27 March 2018

Fifty Shades of Green

Have a baby they said, you'll glow they said.
So I did, but I didn't.
My glow was more a shade of pond green algae rather than the pregnant lady radiance I had hoped for.
It all proceeded with a puke until the darkness descended. 

We were only married a year and set off to Montego Bay in celebration. A day trip resulting in several undignified pee stops by the side of the road did make me wonder, the fuller chest, the spotting which I thought was a UTI (sorry for the TMI) and a pukey 10 hour flight home mistaking sickness for overindulgence and jet lag for what was about to become my hyperemesis hell.
Except I didn't have a bloody clue what hyperemesis was or that it even existed! 

I was pregnant, I just knew it. The second line appeared as I sat on the loo laughing nervously. I needed digital confirmation: 2-3 weeks it told me!

Must inform the husband who was overseas at work, he got the call and thought someone had died, and I did a little along the way. We laugh at my first puke - ah that's the morning sickness kicking in we chuckle, all pregnant and smug together!

I look back at this memory and hate us both!

Then the fog descends, the nausea, the vomiting and not just in the morning but all the live long day! It's like the worst hangover known to woman (and I've had some belters) or food poisoning which lingers for 9 whole months!

I naively thought 'this is how it must be' until I couldn't get off the bathroom floor, until my pee was the colour of petrol, until I couldn't even sip water.

You can’t resent your unborn child (actually you can, so don’t feel bad about that) but you can resent the situation you find yourself in. I didn’t know Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) existed until it was written on my notes, until a kindly doctor knew I wasn’t functioning the way a normal pregnant woman should. I’d been to see a few GP’s during emergency appointments and sadly I don’t think many of them knew much about it either. One floaty female GP in tie dye told me to persevere as it wouldn’t last much longer. Where was the solidarity?

Finally I was told to go straight to A&E and that’s how I knew I was ill and not just pregnant.

I lay across the blue plastic chairs of the A&E department with zero f*cks to give, all dignity gone. They tested my urine and ketone levels were high, I was seriously dehydrated. They were lucky I managed to produce any urine in the first place.

Next I was scanned for multiples, we were equally terrified and excited somehow at the prospect of this. It would have saved me the head melt of considering another potential HG pregnancy to have BOGOF babies first time round.

Alas there was no multiples as the scan showed what I declared was a single prawn in my womb. I called it a ‘wee bugger’, the midwife called it a parasite (she was on my side). It was healthy, heart beat visible on the screen and it was sucking the life out of me. There was love and relief but I still felt like I was dying.

Soon I'm hooked up to IV fluids, I have a memory of sharing an IV stand with some other poor soul who just stepped out a lift. We looked like the walking dead, the stand was the only thing holding us up.

They gave me the cheap anti emetics first and they only made me sicker. Zofran literally saved me, Zofran (or ondansetron), an expensive anti emetic usually reserved for chemo patients is pretty much the last resort. Those tiny yellow pills were priceless and now I had new sympathy for addicts.

Zofran helped reduce the vomiting but the nausea never, ever let up, or the excessive spit (could fill a bucket) or the extreme sensitivity to smell. I couldn't even stand the smell of my own skin and I'd become allergic to husband. Poor guy!

I had my prawn pic to keep me company in hospital on my first admission and I looked at it closely trying to figure out what the hell it was. A fetus, a parasite, my vampire baby, my little love.

People said: ‘Get to twelve weeks and you’ll be fine’, what lies! ‘Ok it’s got to be better at sixteen weeks’, nope! There is no sense of time when you’re in the HG zone, it’s timeless, minutes, hours, days mean nothing. I didn’t even bother to hope for better, I knew it wouldn’t come. I firmly believe HG is the biggest endurance test known to woman. I sat zombie like for the duration. I went off the grid with some not knowing I was pregnant until after the baby had arrived. Daytime TV proved to be a mild distraction. Murder She Wrote was a firm favourite. I could figure out a crime scene in less time than Jessica Fletcher, I was embarrassed for us both. It was my fate that I would endure HG for the whole nine months but thankfully I didn’t know that then.

Now as much as I was grateful for the Zofran and the doctor who prescribed it, his name was actually Dr Love it left me feeling bagged up. Constipation is the curse of the Zofran and by Christmas I was six months pregnant although I’m not sure if my bump was all baby or blockage. The best Christmas gift that year would’ve been the ability to have a crap. I’d googled (as you do) how to alleviate this horrendous situation. Take a warm bath said one website, I knew what this meant – and I did not fancy a ‘festive floater’. The bathroom floor was the scene of many a crime as it was.

The last few months passed by in much the same way, still vomiting and still nauseated. The nausea was all consuming, I gained great skill at staring into space, sometimes I didn’t want to talk, sometimes I wanted to maintain the art of silence forever. It’s a lonely place to be. Hyperemesis is a solitary affair, the isolation along with everything else going on hormonally contributed to many mental breakdowns and new mama guilt.

March was the month of deliverance and labour was actually quite liberating. It was a Saturday and I’d had what husband and I later referred to as ‘the last supper’. I sat propped in my usual space on the sofa which now had indentations the shape of my arse. I felt some pain which grew more and more intense, like how I imagined a concertina must feel when being squeezed in half. “Get the bloody tens out” I screamed. Now I’m all business, managing the tens machine with one hand and my contraction app with the other, both a great distraction from the reality that I was going to have a baby and soon! With all my tech I felt I could rule the world, I was in control. Clearly these women who surprise deliver on the toilet never had HG, how could you not know you were pregnant in the first place? 

I needed to get to the hospital, stat! Upon arrival a midwife said she’d examine me to see how dilated I was and asked me to lay down. I was adamant I could not lay down, and asked if ‘we could do it standing up?’ She didn’t know how to take this request and I spied husband in a corner trying not to laugh.

Hurrah! I’m five centimetres and off to deliver. Three hours of pushing, a forceps delivery and finally he is here. He lay on my chest and we marvel at our miracle. I have some tea and digestive biscuits and don’t feel sick one little bit. I have third degree tears but no sickness or nausea. You can’t have it all.

The thing about hyperemesis is despite the physical illness, the mental torture is just, if not equally as bad and no one can ever prepare for that. 

To this day I can vomit just brushing my teeth. When the Duchess of Cambridge was pregnant and hyperemesis finally made the media I physically threw up. I felt the nausea like it was happening to me. Smells, songs, even places can trigger it. It's puke PTSD and still people ask, 'have you tried ginger'? How I'd have punched these people if only I had the energy to make a fist. Of course I tried the lot, all the cheap meds, travel sickness bands, two on each wrist, it was a fetching look, very Wimbledon, dry crackers and even the ginger biscuits. 

I wanted the glow, to be on mat leave doing pre-natal Pilates and lunching around town picking out things for the nursery, but this was not how it would be, for me.

Ask anyone who's endured HG and they'll tell you the same, they felt robbed. Robbed of the magical pregnancy they'd dreamt of, longed for and that's a hard pill to swallow.

Today I am not the woman I once was, there is collateral damage. Yet now five years later I find myself hankering for another, a sibling for my HG hero who I love with all my heart, who was worth every puke, every pill, every pile and who despite it all is pure perfection. 

So what now? Do I gamble, do I risk it all, my health, my sanity?

Have a baby they say,
You'll glow they say
I say.

Written by Christen @tin_mum 


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