Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) - is a condition of pregnancy characterized by intractable nausea, vomiting, and dehydration and is estimated to affect 0.5-2.0% of pregnant women. (Wikipedia.org)
When I was pregnant with Amelia I knew absolutely nothing about HG or even that it existed. So when I got severely sick and ended up in the hospital for dehydration at 13 weeks I began researching HG after one of the doctors mentioned it. It was nice to know I wasn’t crazy and being that sick was not all in my head. It got better around 14 weeks and I could come off all medication around 20ish weeks. I consider what I had was mild HG as I only required one overnight stay in the hospital.
During the last couple years with Amelia we decided that if we were to ever get pregnant again we’d have a plan of action in place. Ways that can help me cope with HG. We knew what to expect this time so we were determined to fight back and not make it as much of a miserable pregnancy experience. I was determined to have a good pregnancy and one I could look forward to.
Fast forward to this October when we found out we were indeed pregnant. We were so happy. I knew to enjoy the moment now because HG would creep up on me and it would be hard to enjoy it later. I enjoyed one blissful week of pregnancy before the unrelenting nausea started. Week 4 was my dream week. I looked up baby stuff online I was excited to read about it and talk about. I even was stupid enough to think that I could do this! This pregnancy may not be so bad. That was definitely the calm before the storm.
The nausea started out not so bad and I could combat it with eating in the morning. By week 6 I called into the dr’s office and was given a prescription of Zofran. I took this with Amelia and it did help when the HG wasn’t at its peak. It worked probably for a couple days and then I was vomiting 5-8 times a day but I was still trying to eat and trying to keep fluids down. I was doing it! I was making it work! Around week 8 or 7 I was vomiting every hour so I got another medication on top of the Zofran called Phenergan. This allowed me to feel better. Although it made me super sleepy so I could only take it at night.
I was still managing to make it to work and at least make a good effort at doing my job. The nausea was relentless. It was truly debilitating. I had to tell my bosses around 8 weeks because they needed to know that I was so sick. They were extremely understanding and worked with me. I am very thankful for that.
At 10 weeks was the first time I went into the hospital for fluids. I was able to go in after my half day of work on Friday and I was there past 8pm. Two bags of fluid later. I really didn’t feel any better but with resting over the weekend I made it back into work on Tuesday. I took the following Monday off. During this time I was completely useless in caring for myself and Amelia. Thank God for family. My in laws would help me in the evenings when Adam was working. They’d feed, bath, and put Amelia to bed for me. All I could manage to do was lay in bed.
The nausea and vomiting didn’t let up but continued to get worse to the point where drinking was impossible and eating was few and far between. All I could do was lay in bed. I couldn’t read or watch tv because I had severe motion sickness. I was throwing up constantly. I ended up back in the hospital 3 more times in 10 days between weeks 11 and 12. I even had to go in on Christmas! Every five days I’d be back. The nurses and doctors knew me very well. I remember Adam and I walking into labor and delivery triage and him holding me up because I was so weak. I’d get medicine through an IV and several bags of fluid every time. I was rapidly losing weight. I had to quit working at Christmas time. I just couldn’t do it anymore. So I went on disability.
When I had to go back to the hospital on the 19th of December the doctors showed great concern due to the fact that I had lost 17lbs. I was admitted into the hospital. I was so severely dehydrated my urine was brown. Although I panicked and yelled for the nurse because I thought it was red and I was bleeding. But the nurse assured me that I wasn’t bleeding but just severely dehydrated. That evening they took out their doppler and tried to find the baby’s heartbeat but couldn’t find it. So the dr came in with the ultrasound machine because it was easier. I was 13 weeks at this point. She very calmly asked us if we had an ultrasound before this. We told her no we haven’t. We’ve just heard the heartbeat. Adam and I started at each other scared to death something was wrong with the baby. Then the dr says “Well I see two babies” … … … … “WHAT?!” We were both in a state of shock from that point forward. It was mixed emotions from there for me. A part of me was relieved there was a reason I was as sick as I was and the other part of me completely resentful because of how sick I was.
The next week I stayed in the hospital getting plenty of fluids, rest, and medicine through the IVs. By the time I was released a week later the doctors had me on different meds. Haldol (sp?) which initial is a medicine for Psych patients but can be used to combat nausea and they had me on a low dose of steroids. By the time I was released and went home I was ok for a day or two but quickly the vomiting started up again. I couldn’t keep any medications down. So again I went back into the hospital this time they decided to put me on a PICC Line so I could get nutrition and stay hydrated. They said my liver enzymes were high due to starvation. So I got the PICC Line put in and given another altered line of medicine to try. I lasted a few days but was starting to get sick slowly again. I went back to the hospital when I vomited 3 times in one morning. The doctors at this point were at a complete loss. They decided on doing Zofran through my PICC Line since that seemed to stabilize me in the hospital. For 2 weeks I received the TPN bag for 12 hours every night and every 6 hours I was giving myself a dose of Zofran through the PICC Line. Towards the end of January I was taken off the TPN but still on the IV Zofran. That continued for another couple weeks.
I was finally able to return to work on the 14th of February. The PICC Line was removed on the 18th.
I had such tremendous help from my family during this time. I couldn’t have done it without them. I also couldn’t have done it while working full time and am so thankful I was able to take the time to get better. Now I’m back at work and feeling so much better and can actually concentrate on my work. I still struggle with some nausea in the morning but I have some Zofran pills I take from time to time. I’m also still working on getting my strength back. I was basically bedridden for 2 months+ straight. I am so thankful now at 21 weeks to say I’ve survived HG yet again. This time I can honestly say this was the severe form of HG and I am so lucky it hasn’t lasted the whole pregnancy. I’ve been excited to begin getting ready for these boys.
I want to be an advocate for HG Awareness and Education. It impacts such a small percentage of pregnant women and a lot do not know how bad it can get. I didn’t. I am glad I have come out the other side and would love to help others get through it to. It’s a very lonely and depressing time and only those of us that have been through it can truly understand the price we pay to have families.
If you’re suffering from HG Please feel free to get a hold of me. I’d be happy to talk with you.