This was a paid review. I received compensation from Ashli McCall’s publicist for this post. All opinions are my own.
Over Christmas break, I contacted Ashli McCall, the author of Beyond Morning Sickness, which is The Book on HG, and Mama Has Hyperemesis Gravidarum (But Only For A While), a children’s book. Her publicist was kind enough to send me copies of these books for free. He also included a printed copy of the journal she kept during her fourth pregnancy with her daughter, Elise.
I started with Ashli’s journal. I wanted to learn more about Ashli. I wanted to know what she’d been through, and I wanted to find out what prompted her to write her books.
This journal was absolutely riveting. And terrifying. Ashli went through absolute hell to bring her daughter into the world. This was a brutal read. Her loss, her pain, her grief, and ultimately her joy just made me ache. Ultimately, though, it was inspiring. Her strength is incredible. It’s easy to call her a hero.
Here is a link to the online version of her journal. Like most blogs, you’ll have to go way back to get to the beginning. Again, let me say this: Her diary is a raw and difficult read. This may act as pretty effective birth control if you’re considering another HG pregnancy. Pick your timing on this one. There are several things she discusses that might be triggers for some people, so please be aware that she discusses loss of a pregnancy, termination, severe HG, and severe, severe illness. She also talks in-depth about her faith, which sustained her throughout the pregnancy.
This Saturday, I also read Mama Has Hyperemesis Gravidarum (But Only For A While) to the Grasshopper. I hadn’t planned to read it to her yet, but after much pleading (it has bunnies on it), I agreed. It was pretty tough for me to get through. Ashli wrote it in a very gentle and sensitive way, but like any painful subject, it’s difficult to read. Especially aloud. I made it about halfway through before I lost it. Of course, my crying made her cry, so we both had a little cry together. We managed to get to the end, which was very happy. After all, HG is only for a little while.
Then she wanted me to re-read it. Second time through was easier. I kept it together, and we both clapped together at the end. Since then, she’s wanted me to read it at naptimes and bedtimes. I asked her about the story. Does it make her feel happy or sad? She told me that this is a happy story. We talk about how Little Bunny and Mama Bunny feel. She lets me know that both feel sad and Little Bunny feels scared, but in the end, everything turns out okay. I make sure to emphasize how much Mama Bunny loves Little Bunny. Really, though, despite how sad or scared the bunnies feel, she always tells me that this is a happy story. I think that’s a huge win right there.
Overall, this is a great book. It really validates the feelings a child might feel when Mama is sick: worry, anger, sadness, fear, feelings of rejection, etc. It validates those feelings, but it reassures that her Mama will get better and that her Mama loves her very, very much no matter what happens. If you’ve got a child and are facing another HG pregnancy, please do pick up a copy of this book.
I am working my way through Beyond Morning Sickness now. After reading Ashli’s journal, I was afraid to read this book. Instead of finding it frightening, I’m finding it to be empowering. I’ll write more once I get through it, but it’s a very interesting read. Even for someone like me who hates reading non-fiction.
My one caveat on this book, and it is a major caveat, is her section on termination and abortion. McCall’s pro-life stance is evident in this section and she makes multiple references to sources that have a political stance in opposition to a woman’s right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy to her. For many, this will be enough to render the rest of the book useless, which is why I find it unfortunate that she chose to present the information in this section in a slanted way. If you have questions about abortion/termination, I would encourage you to seek factual answers from groups like Planned Parenthood.
Despite the major faults in the section on abortion, if you’re facing HG or if someone in your family is dealing with HG, I recommend reading Ashli’s books. In addition to being available through Amazon and Ashli’s website, you can purchase a copy through HelpHer.org with the proceeds going to help support HER Foundation research and education efforts.
Do you have any books or journals that you found really helped you get ready for this? If so, please share. I’d love to add that info to my blog.