Pregnancy Comes In All Shapes And Sizes
Guest Post with Kayley from Friendly First Foods
Please tell us a little about your family.
Hi, I’m Kayley, I am 29 years old and live with my husband, Alistair and son, Harry near Manchester. Alistair and I have been together for 7 years and married for almost 4 years. We always wanted children and tried for a year and a half to get pregnant with Harry. We were blessed with our son in June 2015 and I struggle to believe that he is almost 2 now! In January this year we discovered I was pregnant again. It was a shock and a surprise but we are so excited for our family to grow and can’t wait to meet our daughter in September.
When did you realise that your pregnancy sickness wasn’t just pregnancy sickness?
I first started feeling nauseous and vomiting at around 5 weeks pregnant. Initially I thought it was just ‘morning sickness’ and would pass but I soon realised that this was something much worse. I started losing lots of weight and struggled to keep food and even water down. I think I realised that my pregnancy sickness wasn’t ‘normal’ when I started taking medication for it. When I was pregnant with Harry I wouldn’t even touch a paracetamol but this time around I was regularly in the doctors crying and begging for anything to make it stop.
If this is not your only pregnancy, have you suffered with HG in another pregnancy?
This is my second pregnancy and fortunately my only one with HG. When I was pregnant with Harry I had a bit of sickness in the early days but it would pass quickly and I was able to get on with my day. By 14 weeks the sickness had stopped completely and I had never felt healthier. I loved being pregnant and was one of those really annoying smug people who just seemed to breeze through it. This time could not be more different and I can say with some confidence that this will be my last pregnancy now. I couldn’t put myself through this again. It’s upsetting as I was looking forward to enjoying being pregnant again and I feel like that’s been robbed from me but at least I was lucky enough to have an incredible first pregnancy.
Did you feel you were taken seriously when you asked for help with the sickness?
I have mixed feelings about this one. Initially I saw a string of doctors who didn’t seem to understand at all. I was prescribed Gaviscon, told it was a normal part of pregnancy and that the baby would be ok. One doctor, after I’d not managed to keep any food or drink down for 3 days and burst into tears infront of him, asked what I was so upset about, without any empathy at all. When I’ve managed to see my GP (which seems to be difficult at my surgery) she has been fantastic, working through different medications with me and trying to help me find one that would work.
The worst experience I had was at about 13 weeks pregnant. I hadn’t kept any food or water down for 4 days and was showing 4+ ketones in my urine. I was so poorly and really struggling but the doctor told me that as the dehydration wasn’t affecting my kidneys yet they wouldn’t do anything to help. It was at this time that I contacted Pregnancy Sickness Support, a charity well worth contacting if you are suffering. They told me that I needed to get to hospital asap for fluids and made me see that I wasn’t overreacting and I was genuinely poorly. The next day I called the GP again and refused to get off the phone until they made a referral for me to go to the hospital. Once I was at the hospital the staff were amazing and were shocked I hadn’t been sent to them sooner.
I still struggle with people not understanding what I’m going through, including medical professionals but now, at 25 weeks pregnant, I feel more confident to trust my instincts and push for the treatment I need when I need it.
Were you prescribed medication? How did you feel about this?
I’ve been on 5 different anti sickness medications over the course of my pregnancy. I’m currently taking Ondansetron which helps to take the edge off but doesn’t take away the sickness completely. Initially I had trouble getting a prescription for Ondansetron as my GP said she couldn’t prescribe it as it is too expensive. After my first hospital admission though I fought for the prescription and luckily have been on it since.
Were you hospitalised? How did you feel about this?
I’ve been treated in hospital twice now, both times I had 4+ ketones and was severely dehydrated, not keeping anything at all down. The first time I was admitted I was relieved. As dramatic as it sounds I was in a really dark place where I thought that I was going to die if I stayed pregnant. Once I got to the hospital and had anti sickness injections and fluids it was amazing how quickly I started to feel alive again. The second time I was admitted I was frustrated and angry that I was still suffering. I was 21 weeks pregnant and had hoped the sickness would pass by this point. I also had Harry with me and struggled to sort childcare so I could get to the hospital. The best way I can describe how I felt at this time and many times throughout my pregnancy is lonely, helpless and frustrated.
Did the sickness subside at any point during your pregnancy?
I had about a month during early pregnancy where the medication I was on worked and I felt a bit more able to cope. Since then though I haven’t had any prolonged period of time where I’ve felt better. I have good days and bad days, good minutes and bad minutes but nothing seems to be consistent. The best way I can describe it at the moment is that on a good day I feel like I have the world’s worst hangover and on a bad day I feel like I have terrible food poisoning.
How did suffering with HG affect you mentally?
Suffering with HG has taken a huge toll on my mental health. Going from being independent and physically able to some days barely being able to look after myself never mind my son, is hard to adjust to. There is a lot of guilt that comes with HG which can make you feel useless and worthless. Guilt that your child is sat infront of the TV again while you are throwing up, guilt that the house is a mess as you just don’t have the energy to clean, guilt that you aren’t performing at work, guilt that you are letting everyone down, guilt that you aren’t eating enough for your unborn baby… I could go on.
I also struggle with anxiety at the moment too. As if throwing up isn’t glamorous enough, I am often sick that violently that I end up wetting myself. I also get burst blood vessels all over my face. These things make leaving the house harder as I’m worried what will happen while I’m out. I get anxious about what people think about my illness, it seems to be such a misunderstood condition and a lot of people take the attitude that you should just ‘have a ginger biscuit and get on with it’. I wish it was that easy.
Do you feel it will affect your birth choices?
Initially I was quite strong in the fact that it wouldn’t. I want a home birth and was adamant that I would make it happen, regardless of how my HG is at the time. Now I’m not so sure. I’ve hired a birthing pool ready and told my midwife of my plan but whether or not I’ll wimp out nearer the time I don’t know.
How do you feel about the whole experience?
Honestly, I feel sad. I want to be able to tell my daughter when she’s older how much I loved being pregnant with her, just like her brother. I want to be able to say how I proudly showed off my bump and had never felt better. That won’t happen though. Instead I will tell her about how strong we had to be together and how I went through the hardest times of my life with her wriggling away inside my belly. I will tell her how her reassuring wriggles kept me going and how she was worth every second of suffering. I will tell her how I’d do it all over again for her in a heartbeat and how imagining the moment when I first held her in my arms would keep me strong when I was at my weakest. I’m determined to cling on to those positives that will come soon when this is all just a bad memory.
How are you now?
To say I’m ok would be a lie. I’m not, but I know that I will be and I will have a beautiful baby at the end of it. This is temporary, and for it I will gain the gift of a daughter, a sister for Harry, someone who will complete our family. For now I’m taking each day as it comes and trying to stay positive. This is temporary and I will come out the other side stronger than ever.
If you need further help and advice regarding Hyperemesis, here are some useful links: