pregnancy

'The crippling, debilitating, all consuming pregnancy condition we need to talk about.'

As I looked at the two red lines appear before me, my mind kicked into gear with all of the things that I needed to organise in the next three weeks. I had three weeks to plan childcare for my toddler, organise leave from my job, fill the freezer with meals, start and finish my Christmas shopping, book in to see my doctor and mentally prepare myself for the long haul ahead of us, pregnancy with Hyperemesis Gravadarum (HG).

As this is my second pregnancy, we knew what to expect.

We knew that the most likely circumstance would be that at seven weeks pregnant, just like with my first pregnancy, my ability to function as a human would completely disappear. The decision to have a second child was not an easy one to make. I vividly remember moaning to my husband on the bathroom floor that I would never, ever put myself through this again and I know that he never wanted to see me like that again. It feels selfish to have chosen to do this again when it so severely impact more people the second time around.

It was inevitable though that somewhere throughout the haze of parenting, the love took over, the memories of pregnancy became a blur and we decided to do it all again.

I find it difficult to discuss HG with people because without experiencing it, it’s extremely difficult to comprehend.

The conversation generally heads in the same direction – yes it is what Kate Middleton had, no it’s not just morning sickness, yes I’ve tried ginger and dry biscuits, and no the weight loss is not a nice little perk.

Prince William, Kate Middleton & Prince Louis
"Yes it is what Kate Middleton had, no it’s not just morning sickness." Image: Getty.

In reality, HG is a crippling, debilitating, all consuming illness that completely puts your life on hold. It is a mental and physical marathon that drains absolutely everything from you and your family. For some, it subsides at some stage in the pregnancy, for others it lasts until the placenta comes out, and for some extremely unlucky women it leaves them with mental and physical health problems well after the pregnancy ends.

For me, HG means constant nausea and vomiting, aversions to all food and drink except for Coke and months on end of being able to do nothing more than move between my bed and the bathroom.

For me and many other women, HG also means an immense feeling of guilt. I feel guilty that I haven’t been able to care for my son. My mum has taken carer's leave from her work to be at our house every minute that my husband is at work. As a 60-year-old, parenting a toddler full time is exhausting. Add to that the emotional fatigue of the whole situation, it’s impossible for it to not take its toll on her.

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I feel guilty that my husband spends every second of his life working, looking after me, our son and our home. He hasn’t been able to do anything for himself in months and he has never once complained. I feel guilty that I am unable to earn money to help support our family. I feel guilty that I can’t be social with our friends and family and that I'm missing out on exciting times in their lives that I would love to be sharing in.

Most of all, I feel guilty that I despise being pregnant so much when there are so many women who would give anything to be feeling this way if it meant they could have a healthy baby.

Mamamia confessions: What was the strangest pregnancy confession you've ever had? 

Video by MMC

My main reason for putting pen to paper this time around is to spread the word about a program that has changed my experience completely. As I spent my first pregnancy in and out of hospital, I was very anxious as to how this would work with a toddler at home.

With the help of an extremely caring GP, I have been admitted to the hospital in the home program. Essentially this means that I am an in-patient but I get to stay in the comfort of my own home. I have a wonderful nurse come and visit every morning to administer IV fluids and medication, in the comfort of my bedroom. When I have become too ill to stay at home, I haven’t had to wait hours in ED as I am already a patient and can be taken to a bed straight away.

I think this is a service that should be offered to more women suffering from HG but it seems that it is such an unknown illness that many doctors are unaware how to properly treat it. We can thank Duchess Catherine for bringing notoriety to the illness, however there are still so many women suffering without sufficient care, it’s time for that to change.

Do you have any experience with Hyperemesis Gravadarum? Share you experience in a comment below.

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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