I was a frail and grey ninety pounds when my husband carried me into the emergency room for the third time in a week.
After several hours of being sick that morning, I couldn’t even pull myself off the bathroom floor. This pattern had gone on for weeks and by this day we knew something wasn’t right.
We were young, newly married and excited to meet our first little one. We had read all the books and thought we were doing everything right. I was doing all the things I knew I was meant to do for a healthy pregnancy, but I couldn’t keep down prenatal vitamins. Even in a cup of applesauce like the online boards had suggested, they wouldn’t stay down. I quickly became frustrated when this turned into nothing staying down. No saltines, no Gatorade, not a sip of water. Nothing.
The first time we went to the ER, we stayed a few hours and left after some IV Gravol, a bit of fluid and a “Hang in there honey.” from the doctor.
I guess this is morning sickness.
“Am I just weak? Why can’t I manage this” I thought to myself.
It wasn’t morning sickness.
It was on this third visit that I was admitted to hospital and heard the words “hyperemesis gravidarum” for the first time. This condition effects approximately one percent of pregnant people and I was that lucky one percent.
It took three more ER visits and a transfer of facilities after my initial diagnosis before I got the help I needed and my long term hospital room. I received all my nourishment and medications through tubes and spent what little energy I had desperately trying to connect to people online who knew what I was going through. There weren’t many.
Nine months of pregnancy was long and hard when spent mostly in a hospital bed. I am so grateful to have had lots of support to get me through it and I am lucky to say my son was born healthy.
Hyperemesis doesn’t always look this way. It can present differently with each person and even with each pregnancy. The Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation explains that hyperemesis gravidarum is characterized by the following
- A loss of 5% or greater (usually over 10%) of pre pregnancy body weight
- dehydration and a production ketones
- difficulty with your usual activities
- metabolic imbalances
- nutritional deficiencies
In the decade since my oldest child was born a great deal of research has been done. We still don’t know the exact cause of hyperemesis but treatment and diagnosis have come a long way. There is help available.
If you or someone you care about is experiencing symptoms of hyperemesis, talk to your medical care provider and check out the Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation for more information and support.
It is with such passion and excitement that we at Great Lakes Birth and Family Services have launched antenatal doula support services for instances such as these or any other time when pregnancy specific support is vital. Treatment from a medical professional is critical, but support doesn’t have to end there.
Contact us today to discuss your needs.
To all those currently struggling with hyperemesis, you are not alone.
With much love,
Founder | Great Lakes Birth and Family Services