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Julia's HuGStory

This is my HuG story: I became pregnant in early July 1998 and as we had only been trying for a month we were really pleased that it had happened so quickly. Phill and I had been married for a year at the time and were really looking forward to becoming parents or the first time. For the first 6 weeks I didn't feel too bad (although I was completely exhausted) but then at the end of week 6 I began to feel sick. I had expected to feel sick/get sick at some point because my mother and sister had suffered from Hg during their pregnancies and I had heard that it was hereditary. I was not prepared however, for how bad it would become! On 12th August I took my first day off work because of the overwhelming nausea (I wasn't able to return to work for the rest of the pregnancy) and from then on it became progressively worse. I was sick for the first time a couple of weeks after that (21st August to be exact) and from that point on I vomited every day for a total of 53 days (I counted!) before I had a break. On the odd day I would only vomit 3 or 4 times, but more often than not it was 12+ times increasing to 25-30 times on some days. When I was 9 weeks pregnant I was admitted to hospital for the first time and was given IV fluids. That first night was terrible. After my husband had gone home for the night I lay in bed crying and just wanting to die. For the first time in my life I felt that I had taken something on that I really couldn't get out of - I was alone in this one and felt desperate.

I spent a week in that hospital before discharging myself. The care I received was dreadful. None of the doctors/consultants seemed to know anything about HG and none of the nurses took any interest. I was given a scan and when that showed that the baby was fine I was left to it. The only contact I had with anyone was when someone came to empty and replace the bowl I was vomiting in! As soon as I returned home however, it was clear that I was not going to last long - I vomited 30 times in 24 hrs and had no choice but to go back to the hospital for IV fluids. This time I was there for 3 weeks during which time I stayed on IV fluids and was given various anti-emetic drugs (none of which helped) until finally towards the end of the 3 weeks I started to be able to keep small amounts of food down and was able to go home. At that point my parents who lived 100 miles away persuaded me to go and stay with them as Phill was working 12hr days and was not able to give me the care I needed during the day (though he tried and was fantastic throughout the whole thing). For a week it seemed as if things were looking up. I was able to eat some things and take fluids and although I was still vomiting 3-4 times a day, I was starting to get my appetite back. I even remember a bowl of cold pasta that my 4-year old nephew had left on the table - I was so ravenous! After only a week of this however, I was back to square one again - the constant vomiting came back with a vengeance and once again I became de-hydrated and had to be admitted to hospital (this time into a hospital near to where my parents live). By the time I was back in hospital my throat was raw from having vomited constantly for 72hrs and as there was nothing in my stomach I would often vomit blood. I also remember how much my ribs hurt from the constant heaving and retching.

I spent 4 weeks at this second hospital and although they were the worst 4 weeks of my life, the care that I was given there was superb and proved to be my salvation. They immediately took my case seriously and I was weighed for the first time since I had become pregnant and it transpired that I had lost 34lbs. From that point on my weight was monitored daily and a dietician was assigned to my case. She was fantastic and showed me a medical study that she had found in an American journal where a group of women with HG had been successfully treated with a nasal-gastric feeding tube. We agreed that I would be hooked up to one and see how things went. After that I'm not sure if this is what put me on the road to recovery or whether the HG had run its course, but I was discharged from the hospital when I was 20 weeks pregnant with the feeding machine which I would hook up to over-night (and only needed to use for a further 3 weeks). I was sick for the last time when I was 23 weeks and after that it was all over. It did take me along time to regain the weight and my strength after lying on my back for 14 weeks and I did suffer from dizzy spells right up until I gave birth, but otherwise I ate like a horse, gained weight gradually and was really able to enjoy the rest of my pregnancy.

On 7th April 1999 I gave birth to Leah and unbelievably she weighed in at 8lb 3oz! She couldn't be healthier and at 15 months she is now a very happy and lively little girl - the HG had absolutely no affect on her whatsoever.

Throughout the whole thing my husband was wonderful. He supported and reassured me constantly and was always there for me when I needed him - at one point he was working a 12hr day and then doing a 150 mile round trip to come and see me in the hospital for an hour in the evening. He would often find me really low and tearful, but in all the time I was ill he never once stopped being positive and encouraging. Now it is a running joke in our house that whenever he would turn up at the hospital for one of these visits I would immediately vomit! I have to tell him that it was because I would be sick whenever I moved and had nothing to do with the sight of him!

We are now trying for a second baby and I can't help worrying about how things are going to go next time, but knowing that others have survived HG (and gone on to have more children) really helps.

If you are going through HG now, please take heart - it does not last forever (you may even get to enjoy some of your pregnancy like I did) and my daughter is living proof that it is us who suffer and not the baby!

Julia Redford

p.s I have heard about the drug Zofran - does it actually work? Also, does anyone know if a low-fat diet prior to pregnancy helps to prevent HG? I have heard that a diet high in saturated and animal fats can make HG more likely.

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