Well, today is it. I made it halfway through the pregnancy. 140 days down, 140 days to go. More or less anyway. That due date really is just a guess date after all.
But darn it! I made it to the halfway point!
I suppose, at a monumental time such as this, it seems appropriate to do some speculating about why my hyperemesis gravidarum was so atypically short. This is a post I’ve been putting off for a number of reasons.
Honestly, I feel a little guilty about it. It sounds crazy, but I do. Hyperemesis gravidarum is supposed to be a whole pregnancy thing. Or at lease to 20 or so weeks! Here I am, an HG sister, who had her HG start to let up around 12 weeks. That is just really, really abnormal. I’m not saying I would go back and suffer a little longer. No, no, no, nononononono. No way. But it does sort of take away my HGer cred a little bit. Here I am going to my daughter’s baseball games while other moms are farther along than I am, bedridden, and on TPN.
Why did I get so lucky?
The fact is, I don’t know. I’m certain that, yes, I had HG. Women with morning sickness do not require IVs or PICC lines. They do not require home health. They do not require their mothers to come live with them for an entire month to help then with even the most basic tasks like going to the bathroom and taking a shower. What I had certainly went well beyond morning sickness. It was frightening and intense and awful.
But it was so short.
Can the short duration of the hyperemesis gravidarum be attributed to my very aggressive treatment protocol? I suspect that was a part of it. I started taking the Zofran orally from the moment I started feeling not quite right. Once I started feeling nauseated and having trouble eating and drinking, we started rehydrating very aggressively at 3 liters of fluids per day right off the bat. While, ultimately, the IVs and PICC didn’t work out, I think having that kind of very aggressive treatment allowed me to reach the point where my mom could push enough fluids orally. In the midst of all that, I was receiving the Zofran via the pump in very high doses, with my maximum dosage at around 39 mg per day (most doctors are only willing to go up to 32 mg per day). We did not rely on Zofran alone, but attacked the nausea from all angles: Meclazine for the motion sick aspect of it, Nexium to prevent any potential reflux from contributing, and Benadryl to deal with any potential allergy aspects or side effects.
I do think that taking this kind of aggressive approach from the beginning helped in a pretty significant way.
A lot of it, though, I think needs to be chalked up to sheer luck. I was lucky that I responded to the treatment. I was lucky that my mom was able to come out and care for me. I was lucky that it eased up early. And I was damn lucky to have a doctor willing to deal with the HG quickly and decisively. So many doctors like to wax poetic about keeping the baby safe. She recognized that a dehydrated, malnourished, and desperate mother is a far greater risk to a baby than medicines that research has shown to be safe. She was willing to drop a nuclear bomb on the HG, and that, I think, makes me a very, very lucky patient.
Here is the bottom line: If you know someone who has hyperemesis gravidarum and you are in a position to help advocate for them, please do. Early, aggressive intervention seems to have made a remarkable difference for me. Will every woman respond to treatment the way I did? No. But every woman deserves a doctor who is willing to treat her the way mine did for me because that level of treatment gives women the very best chance at relief.
Should I feel guilty about how short my HG was? No. I know I shouldn’t. I know that despite the excellent treatment I got, most of it was just dumb luck. But I do. It’s a monkey I am working on putting aside. No one makes me feel guilty in the HG community. That’s not the way the HG community operates. It’s a supportive community. There’s no one-upmanship that goes on, no games of Top My Tragedy.
Mostly, I just don’t want anyone to feel like I in any way suggest that there is a magic bullet to “fix” HG. There just isn’t. We all have to deal with the cards we are dealt. Sometimes we get lucky and draw a hand with a fantastic doctor, stellar insurance, and a responsive illness. Other times not so much. Who can say why this happens? Not I.
I’m so grateful for what I have at this point. I feel so… not sick! I catch myself wondering if this is now normal pregnant women feel. Mostly, though, I give thanks for the blessing of health that I have been given and pray for similar relief for my HG sisters. I swear that I will never, ever take these feelings of normal health for granted.