My bouncing baby HG boy!

Wow. Time flies when you’re having fun! While I had every intention of providing regular updates to this blog, it’s been 11 months… Fellow sufferers will be aware though, that just managing to get through a HG pregnancy takes your ability to do small tasks (such as looking at a computer screen) away. And once I was able to return to work halfway through my pregnancy, all spare time flew out the window! I’ve been spurred on to provide a snapshot update for two reasons though. Firstly, I recently received WordPress’s annual report for my blog. I was aware I had just a handful of followers – people who had signed up to receive updates – but I was shocked to read from the report that I’d have over 3,000 people read my blog! Secondly, I’ve just received a post from a new, first – time HGer (thanks Genielle) and I want to share how I got through the pregnancy, and how fantastic the result is, for proof that you do get through it, it does end and it is worth it.

After many, many weeks of intense nausea and vomiting things slowly improved. Even though it’s only been less than a year, my memory of it all has faded. However, it was well past the four month mark before I could consider returning to work. Mum and dad stayed for several weeks to help us out. We were truly lucky in that Bronte (now 2) had entered a really lovely toddler phase (12-18 months) where she slept like a dream and hadn’t yet reached the terrible twos. They had to return home to Victoria for more appointments, so I decided to travel in convoy down with them to try and get some R&R away from all the stresses of being in your own home (cleaning, etc). It was an incredibly difficult decision to make because I’d cancelled an earlier trip down with them because I was just too incredibly sick to deal with 5 hours in the car, plus hours worth of stops to places that I probably couldn’t eat any food anyway! The second visit though, I couldn’t bear the thought of them leaving and no longer having their help. So I steeled myself for the trip. We somehow made it with only one stop, at lunch time. On the passenger seat, I travelled with an assortment of snacks that I could ‘sort of’ keep down, in order to try and keep the nausea at bay. At the lunch stop at Gundagai I was so pleased to have parents to chase around after my active toddler. However, I made the bad decision to order fish for lunch… The thought of it appealed, and it was just a plain piece of fish, but it was cooked on a grill where hamburgers were also cooked and I got one taste of the red meat and was off for the remainder of the trip. For the rest of my pregnancy I couldn’t go near fish!

I spent several weeks with mum and dad just sleeping, relaxing, having lots of baths (in a beautiful big tub!) and laying low. I missed my husband, but gosh I needed the time out. Strange, but while I was there I improved significantly. I think just being at home creates a stress if you’re like me and hate a dirty house! I was able to get out and about a little after a few days – we all couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t expected to be able to do anything, so brought limited clothes and shoes. Mum ended up buying me a new pair of sneakers after we walked into town by the river and I ended up with blisters from my dress shoes! I managed a few cafe outings, albeit with fairly bland food, but it was the beginnings of my improvement.

Back home a few weeks later, and I was able to return to work at about 4.5 months. I was still nauseous and would have the occasional vomit, but by no means as I was in the first trimester. I returned to work two days per week for the first two weeks, then upped it to three with one day working from home. This helped me manage my return to work well because it took away the two hours travelling time for one of the days. I never got to my normal four day per week routine though. It was just too much for my body to cope with. However, I loved being back at work and using my brain after 16 months of maternity leave!

Still couldn’t brush my teeth without gagging, if not vomiting. With Bronte at childcare during the Winter, she was picking up all sorts of viruses and colds, which we of course picked up and it meant a house full of snot – not helpful to my situation! Every time I picked up her cold, the snot (sorry for the gruesome details) would make me gag and throw up more than what I should have been doing at that stage.

As with my first pregnancy, during the last few months, when I was able to eat and hold things down, I ate, and ate, and ate. Once again, having something in my stomach at all times kept the nausea at bay. Thankfully, this time around it was masses of juice, as opposed to masses of chocolate bars. Masses as in, at least four litres every couple of days! It was insane. If I was hungry, it was juice. If I woke in the middle of the night (which was very frequently in the last trimester when I reached the really uncomfortable stage), I had to have juice. If there was no juice in the house, it had to be fetched (usually by hubby!) at any time of the day or night. Something told me I was likely to be having a boy…

Before I knew it, I was finishing up at work once again.

Posted in Conception & pregnancy | 6 Comments

Second trimester. A glowing shade of grey/green…

Hhhhmmmm… Twenty-one days since my last post. I’m sure people can guess why! From the 8 to 12 week mark, I hit the downward HG spiral. Every day I kept thinking about this blog and how I was letting it slip out of date. Then a week passed, then two, then three… it feels a little impossible to catch up. But I’ve discovered there’s a handful of people following my story – so I’ll do my best. If it helps just one person feel like they’re not alone, it makes me feel like this is worth writing!

I wish I had have written a diary for my first pregnancy, because my husband and I have been racking our brains trying to remember how many weeks (months) it took until I started to feel semi-normal. ‘When did we move into our house, because I remember you were able to cook a bit by then?’ ‘When did you do that hike in the Blue Mountains, because remember I was actually able to drive up there with you to stay in the hotel?’ Keeping a diary this time around often feels a little futile, as all going well with this pregnancy, we aren’t going ahead with a third round. So it’s not like this one is going to be used to remind me next time of when I’m likely to improve – I hope I improve!

Anyway, back to what has actually happened. My mum and dad arrived at the end of January to help us out. Wow. I can’t believe the positive effect it had on me instantly. They popped in briefly on the Sunday to see me. They were staying at a nearby caravan park in their new caravan, partly because they want to make it easier by just being around during the day and partly because Innes is was still sleeping in the other room with his cold or flu. He’s still sleeping in the other room now, weeks later, because we discovered that I slept better without his tossing and turning! Plus, he felt terrible to be making me feel sicker with his tossing and turning. Note to self: buy a King sized bed when you’re back in the land of the living and not on a single income.

Shortly after mum and dad left that day, I threw up. However, the next day we dropped Bronte off at childcare (ah, such lucky relief for me) and I didn’t throw up all day or night. I lay in bed talking to mum for hours about everything and nothing. I relaxed under the sounds of her running around the house getting it back into order again. Over the next couple of days, she’s stormed her way through eight loads of putrid washing (think dirty, wet kids clothes combined with sodden arborist/landscaper clothes), bleached every tile of the bathroom and toilet, cleaned out the fridge and tackled the sticky kitchen floor and crumbed benches. Innes had been keeping things just going, but with a one-year old and a wife bedridden, it was easy for things to pile up.

Finally, I could walk into the bathroom without gagging from the damp, mouldy smell. I can’t say the same for the kitchen smells – nothing, no amount of bleach, will ever get rid of food smells for a HG sufferer. My OB told me simply to just avoid the kitchen. Fine by me! Mum dashed about buying groceries, brainstorming for simple, organic food that I might be able to eat and more importantly, keep down. She cooked up batches of meals for Bronte and Innes to be able to reheat in the oven or zap in the microwave. For the first time in weeks Bronte had a ‘fresh’ meal – not one out of a baby food packet and she wolfed it down. No fuss as there had been for weeks. I wasn’t surprised. While I wanted to be giving her ‘real’ food, I just couldn’t manage it. Mum visited the library to top up my reading material, picked up my zofran scripts, went to the chemist to pick up my tablets and just shared the love that only a mother can give a daughter. Dad revelled in playing with Bronte on the other five days she was not at childcare. He quickly learned how to change nappies, taught her to feed herself with a spoon and took her for walks to see the horses and roosters at neighbours houses.

For four days I didn’t throw up. I really began to believe in the power of positive thinking (and I do to some extent, but there’s an insurmountable level to which HG just cannot be stopped by anything). Mum and dad could see how badly I was suffering, despite being able to hold what little food I was eating down. I was pale, had lost 3kgs and my hair lay limp around my face.

Just as I began to hope that maybe, just maybe, I was going to get out of this earlier than last time, it came crashing down. The four ‘good’ days had given me false hope that as I was nearing the end of the first trimester, perhaps it was resolving itself like any normal morning sickness would. On the fifth day of my parents visit, I felt awful. I threw up in the afternoon and kept throwing up at night. It worsened over the next three days. For four days I virtually hadn’t been able to eat a thing. As much as I tried to have tidbits of bland, or whatever-I-felt-like-I-could-have, food it wouldn’t stay down. In the end it felt worse to be eating and throwing it up than just leaving my stomach empty so that after retching up the last of my stomach acids, there was nothing left to throw up at all. On the bad days previously, I’d been crunching down a frozen Hydralyte at night. Now these weren’t staying down. On Tuesday, I woke up and didn’t need to pee for three hours. When I did, it was the darkest orange/brown I’d ever seen. ‘Stuff this,’ I thought, ‘I’m calling my OB and I’m going to tell her that it’s bad.’

For a long time since my first pregnancy, I believed that I got through HG by just forcing myself to take sips of liquid regularly. And I’ve even written this in the story of my first pregnancy posted on this site. Now, in hindsight – I believe I just pushed through the trauma and never admitted to my OB how bad it was. Not because I was trying to be brave – I just didn’t know how ‘bad’ was ‘bad’. I read about plenty of people who were being admitted to hospital for fluids and I knew I should be one of them. This time, and I should have been last time.

You can imagine my relief when I described my lack of peeing and the colour to my and she said, ‘I think we’d better get you into hospital for some fluids.’ Hurray! Within 10 minutes, she’d organised a bed in the private hospital for me to get IV fluids pumped directly into my dehydrated veins. Initially it was only going to be for the afternoon. When I got there, my OB must have considered it further and told the Doctors to keep me in there overnight. Within an hour I was hooked up and the sacred fluid was being pumped into my veins at the fastest rate the nurses could set it to. The nurses and doctors were all surprised to see me eating a spinach quiche shortly after my arrival. But I told them assuredly, ‘Don’t worry, I’m not expecting it to stay down’. And I wasn’t. I figured that I was in the best place I could be if I was going to vomit everywhere. But, as it turned out – I kept it down. Way to look like there’s nothing wrong with me!

Innes finished work early and popped in to see me before he had to leave to pick Bronte up from childcare. Then Mum and dad came in for a visit. I think all three of them were relieved to see me being taken care of. I was happy to be in the hospital. I knew I needed fluids. It being the first time I’d received them for HG, I didn’t know what to expect? A miracle cure? Would I be floating on the clouds afterwards? But when mum and dad left, I felt like sobbing. Suddenly I was alone, nauseous and spending the first night ever away from my little girl (I knew she was going to be perfectly happy, I just missed her terribly!) and my husbands hugs.

The only other time I’ve been hooked up to a drip was during and after my caesarean to have Bronte. Seeing as I had a catheter in for 24 hours, I didn’t have to get up and pee. So it was a bit of a circus unplugging the machine from the plugs on the far side of the bed, unravelling the cord from around the bed and then manoeuvering the heavy structure across the carpet to the toilet. It was like trying to walk through knee-deep mud with flippers on! But I finally needed to pee after several bags and many hours! Innes came in to see me in the evening, with mum and dad getting Bronte off to bed. It is one of the very rare times in my life when I’ve seen him upset. But it’s lovely and touching to see how just much he cares for his wife. A friend who saw him the following day told me later that when she asked after me, he had tears in his eyes. Awwww….

By late morning the next day, the nurses took me off the IV fluids. I actually wanted more! Give me more, more, dammit! I had a shower and waited for the needle to be taken out of my arm. I had to wait a few hours, as I actually fell asleep again so the nurse didn’t want to disturb me. By the time I was released, it was early afternoon. Did I feel much different? The nausea was still there. But I felt like I had liquid in my body again. I had an appetite that I felt I could satisfy somewhat. I didn’t feel like I was walking on clouds as I’d hoped, but I felt a bit more… real. An expensive stay ($250), what with our minimal private health insurance coverage, but the care I’d received in the private hospital was amazing. Nothing was too hard for any staff member.

Mum and dad were on their way home. Unfortunately they had to be back in Victoria for appointments. However, they were returning five days later. Over those five days I struggled through getting Bronte off to childcare at a reasonable time in the morning and then for the remaining three days, over to her Gran’s. I vomited every now and then, but less than just prior to the hospital. When you’re dehydrated, the nausea and vomiting becomes worse because your body doesn’t have the fluids, salts or stamina to help it. It’s a vicious cycle. I felt rotten with nausea still, but my food intake reached a little further from rice cakes and gluten-free twisties, to salmon and cream cheese toasted sandwiches (sorry to anyone with HG reading this – I’ll try to keep food mentions out of it). I even had a good enough day to spend a few hours with Innes at his parents place while we got to meet our newest, gorgeous niece. I spent most of those hours just sitting by the new little bundle staring at her perfect little face and reminding myself what all this pain was about.

But, I was definitely ready for my parents to return. Even the little things like preparing a simple snack for myself was an effort. I missed having my mum to chat to and keep my mind off the nausea. I have the greatest admiration for all those women out there who have, are or are yet to, suffer HG with no family support nearby. I simply could not cope without it.

The night I got back from the hospital, I threw up. What? This wasn’t supposed to be happening so soon again, was it? I threw up everything in my stomach until it was empty. There was no more food or drink for me that night. After I threw up, I was utterly disappointed that the IV wasn’t the miracle cure I’d hoped for. I went to Innes for a hug and just cried. I sobbed and sobbed. I just wanted it to get better. I’d forgotten how horrible the experience is. I missed having time and energy for my little girl who was just at the most wonderful, lovable, cuddly age. I had always been ready for her to go to childcare, to be looked after by grandparents and all of that. I’m not a mum who will bawl my eyes out on her first day of school. When she self weaned at one year, I was ready for it and happy for it to end. I love her, but I know how to let go. I just didn’t expect to have virtually nothing to do with her for weeks on end, and to have that happen so rapidly after the onset of HG. I’d listen to her crying at my door trying to come in when it was shut and I was trying to sleep just to be able to ignore the nausea. It was heartbreaking. It was even more heartbreaking seeing her go to others for hugs when she bumped her head or whacked her hand. Was this the price you pay for wanting to have another baby so soon to get it all over and done with? On the positive side, I told myself that at least she is so young right now that she won’t remember this time. And, I’m sure, just as with the last pregnancy, I won’t remember this period once our new baby is born.

Of course, crying makes you feel worse. The runny nose it causes clogs up your throat, which in turn makes you gag, which of course, then makes you vomit some more! So after I had a quick bawling session, I forced myself to hold it together and climbed back into bed to seek out sleep.

Now, I write this as Mum and Dad have been back for another week and have just booked into the caravan park for another week. I think they also have another week they can spend here if I need it (I probably will) before they have to be back home for another appointment. Over the past couple of weeks, the nausea and vomiting has peaked towards the end of the week. Our bub was conceived at the end of a week and it’s like with every new week it grows, so too the hormones go crazy and make me feel awful. I’ve had some OK days, some terrible days. I haven’t woken in the middle of the night and thrown up for a while though, and for the last couple of days at least I’ve been able to spread my two doses of Zofran further apart. Today I had my best day that I’ve had in a while. I actually sat outside on our deck playing some sessions of Scrabble with Mum, eating a little bit and having my mind taken off how I feel. I shouldn’t get my hopes up too much though…!

Last Wednesday I had my 12 week ultrasound. Everything looked wonderful and it was fabulous to see that our little person is growing perfectly. That’s one thing that is different this time around: I’m not so worried about the baby. I’m more worried about me this time. Yes, I live like any pregnant women who hopes to have a healthy baby at the end of it. I just know from last time that despite my inability to keep food down, that the little bubba is getting everything he or she needs. As my OB aptly put it last time, ‘Don’t worry about bub, they are like parasites. They take everything they need from you. Your body cares about them more than you right now!’ While I’m out of the ‘danger zone’ now for miscarriage, it’s still on mine and every pregnant woman’s mind.

The result from the 12 week scan and blood tests the week prior is a low risk category for Down Syndrome. Mum came to the scan with me, which was lovely. Her first glimpse at her newest grandchild. The sonographer talked through every image on the screen. Not that he really needed to, all his/her limbs were clearly formed and visible. Bub even gave us his or her first display of hiccups!

With mum and dad around, I’m passing the days with games from my childhood: Scrabble, Uno, etc. They are having a wonderful time spending all this time with their granddaughter and I wish we didn’t live so far away. Everything about this experience, HG, pregnancy, birth and parenthood has brought us closer together. Why did it have to take so long for me to realise what my parents did to raise me? If only teenagers knew…

As I brushed my teeth tonight, I had my first vomit of the day. Teeth brushing regularly has that effect. Darn. I’d had such a good, low-nausea day. I must admit, with the start of HG my dental hygiene slips. Instead of brushing twice a day, it’s once. I know it’s terrible, but when you know it’s going to make you vomit and you want to keep as much in your stomach as possible, you just avoid it. I just hope it hasn’t triggered a series of vomit throughout the night until my stomach is empty.

Until tomorrow…

Posted in Conception & pregnancy | 3 Comments

First trimester. We meet again.

Monday 19 December

I’m due a period today. I know it’s early to expect a pregnancy test to tell me anything, but I’m excited at the prospect of starting baby number two – despite HG. I’ve been doing tests each month for the past three months, forking out $17.95 for the kits each time. This time, it’s more a case of ‘just knowing’. You know how you just… know? I sit and watch the test. It comes up with ever such a faint extra line, but it’s there all the same.

Tuesday 20 December

I do another test to be sure. It’s slightly darker this time. I’ve managed not to tell my husband yet. I’d like to keep it as a surprise Christmas present, or at least a Christmas Eve present… But I can’t! I want us to have a few days where we can privately share our secret. I’ve decided to tell family and a few close friends early this time around, rather than after 12 weeks because I’m fairly certain I’m going to have HG again which is impossible to hide.

Saturday 24 December

My parents have arrived  from Victoria to spend Christmas with us. Innes and I enjoy dropping hints to them as they settle in for a cup of tea, exchanging smiles as they go over the top of their heads. In the end I have to say, ‘When Bronte has a little brother or sister in August’. Dad laughs and asks if we’re joking. Mum, who was playing with Bronte looks at me realising she’s missed something, ‘What?!’ she exclaims. They are both excited for us, but obviously not surprised. We have always been open to everyone about the fact that we want to have a second child as soon as possible to get it all over and done with.

Sunday 25 December

We head over to Innes’ parents place for Christmas dinner. We wait until all the family are about in the same room to share our news. Again, no one is overly surprised! We ask everyone to keep it under wraps as it’s only early days. I estimate I’m about six weeks. One relative says, ‘Oh gosh, I wouldn’t have been game to tell people so early. I’d be worried that something might happen.’ That quickly wipes the smile off my face. I’m extremely aware of the risk. I am usually a very private person. I’ve never felt the need to go into graphic detail on anything. But HG changes your perspective somewhat. The first time around with Bronte we kept it quiet from everyone except our parents until we saw the 12 week scan. And the only reason we told our parents was because I was so unbelievably sick that they began to worry that I had a serious, terminal illness. I also had to tell my boss because from six weeks until about three to four months, I was off work. For those first horrendous 12 weeks I suffered through it by keeping quiet and hiding from society. Of course I was concerned about telling people early when there is always a chance of something going wrong. But with a 1-year old already, I knew I’d need to be asking for help to care for her early on.

To scare me further, over the next few days I experience some light spotting. I’m fearful that we should perhaps have kept quiet. I think it’s nearly harder if something goes wrong if you tell friends and family rather than complete strangers you will never see again. There is also little to no nausea so far too, which excites, but also worries me.

I’m trying not to get to hopeful about avoiding HG though. We’ve calculated that early in the New Year is when I should expect to be as far along as what I was with Bronte when I began to feel rotten. Every day, every hour, we are anxious about HG’s likely return. It’s a weight over us – all the unknowns. How will I cope this time with a child already? Will I be able to return to work (I’m due to return at the start of February after 14 months maternity leave which I already extended a couple of months to fit in with when Bronte’s spot in childcare becomes available)? Will we be OK financially if I can’t? Will it be worse this time around?

Friday 3 January 2012

I celebrate Bronte’s first birthday at the local pool with my Mother’s Group. It’s a nice, low-key and stress free afternoon. Yesterday, I hoed down on half a BBQ chicken. Today I bought two for us to share over lunch. I can eat it, but I do feel a slight, ever so slight aversion to it which triggers warning bells. My first experience of HG saw me able to eat a certain type of food for a day or so, and then the next I’d be hurling at the sight of it.

6 January

I’ve been taking naps whenever I can over the past few days. I’m exceptionally tired. We try going for a walk with Bronte in her backpack through our highly prized and loved National Park we reach by stepping out of our front doorstep. Twenty minutes into it, I’m dizzy. Uh oh. We cut it short and head home. On the way back, I vomit. It’s started. I know.

7 January

Manage not to throw up. Feel revolting.

8 January

Vomit in the morning after cereal and orange juice (bad decision – too acidic). I’ve been hanging out over the weekend for my obstetrician, Dr. Adelyn Leong to return from her holiday, so I can beg for Zofran (an antiemetic) again. Tomorrow.

9 January

I phone Doctor Leong’s rooms at 9.15am. Ought to giver her at least 15 minutes to settle in before she hears my name again! The new receptionist tells me, ‘You’re in luck. Someone has cancelled their Friday appointment which you can have.’ It’s Monday. While the 13th is better than my original appointment on the 20th, it’s no good. Even one more day without Zofran will see me rapidly decline and this time I’m desperate to try to stay ahead of it, rather than let the downward spiral begin before any treatment.

Just as I’m about to instruct the receptionist to tell Dr. Leong that it’s me calling, she walks past and he mentions my name and that I suspect HG is returning. I hear her instantly tell him she’s write out several scripts for me to pick up that day. I’m relieved to have her as my Doctor. Half the battle with HG is finding a Doctor who knows what it’s about, can treat it and actually believe that it exists. I get to her rooms after Bronte’s morning sleep, rush to the chemist and down my first dose – half an 8mg Zofran tablet. Sweet relief – well sort of. The tablets are placed on top of your tongue and dissolve quickly for you to swallow easily. A person with HG finds it impossible to swallow tablets, and even more impossible to keep them down. Zofran is immediately absorbed into the blood stream.

The next few days are OK. I can eat bland Vita Brits with milk still and lunch which I couldn’t at this stage last time. However dinner is reduced to potatoes, potatoes, potatoes.

13 January

My first appointment with Dr. Leong. She checks my weight (69kg), my blood pressure (110 over something or other I think – but good), asks me how I’m going and if this one was planned (Bronte wasn’t!).

I tell her how we decided after the first horrible pregnancy how we just wanted to get the second and last baby over and done with. She thinks it’s a good idea. Have them close together while you’re still in the mode, if you can do it. It’s lovely to have support from such a professional individual. I climb onto her examination table and we have a look on her small ultrasound machine. Somewhere lurking in my belly is a little blob and it makes me smile. ‘It is going to be worth it,’ I think, ‘and it’s going to be the last time.’ I can’t see a heartbeat and am quite disappointed. Bronte was an obvious baby shape when I had my first scan with her. Dr. Leong assures me that a heart will already be beating in there.

She looks over my file and breaks the news to me that I was 10 weeks when she first saw me with Bronte. Ten weeks! During today’s scan, the Doctor estimates the baby is about eight weeks. That means I have another two weeks before I hit rock bottom! Plus, I thought I was 8 weeks a couple of weeks ago. Nooooo! A HG pregnancy drags enough without being set back a couple of weeks in progress. I know it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. Pleadingly, I ask, ‘Is it going to be better this time around because I’m taking Zofran earlier?’ She seems to think it will be. Her reasoning is that this time around I haven’t started the nasty cycle of vomiting nad losing weight and therefore energy, which makes getting on top of the whole cycle harder.

We’ll see. As the days go by, I feel worse…

16 January

I ring Dr. Leong to see if I can do anything to get rid of the intensifying nausea. She suggests ginger beer (I shudder at the thought – I grew to hate it after the first time around) and ginger tablets. I know she’s just trying to find something for me to hold on to, but I also know she knows these things won’t work for me. I am trying ginger tablets, but I’m not convinced. They didn’t work last time. She recommends I take Metamucil for Zofran’s ugly side effect – severe constipation – or another drug it this doesn’t work after three days.

I tried a tiny bit of ocean trout and cous cous for dinner. It’s difficult for me to actually bring the fork towards my mouth. It smells and my stomach is telling me not to do it, while my head is telling me to get something into me.

Bronte wakes that night and it takes about 30 minutes to settle her. She experienced her very first day of childcare today. Massive relief for me! She seemed to be quite content and slept OK during the day.

17 January

The day began OK, but I am severely nauseated after a short sleep. I took another half Zofran table early as I couldn’t stand it. Popcorn, which I ate with gusto yesterday, is no good today. It makes me sick. I’m grateful to have Bronte in childcare. I think I’ll be keeping her in there regardless of whether I return to work or not.

I’ve booked in for acupuncture on Thursday. Fingers crossed. I’ve been trying homeopathy. I know it’s the kind of thing that you are meant to stick at to find the right remedy, but two different bottles of medicine down already I’m losing faith. The taste of the brandy that is used to preserve the medicine makes me retch. A friend of my sister-in-law had HG twice, with the second time being a drastic improvement. I bailed her up at their wedding to ask her questions and she swore by a naturopath’s prescription of some prenatal vitamins. I need to track these down and try them.

I’m finding doing any housework, or in fact anything, difficult to do today. I’m also worried that my husband isn’t quite aware of how bad it is getting. I took three half tablets of Zofran today. I’m not sure whether I was meant to go over the dosage of just two halves, but I felt terrible.

18 January

Zzzzzz! I stayed awake for hours after Bronte woke at 2am last night. She was only awake for 10 minutes thankfully. I felt very nauseous. Met a friend and her two boys at lake Alexandra this morning to see how some light exercise and fresh air might treat me. Some slow, short walks around the lake felt OK, but I am super tired. At least it kept my mind off spewing.

My friend was telling me how much they were paying to have her two boys in childcare now so she could work two days a week. Scary!

I was grateful to have Innes’ mum come over for the middle of the day session with Bronte so I could sleep. I’m not sure what she gave her for lunch though – nothing I’d packed for her was touched! I hope she did get fed…

I’m trying to hold off on taking another Zofran. I ring Dr Leong to see if I can up my Zofran dosage. No. It’s getting harder to hold the vomit in.

19 January

Innes is at home today. I got up when Bronte woke to give her breakfast and then go back to bed again. I sleep and sleep. Bronte fell asleep early on a bushwalk with her Dad and now her routine is out, so she’s very grizzly. He’s frustrated by the end of the day. still, at least I got a break.

Acupuncture was nice. I didn’t feel any relief from nausea, but I felt extremely relaxed. I also had an ultrasound at Bowral Hospital. I finally get to see a heart beating. bub is 1.5cm and a heartbeat of 167 bpm. It’s dated at eight weeks. Sigh. It was eight weeks this time last week with Dr. Leong. Groundhog Week! I book in for a nuchal translucency and blood test in three to four weeks time.

Bronte is really taking to the bath these days. I get doused with water as she splashes away happily and I’m keen to let her so she wears herself out for a good night’s sleep. It is her first night of being completely weaned from breastfeeding. She’s one year, two weeks and two days.

20 January

I wake at 3.30am when Innes gets up to have breakfast before leaving for his job in Sydney. He does this two days a week and other days works locally. I head to the loo shortly after and get a whiff of his deodorant and gag. It’s exactly like last time. i couldn’t let him spray it in the same room as me. I manage to keep the vomit down. But 15 minutes later I run to the loo to vomit up stomach juices. It’s vile. I lie in bed feeling horrible, but at least get a hug from hubby. I hold out on taking Zofran until 5am to try to space the two doses out. I manage breakfast and sleep while Innes’ mum looks after Bronte in the morning.

I then take Bronte into town at 11am for her one year immunisations. It’s horrible. She’s hungry and struggles during the three injections and cries all the way though. The need into her leg scratched her and it leaves a cut that bleeds for ages. I am a sweaty, nauseous mess in the hot, airless room. To make things even less fun, there is a woman there with her 1-year-old that was in our prenatal classes at hospital. She drove everyone nuts moaning about her pregnancy constantly and feigning feeling ill and having contractions at the first class. We didn’t return for the second class because of her. Now, she sits in the room moaning about immunisations and telling us all about her sciatia. I feel sorry for the midwives who had to look after her during her son’s birth. I move away from her, though I’m tempted to throw up on her. I notice the next people along from her move away too.

I manage lunch, a potato and spinach frittata. I’m really pleased to still be able to be eating this kind of food. I remember last pregnancy that I reached a point very early on where my food intake became even more restricted because I would choose to eat food that, rather than being easy to get down, would be easier and less harsh on my throat to get back up. I’d be throwing up stomach acid and bits of blood regularly.

I head home again after seeing a naturopath in the local health food store. I’ll head back in later to pick up some similar vitamins to the prenatal ones that were recommended for me. The naturopath is also going to order me the brand my sister in law’s friend recommended. Hopefully the ones in the interim will work. I feel nauseous but am trying to distract myself with a phone call to Innes and writing my blog.

22 January

Well, it’s back with vengeance. I picked up the prenatal tables yesterday afternoon and took one (enormous) one when I got home. Surprisingly, that night I felt the best I have so far since getting sick. Could this really be the miracle cure? I try not to get my hopes up too much. I know how HG works. You’ll be really low, then there might be a good day, and then you’re back down low again the following day.

Sure enough, today it all came crashing down. I can’t move off the couch to play with Bronte and to make it harder she has a temperature from the immunisation. When Innes’ mum rings to see if she can help out for an hour or two, I gratefully accept. I feel terrible that night, throwing up twice. I believe the vitamins have actually made things worse. I read with regret that a biathlon I was going to enter months ago is on next week.

I ring mum and sob down the phone. When you’re a daughter, I don’t think you ever become too old to want your mother’s care. We discuss how she can help me out with Bronte – whether it’s best for me to travel down to Wangaratta or whether she should come up here. She leaves the decision in my hands. Inn and I both think me being down there for a few weeks is the best option. At least there I can get 24 hour care and don’t have to worry about housework or looking after Bronte too much

My sense of smell has definitely heightened in the last few days. The smell of our house is making me retch, because neither of us has the energy or ability (me) or time (hubby) to clean it. The bathroom and laundry are the worst. The damp smell sends me off.

25 January

Today I’m really struggling to keep things down. Innes is home today, but he’s had to go an unload some stuff off his ute while Bronte is asleep. I hope he gets back quickly. I attempt to eat some cruskits and drink some Ovaltine. I spend 95% of the day in bed trying to sleep the nausea away.

26 January

Australia Day. I couldn’t get any more un-Australian: bedridden, no beer and no BBQ! Innes is working in Sydney today. I’ve driven Bronte over to his parents place for them to care for her from 8.30 until 4.30pm. I happily leave her there knowing she’ll be perfectly content with a different bunch of toys and plenty of songs from her vibrant Gran who is a recently retired primary school teacher.

I get back home after a quick trip to a health food store to pick up some more organic and gluten-free food. I’ve been trying to eat this type of food for a few days now. Originally it was just because I’d sought out food that would be easily digestible. The theory being that if it’s easier for my stomach to process, it may be less likely too reject it. I’ve been managing organic rice puffs with goat’s milk for breakfast. Despite the initial gag reflex at the smell of the goat’s milk, once I started eating it, it sat very well. I have even managed two bowls some mornings! Incredible! Other food I’m trying is gluten-free everything; chicken noodles (OK, but the texture does make me a little gaggy), melting moment biscuits (too sweet, but they stay down most of the time) and a type of rice flour bread with avocado. Some days I can eat these things, some days I can only get half way through a serve. I’ve also been sucking on fruit tingles. A little unconventional for my HG, generally sugary things send me vomiting instantly. However, the strong, revolting metallic taste I have in my mouth is overwhelming and I’ll try anything to keep it at bay. The fruit tingles are at least a little sour to start off with, rather than things like jelly beans. I tried jelly beans during my first pregnancy. Mum recommended trying them as they were successful in helping her morning sickness (mum didn’t get HG with any of her four pregnancies). They lasted two days before the sight of them had me projectile vomiting. I regretted buying a 1kg bag of them!

I get to about 7pm that night and then vomit.

27 January

Not a good day. Bedridden for virtually all  of it except for visits to the loo, a shower (eventually) and to try to find something, anything, I could possibly eat. By 5pm I’m vomiting. Innes wants to go over to his parents place to have dinner with them, his brother and sister-in-law. He asks me if I mind. Is it selfish of me to expect that he stay behind and look after me, or should he be entitled to have a few beers and a break from caring once Bronte is in bed? It means he’ll stay the night over there because he’ll be over the alcohol limit to drive back. Personally I tend to think that sometimes drinking alcohol isn’t the most important thing in life… By asking me if it’s OK to go, doesn’t it turn me into the monster if I say no? Anyway, he can tell I’m not happy about it. Tonight is by far the worst night I’ve had. I’ve vomited three times by the time he leaves. I love him, he’s my soul mate… but I do wish he’d cut the apron strings and realise he does have his own family now that he has created. It’s not all about his side of the family. Cripes – he hasn’t ever spent a Christmas with my side of the family, when I’ve spent many a Christmas with his.

I’m still awake at 2am and have been vomiting violently on and off for hours. I haven’t eaten anything for an even longer period because I know it will just come straight back up. Better to keep the stomach empty to give it less to want to reject. By this point, I’m really seething at my husband for leaving. What does that tell other people? That I’m really OK? That I’m not that important? This is the second, and all going well, last time that I will ever have to go through this. Is it crazy of me to expect him to sacrifice a few months of caring for someone who is supposed to be his first priority? We will get our lives back again, after all. And I think he spends an awful lot of time with his side of the family at the snap of a pair of mother’s fingers…

I send an angry text, ‘I hope you’re having a wonderful night. I’m still awake and vomiting. I’ve had enough of trying to be brave with this when I get dumped for a few beers. I only hope my mum can get here soon to look after me. I’ve had it with being second best.’ Nothing like having HG and feeling so very, very alone to get the hormones raging! I get an apology back, ‘I’m sorry Kiz. Will see you early in the morning. I love you.‘ I hold off sending an angrier response. And to his credit, he does arrive back at 6am the next morning, clearly with a sore head. But he dives into helping me and looking after Bronte.

28 January

I spend the day in bed again, watching episodes of Secret Diary of a Call Girl. I’m feeling a little better after my worst night yet (I don’t think my emotions or crying helped at all). I sleep for hours in the morning to catch up after only three hours the night before.

Innes’ brother and sister-in-law come around with their 6-month old boy and head off for a bushwalk. I get a few hours of peace again.

Evening comes and I throw up only once overnight. I’m tending to eat when I can during the day and nothing past 5 or 6pm. The fact that I can actually eat something and keep it down this time around is keeping me a little positive. The starvation level hasn’t hit the point yet of my first pregnancy. I have lost 2kgs though.

29 January

I actually had a really great sleep last night, from 11.30 until 6.30am. When I woke, I took my Zofran dose, then immediately fell asleep again once I heard Innes rise to get the waking Brontasaurus out of bed for breakfast. I woke again at 8.20am.

I savour the feeling of the first few minutes after waking up. Most HGers would know this feeling. It’s when you wake and have those few precious moments when the part of your brain, the vomit centre, hasn’t yet registered the HG. You think? Wow. I’m feeling better. Then a minute or two goes by, or you get up and wham! It hits you again.

I’ve run out of goats milk. I mix the last of it with some cow’s milk. It stays down, but definitely doesn’t sit as well. I’ll have to try to drive to the health food store for some more, but doubt it will be open on a Sunday. Wish I could find some more types of food to eat!

30 January

Yesterday afternoon and last night was terrible. I couldn’t eat anything from 3pm except a few handfuls of cherries. I shocked that they stayed down despite the nausea. That’s not to say I didn’t vomit four times, I just did so when the cherries weren’t in my stomach! I was so hungry, and just tried to forget about it by watching movie after movie on my laptop. I just want to cry. I’m trying to stay strong for my husband and little girl. It’s hard, because I think people think that if you’ve gone through it before, you can do it easier the second time around. Not true! You forget just how horrible and debilitating it is. I will agree that at least this time around I do know what wonderful gift I’ll get at the end of it.

My sister-in-law offers to look after Bronte at night. Their 6 month old has reflux so needs a lot of attention during the day. She talks about me driving an hour to their place to babysit. It’s a really nice gesture and I know is meant to do nothing but help me, but it drives home again how people don’t really hyperemesis affects you. I can barely manage to run Bronte over to childcare, less than a kilometre away, let alone drive for an hour down a winding road! It’s so much easier just to stay in the comfort of your own home. Thankfully, we have plenty of support close by. Mum and dad are arriving hopefully today. I need mum’s company! They’ve just purchased a caravan so will be staying in that at a caravan park so they can come around during the day and leave us to our ‘own devices’ at night. It’s a good option – dad’s pretty hyperactive and finds it hard to just chill out, and I won’t have the energy to humour him, as much as I love him! Plus, Innes has been sleeping in the spare bedroom the last couple of nights as he’s really congested and doesn’t want to give me his cold. It is actually working OK for me too – I feel sick every time he rolls over and the bed moves. He also likes to cuddle (which I usually love), but I can’t stand having anything touching me.

Woke at 3.30am when Innes rose to get ready for work. Made a dash to vomit in the toilet. Not much came up, not surprisingly considering I hadn’t eaten properly for half a day. I tried to hold off having another Zofran tablet, but caved at about 4.30 am. Once I’d had it, I let it settle for maybe 5 minutes then braved drinking some lychee juice (weird, yes) and eating some strange sort of biscuit type bread… It stayed down.

I’ve eaten breakfast this morning, showered (Bronte crawled into the shower fully dressed, but I was too exhausted to lift her out, so let her splash about), brushed my teeth (gag, gag, gag), dropped her off at childcare and managed to get a few bits and pieces from the grocery store to try eating… They are all significant achievements in the world of hyperemesis. It took me two hours to get Bronte packed and ready, something that should only take 15 minutes.

Oh, and I also called my boss. I had to break the news that I wouldn’t make my return to work today… or probably until I was four months pregnant, just like last time. He’s agreed to giving me another month of maternity leave and then to check in towards the end of it to let him know how I’m travelling. I hated, hated, hated having to disappoint him and my work colleagues and I couldn’t apologise enough. Thankfully, he’s been quite understanding and that leaves me less stressed about it all. I know other people in this situation wouldn’t have it so good and constantly hear about people who lose their jobs because of ongoing absences. It’s so stressful. It’s not just about letting colleagues down, it’s also about desperately wanting to return to work, to have some sort of normality again before the months of being plunged back into the world of newborns, and it’s the financial strain.

I’m lying in bed about to begin another round of movie watching and sleeping. I’ve been trying to eat more bland food (as well as my iced coffees which, while I instantly went off my usual lattes, have been craving right from the start). Unfortunately none of it is sitting well and I’m at the point of nausea where you’re not sure whether it’s best to rest your stomach and just let it get thrown up, or to eat more because you’re actually feeling so sick because your stomach isn’t full enough. I would to anything to have an extra 20kg stacked on to me right now, if it meant I didn’t feel like this!

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A turbulent conception

December 2011. Conception.

Sleeping Bronte

Sleeping Bronte...

It’s my 31st birthday. I’ve returned home from a pub lunch with the girls and bubs from my Mother’s Group. Bronte (one year old) is hyperactive today. All afternoon she has been across the floor, crawling from one end of the dining room to the other and I’ve spent most of the afternoon chasing after her and battling her strong, chubby limbs. After changing her nappy on the floor of the disabled persons toilet (there was absolutely nowhere else even slightly suitable), I emerged to discover a lovely smear of her poo on my shorts. Quickly looking myself over, I can’t spot it anywhere else. But in my disheveled state, I forget – shock horror - to wash my hands. I never forget to wash my hands.

The afternoon was one of the rare times when I’ve been able to enjoy a couple of beers in a row as I’ve exclusively breastfeed Bronte since birth and have just dropped a midday feed. Given my now low tolerance for alcohol, it’s fair to say I was too tired (and too tipsy) to do the return bushwalk home with Bronte in the hiking pack. Thankfully, my husband finishes work early and picks me up in our car.

With Bronte asleep that afternoon we, cough, ‘celebrate’ my birthday. I know it’s prime time for me to conceive. Particularly as we’ve been ‘celebrating’ a fair bit over the last few days. And we are trying to conceive.

Later that evening, I don’t feel so good. I head to bed early. But within seconds of lying down, I am up and charging for the loo where I make it just in time to paint our retro 1970s avocado green toilet with extra technicolour shades. And I mean really paint it – walls, floor, door, everywhere. Between 8pm and 6am, I’m vomiting from both ends. My only relief throughout the night is that Bronte stays asleep, despite the violent retching going on down the hall.

Over the next 48 hours, the rest of my little family go down like dominos with this nasty bug too. It takes me a good week to feel like eating properly again. While my head was launched down the toilet bowl that night, I had a horrible realisation – I’m not ready to get pregnant again! Why? Because my first pregnancy was a traumatic experience, with eight months of suffering severe hyperemesis gravidarum (HG).

HG. Two nasty letters.

HG is a debilitating form of extreme morning sickness. Rather than dealing with a first trimester of on and off nausea and maybe a bit of odd vomiting, HG sufferers experience 24 hour nausea and often, plenty of vomiting as early as five weeks after conception. It is a relentless, overwhelming, intense nausea and in many, many cases it last the entire pregnancy. Women have terminated their pregnancies because of the extreme suffering. There is no cure for it, only a handful of drugs to dull the vomiting and worse still, the cause is largely unknown. Of the minimal research conducted into hyperemesis gravidarum, hormones are the main suspect.

A hike and a vomit, please.

Embarking on our fateful hike.

Embarking on our fateful hike, Mount Feathertop.

For me, HG struck like lighting the first time. With Bronte conceived on our first wedding anniversary in April 2010, I was blissfully unaware of our developing fetus as one month into it I had a) a huge night out on the turps after a rugby union match in Sydney, and b) we set off on a long-awaited six-day hike through the Victorian Alps.

The night prior to leaving for the hike, I felt a bit ‘wrong’. Dinner wasn’t sitting in my stomach well and my alcohol limit was two measly beers. Shaking it off, we set off in snow for Mount Feathertop the next day, feeling well again. It was only the following morning that I had a sudden need to eat – immediately. I felt I was going to throw up if I didn’t get food into my stomach right there and then. Grabbing a museli bar, I chowed it down and gave the experience little more thought as a brilliant day of walking followed. At night, I felt a little more queasy again. I put it down to the unfortunate timing of probably having picked up a flu-like bug that my boss had the previous week. I was in bed early and feeling unusually cold. The following morning, I failed to enjoy a usually scrumptious breakfast of damper and maple syrup. Still, it didn’t click. I guess when you’re not trying to get pregnant, you don’t look out for the signs! We enjoyed another beautiful day of hiking. 

Then, night. Only a sip of port was tolerated – blasphemy for a hiker! – and the dehydrated meal was revolting (more so than usual after several days of eating it). Freezing, shivering and in bed at 6pm in an old hut, I was extremely nauseous. The morning was no better. When I tried to brush my teeth, it made me gag. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a nine month love/hate relationship with dental care.

As we slowly set off that morning, I battled with the horrible idea that we may have to pull out of the hike early. We have never had to do that before. Trudging along a single track, I suddenly couldn’t walk straight. I was dizzy. I wasn’t sure it if was my mind caving in to negative thoughts, or if there really was something going on with me. After about an hour walking, we reached an intersection on the track and sat down to contemplate our options. Continue and hope for an improvement, or walk out to the snow village of Falls Creek and get some sort of transport back down the mountain to Bright where we’d left our clean clothes? I felt terrible, but I also felt so sick and shuddered at the thought of spending another night in the bush feeling the way I did. Sadly, we pulled the pin. But it was still one very long and very boring walk along a hard, sealed road to Falls Creek.

To make matters worse, once we got there everything – bar a small supermarket and cafe are closed. No accommodation. No public transport. Off-season in the snow fields of Australia… Again we sit and contemplate our options. Possibly call my parents, over an hours drive away to pick us up? Hitchhike? Fork out a huge sum for a taxi? We want to spend a night or two in Bright before heading to my parents – so we try a hitchhike. After a few non-events (really, who would want to pick up two muddy, smelly hikers?), a middle-aged man who turns out to be the CEO or some similar title of the Western Australian ultralight association finally picks us up. With a slightly weird stopover at a hydroelectricity operation halfway down the mountain as part of the hitchhiking bargain, we continue on to Mount Beauty, where our driver decides he’s happy we’re not going to kill him (apart from with the stench of our hiking gear) to continue driving us the extra 30 minutes on to Bright, back to our clean gear. 

I feel revolting on the winding roads. I’m certain our driver thinks it’s a common case of the wife feigning illness to get out of a hike! That night, a gourmet pizza dinner goes equally bad and all I want to do is have a really hot bath and sleep in our luxurious Bed & Breakfast. Still, it hasnt’ clicked.

But, the next day as we wandered past a chemist, I’m suddenly struck with the thought, ‘Uh oh… I wonder…?’. I sneak off while hubby is in the local bookstore and purchase a pregnancy test so as not to alarm him too soon. Of course, I mentioned to him a bit later about what I’d gone of to do, and as suspected watch the blood drain from his face. ‘I don’t think it’s what it is,’ I say reassuringly, ‘but I just want to check.’

Strangely, I had the patience to wait until the following day when we’d reached my parents place to do the test. Denial, or certainty that it wasn’t the reason? I think I was probably still wanting to believe that we weren’t about to embark on a life-changing event.

The following night at my parents (who also believed that I had just picked up some nasty bug), I peed on the stick. Two pink lines immediately appeared. There was absolutely no delay whatsoever in those two little intimidating lines appearing. There was no room for error with an instant result at night – when the human Chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is meant to be at its lowest.

I have a bath with a mixture of excitement and shock. Then I go and tell hubby who is equally shocked. We were about to become parents! At that stage, I could still stomach most foods and so just believed I was just going down the usual morning sickness path. On our last day in Wangaratta, we went to a local GP to confirm the pregnancy.

Spiralling downhill.

Losing weight the nasty way.

Losing weight the nasty way. Don't know how I managed to smile!

On the drive home, I began craving the kind of disgusting food I never eat – KFC, McDonalds, etc. Over the next few days I would, but then I began throwing it up. My taste buds went to bland things, or at least what was suggested to settle morning sickness. A few more days and nothing – not even sips of water were staying down. I was throwing up constantly, mostly when I tried to eat or drink, but also in between. The sight of anything to do with hiking; our packs, our boots; the clothes we wore; the smell of the deodorant we used – it all made me hurl. I grew weaker and all I wanted to do was sleep. Sleep was the only thing that gave me respite from the continual vomiting and nausea.

I saw a GP in Bowral – one with the first available spot at our clinic. An unsympathetic, old-school, grey-haired Doctor, he quickly sent me on my way with an admonishment that I was just experiencing ‘a bit of morning sickness most pregnant women get’ and to suck it up and eat dry crackers. I persisted with his advice for a day, but my husband and I knew something wasn’t right. I shouldn’t be vomiting this much. So we booked in to see another Doctor. This one, a young Indian Doctor, went one step further and used an online medical encyclopaedia – doesn’t exactly instill confidence in a patient – to diagnose and prescribe Maxalon. Maxalon is used for HG, but like many of the things that can be prescribed, it didn’t work for me. It didn’t even touch the sides. It did, however, make me sleepy which meant I could avoid chunks of the day by not being awake and therefore, not feeling sick.

At the time this was happening, we were living on my husband’s parent’s property. We were saving money for a couple of years to put down a large deposit on our house by living in a demountable type shed that had once been used as an office. But, being the onset of Winter and given how freezing I was feeling we moved into the main house. We were forced to tell some family members early on in the pregnancy what was going on. They’d began to worry that I had some terminal illness. Now, I felt like a lazy, sick, unhappy invalid imposing on my in-laws. I was throwing up at a minimum a dozen times a day. I was starving and dehydrated – not to mention miserable and wondering whether the hell this having a baby business was all worth it.

Not satisfied with Maxalon, or having been prescribed something that was found online, we bit the bullet and booked in to see a private Obstetrician. I’d rung Dr. Leong’s rooms about a week prior to enquire about booking in. But when her receptionist rattled of the thousands of dollars worth of fees, ‘$2000 at delivery not covered by private health insurance, $1200 for a caesarean (Bronte was breech for the entire pregnancy), extra for the anaesthetist, plus the cost of the hospital bed, etc.’ I freaked out thinking how much more it was going to cost than by going public. Could we afford it?

In the end, affordability had nothing to do with it (though after investigating the costs a little more thoroughly, we found that even with our minimal private health insurance coverage, we were able to afford it comfortably). I was quickly wasting away and growing increasingly stressed over the health and safety of my little jelly bean. When I rang again to request and appointment, I was told it would be weeks before I could be fitted in for an appointment. My heart sunk. I had reached my limit and sobbed down the line, ‘I am really, really sick. I can’t keep anything down – is there anything I can do?’ Once I’d explained that and the receptionist heard the desperation in my voice, I was in. She seemed to have come across what I was going through before, and even said, ‘The Doctor will be able to give you something to help with that.’ Phew.

Within the next day or so, I saw Dr. Leong who was to become my saviour (well, as much as you can be when helping someone with HG). I felt I was no longer seeing quacks or trainees, but someone who had dealt with my condition before. She prescribed Zofran, my new disgustingly tasting, dissolvable table friend. From what I have heard, Zofran is apparently prescribed to chemotherapy patients to stop them vomiting after treatment. I feel so much more for cancer patients than ever before. Because, while Zofran can stop a percentage of vomiting, it doesn’t take the edge off the 24-hour intense nausea. But, while I still continued to vomit, I could now keep some things down.

Living with my nasty friend.

The dreaded potato.

The dreaded boiled potato. Strangely, Bronte refuses to eat anything with potato in it.

For months I couldn’t eat anything more than boiled potato and occasionally boiled chicken. Sometimes I could stomach dry cereal for breakfast. I hated brushing my teeth because it inevitably made me vomit. I was going to kill the next person who told me to eat dry crackers or ginger products. Never tell a HG sufferer that. The usual remedies for morning sickness don’t work! HG is beyond ‘normal’ morning sickness and believe me, a HG sufferer has tried every possible alternative already. I was off work for four months, gradually returning with a few hours work from home, then increasing it to a day or two and then gradually managing to drive to and from the office.

During the first three months of my first pregnancy, I lost 9kgs from my already lean 63kg, 172cm frame (I’d been training for the Canberra Marathon just prior to falling pregnant), down to 56kgs. I was gaunt and not the least bit pregnant looking. This was the worst time. There was nothing ‘to show for it’. I wondered how on earth I was managing to sustain another life. It was certainly not an enjoyable way to lose weight.

When my bump arrived at about 4 to 5 months it began to feel like something worthwhile was happening. As my condition improved, and it did, maybe at the six months mark – my deprived appetite wanted anything and everything it could get its hungry stomach juices on. By then end of my pregnancy I stacked on a whopping 16kgs. While I didn’t enjoy being ‘porky’, I reminded myself regularly that I was pregnant and no one else I knew had suffered like this, so there was no comparison in pregnancies. In my final month, while extremely uncomfortable with being heavily pregnant with indigestion and during summer, it was absolute bliss to eat anything and everything!

The support from my husband was unwavering. He never flinched at emptying my sick buckets and always came home from work with a smile for me, when I was utterly miserable. 

I remember I was still taking Zofran at around 8 months, but somewhere around 7 months I’d finally began to be able to wean myself off it slowly. I went from 8mg a day (two halves), to 4mg a day (one half), to a quarter tablet every day, then every few days.

Post-birth I quickly got back into shape to achieve my goal of running in my second half marathon, when Bronte was 9 months old. I returned to 69kg when I fell pregnant this second time – a few off my goal, but I was fitter and stronger than I’d ever been because I’d used my year of maternity leave to intensely focus on raising my first child and repairing my body.

Brave or stupid?

Our prize after 9 months.

Our prize after 9 months. Worth every vomit.

I avoided having to go to hospital for an IV drip as many sufferers do, I believe only by persisting with trying to sip, bit by bit, mouthfuls of water. It was nearly 9 months of torture. Yet, here I am again. Why? Because despite how regretful and horrible I feel now about being pregnant with HG, I know it does get better and it is worth it. We want just two children. It is the second and last time I will ever go through with it. I give endless credit to women I come across who have suffered through four or more HG pregnancies. They really want to have kids!

My obstetrician politely warned me at my six-week checkup post-birth that given the severity of my HG, I should expect to experience it during subsequent pregnancies. It is for this reason that we were determined to have our second and last child as soon as possible to get the trauma over and done with in one swift block.

Looking back, because of the way our brains work to ‘forget’ pain and suffering, it is hard to remember exactly when things improved. Which is why, this time around, I’m keeping a diary. It’s for myself and my husband, to remind us to stick to our resolution of having two kids, and two kids only. And it’s for other HG sufferers. Because, let’s face it – the ensuing blogs are going to be far too depressing for any non-pregnant, non-vomiting, readers out there!

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