I hope that by meeting these courageous mothers that have navigated their way through the toughest of circumstances, they can be uplifting and encouraging to those of you who may be experiencing the same. If you ever want to submit your story for consideration, you can always email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with a little snippet of what you would love to talk about!
Hi, I’m Allison! I’m 31 years old and a first-time mom to the sweetest three month old baby girl, Magnolia. I’ve got the most supportive husband ever, Michael, and we live at the beach in Maryland.
It’s so crazy to think that almost exactly a year ago we found out we were expecting. We got pregnant super fast after we decided to start trying, and we were over the moon excited. Christmas is my FAVORITE, so I couldn’t wait to wrap up little onesies and give to our families to break the big news. I had about four good weeks after finding out I was pregnant, and then… it started.
I expected to have morning sickness. My mom had it pretty bad when she was pregnant with me, and I’ve always had kind of a weak stomach. I figured I’d be pretty sick the first trimester then feel better when I got to the second. That’s how I️t normally goes, right? I never could have imagined what was to come.
Last Christmas Eve was the beginning. For the following few days I was vomiting multiple times a day. I couldn’t keep anything down, not even water. I was dizzy, so weak, exhausted.. I felt horrible. This was way worse than the morning sickness I had heard about. Did I have the flu? Food poisoning? Was my baby okay? What in the world was going on? I went to the local hospital (which is pretty small and doesn’t do any OB stuff- there’s a bigger one that does about half an hour away) and was given four bags of fluid, they told me to call my doctor, and I was sent on my way. So I did first thing the next morning. Things hadn’t gotten better after the fluids; I was still so sick. The nurse laughed at me and told me to try ginger ale and crackers. I tried explaining this was not just morning sickness; something wasn’t right. I just knew. She laughed again blaming my worry on it being my first pregnancy. I thought maybe I was overreacting. I wasn’t, but she made me feel like I was crazy.
The sickness got worse, and I called my doctor’s office back. Still brushing me off, the nurse told me to go back to the hospital if I couldn’t keep fluids down. She still wouldn’t make an appointment for me to be seen by my OB doctor. Apparently they don’t see pregnant patients before 8 weeks, and they wouldn’t make an exception. So, back to the hospital where I got more fluids and Zofran and went back home. This time they did blood work and my hcg levels were astronomical.
This was when I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). Umm what? I googled and found very little information about it other than Kate Middleton had it during her pregnancies. (Princess, can I borrow your ladies in waiting if I have another baby? Thanks, girl!) I called my doctor’s office and told them what I found out. When they FINALLY agreed to see me, I left with a prescription for Zofran and instructions to call if I️t doesn’t help and to go to the hospital if I couldn’t keep fluids down for 12 hours. I also got to see our baby for the first time. She was healthy, and the doctor explained to me that the baby would get what she needed from me, even if she had to break down my bones. That seemed a little extreme, but I was so thankful to know she was doing well. I️t gave me a sense of hope and strength. I could push through this. I had to for this little babe.
After that, I did the same song and dance with the nurses at my doctor’s office and the local hospital ER. Zofran seemed to help for the first two days I used it, but then I was back to my new normal. I was getting sick anywhere from 7 to 17 times a day. A few weeks and multiple ER trips later, I was sent to the bigger hospital about half an hour away. While in the ER, I was still getting sick after getting some type of nausea medicine and a couple bags of fluid to the point where during one episode I briefly couldn’t see. I️t wasn’t even for a whole minute, but it was so scary. They admitted me, and I was there for a week. Thankfully, I saw an angel of a doctor that took me seriously. FINALLY! After weeks of people laughing at me, telling me things to try, telling me to suck it up (I’m not the only person that’s ever been sick while pregnant, you know), someone believed me and helped me. She told me that for most people it gets better by 12 weeks, some 20 weeks, and unfortunately a few people have it the whole time. Guess which category I fell in?
Some days were better than others, but I was sick throughout the duration of my pregnancy. I got sick countless times a day. I ended up losing 20 lbs. I had to stop working. I tried more medications than I can remember. I couldn’t get out of bed most days. I couldn’t shower, only take baths (and even that didn’t always end well). The blood vessels around my eyes were all busted, so it looked like I had lots of red freckles. I was so so weak. Walking from one room to the next was a struggle. Car rides to doctor’s appointments were awful. I could occasionally eat a few bites of a baked potato or a couple of almonds, and sometimes water with lemon would stay down. Nothing sounded good. Every now and then, if something did miraculously sound yummy, I would just say screw it and go for it. I’d usually pay for it, but I was going to get sick anyway, so what’s the difference? Imagine the worst stomach bug you’ve ever had, and imagine it ten times worse and having it for 35 weeks. Towards the end, it did get better in that I had the desire to eat more. I’d still get sick, but at least I was eating.
Even now it’s hard to put into words how I felt emotionally throughout my HG journey. Defeated. Alone. Weak. Broken. Empty. The physical aspect, of course, was difficult. The emotional side may have been worse though. My husband of course had to work, so I was by myself most days. I lost touch with so many friends. I think they got tired of asking how I was just to get the same response, and who could blame them? A time that should be so happy and exciting seemed to have a rain cloud over it, and I’m sure that was awkward for them. Plus, I missed their weddings and showers and birthdays. I️t was just really sad, and I still miss them.
It’s a horrible, horrible feeling when people try to discredit or minimize what you’re going through. The biggest misconception was that it was just morning sickness. Tons of people get that. Suck it up! It’s not going to get better if you just lay around all the time. Try this, try that. I think most people probably had good intentions, but it was difficult for me to find the words to help them understand what I was going through. I just felt like a whiny little baby a lot of them time. Even now I’m struggling because I just feel like I’m complaining. Bear with me, folks!
I posted a status on Facebook asking if any of my friends had or knew anyone that had HG. I was connected with four different moms that went through it, and they were all so helpful and encouraging. I️t helped just to talk to someone that understood without having to explain. I’m usually pretty private on social media, but asking that question was so worth putting myself out there. Just knowing I wasn’t alone was such a comfort.
I slept a lot, and when I was awake my mind never stopped. I was constantly worrying about Magnolia. I️t seemed impossible she was getting what she needed even though my doctor assured me she was. What would the delivery be like? I was so unprepared. I couldn’t shop for her. I couldn’t get her nursery ready. If I was having this much trouble with the pregnancy, how was I going to be able to take care of a baby?! The thoughts just never stopped. Every time I felt a little kick, though, my fight was renewed. I️t would all be worth I️t. I was going to be the best mother I could be to my little girl. This HG mess wasn’t going to define me as a mother.
My faith was a huge comfort during this time as well. I prayed and prayed for my baby girl. I knew God was in control, and everything was in His hands. Everything was going to be okay, and even though I couldn’t see it, I knew this was happening for a reason.
I have to say, my husband was AMAZING. He never doubted or lost faith in me. He was my strength when I had none. There was nothing I asked for that he didn’t provide. He was my rock, and his presence alone was calming and comforting. I seriously have no idea how I would have gotten through I️t without him. My parents and my in-laws were absolutely wonderful as well. They helped Michael paint and clean and put together baby furniture. Anything we needed they were there. Having such supportive people around was crucial. I️t allowed me to focus on myself while knowing everything else was taken care of. To say I’m blessed is an understatement.
On August 20, 2017, Magnolia Jane was born. She was perfectly healthy and absolutely beautiful. You know how people always say you’ll forget about the pain of childbirth and only remember the good? I think that’s kind of happening with my pregnancy. Though I don’t think I’ll ever fully forget, looking down at my sweet baby girl snoozing in my arms right now makes it seem so worth it. I’d do it a million times over again to see her little smile.
Any mamas out there with HG, please know you are not alone, and I️t WILL get better. Even if it’s after your baby is in your arms, it WILL get better. Take the time while you’re sick to really focus on yourself. It’ll be the last time you’ll be able to for some time. Taking care of yourself is also taking care of your baby. If your laundry piles up or your house doesn’t get vacuumed, it’s okay. Do whatever you think might make you feel better. Know that I️t is okay to slow down and take it easy. Read a book if you like to read. Binge watch all the shows on Netflix. Sleep with twelve pillows. Your husband will understand. No matter what anyone says, what you’re going through is real. You aren’t crazy or overreacting. You are not alone, and it will be so worth it.