Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hyperemesis Gravidarium - Part 2

Hyperemesis Gravidarium (HG) is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening pregnancy disease marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and/or vomiting with potential adverse consequences for the newborn.

My prior pregnancies were not a piece of cake by any means.

I remember what a shock it was when I became severely ill with my first son. I had expected nausea, even in a funny way had looked forward to it. I wanted to experience every single symptom of being pregnant.

I had tried for 3 years to have children, and had become pregnant with the help of a low-level infertility drug. I was one of the lucky ones in that I became pregnant within three months of starting it. My first pregnancy had ended in miscarriage, but I was able to get pregnant within a few months again.

I remember heading to my local library thinking that you can find a book on any subject. I did manage to find one book there dealing with severe illness during pregnancy. Unfortunately, it was quite outdated. It discussed how they had formerly considered severe nausea to be phychological, and usually an indication of an unwanted pregnancy. They would often put such women in sanitarium-like places, where their condition would worsen until they would either lose the baby, or more often than not, die themselves. It's interesting to note that there are some people who think that Charlotte Bronte may have died due to HG complications. I pity the women in the past who would have struggled not only with the physical effects of this condition, but with the belief of others that they were bringing it upon themselves.

I made it through those first two pregnancies. Yes, it was hard. And other than my dear husband, no one really understood what I was going through. I worked very hard at eating as healthy as I could because I knew every single bite would count.

And I have good memories of those times as well. There are many women who would be willing to go through the same thing to hold a baby in their arms; I made sure I kept that in mind. The joy I felt when I held those little boys in my arms at the end of those difficult pregnancies was overwhelming. And I felt incredibly blessed.

We were crazy enough to still want to have more children. I put it that way because of all the well-meaning people who told me I should not have any more. I understand they looked at it as having to put our lives on hold for nearly nine months. The truth is, we looked at it that way as well. And nine months of just getting by seemed a very small price to pay for the end result of a child that would give us such joy for a lifetime. I guess it's all in how you look at it.

What we didn't know, was that my third pregnancy would make the other ones seem easy in comparison.

Before I go any further, I want to clarify something. Having HG goes far beyond having severe nausea and throwing up. I could easily go through that part of it. It's the slow but sure failure of your body to function as it should, and the domino effect this causes, that is the hardest to bear. I also think that it takes a heavy toll on a person mentally.

Some women who suffer it in it's worst form take the route of abortion. You may think this signifies they didn't want a child in the first place, but that is simply not true in many cases. I am unequivocally against abortion, as I believe we have a soul from the moment of our conception. But unless you have been pushed to the brink physically, mentally, and emotionally that these women are, it's best not to judge them too harshly. Many of them think they won't survive these pregnancies. There was a point I thought the same thing myself. It may sound dramatic, but an HG pregnancy can seem like a living nightmare at times. And Doctors are still in many cases slow to help in all the ways that they can.

This would prove to be true in my own experience.


Nikki said...

Oh my goodness! I did not realize how bad HG really was. How awful! And you haven't even gotten to the bad part yet, have you?

My dad is a retired family physician, and, no, his being a doctor did not have much to do with my becoming a pharmacist. Except that he told me NOT to become a doctor. I wanted a job that was flexible and paid relatively well, hence, pharmacy!

Niki said...

I have heard of this and had a friend that was in the hospital for most of her pregnancy. If you ask her now if she wants more kids she has that look of pure fear. They say every pregnancy is different but hers were both bad.

Mrs. Darling said...

Just dropping by to say hi.

Kaye said...

Wow. This is something that I've never actually heard of and I am in shock (and awe) of how dangerous it must be! I guess this isn't something that you TELL women is a possibility when they are pregnant since they are already terrified, but I think it is awesome that you are sharing and making us aware not only of the fact of its existance, but doing it from the viewpoint of the physical and emotional toll it took on you.