If I’m a little vague on the details of my first round of hyperemesis gravidarum, it’s because my memory is pretty foggy due to the severity of my illness. In February of 2007, my husband and I found out that we would be expecting our first child. We were thrilled. However, a few weeks later, I became very, very ill. For weeks I chalked it up to morning sickness. My doctor did his best with the information I was giving him and prescribed various medications in an attempt to bring the nausea and vomiting under control. Nothing worked. Any pill he tried (Zofran and Reglan are the ones I remember), I threw up.
At some point during that period, he prescribed a pump that would deliver Reglan subcutaneously in a constant drip. This helped a little, but I was still very, very ill. I missed work day after day. I just couldn’t get up off the bathroom floor. Why should I be such a wimp, I kept thinking to myself, It’s just morning sickness. Everyone has this.
It wasn’t until I voiced these thoughts to my home health nurse that she told me that I had been diagnosed some time ago with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. She pointed me in the direction of the HelpHer forums where I began to learn that I was not a wimp and I was not alone.
By this time, I was receiving the maximum dose of Reglan through my pump with little relief. Week 12 rolled around, and my hopes for magically feeling better in the second trimester was dashed. Instead of feeling better, the HG was getting worse. One of the side effects of Reglan can be depression and suicidal ideation, and with the devastation I felt at seeing weeks 12 and 13 pass with no relief, the dark thoughts that had been lingering at the edges of my awareness started to creep forward persistently. I fantasized about jumping from the 5th floor skywalk at my office and ending it all. A few days, the thing that kept me from acting on those thoughts was the notion that I was such a pathetic person that I would fail at killing myself and that I would just wind up paralyzed and still puking. I tried to rationalize it away as just another side effect, but things were getting worse and I was getting sicker.
I thank heaven for my home health nurse who was smart enough to continue asking probing questions until I told her finally about the “bad thoughts” I kept thinking. She immediately called my doctor who reacted swiftly by changing my pump medication from Reglan to Zofran. The next day, they admitted me to the hospital for severe dehydration.
Several days later, rehydrated, the Zofran in my system, and Meclizine and Benadryl added in to the cocktail, I was able to go home. Because I was still very, very ill my doctor wrote me out of work, and I went on disability leave for a month. During that month, due to the treatment I was receiving I was able to turn the corner and slowly wean from the drugs. By week 17 or 18 I was off all medications.
The next 10 weeks were comparatively great. I still had to eat only “safe” foods, and I still had to move carefully and rest often, but I felt fairly normal. At around week 28, while on vacation visiting my family, the HG came back. This is pretty common and is known as the 3rd trimester relapse. Though it was not nearly as severe, I had to go back on all my old medications (except I could tolerate sublingual Zofran and didn’t need it via a pump) with the addition of Pepcid for the horrible heartburn. The illness lasted until the end of pregnancy, although as long as I took my medications like clockwork I was able to keep the nausea/vomiting at bay.
On November 5th, 10 days past her due date, I delivered a beautiful and healthy baby girl. The moment she was born the illness disappeared. I celebrated by eating a hearty meal that evening while I held her.
I was lucky. So far, the only lasting effects of the HG that I have observed are emetophobia in myself, and some weak tooth enamel in my daughter probably due to malnutrition in myself when her little tooth-buds were being formed.
So, that’s my story. It wasn’t as brief as I expected it to be, but it will give you the background to know where I am coming from as I post about this next pregnancy.