Hyperemesis gravidarum: the truth

At around 5 weeks pregnant, I suddenly felt incredibly nauseous. Everyday activities like walking, brushing my teeth and even putting the kettle on were all triggers for my involuntary retching. The simple act of bending down to spit my toothpaste out began to make me vomit.

I got to a point where sitting in the same room as my husband and son as they had their tea became impossible. The smells made my tummy curdle with acid and sent my heaving into overdrive.

As the nausea progressed, and my intake of both solids and fluids dwindled, I was forced to go to the doctor to ask for help.

You’ve got more chance of hooking up with Brad Pitt than getting a same day appointment at my doctors’ surgery, so there I lay in bed, awaiting the inevitable call back from one of the twenty odd doctors at the practice. It went something like this:

Me: Hello there, thanks for calling me back.

Doctor: (sounding very unimpressed) You requested a call back?

Me: Well, I was hoping to seek advice really. I’m incredibly sick and nauseous; I have been for around 5 weeks now. (Voice trembling with emotion)

Doctor: Right, first baby?

Me: Second. My son was a dreamy pregnancy.

Doctor: Right, well, we’ve got different anti sickness medications you can try. They’re all safe to use. One can go under your top lip and one you can just swallow. Which would you like?

Me: (silent. Feeling very vulnerable and upset at the complete lack of empathy she’d shown) Well…I’m a little cautious to take anti sickness. I’m worried it may harm-

Doctor: (interjecting curtly / now sounding truly exasperated) -I’ve just told you they’re safe to use.

This ‘conversation’ culminated in the rude and uncaring doctor writing me a prescription for my first anti sickness medication, whilst adding that I should try small meals and ginger.

Ginger?! If someone tells me again that ginger is the cure to this sickly state, then I swear I’ll turn into a wailing, Victorian madwoman, tearing my hair out and rolling on the floor. Ginger?! It doesn’t do a thing. Nothing helps! I want to vomit, all day, everyday. It’s actually a momentary relief when I do as I get about 5 seconds reprieve from the stomach stripping nausea and retching.

I’m now on my 5th anti sickness medication, and second hospital admission.

When I was first admitted to hospital, it was my husband who dragged me there. He missed a day of work as I was simply too weak to look after my son. Honestly, I felt as though my body was shutting down. Fluids and solids were not going in; I was faint and extremely dehydrated. The medication I was on did not help, at all. In fact, my darling husband told me yesterday that I looked like a corpse, with burnt, dried up lips.

I could hear the murmurings of his pleas on the phone to the surgery from the bed, followed by urgent footsteps coming up the stairs.

“Right, I need you to pee in this. Then we need to get you to the doctor.”

He was holding a battered munchkin 360 cup in one hand and our bored, butter covered toddler precariously in the other. Looking back now, this was hilarious, but all I could think of at the time was: how am I going to pee?

By this point, I hadn’t been to the toilet for what felt like days.

With the bedroom swirling around me and my head beating worse than a violent, freshers’ week hangover, I got to the toilet, unscrewed the munchkin 360 and squeezed a minuscule drop of hot, burnt orange Tango – looking urine into the cup.

When we arrived at the doctors’ surgery, my now truly fed-up and unentertained child spotted the blue cup he had once loved, which now housed my hot, sticky pee.

All hell broke loose.

Flinging himself on the floor, he screamed repeatedly, ‘my cup! Mine! Miiiiine!’ Neither my husband nor I had the energy to sort out the screeching demon in front of us. I was leaning limply on the wall and my husband, fed-up and now absolutely exhausted, began to try and shove the cup into his tiny pocket.

I remember her face when I sat weakly in front of her. The doctor caught sight of my parched lips and huge, dark bags, and quickly began testing my urine. Holding the testing strip in her hand, she urgently announced:

“I’m going to send you straight to hospital. I want you to go there now, guys, okay?”

I’ve got to hand it to them. The staff at the hospital, on both occasions, were truly fantastic. With speedy efficiency, they filled me with precious liquid through a drip, and regulated my nausea with anti sickness in liquid form. Within 24 hours, I felt like me again: reenergised and alert, not zombified.

I’m now on two separate anti sickness, six times a day. Although the nausea is still there, the sickness has gone and I able to eat and drink more than I have done in weeks. Here’s hoping there’s light coming.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a serious condition. It’s not only incredibly debilitating, painful and isolating for the woman, it also has a huge impact on her family’s lives.

Ginger won’t help, but support and love from family and friends will add warmth and comfort to anyone battling with hyperemesis.

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I’ve got what Kate had!

Signed off with hyperemesis gravidarum today. No, I’m not a spelling genius. Good old Google to the rescue! My mum’s reaction was, ‘isn’t that what Kate had?’ As if Kate Middleton is a much-loved family friend!
Many women, my mum and I included, have little to no idea of the impact this pregnancy illness can have on women and their families.

For the last 5 weeks, I’m been a shivering state of nausea and vomiting, unable to keep much in at all. Even writing the word food is sending me into a sickness frenzy, trying to suppress the sickly acid in my throat. I can’t bear it. I’m struggling to even keep water down at the moment. The bowl by the side of my bed has become a permanent feature. I even thought I’d buy one in white, as the current garish pink one makes it seem to glow with self-importance.

Having time off work is not ideal. My boss, I’m sure, will have very little time for me, but what can you do when merely speaking for extended periods makes you heave? Equally, adding to the angst of missing work, is the knowledge that there are at least three, childless, young and super eager whipper-snappers who would just love to jump into my professional boots. I bet their eyes lit up like feeding time at the zoo when they heard of my absence this morning.

My bosses just attach themselves onto the shiny, unrelenting, yes-sirs, forgetting that they too will soon start to have families and lose a little of their work-hunger. Their time will soon be split between trying to forge out the ideal ‘work – life’ balance. Many mums see the mere title of this phrase as an oxymoron! It’s hard, incredibly so, heightened further by unsupportive bosses, who see pregnant woman as dead weights, needing to be cut free, and fast.

What will be on the menu for today? Sleep, luckily. Fortunately, my LO is in nursery, so I’m free to sink under the covers until it’s pick-up time. Trying to remain an attentive and fun-loving mother to him is my priority, but this vile sickness is making everything so difficult.

The doctor said it will hopefully pass in two weeks, but it may continue for some time. Dear Lord, if you exist, please take away this sickness monster from my body. I’ve well and truly had enough.

Baby no 2

I’m not going to lie. Finding out that baby number 2 is on the way fills me with terror: sheer, impenetrable terror.

Period was late. I had my suspicions. We were half ready, but seeing that line appear in the pregnant box was such an incredibly different experience to seeing it with my first.

With my first, I was so elated. I felt invincible, running downstairs at lightning speed and into the arms of my husband, who was eagerly awaiting the result of the test. We cried and screamed excitedly and then we got into bed with a brew and talked for hours about how on earth we’d tell our friends and family. We conjured up exciting ways to announce the news, in order to give them an extra-special surprise. We imagined the tears or joy they’d all shed. The awesome excitement of entering this unknown world with my partner was thrilling, life changing.

The emotions I feel with this pregnancy test, however, are so markedly opposite to the first.

Initially, I gasped, then I sat staring at it for what seemed like an age, making sure I wasn’t seeing things, or reading the test wrong.

It may sound silly, but after I’d finished staring at the second test, I felt nervous to tell my husband, who I could hear downstairs was very much flagging from entertaining our toddler all day. I could imagine the exhausted expression on his face, highlighted by the many silver hairs that have graced him since our toddler’s arrival.

With a very deep breath, I walked downstairs and handed him the test.

The conversation that followed was interspersed with lines such as, ‘we don’t do that,’ and ‘I said, don’t do that,’ so it didn’t feel special or congratulatory in anyway. I don’t blame him. We are both too tired to judge each other.

After we’d got our LO in to bed, we collapsed on the sofa and talked, not with tears of joy or screams of elation, but with a realisation of the mammoth couple of years that we know we both now face.

I know we’ll make it; I know it. But the road ahead fills me with a nervous unease and anxious dread.

Am I happy? Yes, of course I am. Am I terrified? Damn right I am.

#babyno2

Medal winners

Anyone else feel like the end of the day with toddlers is comparable to finishing a marathon?

Think about the events which occur every single day as a parent: the endless meals, snacks and clearing up; the conversations and babble-deciphering; the tantrums and tears; the endless running around after a wild, voraciously curious and wobbly toddler and the monotony which is toy tidying. The list is quite simply exhaustive.

Sometimes, we should just take a step back and reflect on the fact that, for another day, we’ve kept them alive and happy! Parenting is tough: bloody tough.

My friend uses one of those fit watch things – a waste of £100 if you ask me, but she says it helps her on the road to becoming a Victoria’s Secret, well, when we’re not inhaling cake it does anyway. Today, she was telling me that she’d already racked 14,000 steps and this was at 3pm.

It’s exhausting, parenting, wonderfully exhausting. You’re running around like a manic, over worked Duracell bunny, most days.

Like many other working parents, I continue my day’s work post put-down, dinner and dog walk, so I never feel guilty about indulging in a naughty dessert a few times a week, because who needs a gym when you’re a parent, right?! Somedays, I even forget to pee I’m that busy.

What I’m going to do more of though, if time allows, is to stop and give myself credit for getting through the day, and keeping that beautiful, toothy grin on my LO’s face. Us Brits aren’t well known for self-appreciation. In fact, showing pride in one’s achievements is still seen by some as self-indulgent.

Whatever your thoughts are, I believe that the majority of parents are medal winners already. They’re doing one of the most special and humbling roles around: being a carer.

Leaving them

Watching my LO’s chubby, pleading palms up against the window, as I walk away from the nursery, never gets any easier. Sometimes, I’ll see him through the window, inconsolable in the arms of his key worker. At that point, as I’m rushing back to my car in the fear of being late to work, I really have to stop myself from ringing up my boss, calling it quits on a whim of sheer super-mum style devotion and running back to claim my bundle of heaven.

It’s not like this everyday, the tears and the screaming, but when it happens, it guts me, rips out my insides and leaves me wanting to both cry and vomit at the same time.

Like many mummies, I had no choice in returning to work: we needed the money. Similarly, like many new parents, we’re not fortunate enough to have grandparents to support us. With great reluctance, my LO had his first taster day when he was just 8 months old.

The nursery posted a picture of him on our parent app that day, in the kind hope of trying to calm his hysterical mother, I suppose. I’ll never forget it. A lone baby, propped up by cushions to help him sit up, with a wide eyed expression of both terror, loneliness and awe. When I saw it after my first day at work, I cried for a long time. I cried for him; I cried for me; I cried because our time had gone so quickly. But most of all, I cried because I knew that I was actually working until 12pm everyday to do exactly what I want/ed to do: to look after my own child.

When I went to look around our chosen nursery, one of the ladies in the room asked me how many days a week would my then 9 month old be attending, to which I replied, ‘4.’ I’ll never forget her reply: ever. With a look of both pity and disagreement worn on her face, she said, ‘ooohhh, that’s such a long time.’

To an already emotional and anxious woman, my own guilt was enough to bear; with her judgement added to it, it all became just too much.

There’s nothing anyone can ever say to make it better, apart from, ‘well if we win the lotto, then you’re on my list.’

To all the mummies reading this, who feel the pain I feel on those tear-filled mornings, I know how hard it is, and you have my full support and empathy.

#lottowinneeded

#pickme

#teammotherhood

Ole Maconul

You know the ones I’m on about, those crazy Nursery rhymes which every Tom, Dick and Harry seem to have mixed for our ‘viewing pleasure’ on You Tube. The classics are not so classic anymore, however; they seem to have been mixed with Bhangra, heavy drum n’ bass beats or dance-electro-house chords. Especially when exhaustion hits at the end of a manic day, I find myself laughing out loud to some of them, much to the amusement of my jam-covered toddler.

I’ve got to say, Baby Shark, do, do, do, do, do is a firm favourite at the moment. Well, for my LO it is. For me, it’s become the theme tune to various daily routines, regardless of whether or not I’m actually with my child. ‘Brush the dog, do, do, do, do, do,’ or ‘Let’s buy cake, do, do, do, do, do,’ both made their appearances today.

I must admit, naively, that I announced – very proudly – throughout my pregnancy that my baby wouldn’t be watching TV. I mean, what the hell was I thinking? Sometimes, it gets to 6pm and I have nothing left to give: nothing, so popping the crazy-ass nursery rhymes on the laptop literally saves my skin.

When my toddler bangs the table where he knows the laptop is and orders, ‘Ole Maconul,’ as some God-given baby imperative, I admit I do feel a little guilty.

However, is it hindering his academic progress or impacting negatively on his concentration? To be honest, I couldn’t give two-hoots. Without his 30 minute You Tube stint most nights, I’d have crumbled by now.

One of my LO’s little mates already has his own tablet, which he carries everywhere with him, skipping adverts and adjusting the volume when he wants. He’s just turned two.

We can’t judge mothers and their choices, but knowing about moderation and balance is key to the upbringing of today’s technological youth.

Whatever my thoughts are on TV time for children, my son still adores singing along to my attempt at Old MacDonald. I may not be quite as good and flashy as my You Tube counterparts, but I’m not far off.

#noshame

#babysharkdodododododo

#remix

Realisation

My fat dog does this ceremonial walk when he needs to do his thing, paces in one direction, then the other, head down, full focus, until he’s found his perfect ‘spot.’ However odd it may seem, this daily ritual always makes me smile when I’m reaching in my pocket for a dog bag, however tiresome my day’s been.

I love my evening dog walk. Tonight’s sky was magical, huge candy floss clouds, rimmed in a fluorescent orangy, pink light.

An hour previously, my life was anything but serene: my LO was smashing his plastic boat into the side of the bath, and giggling uncontrollably when I told him calmly that, ‘we don’t do that.’

Parents need that 20 minute escape everyday, however and wherever they wish to take it. Being away from the manic monotony of the house makes you feel slightly more human, if that’s at all possible.

I must admit, the word monotony hung in my thoughts tonight as I watched my dog peeing up a neighbour’s wall. Is this it for me? Is this my life, forever? Will I ever travel again? Will I have get my six pack back? Will I ever eat a meal, undisturbed, ever again? Will I ever do anything, ever again, where I’m not rushing? Will I ever get a 12 kip in, ever again, will I?

Sometimes, when you’re feeling a little under the weather and craving a monster sleep, dwelling on the negatives of juggling being the best parent you can be with the 100 other responsibilities you have, can be completely overwhelming.

I’ve just started trialing a positivity thought exercise each day: it’s really helping manage these crazy thoughts and musings.

Before bed tonight, I’ll think about the best thing that’s happened in mummy land today. My LO’s chubby, bubble covered arms reaching for me in the bath. His toothy grin radiated happiness as he ordered happily, ‘cudul, mummy. Cudul.’

However all consuming parent hood is sometimes, clinging on to those special, magical moments is what you need to get you through.

#lottowinneeded

#whatif

#cudlecudle