pregnancy

‘Not everyone has a glowing pregnancy. Mine has been the darkest period of my life.’

For Sheridyn Fisher, the vomiting begins at 1am and goes until midday. It feels endless, but when it does eventually stop, she’s left feeling nauseous, fatigued and sleep deprived. It takes all her strength to get out of bed. She can barely leave the house. And just keeping food down is a daily challenge.

It’s been that way every day for the past six months.

And on top of all that, Sheridyn is pregnant. She’s worried sick about the little baby growing inside her but also experiencing a mental and physical pain that she cannot even put into words.

That’s the reality for the Instagram influencer and model, who is 29 weeks pregnant with her second child. She has hyperemesis gravidarum (defined as a severe type of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy) and for too long, she, like many other women with the condition, has suffered in silence. But no longer.

Last week, Sheridyn shared an emotional Instagram post with her millions of followers, giving a rarely-heard insight into exactly what being pregnant with hyperemesis gravidarum (also known as HG) is like.

“Hyperemesis gravidarum is severe… and I mean severe excess vomiting, constant nausea and usually leads to excessive weight loss, dehydration, constantly feeling faint, weak, headaches from vomiting, chronic body aches and pains and constantly feeling ‘fuzzy’,” she begins the post.

“I personally have experienced vomiting up blood [because] I’ve ruptured my throat from constant vomiting and broken capillaries from the pressures of vomiting; red eyes from constant crying, not to even mention the mentally debilitating aspect which is a very dark space to be in.”

 

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Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) Awareness Post – (First photo taken over 3 months ago compared to now) I just want to share some light on Hyperemesis Gravidarum in pregnancy to help bring awareness to what it is and what it means for those suffering. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is severe, and I mean severe excess vomiting, constant nausea and usually leads to excessive to weight loss, dehydration, constantly feeling faint, weak, headaches from vomiting, chronic body aches & pains and constantly feeling “fuzzy”, holding down food is a daily challenge. I personally have experienced vomiting up blood from rupturing my throat from constant vomiting and broken capillaries from the pressures of vomiting, red eyes from constant crying not to even mention the mentally debilitating aspect which is a very dark space to be in. If you have HG, natural remedies generally won’t have helped, and you’ll probably be struggling with day-to-day life. Getting your body up in the morning is a challenge and day to day duties become a constant battle. The vomiting can usually subsided later in pregnancy, but the body weakness, chronic pain and dehydration and can last full term. I can be very lonely, and if you have young children already, it can be the one of the physically hardest challenge a mother can face whilst pregnant, especially if she doesn’t have help or support. In my case, I’m grateful now the horrific 1am to midday vomiting has subsided to just what I class now as “manageable vomiting”, that I now have wonderful support to help me, but the body weakness, fuzziness & dizziness , lack of appetite or unable to eat is day by day. Some days your ok enough to eat something, some days you just have to accept that all you can do is enough. All you focus on is trying to be positive and as healthy as possible for your growing little one, you try not to beat yourself up or blame yourself or worry that your causing harm to the baby, because that’s all your feeling and you naturally think about these things even though all the check ups sees the baby “as healthy and growing strong” because you don’t feel that way you can’t help but worry sometimes. (Full post swipe across)

A post shared by Sheridyn Fisher ॐ (@sheridynfisher) on

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In her lengthy post, Sheridyn lets it all out – the pain, suffering and loneliness she has borne with for the past half a year.

It’s not pretty – it’s not meant to be, it’s the reality – but after enduring months in such a dark space, Sheridyn knew that she had a responsibility to her followers to share the unvarnished reality about what’s been happening in her life. So other mums-to-be would know they’re not alone. So others would stop judging. So others could finally understand.

“I did it to raise awareness [about HG] and to let people know it’s OK to reach out and ask for help, especially when it comes to mental health,” she tells Mamamia.

“[Because] having HG is possibly one of the darkest places I’ve been in physically, mentally, emotionally in my entire life.”

The response Sheridyn has received since posting has been surprising and overwhelming. Thousands of women have reached out to her to thank her, commiserate and share their own stories with HG.

But there’s one common but heartbreaking thread in these women’s stories.

“I heard from so many women… who were telling me their stories of how debilitating [HG] had been on them, and they had not reached out. They’d been too ashamed or felt guilty from the judgement that comes from people who don’t understand,” Sheridyn says.

It’s why Sheridyn felt compelled to speak – to educate so the judgement would stop.

“Too many mothers… suffer in silence because they don’t want to be an ‘inconvenience’ and feel like a burden or are just shrugged aside because they ‘can’t handle a little morning sickness’ and that’s just not cool’,” writes Sheridyn on Instagram.

It’s a common misconception that she wants to end right now because it’s stopping women from asking for help.

“Morning sickness isn’t fun,” she says, quick to point out that she not trying to minimise how bad morning sickness is, “but HG is the most extreme, violent thing your body can go through. It’s full on.

“It affects and debilitates every aspect of yourself.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

It’s ok not to be ok. I don’t know where to even begin, I have been suffering in silence for a long time now, with both chronic pregnancy Hyperemesis that’s been relentless since 5 weeks in (I’m 28 weeks now) and all that comes with chronic vomiting each day from 1am each morning, nausea, sleep deprivation, fatigue and having absolutley no energy as Keeping food down is a daily challenge. The pressures of a constant legal battle we are in with my former business and all that comes with taking someone’s name, creativity and main source of income away when they first become a mother not to mention the emotional damage. The depression, anxiety and stress that it has caused myself and my family I can’t even begin to explain. Trying to keep smiling each day because at your core you genuinely want to help others and see people happy , but when you feel like you are dying inside, when your heart feels broken, and everything is taken from you, I think anyone in my situation would be feeling this way. The physical pain my body had been in I can’t even explain, my back, spine and neck pain feels like someone has been beating me every night in my sleep the pain is so deep, my body began to spasms and I was so embarrassed I didn’t want to leave the house, not to mention most days I physically couldn’t. It’s ok not to be ok, and right now, I’m not ok. I have never been in such a dark place with mental and physical health in my life, at least not since I was a child anyway. To the point that I have been so scared for my health, overwhelmed, confused, angry, upset, ashamed and crying every day trying be the be the best Mum I can to River and doing it all on my own because Kyle has had to work twice as hard to support our family whilst going through all we have been through, it’s been slowly killing us both. I don’t even recognise myself when I look in the mirror anymore, my eyes are red from crying, my capillaries in my face are burst from vomiting, my body is so run down because no matter what I eat the Hyperemesis throws it back up. (Full post on my Facebook)

A post shared by Sheridyn Fisher ॐ (@sheridynfisher) on

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For Sheridyn – and what she’s heard from countless mums who’ve contacted her – the judgement from other people about “looking sickly or too skinny” to be pregnant, or saying “she’s not eating healthy in pregnancy”, is one of the most difficult things to deal with during an already complicated pregnancy.

She’s been to the doctors and had all the checks and knows that her growing baby is thankfully OK. She’s been in and out of hospital, hooked up to IV drips to ensure she’s got all the nutrients for herself and her baby. So it’s particularly hurtful when people, especially other mums-to-be who are thriving in pregnancy, who have no idea what she’s going through, tell her what she should be doing for her baby.

“People think that it’s a choice or something that I chose do. I felt like I needed to speak up about that because it doesn’t have anything to do with diet or lifestyle,” she says. “For me it’s hereditary, my mother had it, my grandmother had it..

“Not everyone has a great pregnancy,” she reminds.

Accompanying her word on Instagram, Sheridyn shared a few raw photos of herself in the midst of the worse parts of HG – the kind of photos you don’t often see on Instagram.

“I look in the mirror and I don’t recognise myself. My face is so sunken in because I’ve lost so much weight,” she says, with a rueful laugh.

“I look skeletal… I look messed up. It’s so bad but it’s just how it is.

“It’s horrible but I wanted to share the reality of that because some people don’t have a pretty pregnancy, they’re not glowing, they feel like they’re Bella from Twilight. That’s how I try to explain it to people.”

Sheridyn Fisher
Sheridyn Fisher at 26 weeks pregnant suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. Image: Instagram
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This is what Sheridyn’s life has been like since she discovered at five weeks she was pregnant. It was only at 20 weeks that the HG subsided a little to what she calls a “manageable sickness” (i.e. no more chronic vomiting) but there’s still “weakness, dizziness and fuzziness” on a daily basis.

The one thing that pulled her out of her darkest times was reaching out for help and support. But it wasn’t easy.

“At first I didn’t want to reach out because I felt ashamed and through I could ‘fix’ it myself, but I can’t. I’m allowing myself the time now to heal, physically, emotionally and mentally with help and support from professionals,” she shares on her Facebook page

And that’s the one takeaway that Sheridyn hopes mothers with HG (and just anyone going through a tough time) will get from her experience.

To reach out for help. To go to your doctor. To go to hospital. To take care of your mental health.

“There is no shame in reaching out,” she reiterates.

For Sheridyn, who also has an active two-year-old son River to look after, the help from her mum has been invaluable.

"[From my experience] 99 per cent of HG sufferers need help to get through it. Don’t judge yourself. Let go of any expectation you had for this perfect pregnancy and just do what you can and listen to your body, not compare yourself to others,” she tells Mamamia.

“Its OK not to be OK,” is a recurring phrase Sheridyn uses. It’s OK if you don’t have the perfect pregnancy. It’s OK if you’re not a glowing expectant mum. That’s OK, you will get through it.

She’s keen to reassure any mums-to-be that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Having experienced it with River (although it felt mild compared to what she has gone through with her second), she knows firsthand that life will feel better. 

"As soon as [the baby] comes, and your hormones do settle, within a week you start feeling human again. There is a positive side when they baby is there with all of its beautifulness. You can begin to enjoy the pregnancy," she says.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner or in Australia, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

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