I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. I was elated to finally live my dream of becoming pregnant until I realized I had a serious condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum that turned my pregnancy into what felt like a nine-month long hangover minus the happy memory of a fun night out.
After the initial positive test, I immediately began basking in all the joys of pregnancy. I shopped for maternity clothes, read books on baby names and went to pre-natal yoga. I was on cloud nine and constantly felt a euphoric sense of excitement of what was to come.
About six weeks in, I woke up with a slight stomachache. I just wrote it off as something I ate. Then the stomachache got worse. And a little bit worse. And worse still. And then it became unbearable, and it ruined my entire pregnancy.
I was diagnosed with a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). According to the American Pregnancy Association, it is defined as extreme, persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. This condition has been in the news with celebrities like Amy Schumer and Kate Middleton suffering from it.
The nausea became absolutely debilitating. It was so severe that I couldn’t function as a normal person. I was in graduate school at the time and I had to drop out of school and out of life in general. The nausea had rendered me so weak that I was unable to do anything a person does during a normal day: brush teeth, shower, cook a meal, drive a car. Tasks that had once seemed so mundane to me now seemed insurmountable.
I knew that I needed to eat, but the thought of lifting my body out of bed and walking the six feet to the kitchen just felt impregnable. Getting that bowl down from the cupboard might as well have been climbing Mt. Everest because I was completely incapable of doing either at that moment. I would just lay in bed doubled over in pain 24 hours a day.
I knew the doctor could possibly offer me some suggestions for relief but here was the problem: I was too sick to get to the doctor’s office. Driving a car was completely out of the question, as was getting up out of bed and walking to the car that would take me there. So, my only option was to lay in bed and writhe in pain.
The lowest point was when I tried to get up and collapsed on the floor next to my bed. I hit my head on the nightstand and lay there unconscious for hours. I remember briefly coming to and seeing my phone sitting on the dresser a few feet away and knowing that I needed to get to it to call for help, but I couldn’t do it. I simply didn’t have the strength.
With my husband’s help, I eventually did get to a doctor who apparently did not understand hyperemesis AT ALL because she gave me laughable remedies: club soda, ginger and a sea-band. Needless to say, none of this worked.
Next up was Zofran. According to my doctor, this is deemed a last resort because it is a category C drug and it’s not known how it affects the fetus. But I was desperate. If I didn’t survive this pregnancy the baby sure as heck wouldn’t survive either, so my doctor doubled my dose. No relief. She tripled it. Nada. We tried a pump. Zilch. She basically told me I was on my own at that point.
People often ask me what having HG was like. The best way I can describe it is to imagine the worst bout of food poisoning or stomach bug you ever had. Now imagine that intense pain does not go away for NINE MONTHS. That’s 270 consecutive days of feeling utterly miserable.
The physical pain was unrelenting and excruciating. But it wasn’t just that; the emotional pain had taken its toll as well. I became despondent and depressed. I wasn’t actively suicidal because frankly, that required energy I simply didn’t have, but I had completely lost the will to live. I would lie bed and pray that I wouldn’t wake up.
I was no longer even remotely excited about the baby. In fact, I resented the baby and desperately wished that I had never gotten pregnant in the first place. When these dark thoughts would creep into my brain, I would immediately feel terrible guilt because I had spent the last two years wishing for a positive pregnancy test every moment of every day and now, here I was wishing it away. I just never imagined in my wildest dreams that a pregnancy could be this awful.
I would see other women enjoying their pregnancies and I was so bitter about my condition that I didn’t even try to disguise my disgust. Every time someone would ask me how my pregnancy was going, I would give them an evil death stare as though the hyperemesis was their fault. I felt cheated that what was supposed to be a joyful time in life had been marred by this horrendous condition.
Miraculously, those nine months did manage to pass, and I gave birth to a healthy baby. I fell immediately in love the moment I laid eyes on him. And poof, the hyperemesis that had plagued me for the last miserable nine months vanished into thin air.
Apparently, I developed amnesia because (ironically) nine months later, I became pregnant again. The day the HG hit with the second pregnancy, I had a very profound sense of WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?!?! How am I supposed to do this again? And this time with a toddler to take care of!
During my last pregnancy, my husband took a video of me visibly suffering. Now, every time I develop baby fever (which is often) he whips out that video as reminder and just like that my baby fever is obliterated.
I want to be very clear about something. Morning sickness and hyperemesis are not the same thing. They are not even in the stratosphere. It’s like comparing a sprinkling rainstorm to a category five hurricane.
Just like a hurricane, the destruction from HG was massive and catastrophic. The wreckage and carnage from that storm is permanently seared into my soul. But usually after a terrible storm there is an actual and metaphorical rainbow of hope. For me, that rainbow came in the form of an 8-pound baby boy I am forever so hopelessly and desperately in love with.
About the Author
Christina Crawford has three boys under 6 whose behavior more closely resembles feral animals than actual human children. The truth is, she spends the majority of her time just keeping these people alive and putting out fires (actual and metaphorical). But mostly, she’s just trying to mitigate the damage to her sanity. Her writing has been featured on Scary Mommy, Sammiches & Psych Meds and the Ft. Worth Mom’s Blog. If you find her misery and misadventures in parenting amusing, you can follow along on Instagram and her blog: https://www.instagram.com/mommy_dopest/ https://christinacrawfordnet.wordpress.com/