How Hyperemesis Disrupted My Pregnancy
5 months ago
Kate Middleton’s rare condition can make pregnancy a less-than-joyful time
As I lay in fetal position, freezing beneath three blankets fresh from the warmer, I was worried. I just knew that the ER doctor, used to heart attacks and broken limbs, would dismiss me as a skittish first-time mom, overreacting to typical morning sickness. But I was blessed. He listened to my symptoms, looked at my ashen skin and sunken features, and diagnosed me on the spot. He gave me a couple bags of saline, then popped an anti-nausea medicine called Zofran under my tongue, where it would enter my bloodstream quickly. A couple hours later I was back at home, rehydrated, with a pill bottle full of Zofran on my nightstand.
As soon as I could sit up, I Googled those strange words, “hyperemesis gravidarum.” I quickly learned that it’s rare, only affecting 0.5 to 2 percent of all pregnancies, and is defined as “unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids,” that typically causes a weight loss of at least 5 percent (check), dehydration (check), nutritional deficiencies (check), and difficulty with daily activities (check). Experts think it’s caused by HCG, the hormone that causes the little stick to change color when you’re preggers.
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But it wasn’t over. The medication enabled me to sit up and limited my vomiting to just a couple times a day, but it made me groggy and slowed my movement to a turtle’s pace. An adjusted dosage allowed me to work, but it was still rough going. Occasionally I’d feel good enough that I would forget to take it before rolling out of bed, but I’d pay for it an hour later, crying, reunited with the toilet, my body mocking me for daring to think I was having a “normal” pregnancy and my baby girl kicking in protest. I took the medication until the day I delivered my daughter.
Along the way, I discovered that my mother had suffered from it during all three of her pregnancies. Not surprising, since there is evidence that hyperemesis is genetic. Yay. That also means that I will likely experience it with every pregnancy. But the great news is that we know about it now, so the Zofran will be on my nightstand from the beginning, in hopes of catching it before it becomes debilitating.
Who knew that I would one day have something in common with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge?
What was your pregnancy experience? Tell us in the comments.