When it comes to HG, I feel like I’m one of the lucky ones. I was far less sick than many women. I was able to work throughout most of my pregnancy, I had family help and I had a supportive OBGYN. It’s been almost 2 years now since the worst of it was over. I don’t have lasting health issues and I have a happy, healthy toddler who has brought more joy to my life than I can describe. Yet, there are things that linger: small thoughts and feelings that drift into my head at the most unexpected times.
One of the first times I was in the hospital getting a IV fluids and medications I remember two feelings distinctly: being cold and being thirsty. With HG, I was almost always dehydrated so I was constantly thirsty, but could only tolerate small sips of water at a time, if that. A large gulp of water would almost always trigger vomiting, and vomiting once tended to lead to an empty stomach, which triggered more vomiting, usually ending after a few days with another IV. Even after 22 weeks when the medication started working well enough to let me eat almost normally, I had to stick with tiny sips of water, just enough to wet my tongue and swallow a little bit, no matter how thirsty I was.
That first time in the ER, with the IV anti-nausea drugs finally allowing me real rest, I drifted in and out of sleep. I dreamed about drinking water. In my dream, I would come into the house after working in the yard on a warm, spring day. I would pour myself a huge glass of cool water from the sink and drink it all, standing at the sink, taking gulp after gulp of water. It was the best water I’d ever tasted, refreshing, hydrating, with no limits on how much I could drink or how fast. This was a daydream I thought of for months.
Over time, the fantasy developed. As I got weaker and had a harder time getting around, I would add in coming in the back door from the yard and jogging up the stairs in my entryway, like it was nothing. I would jog up the stairs and fill glass after glass from the sink. It was a perfect moment. I pictured doing it thousands of times, every few hours, every day, for 8 months.
After my daughter was born I was shocked how quickly it all went away. One day, I was taking handfuls of anti-nausea drugs and religiously following a schedule and set of rules about what I ate, drank and did designed to keep me out of the hospital. The next day, it was as if none of it ever happened. Physically, it evaporated into thin air. But I do still remember things.
There is now nothing physically stopping me from jogging up my back stairs, filling a glass of cool water from the sink, and finishing it off in huge gulps. I’ve done it now, many times. I’m enormously grateful for this simple pleasure. But it’s different now that it was in my daydream. There’s an involuntary reaction, something in the back of my brain that feels that first gulp hit my throat and says: “Stop! You’ll be sick!” I always stop after that first gulp and my heart leaps up into my throat. There’s a fraction of a second when I am right back in the HG and have forgotten the rule about drinking water. I’m terrified that I’ve taken too big of a drink and am about to be sick for days. It only lasts a moment, and then I remember it’s okay, and I slowly finish my water.
It’s been almost two years, and I’m well again. But in my daydream, I was never scared.