For me, pregnancy was a surprise. We had only returned from our honeymoon
for two weeks when HG hit. I thought it was just the stress of the wedding,
moving and beginning graduate school that was aggravating my stomach ulcer.
I was in shock when the pregnancy test was positive. The nausea became
progressively worse until I began vomiting the night my husband brought home
a roasted garlic pizza. I had to sleep on the sofa with the fan on,
aromatherapy candles lit and the windows open (in November!).
A week later,
I was in the hospital for the first of four times. I survived on watermelon
(hard to find in December!) and saltines for a few months and lived in huge,
baggy sweats - the feel of ANY pressure on my stomach would make me ill. I
was able to eat peanut butter and crackers at times - but after choking on
them when I got sick (and home alone), I only ate them if I could keep
fluids down. We slept with a wall of pillows between us because the smell of
what he had eaten for the day would also make me sick.
For eight weeks, I
couldn't stand up without vomiting. My husband would prepare a cooler of
water/juice and melon to put beside the sofa - I couldn't go near the
kitchen. Even the TV made me ill - the sight of food, the noise and the
light. I laid there and watched the ceiling fan go around, wondering what
they would do with my baby if I went insane.
Two weeks before the end of my
first semester of grad school, I had to drop out. I was so depressed. Our
family lives 2500 miles away, so we had limited support. A few friends
helped by bringing meals, helping me unpack my clothes, or shopping - true
gifts to us.
We tried every treatment we could find, natural medicine helped some (esp.
homeopathics and acupressure). I ended up on Zofran, which curtailed the
vomiting and eased the nausea a little. My husband was so awesome despite
the long hours he had to work at that time, he did anything I asked,
including cooking, avoiding foods I could smell on him (esp. garlic), and
moving my belongings from my former home. He even called me from the grocery
on his cell phone one night and read to me what he saw on the shelves
because I was so hungry and couldn't think of anything I could keep down -
and I couldn't step foot in a grocery store! We laugh at that even now. I
still remember those incredible starvation pangs - mixed with nausea -
that's one of the worst parts for me.
Around 16 weeks, I finally stopped losing weight (I'd lost 20) and weighed
what I did in early high school. I began the slow process of regaining
strength to sit up again and finally to walk a significant distance.
Progress was thwarted when I hit my 3rd trimester, my nausea worsened
dramatically probably due to my ulcer and reflux. My baby began gaining
weight rapidly (and I stopped) and my body was too weak to handle it. My
uterine ligaments began to spasm as did my sciatic nerve (it still does!).
The pain during movement would leave me breathless - thus I laid down a
lot - propped on lots of pillows. My husband often had to help me stand and
sit - especially at the end. I ended up in physical therapy, but the pain
was too much and I didn't make much progress. By delivery, I had only
graduated to five pound weights. We also tried unsuccessfully to regulate my
thyroid - every change in dose resulted in fluctuating nausea. I finally
said 'enough' and just survived until delivery.
As my due date neared, we were informed our insurance coverage was changing
on my due date and I would have to change OB's and hospitals or be induced.
I chose the latter - my OB knew me so well! My body didn't respond well to
induction (I was already exhausted) and it took about 30 hours - during
which time I wasn't allowed to eat much! It was a bit traumatic after such a
miserable pregnancy to have such a complicated birth. But, we survived and
our beautiful 8 pound 14 ounce (!) son was born. I only managed to gain 14
pounds total over my normal weight - thus I was back to my normal weight
after two weeks! He stayed in the 90%+ for weight by being such a good
eater - unfortunately, he still prefers to eat instead of sleep at night!
Recovery has been very slow and challenging over the last 10 months, I'm
sure due largely to my commitment to exclusively breastfeed (until six
months) despite the depleted state of my body. But I think after nine months
of him surviving on little food or not the best foods (only chocolate
cheesecake and Macdonald's the last few weeks!), it was a high priority. I
still have trouble thinking clearly and am low on energy, but I'm finding
improvement with Chinese herbs and homeopathics. Food can give me anxiety
and nausea still, especially those foods that made me the most ill: garlic,
onions and fermented foods. I can walk several miles now and am overcoming
postpartum depression - so common in women with stress and major life events
during pregnancy. My husband and I hope to have some semblance of a normal
life in the near future, before we tempt fate and try for a second child.
Hopefully, we'll be more settled and prepared, especially by having the
money to hire help if needed. We feel our commitment to each other was
tested and we can probably survive anything now. Maybe that is one benefit I
can find from having HG, besides the precious child we now have. If I can
suggest anything to those in recovery, look back and you'll likely find
something positive in it all. I will never doubt the integrity of my
marriage after HG!
Note: Kimber highly recommends visiting www.sidelines.org. She was able to find invaluable support there during her difficult pregnancy.
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