I got pregnant only 3 months after I got married. Although it was sooner than expected, we were so happy and ready to be parents. What I was not ready for was pregnancy. Only 5 weeks in and I was throwing up constantly. My most vivid memory is throwing up so violently I decided to get in the shower after to clean myself up. I ended up on the shower floor retching and gagging until the water ran cold. I was working as a dental assistant and was running out of the operatory in the middle of crown preps and extractions. So much for keeping my pregnancy a secret until the second trimester! Finally, I reached 8 weeks and was seen by my OB for my 1st appointment. I was prescribed Zofran, the nectar of the Gods, and was able to control the nausea (mostly) with the dissolvable tablets. I now know this was HG but at the time my OB never diagnosed it or explained to me why I was so ill. I suffered through many months of vomiting, nausea and dehydration. Little did I know, this was my “easy” pregnancy.
After the birth of my 1st son I was not eager to get pregnant again but by the time he was 2 we started trying again. Three years of infertility (and all the sadness that entails) later, we started to research adoption. I immediately got pregnant. I expected to be ill again but I never knew it could get so much worse. I found out I was pregnant on a Monday. By Wednesday I was throwing up. Saturday was my first trip to the ER. On my second trip to the hospital my new OB wanted to admit me. I genuinely thought I was dying so I declined and told her I’d rather die at home. She actually explained what Hyperemesis Gravidarum was and told me I needed medical intervention and that it could be set up at home.
A few days later I was hooked to an IV and started on my 24/7 subcutaneous Zofran pump. I spent weeks in bed, my muscles atrophied, I felt so helpless and useless. I was so full of guilt for not being a good mother to my son. I felt angry for my situation and terrified I would lose the baby. Then I’d think to myself, “I might be better off if I lost it. I might resent this child and all I’ve had to suffer through”. And then I’d feel even more guilty for having thoughts like this.
I lost 16 pounds. I developed an iron deficiency and hyperthyroidism which meant even more medications. My nausea still wasn’t under control so a motion sickness medication was added.
But my lowest point was before I was diagnosed. Laying on the bathroom floor in agony. I felt like glass shards were moving through my intestines. My husband was standing over me, helpless as to how to help me. He looked at me and said, “Is this really worth it?” I know he was scared. And if I were watching him suffer in that way, I would be questioning it too. But I’ve never been more hurt by his words. To suggest that our child would not be worth the pain and suffering was more painful than anything I experienced with HG.
Somehow, we survived. I survived. I survived the vomiting, the never ending nausea, the daily placements of the catheter for my pump…I delivered a perfect baby boy and 2 weeks later was able to stop the anti-nausea meds.
Two years later (a couple weeks ago) I stumbled upon the HER Foundation. And I think some heavenly intervention was in play because the post about PTSD was the first thing I read. I needed to see that. Over the last 18 months I have often joked about my “Pregnancy PTSD” and now I know I’m NOT crazy. It’s real.
There’s a reason why anytime a show or movie has a scene where someone goes under water I can’t breathe. In any sort of near-drowning scene my heart rate goes up and a I start gasping for air and if feels as though there is an elephant sitting on my chest. Because of the PTSD article, I now realize this is because I was experiencing suffocation every time I vomited.
There’s a reason certain people give me so much anxiety simply to speak to. There are 3 people in particular that needed me while I was hooked to an IV at home and unable to do anything to help them. To this day, anytime I even see an email from these people I feel so anxious and insecure. I was so incredibly useless to them 2 years ago so I must still be worthless to them now right?
Before HG I rarely experience anxiety. It is a near daily occurrence now. And over the silliest things. I imagine insane, horrific things happening to my family. I feel like everyone is out to get my children. I am paranoid about my child using a public restroom and will stand outside the door with my heart pounding the entire time. I am considering seeking help for these issues now.
2 years have passed since I was in the worst of my HG experience. I still carry a lot of guilt. I wonder if I damaged my relationship with my older son by not being able to care for him. I wonder if I damaged my relationship with my husband by tying my tubes even though I know he wanted to try for a girl. I have a lot of uncertainties. But the one thing I am certain of, when I think back to that awful question of “is this really worth it?”, I just look at my two beautiful boys and can honestly answer, “Yes. Without a doubt.”