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Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The pregnancy game changer

“Barely able to get my words out I told him how I hadn’t managed to eat and keep any food down for days. He looked at me puzzled and said, without a trace of empathy in his voice, “What are you so upset about? The baby will be fine and the sickness should pass by 20 weeks.” He wrote me a new prescription and sent me on my way. I was in pieces, at 13 weeks pregnant 20 weeks sounded like a lifetime away.”

My story

When we found out I was pregnant we were over the moon.  Surprised, but ecstatically happy.  I was excited to be pregnant again.  When I was pregnant with Harry I felt healthier than I ever had before.  Pregnancy was easy and I loved every second of it.  I had visions of things being the same this time round, me walking on air while my bump grew and I glowed with pride at the new life I was growing.

For the first few week or so I felt fine, no different to before.  But then things changed.  I started to feel sick, going off more and more foods until the list of things I could eat could easily be fit on a postcard.  The vomiting started too. I’d had a little bit of nausea and sickness with Harry but it was infrequent and would pass quickly, meaning I could get on with my day.  This time the nausea was unrelenting.  It was with me 24/7 and made even the simplest tasks, like getting Harry’s lunch ready, a mammoth task.  I would cry.. a lot, feeling like I was failing at life and questioning why I couldn’t cope, after all I’m not the first woman to feel sick whilst pregnant.  Mum guilt played a big part in this.  Guilt of feeling like an awful parent for having the TV on for Harry while I sat on the sofa trying not to be sick again. Guilt of not feeling as happy and excited about my pregnancy as I should.  Guilt for just not being good enough.

A few weeks ago the sickness stopped.  I had been to the doctors and been prescribed some tablets that kept the vomiting at bay and the nausea to a minimum.  It was a huge relief and I was keen to jump back into normality.  It felt nice to be on top of the housework again and doing things with my son.  I put the sickness to the back of my mind like it had all been a bad dream and actually started to enjoy my pregnancy again…

Until the sickness came back.  Worse than ever.  It hit like a tonne of bricks and I went from being fine one minute to anything but the next. This time the list of foods I could keep down was non existent and even water would make a spectacular reappearance.  I called the doctors who gave me another prescription for the anti sickness tablets I’d had previously.  They didn’t work this time though, their magic had worn off and they were about as effective as a box of tictacs.

I went back to the doctor but could only get an appointment with a different doctor I hadn’t seen before.  I sat in his office, Harry on my lap, and broke down. Barely able to get my words out I told him how I hadn’t managed to eat and keep any food down for days.  He looked at me puzzled and said, without a trace of empathy in his voice, “What are you so upset about?  The baby will be fine and the sickness should pass by 20 weeks.”  He wrote me a new prescription and sent me on my way.  I was in pieces, at 13 weeks pregnant 20 weeks sounded like a lifetime away.  I went home and tried the tablets.  They didn’t work.  The next day I called the doctors again to say that I still wasn’t keeping anything down.  They asked me to come in for some tests, which showed that I had a reading of 3+ ketones in my urine.  The nurse told me it was high and showed dehydration but sent me on my way, she said they were doing tests to check my kidneys hadn’t been affected too and had given me the diagnosis now of Hyperemesis.   So I went home again, with very little new information and no help as to how to keep food and drink down.

 

By this point I was in a state of despair.  I called my mum who came to look after Harry while I went to bed.  During this time I spoke to an amazing charity, Pregnancy Sickness Support.  They were incredible.  For the first time I felt like someone understood what I was suffering from and knew what I needed to help.    The lady I spoke to was shocked that I hadn’t been sent straight to the hospital and asked me to get myself there through A&E.  By this point I was so tired, I’d kept no food and barely any drink down for days.  I tried to call my midwife, who didn’t answer her phone or respond to my message.  I called the early pregnancy unit who said they couldn’t take me without a GP referral and I called my GP who said they were waiting for blood test results to decide whether to refer or not. I was stuck in a cycle of people slamming doors in my face and too weak to argue, I also noticed that where once was the beginnings of a bump, there was a stomach that under any other circumstances I would have loved to have.  In the end I went to bed, cried, heaved and slept.

In the morning I was weaker than ever, standing made me dizzy and eating or drinking made me vomit.  I called the GP again, this time refusing to get off the phone until I could speak to a doctor who would refer me.  Finally the referral was made. My mum gave me a lift to the hospital and took Harry for the day.  I went up to the ward where they tested me straight away and confirmed that I was showing 3+ ketones and was severely dehydrated.  They were shocked that I hadn’t been referred immediately yesterday and couldn’t believe how hard I had to fight to receive treatment.  I was immediately hooked up to a drip to get my fluids up and given an anti sickness injection.  Over the course of the day I spent over 13 hours on a cocktail of drips, was given 2 anti sickness injections and lots of different vitamins.  I managed to eat, and drink. Half a small cup of soup, 3/4 a slice of bread and some dry cereal.  It was the most I’d eaten in days and it stayed down!  It was literally the best feeling ever: My stomach finally had something in it.

So that brings us to today.  Out of the hospital and armed with two types of anti sickness medication to take alongside each other.  I’m exhausted, nauseous and still quite weak but I haven’t been sick in 24 hours now and that is definitely worth celebrating.

Looking forwards, as optimistic as I am, I know that it is very likely that I will continue to have good days and bad.  I’m very aware that the bad days can be indescribably bad but I’m hoping that armed with a little knowledge, rehydrated and medicated properly I will get through this and the reward at the end of it all will be so worth the wait.

 

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

Hypermesis Gravidarum is a severe form of pregnancy sickness.  Sufferers can vomit up to 50 times a day and struggle to keep any food or drink down.  This can lead to many problems such as malnutrition and dehydration.

You can find out more about it here.

Where can I get help if I’m suffering with pregnancy sickness?

Your midwife or GP should be able to help you if you have extreme pregnancy sickness.  The amazing people at Pregnancy Sickness Support are also incredible and have a lot of specialist knowledge on this subject. They’re definitely worth a phone call.

Will eating ginger biscuits help?

Not always, especially for someone with extreme pregnancy sickness.  From experience I can say that ginger is not my friend.  It is one of the worst things to bring back up again.

How long will pregnancy sickness last for?

For many people pregnancy sickness will ease within the first 20 weeks.  This may not be the case though and it can affect women throughout the whole of their pregnancy. Everyone is different!  I’m only 13 weeks pregnant at the moment so fingers crossed I am one of the lucky ones.

 

2 thoughts on “Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The pregnancy game changer”

  1. Dear Kayley!

    I am on week 9 and this is my first pregnancy.
    I could so much relate my current situation with yours. I was sent into the ER twice and now I am in the hospital under observation. It’s almost 4 days now that I am here. Can you let me know what medication you were prescribed for HG? Would be of great help. I hope you feel better soon.
    Love,
    HG friend

    1. Hi lovely,
      I’m so sorry to hear that you are having a tough pregnancy too but I’m glad to hear that you are receiving treatment now. I was first prescribed Prochlorperazine buccal which didn’t seem to make any difference at all. I then had Promethazine Teoclate which worked for a couple of weeks but then stopped and the sickness became worse than ever. I was then prescribed Cyclizine but as I was so poorly they didn’t work initially. After some time in hospital though and some anti sickness injections to kick start things I was able to continue with the Cyclizine and keep it down long enough to feel the effects. I’m currently alternating Ondansetron and Cyclizine throughout the day which seems to be really helping. The plan is to come back off the Ondansetron again though and continue with just the Cyclizine so fingers crossed that goes well.
      From what I’ve heard everyone is very different and what medication works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. I’d definitely keep working with your doctor to see what works for you, I hope you find something soon.
      xxx

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