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 Every day I kept thinking about this blog and how I was letting it slip out of date.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.