Sunday, January 13, 2013

Not all pregnancies are perfect

    As I'm sure all of you know by now, I am currently expecting our 4th minion- a little boy due in May. Those closest to me also know that while we are VERY excited to have a new addition to our family, being pregnant is NOT an easy task for me. Along with the typical complaints of pregnancy, such as fatigue, morning sickness, and being incredibly rotund, I suffer from a medical condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum. This condition is defined as excessive nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, and is NOT your typical morning sickness that comes with pregnancy hormones. With normal morning sickness (which is inappropriately named IMO, as it can be at any time of the day), nausea and vomiting happen, but are not constant, and you are able to eat and drink enough to maintain health. Hyperemesis gravidarum- or HG for short- is constant and much more severe. It can cause severe dehydration, vitamin and mineral defincies, malnutrition, and excessive weight loss. In more extreme cases, it can also cause miscarriage, organ failure, and even be fatal. Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre, may have died as a result of this condition. I have suffered from HG during all 4 of my pregnancies, and have required treatments including anti-nausea medication, IV fluids, and hospitalization to treat dehydration and malnutrition. I have been very fortunate that I have never miscarried or had any other pregnancy complications besides HG, but it is still very difficult to deal with at times.

     For this pregnancy, and the previous 2, the only treatment I have needed is to take an anti-nausea medication called Zofran. This drug is commonly used for cancer patients that experience nausea and vomiting as a side effect to chemotherapy, but is also effective for those with HG. Although it really helps to reduce my nausea and vomiting, it does not eliminate it completely, so I still feel constantly nauseous and vomit occasionally. The Zofran controls it enough that I am able to keep down food and fluids so I can stay healthy. I did lose weight with this pregnancy, as I did with all of them, but it was not severe enough to warrant treatment for malnutrition (at least not this time). Although I am currently 5 months pregnant, I weigh the same as I did before I got pregnant because I lost weight in the first trimester that I have now regained. In a typical pregnancy, a woman would gain 25-35 pounds, yet I haven't technically gained anything.
     The hardest part of having HG for me is not the constant nausea or the vomiting- it's the inability to function normally. When I'm feeling my worst, I am unable to stand for long without vomiting, so I spend a lot of time sitting down or lying on the couch. Now while it may sound great to have an excuse to be lazy, I get very discouraged that I'm not able to take care of my kids, my house, or even myself. The kids still need to be fed, the dishes still need to be cleaned, and the laundry still needs to be washed. Life does not stop because I have HG, it just becomes more difficult. My kids have all been very understanding that mommy can't do all the same things, and they even help out around the house more than before. My hubby has also been amazingly helpful with taking care of the kids when I'm unable to, doing odd chores, and even "cooking" dinner (a.k.a. ordering takeout). Hubs has even taken care of me when I was tethered to an IV pole and unable to move much by bringing me a bowl to throw up in and even taking care of the vomit afterwards. That man deserves an award! Without the help and support of my family, I have no doubt the house would be in shambles and I would be a nervous wreck. My friends have also been wonderfully understanding when I disappear for weeks on end due to being plastered to the couch, or start whining about feeling crappy yet again. Seriously, y'all are awesome for putting up with me ;o)

So what exactly was the point of this blog post? Was it for me to whine about my crappy pregnancy? No. Was it to brag about my awesome family and friends? Maybe. Mostly I'm hoping that this post will help educate people just a little about Hyperemesis Gravidarum and bring more awareness to it. Only a very small percentage (about 2%) of women are affected by it, and it's very commonly brushed off as typical morning sickness by those that are not experiencing it themselves. HG has recently gotten in the spotlight a bit when Kate Middleton was diagnosed with it and hospitalized. My heart goes out to her and all other women suffering from it because I've been there, I'm currently there, and I completely understand just how hard it can be. I used to be depressed about the fact that I didn't get to have a "typical" pregnancy, but I realized that no matter how much it sucks, this is my experience in life. I am OK with having HG during all my pregnancies because in the end I have beautifully healthy children that make my life so much brighter (and crazier).