I found out I was pregnant with our third baby as bushfires ripped through Australia in January 2020.
Smoke filled Melbourne, ashes darkened our pool, and we watched the heartbreaking destruction play out in the news each day.
I’d anticipated 2020 with optimism – our 14-month-old daughter was finally sleeping through the night after a stint at sleep school. But on New Year’s Eve at 9.30pm, she was awake and screaming, struck down with gastro.
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What a start to the year. The gastro passed though the family like the bushfires on TV, and looking back now, it feels like an omen for the horrendous year that followed.
I remember being on my hands and knees vomiting while our two little girls pounded at the bathroom door, thinking ‘thank goodness these bugs only last 24 hours.’
Now, I look back and think 24 hours is literally nothing compared to 38 weeks. Because 38 weeks is how long I had hyperemesis gravidarum – the duration of my pregnancy.
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is defined by Hyperemesis Australia as "a complication in pregnancy in which sufferers experience extreme levels of nausea and vomiting… [side effects can include] oesophageal tearing, ulcers, reflux, weight-loss, exhaustion, constipation and more...
And while there are various theories around the cause of HG, "none are, as yet, conclusive," the organisation states.
I’d start explaining what it was when asked, only to be interrupted with ‘Ohhh, what Kate Middleton had?’
Yes, I’m in an incredibly small minority (most statistics suggest HG affects between 0.5 and 2 per cent of pregnant women), and it rendered me completely incapacitated.
I couldn’t care for our two children or support my husband – I could barely care for myself.
I was sick. Not ‘sipping on flat ginger ale’ sick, or ‘nibbling on crackers’ sick. I was dry retching, fainting, ‘could this be what hell feels like’ sick. From about eight weeks pregnant, I had little relief until I had delivered our healthy baby girl, along with the enormous placenta that had breathed life into her for all those months.