Hanalei here…I asked Anna to share her pregnancy journey both for her sake, and for that of anyone elses’ who may be experiencing or know someone going through HG. I sincerely hope it does not scare anyone away from being pregnant or enjoying pregnancy! Instead I hope that in sharing, it will start a dialogue, help us feel an increased empathy towards one another, and allow us to create connections so we know we are not alone in our struggles. Love you Anna and thanks so much for sharing!!
Lessons learned from my HG pregnancy…
I always thought pregnancy would be “the easy” part of having a child and that women still had 9 months to live before their lives changed forever. LIFE SMACK in the face #1, you’re wrong, Anna!
The first 6 months of my pregnancy I struggled with severe and incessant nausea and vomiting, aka hyperemesis gravidarium (HG). I was tired, hungry, nauseated, dehydrated, constipated all at once. Sometimes I could eat a few things, other days I would survive by nibbling on a single croissant….FOR AN ENTIRE DAY! This was a very hard state for me to accept. I couldn’t exercise, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink. The foods I could tolerate were carbs and basically toddler food, a diet I had as an adult associated with as being unhealthy. I soon learned to give up everything I knew about being “healthy” and was just trying to survive. Did you know low blood sugar also causes nausea? Yeah, so if you’re hungry but can’t eat anything because you’re nauseous, you’ll just get more nauseous because you haven’t eaten anything. How ‘bout that?!
LIFE SMACK in the face #2, this was a very “normal” part of pregnancy, Anna! Who in their right mind would ever get pregnant if you felt like dying every day?! And with that emotion of seeking eternal unconsciousness, there is a certain lack of joy, appreciation, and gratitude for the miracle of life that is kind of responsible for your current state of death. AND with that comes a lot of GUILT. I soon learned it was ok to feel resentful and dare I say it, regret our decision. It’s ok to feel all the feelings. The best piece of advice I received during those dark months was “just be glad to make it through each day.” Every day was a battle to see what would trigger the vomiting, what foods would look appealing enough to keep down, how I could creatively get fluids, and when/how I would have a successful bowel movement without stroking out.
LIFE SMACK in the face #3, “It’s not that we don’t care, it’s just that there’s not much we can do,” – OB/GYN. There’s no magic pill?!!!! Well, there’s the one medication called Diclegis, but most insurances won’t cover the cost of it. I was discouraged by two different physicians from taking it because “it was the same thing” as buying Vitamin B6 and Doxylamine and taking them at the same time. Looking back, I should’ve advocated for myself and told the MD’s I’d pay ANYTHING. I regret not trying Diclegis. The combination of B6 and Doxylamine didn’t work for me. And Zofran, an anti-emetic/anti-nausea medication, is strongly discouraged in the first trimester while the baby’s still baking/forming. In the second trimester I took zofran and continued taking the B6 and Doxylamine. The combination of those three drugs helped me live a more functional life and controlled the nausea and vomitting/heaving to a more tolerable level. I was also on stool softeners and getting IV fluids on the weekends to combat the dehydration and constipation. PS did you know most prenatal vitamins have iron, a constipating supplement, in them? I found some gummy vitamins at Target that didn’t have iron to help eliminate that factor from the already constipating situation. My chiropractor also suggested taking a magnesium supplement to promote bowel movements. It’s called CALM and you can find it at Whole Foods or Sprouts. Did you know when you’re pregnant the extra hormones cause a decrease in digestion and can increase risk for constipation? Did you know Zofran also causes constipation? Yeah, so if you’re preggors, nauseated, taking zofran, dehydrated, taking iron containing prenatals, and aren’t eating a consistent amount of food and fiber, you’re gonna be stuck…literally…how ‘bout that?!
Obviously, my story is one of many pregnancy experiences out there. For some women the nausea lasts the entire 9 months, for others, it lasts just the first trimester. Some women don’t have any signs of nausea at all. Some women get diagnosed with HG and some go undiagnosed. The one thing I do know is that sharing my story explains why my greetings to pregnant women anywhere usually go like this “Oh ::stares at belly and then into mom’s eyes:: I’m so sorry! Are you ok?”….just kidding…kinda…it’s more of an internal dialogue. But more seriously, I hope sharing my story helps people understand that pregnancy is highly complicated and normal all at the same time. I also hope it helps one procreating human help themselves or better support their partner.