I promised myself to write this article about my pregnancy as soon as I got my strength back, only to keep postponing it. I told myself it was because I was too busy with my new baby girl but that wasn’t it.
I realized that I was postponing out of fear…. fear that writing this article will bring back pain that I wanted to forget.
Today, almost two years later I decided its time, time to sit down and write about my Hyperemesis Gravidarum Story, in the hopes that it could inspire and help others going through something similar.
Three days before I even missed my period, I took the pregnancy test at 9pm, not the recommended early morning. There it was, two pink lines getting clearer and clearer.
I felt a burst of joy that poured out in the form of tears. But like everyone else I had to reach for the second test to be double, and triple sure, right? I took another one and thankfully, it was also a positive. I looked down at my stomach and a strong realization dawned on me…that from that moment onwards, I wouldn’t be on my own.
After the initial and intense wave of shock and happiness had subsided, I began Googling all the creative ways to tell my husband and family that I’m pregnant, but I was too excited to think, let alone prepare anything. As soon as my husband walked in the house, with the self-discipline of a 4 year old I shouted “I’M PREGNANT!”.
Our home was filled with nothing but pure joy. I had two months left to my final exams before officially becoming a Master’s degree graduate. Everything was just perfect; all the pieces were falling right into place.
The Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore
Four weeks into my pregnancy I was in the car on my way to university when I felt sick. I thought it was the usual car-sick feeling I always get. As always, I waited 15 minutes for it to wear off but it didn’t. Hours later, I still felt sick, like I was on a never-ending car ride. I felt nauseous and almost threw up right in the middle of my lecture. Little did I know, this was only the beginning.
By week six things had gone pretty much downhill. But every one insisted that this was normal, and “every pregnant woman goes through this”. They suggested I “just eat crackers and drink ginger tea” like it was that easy.
Against my better judgment, I took the advice and tried to be strong and tough it out. Eventually, things got even worse.
I was throwing up around 40 times a day, and in the process, straining my muscles, bursting blood vessels in my face and eyes and tearing the lining of my esophagus and throat. The more I threw up the more painful it became. The pain in my ribcage, shoulders and throat was unbearable. I did my best to control the nausea but I was helpless. It felt like a mix of food poisoning, car sickness and a roller-coaster ride all in one.
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What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
I want to pause here for a second to explain what it was I was actually going through. Yes, morning sickness is very common during a woman’s pregnancy but what I had was much more than that. I was suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum or HG for short.
HG is a very severe and debilitating pregnancy complication that unfortunately not too many people know about and not too many doctors take seriously enough.
The first time I went to get checked I was quickly dismissed and sent away. But then when things got serious and started to show in my blood tests I was finally admitted to the hospital. This was when I was first introduced to a new term…ketone levels. A word every woman that suffered from HG and severe morning sickness is very familiar with. As long as my ketones were high I had to be hospitalized and could eat or drink anything, not even water. Despite getting all my nutrition through IV, the nausea stuck with me. Vomiting on an empty stomach took the pain to a whole new level, like I was throwing up acid and burning on the inside.
The Effects of Hyperemesis Gravidarum
In the following few months, I lost 20Kg, became very weak and completely dependent. I felt useless and like a failure. I wasn’t able to do my exams and didn’t graduate. I worried about my pregnancy and the health of my baby. I had severe panic attacks from being trapped in the hospital for almost 5 months. My biggest concern was my family. They took shifts and stay home from work to take care of me. My poor mum and husband spent sleepless nights by my side. My husband was just lost and helpless. I was guilt-stricken to see how my sickness was affecting them but felt grateful to have them in my life.
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The Light at the End of the Tunnel
When I was about to start my third trimester, things started to get better, it was the calm after the storm. My nausea never completely subsided but it became manageable. We often take being able to eat and sleep for granted sometimes, and yet here I was celebrating because I managed to eat an entire cracker… As soon as I gained my strength back, I started to build myself again.
My university agreed to set a supplementary exam for me. I had 15 days to study and God knows how much I pushed myself. If I was hospitalized I would ask to keep the IV on my left hand so that I could write notes with my right. Day by day I started to get my life back. I sat for my exams, graduated, and my baby girl got to attend my graduation ceremony. From the second those two pink lines appeared, I endured.
Before I go I want to remind you that this is not just my story. If you know someone going through something similar, you have no idea how much your support can make a difference. There are a lot of women out there who have even worse experiences with HG. Those amazing and strong women are true heroes. And to anyone who is suffering from HG and reading this article, just hang in there. The pain, loneliness, and the sleepless nights will soon become a memory, and you’ll have a beautiful baby to make up for it all.