it was especially traumatic for my son and my husband. Family members need extra care, support and attention during this difficult time as well.