I haven’t written or honestly spoken to anyone about my experience with Hyperemesis, other than two mums I met by chance.
I picked up subtle clues from what they said. The tiny disclosures that only another Hyperemesis survivor would only be acutely aware of.
I shared with these people more than I told my own husband.
So why haven’t I opened up about Hyperemesis?
I haven’t been ready to, even though my little boy is over 18 months old.
I’m not sure people can really understand Hyperemesis unless it’s happened to them.
I still feel immense guilt.
I’m only starting to understand I suffered from anti natal depression and has later impacted my post birth recovery and subsequent anxiety.
It destroyed my marriage.
When I have opened up a little to people, I have been shut down on occasion and at times found my own thoughts quite frightening, so it’s not something I’ve done likely.
I remember trying to describe how I felt to my husband. ‘I feel like I’ve got a terminal illness. Every day, I wake up and dread the day, counting down the hours until I can sleep and not feel sick anymore. It feels like I’m dying but there is no cure, no medicine, no one believes me or understands.’
After Harrison, people are so quick to ask when you’ll have another. To have to explain, I won’t, I can’t go through the pregnancy again. They look at you like, you’re some kind of drama queen, then recount how bad their pregnancy related illnesses were. They then tell you, you’ll forget, or it might not be the same with a second.
I will never forget.
The sickness really kicked in at six weeks and that was when I was hospitalised. I just couldn’t stop being sick, panicking, and I couldn’t think or speak properly. It felt like I couldn’t cope with what was happening.
I remember floating in to A&E, and being asked to do a urine sample. Unable to walk by myself and my husband had to help me. I lost my dignity long before the birth, it started here.
Struggling to speak for gagging, words were getting jumbled in my head, so my partner had to talk for me.
Dehydrated and suffering Ketosis.
That’s basically when your body starts to poison itself because of the dehydration, and it’s the first steps to your body shutting down. I’d never heard of ketones before this, but learned they could poison my baby too.
I was given a strong anti sickness injection, it’s basically what they give to chemotherapy patients, and put on a drip. I was also given painkillers as my throat was on fire.
I’d never been in hospital before, the thought had always frightened me. My husband was told to leave the women’s ward, and I didn’t even care. The cold fluids where entering my arm and all I wanted was sleep.
The nurse came to check on me and asked if this was the first time I’d been in with Hyperemesis. “I’m sorry to say, you’ll probably be back”.
The next weeks and months were a very dark place for me.
I shut people out.
I didn’t go anywhere, see anyone, do anything exciting. Holidays were cancelled. Friends came to see me but, I was hardly the life and soul of the party and felt like the worst friend for missing any kind of social occasion.
Night was my worst time and I’d try and go to bed early every night to escape it. I felt like I was on a island by myself, keeping everyone at arms length.
The local GP surgery and midwife trivialised what I was going through and didn’t know how to care for me. I remember seeing one GP and telling her ‘I can’t cope’. She gave me a leaflet on morning sickness. I was so weak mentally, I couldn’t advocate for myself. In floods of tears, I left and ripped the leaflet in to a hundred pieces.
I think I just wasn’t prepared on any level for what I’ve heard best described as a ‘debilitating illness’. I’ve always been the strong one, the organiser, the planner, the trouble shooter. To be weak just wasn’t me, I couldn’t let myself. My personal and social relationships were affected too. I wasn’t ready for this new dynamic, but neither were they.
If Hyperemesis has affected your life, please seeking support from a pregnancy sickness or HG support group or organisation.