Surviving an HG Pregnancy

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.

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Remember when I wrote about the story behind these shoes from Italy that I had to throw away? They were just too worn out. Well, I upgraded to these beautiful wooden clogs with leather straps. Everything I could ever want in a clog.


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Mini Stories: Shoes From Florence


Once upon a time I spent a summer in Florence, Italy.

It was the summer between my Sophomore and Junior year in college. It was a blissful time in my life: no boyfriend, no decided major yet, no job, and a wide open summer schedule. I had considered moving to Hawaii to do a few semesters at BYU-Hawaii, but when my mother called to say she was moving to Italy for the summer (perks of being a teacher–summers off), it was an easy decision. I packed a suitcase, a few books for the train rides, walking shoes, and of course my camera. Back then I had a humble Cannon point-and-shoot with a full screen on back, and I loved that thing. This was when iPhones had come out but only a few friends had those. Most of us still had Razor’s, Sidekicks, or slider phones.

We rented an apartment near the heart of Florence, and made that our home base. We were then able to take several-days-long trips all over Italy. We had been to other countries in Europe before, and wanted to spend our summer really getting to know just one country. Every time we came back from Venice or Rome, Florence welcomed us with warm summer evenings and beautiful sunsets. We came to know those who lived on our street, our favorite bakeries, and singing at Marco Square.1929137_507470847369_5725_n

One evening we were walking from the train station to our apartment after a few days of traveling to the south. We were always too cheap to pay for a taxi ride so instead would walk several miles, passing through the square where many shops were located, back to our apartment. It was late at night and most everything was closed or closing. We were passing a small store that was wedged in between two buildings of flats (apartments) that had shoes and a few pieces of clothing. The owner was an old, mostly bald man, who was smoking a cigarette out front. I had walked past this shop several times before, but this time something caught my eye.

Those shoes.

They were the perfect height, just a few inches. I loved them because they resembled wood, and I loved the strap in the back. I was so tired, but am I ever too tired to shop? I tried them on. They were only about $5 US. They were perfect. I bought them.

For several years after returning, I wore them constantly. Each time I did, I would remember that little shop in Florence. When people would compliment me and ask where I got them I would tell them this short story and remember my summer in Italy.

They were not high quality slip-ons, but I was still surprised to find one Sunday at church that the sides were ripping from the sole. I was so sad. My little Italian shoes could not be worn anymore. A few years passed, and all they’ve done is sit on my shoe shelf. I’ve lugged them around between moves, and just haven’t been able to part with them.

I recently finished a life changing book (that I’ll post about soon) that has helped me say to the items in my life, “Thank you for coming into my life.” And then, fighting my inner pack-rat, let them go.

Thank you, Stella Land shoes, for being comfy, cute, and for lasting as long as you did. I will never forget all the streets I walked in your shoes.


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