Monday, July 11, 2011

My Morning Sickness Story

***I decided to share my morning sickness story here in case there may be someone out there who may be encouraged by it.  If you have morning sickness and just want a “shoulder to cry on,”  feel free to e-mail me!  Also, while I am using the common term, "morning sickness," the morning has nothing to do with it!  I felt sick 24 hours a day, and it was usually more unbearable in the evening and at night.***

Imagine you have a stomach virus or maybe food poisoning.  But instead of lasting 24-48 hours, it lasts for 5-9 months.  Instead of deciding to avoid food for the duration of your illness, you are forced to eat (and very frequently).  Imagine trying to eat all kinds of high-protein and other healthy foods while you are sick with the stomach illness.  That is as close as I can get to helping someone understand  what severe morning sickness is like.

After we got married, I couldn’t wait to have a baby!  I was so happy, when, after 10 months of marriage and longing for a baby, I finally found out I was expecting.  My excitement turned to despair a few weeks later when the sickness hit.  I was so unprepared for what was happening to me.  Before conceiving, I had read every book on pregnancy I could get my hands on.  I knew what to expect.  But no one had mentioned this terrible misery I was experiencing.  I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t drink, even though I was so hungry and so thirsty.  Everything came right back up.  Even tiny sips of water wouldn’t stay down.  I had always been healthy, and hardly ever sick, so this was so difficult to understand.

The books I read on morning sickness suggested eating crackers first thing in the morning (I can’t tell you how many times I heard that one!), getting exercise, drinking fresh juices, eating whole foods, lots of protein, etc.  This didn’t apply to me.  I was vomiting so many times a day and night that I lost count!  I was so weak that I could barely stand up to walk to the bathroom.  I started the pregnancy at around 107 pounds, and I was now down to 97 pounds just a few weeks into the pregnancy.  I was seriously ill.

I found out later that I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum (which simply means "excessive vomiting in pregnancy").  No one I talked to had ever heard of such a thing (probably the reason no one had heard of this is because the estimated number of pregnant women afflicted with hyperemesis ranges from 0.3% to 2.0%.  I seem to be among the blessed few!), and I remember several ladies saying to me over the phone, “I just can’t understand why you would be so sick!”  I couldn’t understand it either, and it frankly caused me to go into a period of depression.  I felt alone and like there must be something wrong with me.  Was it something in my diet?  I knew so many mothers who were not very concerned with eating what I would consider healthy food, and yet they felt great while they were pregnant.  I had been eating a whole foods diet for years, and here I was, very sick.

I had a hard time not feeling despair.  I couldn’t go anywhere or do much of anything.  I would just lie in bed all day, trying to make it through the most difficult experience of my life.  My main concern was for my precious baby that I already loved so much.  I wondered how a little baby could survive this.  Oh, I cried and prayed so much, worrying about my little one.

I was thankful for my Certified Nurse Midwife who could bring IV’s to my home if I needed them, and who could also have her backup physician write prescriptions for anti-nausea medications.  Yes, I survived all of my pregnancies because of medication.  I truly believe I could not have lived without them.  
After our first baby was born (a beautiful, wonderful home birth!), I couldn’t wait to have another baby.  I was sure that I wouldn’t be so sick this time.  Boy, was I wrong!  And now I had a 15-month-old to take care of.  Those were very trying times!  I would drag myself out of bed in the morning, get my daughter up and dressed, go downstairs and put her in the highchair with a granola bar and milk for breakfast and I would lie on the couch next to her while we watched a video.  Oh, it was so hard!  During this pregnancy I also began to have migraines for the first time in my life.  What made this pregnancy seem almost harder than the first was trying to care for the baby I already had, and trying to be cheerful and mothering even though I felt so bad.  Even though this was hard, my already-here baby gave me hope that this new baby in the womb would also survive despite my sickness (and she did survive and was born very fat and healthy, and I had another home birth!).
It was at this time that my husband discovered Shonda Parker’s books, Mommy Diagnosticsand The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy.  I was so encouraged by Shonda because she knew what I was going through (she also had hyperemesis with her first).  Eventually I began to e-mail Shonda and that was even more encouraging to me.  She was so sweet and understanding, and gave me lots of ideas to try.  I think the main thing that helped was just having someone understand and not judge me.  Oh, that was so comforting.

After reading Shonda’s books, I decided (in between my 2nd and 3rd pregnancies) to do a whole body, liver and colon cleanse.  I even got the very one that Shonda said she used.  I also started taking milk thistle (for liver support) before conception and also after I found out I was pregnant.  Shonda had also recommended Entrox and AbsorbAid, and I used both of those, too.  None of this had any noticeable effect on my morning sickness.  I was still miserable this time around, and now I had a 12-month-old and a 24-month-old to take care of.  Oh, it was hard!  Changing messy diapers was the worst.  I also had migraines again.  How many tears I shed!  But again, I went on to have a very healthy (9 pound) baby boy.  He was born at home and his was my favorite, most happy birth (the circumstances surrounding his birth were especially wonderful and happy!).

My fourth pregnancy was the same as the others (miserable), except I now had three small children (5, 3 and 18 months) to take care of.  Also, my husband had been laid off, and we were trying to sell our house and find a rental house in a town four hours away.  I think this was one of the hardest times.  I had many migraines and the nausea never went away until after the birth.  But thankfully, I gave birth to another healthy baby girl at home!

Before I got pregnant the fifth time, we had begun to eat a Nourishing Traditions type of diet.  I drank Beet Kvass, Kombucha (which some have reported is supposed to help with preventing morning sickness), raw milk, ate fermented vegetables, soaked grains, etc.  We also had been taking coconut oil, cod liver oil, butter oil, and doing many other “nourishing food” practices.  But alas, I was still just as sick!  I will say that even though I was miserable with all my pregnancies, I didn’t have the uncontrolled vomiting that I did with my first two.  It seemed that I learned some things that enabled me to eat and keep some of it down (and I also started taking a different anti-nausea drug than I had been using).  But I can tell you that overwhelming all-day-and-all-night nausea is so very, very miserable, even if you are able to keep some food down.  And I had to be medicated in order to be able to eat.  Thankfully, I gave birth at home to another healthy baby boy, my biggest baby yet at 9 lbs, 6 ounces!

After all that I’ve experienced with pregnancy sickness, I’ve come to believe that no matter what I do, I will still have severe, debilitating morning sickness with any pregnancy.  There isn’t a diet or any kind of “cure,” unless it would be a miraculous healing from God (which I and others have prayed for many times!)!
One thing that I’ve gained from being sick during my pregnancies is a heart of compassion and empathy for those mothers who suffer with severe morning sickness and any kind of sickness during pregnancy.  I would have never believed it was possible to be this sick just because you’re pregnant if I hadn’t experienced it myself!  Your whole life kind of comes to a stand-still, and the whole family suffers when Mommy is so sick for so long.

Even though I have spent around two years of my life with morning sickness (with all five pregnancies combined), I would still do it all over again to have my precious, beautiful children.  Each one of them is worth it all!  It’s amazing to look at each little life that the Lord has blessed us with, and think that He allowed me to meet each one of them and to be their mother.  I count it a privilege.  ♥

"He will feed His flock like a shepherd;  He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young."  ~Isaiah 40:11

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  1. Elisabeth8/09/2011

    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish I had known of others going through this when I was younger. I have had 6 children over a 20 year span having my first at age 22 and my last when I was 42. I experienced hyperemisis with all of them. It was horrible! I felt so alone in those early years because nobody understood how severe the nausea and vomiting was. Like you, I couldn't be around people, couldn't think, much less talk, I was just surviving. Thankfully my first two children were girls and by the time I was pregnant with our 3rd child, they were 6 and 4 and were able to mostly take care of themselves while Daddy was at work. My daughters have been a blessing to me through all the other pregnancies (even helping to homeschool the younger ones).

    I have taken every kind of nausea medication and tried every natural remedy I have ever heard of for nausea...nothing has worked for me. Thankfully, IVs were able to keep me from completely dehydrating, and I have indeed survived each pregnancy (although there were many times I jsut thought I couldn't make it). I don't know why I have had to suffer this way in pregnancy, but I am so thankful for each of our precious children. Our youngest is now 3, and if God chooses to bless us with another child, I will most likely have to endure again, but it is so worth it! Again, thank you for sharing, know your experience will bless someone. Somehow just knowing you are not alone can give you the strength to get through.

  2. Dear Elisabeth,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment and share your story with me. You're right, when you go through something like this you do feel so alone.

    Hyperemesis is so hard to go through, but as you mentioned, so worth it in the end!

    Thanks again for stopping by and commenting!

  3. thank you for sharing your story! i read your comment over at raising arrows and followed you here.
    i so appreciate you sharing your post as well! i never heard of HG before today however, was medicated for extreme nausia and vomiting during my pregnancy with my first born. with my second, i couldn't take the same meds (zofran) because it made me sleep so long and heavey by now i had my two year old son to take care of as well.
    just reading your story, and the other's i have stumbled upon today, have been such a source of encouragement to me. silly as that may sound. i've only ever known very happy pregnant women and have wondered why i was so terribly sick and awfully depressed during both of mine.
    i have shared this info with my husband today and even he seemed to have relief in knowing their is an actual condition that some women suffer from and that we are not alone.
    thank you again so much for sharing! i praise God for honest, obedient sister's in Christ who are willing to open their hearts and share as you have done - many blessings!!

    1. Amy Marie,

      Oh, my heart goes out to you for having to endure such suffering in pregnancy! I can so much relate to the difficulty of needing to care for another little one while you are so sick. I remember days where it was so hard to get up in the morning, since I was under the influence of an anti-nausea medication that put me into such a deep sleep. It was just terrible.

      It really is encouraging just knowing there are other women who have experienced the same level of illness during pregnancy. I never met anyone who knew what I was talking about, either. All the women I knew (including my own mother) felt just wonderful during pregnancy, and a few didn't even know they were pregnant until they were farther into the pregnancy. I can't even imagine that, as I seem to get sick almost as soon as I conceive.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have such a heart for all fellow Hyperemesis sufferers!

    2. Thank you for sharing this. I also had the 24 hour sickness with all five of my pregnancies, lasting four months each time. I had to be hospitalized for dehydration with the fifth one. This is truly miserable, and nothing natural I tried to alleviate it helped. I, too, suffered the mental and emotional agony of friends and family not understanding and thinking I was just faking. Of course, those women had never suffered with it. I dearly love all of my children, and even though my youngest is 37, I still remember those miserable days in early pregnancy. Like having the stomach flu 24 hours a day.

    3. I can really empathize with you, Sally Anne! It's such a difficult thing to go through, especially when no one understands. Thank you so much for adding your story here. I think it's such an encouragement when we find out there are others who have gone through this, too (and lived to tell about it!).


  4. Hi! I just wanted you to know that I loved reading your story! (followed link from Raising Arrows) I am going to link to it sometime soon from my blog. Thank you so much for writing!!!

    1. Hi Diana! Thanks so much for visiting, and I'm glad you enjoyed reading my story!

  5. Ahhh yes :o) I always love the - I just don't understand why you are SO sick comments :o) I sure do understand. As I am 26 wks with my 3rd now people keep asking if I was just as sick with my other two...and yes I was. :o) It's so true when we (mothers) are *this* sick we can't do anything. I still have had to try and work while being so sick and that was only accomplished by God's grace! I had to even reschedule all my clients one afternoon because I was throwing up so much. Thank you for your story. :o)

    1. Sorry to hear that you suffer with this too, Nabila Grace!

      That must be so hard to have to go to work, too, while feeling so bad. I was working full time when I got pregnant with my first baby, but I had to quit because I just couldn't make it in. I was the business office coordinator and I was calling in sick every just didn't work. I tried to go in one morning, but I just couldn't make it. I ended up in the bathroom and almost died driving myself there. :) Such a terrible memory!

      I finally admitted that I just couldn't do it, and quit. It was such a hardship on us financially to lose my income (half of our income, which wasn't much to begin with), and lose my insurance. We had no money, my employers were mad at me, but God is good and He brought us through that difficult time.

      I hope you're doing better now that you're 26 weeks!

  6. Thank you. Your story has helped spur me to trust in the Lord and have more children, I forgot to post a reply in thanks a few months ago when I read this. I am now pregnant with my third HG pregnancy. We also have our children at home, so that is one blessing to look forward to after all this horrible sickness. I agree the constant painful nausea is awful and relentless. I have had much more control over vomiting after following a nourishing traditions type of diet as well. We adjusted that over the last 2 years, and so far things HAVE been better than the first two pregnancies.

    1. Marie,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write. I'm so thankful if anything I write is helpful to others. Congratulations on your pregnancy! I know it is so hard to go through such suffering. When I look at my 5 beautiful children, I'm so thankful that I'm their mother, and it was all worth it.

      May the Lord bless you as you grow this new precious little one!

  7. Oh I feel you. Every single pregnancy started with nausea and vomiting...even before it showed up on the stick. Did the whole gamut from every natural remedy all the way up to the pump with daily nurses. I hate how my husband's family would "insinuate" I was faking. Yes, I am faking enough to cause so much pressure on my ribs I was actually breaking and cracking them due to the constant force of vomiting and dry heaves. I've had 3 live births and 10 miscarriages. I'm terrified to have another pregnancy as the kids are 13,12, and 5 and ALL are now homeschooled. We're not trying but my last mc was a late term mc and I didn't know I was even pregnant (I've PCOS too.). I did have a few waves of nausea and passed out a few times but I was working our mini-farm hard and lost from a 20 to a size 12. I wonder if that would have been the first pregnancy out of all I could have enjoyed.... There are volunteer support groups out there on the web for mommas with HG. I just went blank but I volunteered with them 5-6 years ago(before my youngest). They can offer hope and support over the phone and I actually went and gave physical support too as I am also a doula.

    I only wish people would realize we don't CHOOSE to be sick.


    1. Honey,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is such a difficult and painful experience to go through, and I think one of the most helpful things is just talking to someone who has been there. That's wonderful that you were able to volunteer with a support group to help HG mothers. I'm sure that was such an encouragement to so many ladies!



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