I write ‘morning’ lightly, since it was more like all day, every day sickness with a bit of relief through the night.
It lasted until week 20 of pregnancy. I remember the week exactly because near-constant nausea is not something you easily forget. I ended up on a drip twice to combat dehydration. I was also prescribed medication to help me keep food and water down and feel more human.
While sickness is a very common side effect of early pregnancy, severe debilitating sickness is not. Because of this there is somewhat a lack of understanding around it.
While I had heard of it in my pre-pregnancy days since Kate Middleton has famously suffered with it, I admittedly thought it was complete overprotection of her and the future heir. But as I came to understand, it is not something that can be fully comprehended unless you’ve experienced it yourself (sorry that I ever doubted you Kate, wholly, sincerely).
I didn’t want to write this as a “ways to cope” post, because what would annoy me the most during the worst days was advice about what would make me feel better…but ultimately didn’t help (lemon tea and ginger biscuits can quite frankly do one).
Instead I wanted to write this post for anyone who is experiencing severe pregnancy sickness, to let you know that there are others out there that know exactly what you’re going through. To let you know that you are not alone, though it may very much feel that way sometimes.
So first things first…
There Is Sickness, And Then There Is Extreme Sickness
Most women in the first trimester experience some form of nausea. This is most commonly experienced in the morning, hence the popular term ‘morning sickness’. This nausea, while understandably unpleasant, usually disappears around the 12th or 13th week. Severe pregnancy sickness however, (medically termed Hyperemesis Gravidarum), lasts beyond the first trimester well into the second, and sometimes in extreme cases the whole pregnancy!
One thing I came to realise when I was pregnant was that fellow pregnant ladies and new Mums could not always identify with how I was feeling. Some had had ‘a bit of sickness’, but not to the degree that I seemed to be experiencing. For a while I thought that I was just being a bit dramatic about the whole thing, but I soon found out that vomiting 7+ times a day while feeling nauseas 24/7 is not ‘normal’ pregnancy sickness. As I was informed, if you are vomiting more than 3-4 times a day, you ought to see your Doctor.
You Can Feel Alone
As bad as it sounds, it became a little obsession after a while to find someone I knew who felt as awful as I did. My husband would often tell me about a colleague or friend whose wife just found out she was pregnant. My first response would be “that’s awesome news”, and my second would be “does she feel sick?” It wasn’t that I wanted them to feel sick, it was just that no one was ever as sick as me and I wished there was someone that I could relate to.
I clearly remember breaking down and blubbering to my husband one day that “I am rubbish at being pregnant and I feel like a bad Mum already and no one understands how sick I feel”. It can really wear you down physically and emotionally.
To date, I’ve only had one friend who experienced extreme sickness – she found out she was pregnant when I was around week 17. Though it was horrible to know how awful she was feeling, it was nice that we could in some sense help each other through it. It helps to have someone to talk to…even if it is just to compare horror stories.
Sometimes Nothing Can Help
I drank lemon tea, I ate crackers, I ate ginner biscuits, I drank ginger tea, I drank water, I wore acupressure bands, I ate as soon as I woke, I practiced deep breathing…the list goes on, nothing helped. Everything came up. Then everything I had eaten I grew an aversion to. I even tried not eating, but this only resulted in dry heaving, which really hurts and is not advisable.
I had no cravings during pregnancy, but I had many many aversions. One of the oddest was an extreme aversion to a certain coffee shop chain (which I won’t name it as my crazy pregnant-lady aversion would be unfair negative publicity). I quite literally could not walk past the place without retching. I think it was a mix of the smell and the colour of the branding.
Another was an irrational aversion to a particular cupboard in the kitchen. It contained a bag of risotto rice, and I could not even think about risotto without being violently sick. The cupboard also smelled way worse than the others – I think it was the herbs; I could smell rosemary a mile off. My husband did eventually dispose of the risotto bag for me, but I still couldn’t be near the cupboard. The list goes on but these were the weirdest.
Medication Is A Grey Area
Around week 10 of feeling like the walking dead, my gynecologist prescribed me Zofran (also known as Ondansetron), which is an anti-nausea medication. I took 1 – 2 tablets a day to help me keep food and water down.
Medication during pregnancy is a scary grey area and a very controversial topic. I was terrified, naturally, that it would harm my baby. I therefore will not advocate for or against it. All I will say is that I didn’t want to take it, but I did. I was desperate. If you’re in the same position, do your research, speak to your Doctor, and make an educated decision with your partner as to what is best for both your health and your baby’s health.
If it helps, my son was born a perfectly healthy little boy (on his exact due date, no kidding) and is currently a thriving 14 month old.
Severe Sickness Does Not Always Mean You’re Having A Girl
I was convinced I was having a girl because I was so sick. Then I had a boy. So did Kate Middleton. And so did my good friend who I mention above. Don’t pick any names just yet 🙂
You Will Feel Better One Day Soon
It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, it may not be next week, but please do know that you will feel better one day soon. They say that “you forget it all once your baby is here” – it’s not quite true as I remember it clearly, but I can wholeheartedly say this: your baby will be worth every single second of feeling like crap. And you should feel proud of yourself. Your strength and love knows no boundaries, and your baby knows this.
Whether you’ve read this post going through the experience of severe pregnancy sickness first hand, have experienced it before, or perhaps doing some research for a partner or a friend, I hope it will in some way help shed some light on the condition.
If you’d like to share your experience in support of others, I really welcome you to comment below. Also, any batshit crazy aversions like mine are more than welcome for a shared giggle!