Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Journey Through "Morning Sickness"

I am preparing for the possibility of another little blessing in the not too distant future, and in preparing for that I need to deal with what was the biggest issue of my previous pregnancy, because the fear of it happening all over again is looming over me, and reassuring myself things will be different this time will hopefully help me. I'm scared but I know God can work miracles and I'm praying he will work one in me. I am sharing my story, not to whine and complain about how bad it was, but hopefully to make someone else not feel so alone, or to help someone else get the help they need. I've not gone into great detail with names and brands here, but if anyone is suffering and would like some more infomation feel free to comment and I'll email them.

I now know I suffered from a severe form of morning sickness, hyperemesis. At 6 weeks the nausea kicked in, bad. Relativly late onset for most HG women actually, but it made up for that by sticking around for the entire 9 months of pregnancy, which is what I dread the most. I think I could cope if it was only 2 or 3 months, but 8 months is a very long time to be that ill. I was also fortunate to be able to keep down fluids, but this also meant that the doctors refused to help me, claiming if it was more than just normal morning sickness I wouldn't be able to drink, and refusing to give me vitamins or anything, until I hit third trimester by which point I was self-medicating and had things under control. I was also not vomiting often, perhaps once a day, mostly because I didn't eat anything which would cause me to vomit, which was, well, everything! But I had constant unrelenting nausea that was so bad I was unable to stand, and often unable to sit.

I lost 15% of my body weight between weeks 6 and 16, at which point I was feeling faint whenever I stood up, and having dizzy spells regularly. This was completely unmedicated except for travel sickness bands which took the nausea from i-want-to-die, to i-feel-like-death. One morning I woke up and I had this strange feeling. I've always considered myself pretty in-tune with my body, and that morning I just felt like I had nothing left to give. I felt like some vital vitamin store was depleted or something, as it would be, really, going 3 months eating nothing but a couple of crackers and a piece of fruit each day, which is about all I could manage. I decided something needed to happen and went to the ER, where they basically told me to stop whining, that it was almost gone, and had trainee nurses stick an unneeded IV in my arm (I had one epic bruise from that, because she got it completely wrong, and punctured the vein like 3 times.)

After arguing they finally gave me something, Maxalon (Reglan I believe in the US), fed through the IV. When I recieved it I began panicing, I thought I was dying, and I very seriously contemplated ripping the IV out and simply running out of the hospital, I was hysterical. But I did not show the major side effect risk of maxalon, being muscle spasms, so they sent me home with the bottle of pills. I continued to have panic attacks and delusions, though they were less severe than the first time, and on the 3rd day I researched maxalon further, discovered my panic attacks and delusions were a side effect of the maxalon (confirmed by the fact it was much worse when given via IV as opposed to the pills) and the maxalon didn't help anyway, it stopped me throwing up, which wasn't much of an issue for me, but it made the nausea so much worse.

Of course, a 'rare few people' suffer from withdrawl from maxalon. And of course, my oversensitive body went right into that group. I ended up calling my MIL to come pick me up my first day off them because I was losing time and blanking out, and couldn't focus on anything, (not distracted non-focus, actually unable to look at anything and think about it for more than a couple of seconds). Due to the way I grew up, which I can't go into here, I had to learn to have a lot of control over my mind. I do not think idle thoughts, I simply can't. So being unable to focus, losing time, it scared the heck out of me. Needless to say my husband knows the medication and knows to check anything I'm being given if I'm not able to, and that maxalon must not be given, even as a 'just one dose' medication. I won't go through that again.

After that I was desperate, I felt an urgency inside me that I needed to do something. (something that didn't involve ginger!) so I bought some travel sickness pills. they worked! I mean I was still nauseous but I could eat small amounts and bland food, and I could stand and walk. They took it from HG to 'normal' morning sickness (normal 9 month morning sickness >_<) and I was so greatful. I never thought I'd be greatful to have normal morning sickness lol! As time passed on the nausea lessened but it never fully let up until after I gave birth. I found out after the birth these pills (which no doctor would approve of me taking for insurance reasons, however their only other option was zofran, far too expensive for me) are actually made up of components commonly used to treat HG and nausea in pregnancy in the US and Canada.

(just so no one thinks I took a random medication in pregnancy, I actually did a LOT of research and even went as far as to read and compare medical studies and read through various professional doctors. I'm very grateful that I was taught to comprehend those things! By the end of it I knew more about my medication than my doctors did.)

I am trying to convince myself it won't happen again. This time, I know more, I know the medications, I know the signs, I know what dosen't work, I know what helps. I feel safe taking certain medications in the first trimester, I can stop it getting worse at the start. And this time, I have a history, doctors and family will know it's not 'just morning sickness'. But I am still frightened. It seems silly, it's not even the worst thing to ever happen to me, and I've seen a number of women with HG who have suffered worse with it than me, but I still fear it.

So my plan of attack.

Find out all I can to prepare
Get house in order so that I don't need to worry about deep cleaning
Obtain various pills and treatments ahead of time
Eat more beans - just a theory that beans might help, I believe it may have even come from Kim at Life in a Shoe.

Positive pregnancy test
Prepare make ahead meals, begin asking friends and family to make an extra portion and send it over.

As soon as it begins
Begin wearing sea sickness bands
Try 'treatment' (I am going to experiment with a controversial 'medicine' that I believe is safe, but don't wish to share the details of here. Again, if you want more info, comment and I'll email you.)
If treatment dosen't work begin travel sickness pills immediately (again, comment for ingredients)
Arrange family to come over and help out regularly
Inform doctors of situation and past history with it, insist on talking about options that are not zofran or maxalon,
Begin taking anti-natal vitamins and iron supplements at night before bed to minimize sick feeling from iron.
GET OUIT OF THE HOUSE, it's never as bad if you're out and about.

Hopefully this will get me to a stage where it is simply 'normal' morning sickness, AND, the theory is, treating early lightens the severity and shortens the timespan, perhaps even clearing it up before baby is born (I found last pregnancy I was able to half my medication in the final month, I don't know if it was my body or the meds.)

That is all I can do, and I pray God will help me, give me the strength to care for myself and Arwen, and perhaps even prevent another HG pregnancy!


  1. Any woman who has experienced this and still hopes for more babies is courageous in my book! Have you ever heard of the Bean Cure? Life in a Shoe blogged about it during her last pregnancy.

    I wanted to let you know that I finally got around to answering the comment you left on my birthday post.

  2. I have a friend, well and several others that can a test to giving up gluten--apparently it blocks vitamin receptors and causes all kinds of problems--its more of an intolerance to gluten rather than celiac--which is an allergy. My friend stopped eating it and she wasn't nausea anymore--and the doctors had diagnosed her with
    hyperemesis as well. good luck and god bless

  3. So why no ginger? I've taken it before, both for morning sickness (just the regular type not extreme!) and motion sickness and it works WONDERS. A couple of ginger capsules and I feel much better, or I sip some lemon ginger tea. I realize this probably would not be enough to FIX a severe case like yours, but surely it would help some!

  4. Emily - While ginger is generally very good for standard morning sickness, the vast majority of women with HG find it does nothing, or in fact makes it worse. I tried ginger in many forms the first time around, because ginger DOES help me with every other type of nausea! Nerves, motion sickness, just feeling 'off', ginger is the first thing I go to most of the time so I know how good it can be! But there's something about the HG, it simply does nothing, or worsens, the nausea for most of us. Unfortunately the same is true of most the typical morning sickness remedies. It's part of what sets it apart from normal morning sickness.

    Having said that, I was in the small minority of HG sufferers who found sea-sickness bands to be helpful, most HG women don't find they do anything at all. A few HG women are really improved by crackers in bed before moving, a lot of HG women find their first movement of the day is throwing up! Some women swear by mint, I found it made me worse.

    Regina - Thanks for that, I'll have to keep it in mind. I suppose it makes some sence, and I've been wanting to go gluten free for awhile anyway, maybe this will be my motivation.