I suffered from morning sickness many years ago, 37 to be precise. It was morning sickness, it lasted for about 4 months. It was awful. But it was not Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
Many years later – when my own dear daughter announced her pregnancy, I wished her no morning sickness – simply a joyful, glowing pregnancy – to be enjoyed and remembered with affection.
Within a few months her morning sickness was presenting in a very scary way. I offered all the usual advice – eat little, often and slowly – avoid what seems to trigger the sickness – like smells, motion or noise. Last of all, I am ashamed to say I may have suggested ginger biscuits……..!
The first time my lovely girl was hospitalized I was away in France. I felt helpless but she assured me it was just a precaution – and anyway her husband was with her – all would be OK – wouldn’t it…?
I’m not going to detail every hospital related incident – it would take far too long and the details would be boring for some and traumatic for others.
I will say though that I felt extremely sad and mystified to watch my lovely, lively daughter disappearing from view. She went from someone who loved life, food, people, work and travel into someone who couldn’t bear the thought or mention of food or drink and couldn’t tolerate noise or light or motion. She lay on the floor for hours in the dark or crouched over the toilet with tissues and damp towels. She was completely unrecognizable! Slowly but surely she began to withdraw from life itself. I was lost and scared and began to realize that, for the first time as a mother, this was something I couldn’t just fix.
I turned to the internet where I searched for hours on end looking for a solution to this bizarre unnatural response to a totally natural event. There was little or no help. I remember finding something about a nurse at a hospital in London who ‘specialised’ in this condition. I e-mailed and phoned only to find that she was no longer there and, that though they still dealt with HG sufferers – they couldn’t accommodate anyone outside the area. Gutted once again – back to the drawing board.
I could relate many of the episodes over the following months – there was the wonderful Consultant at Princess Royal Hospital in Telford who finally prescribed Ondansetron with no qualms or heed for expense – she understood completely! Sadly there were many more who dis-believed – the staff at Shrewsbury who didn’t understand the complexities of HG – had never even heard of it in some cases. I could see as a regular visitor that they had no experience and therefore little empathy, sympathy or compassion for the sufferer.
It felt like a nightmare without an end.
In amongst all of this, I was battling with hospital staff in a different authority on behalf of my elderly mother who, I suspect, would not have survived if I had left her to the system. I was chasing between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury literally trying to keep both my daughter and my mother going. They both needed me. At the beginning of September my mother came home – after a stressful time organizing all the necessary agencies to help she was settled.
Still there was my daughter – I watched helplessly as her life drifted, her baby taking everything from her and her marriage slowly beginning to disintegrate. As I said before HG was a complete unknown to most people – I found myself explaining it time after time and still there were people that thought it was nothing more than morning sickness and that she should pull herself together. They clearly couldn’t see the damage it was causing – liver failure, kidney problems, extreme weight loss (3 stones in this case) – a total withdrawal from life as we know it. I was making numerous trips to the hospital taking her in for treatment – leaving her on a drip, if I was wondering how this was affecting her baby then what was she thinking? A few days later after they had ‘stabilised’ her I would go back and pick her up and even before we were 5 minutes from the hospital she was sick again! I soon learned to carry sick bags, towels, water and bowls. We drove everywhere very slowly and always with the windows open.
Her life was a total misery, her marriage was failing because her husband did not understand – sadly he listened to the uninformed and failed to completely support his wife.
I have many vivid memories of those days. One in particular. I had driven to the hospital in Shrewsbury to bring my daughter home – she didn’t want to go to her home so I brought her back to us. She was already being sick again. She couldn’t lie on the bed, she couldn’t lie on the sofa, she couldn’t sit down, she couldn’t stand up – everything was a problem. Eventually I brought in the covers from the sunbeds and lay them on the kitchen floor. She lay on them, I was ironing and listening to Classic FM very quietly. After a few minutes she asked me to turn the radio off. A few minutes later she asked me to stop ironing – she couldn’t stand the sound or the smell of the steam – it made her even more sick.
This was not a life!
Her husband tried but this was difficult to understand and without help and counseling it was never going to be easy to explain it to a man who didn’t ‘do illness’. Nobody, it seemed in 2009 had heard of H.G. It was a new, un-discovered, scary world, it was a battle to gain recognition, it was a severe test of the psyche. Many assumed it was psychosomatic and most didn’t try to understand – there was no real help.
As time went on and Ondasetron was prescribed it got slightly easier but the nausea and sickness continued.
On the day our grand-daughter was born, in fact the moment she was born – the sickness ceased. B R E A T H E – this was the first time in 9 months that my daughter had not only not felt sick but hadn’t been sick. Minutes after the birth my daughter was asking for food, chocolate, bread, chips – anything and everything!! Her relief at her baby’s perfect appearance was immense. She was perfect – well why shouldn’t she be – she had taken all the goodness from her mummy.
So ….. the HG was over – everything would be fine now ….. wouldn’t it …?
What was to come in the wake of this horrible condition was, in many ways understandable but equally devastating.