Staring at the pink cross we experienced simultaneous ecstasy and terror.
After the initial shock I began to get excited, imagining reveling in affectionate smiles from strangers, seats offered on the bus and all that cute maternity wear. Sadly, the reality was quite different.
Five uneventful weeks passed. Week six brought what I took to be normal morning sickness but which quickly progressed to intense vomiting. Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) was diagnosed and that was the start of our nightmare.
HG is a severe form of morning sickness with "unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids". Thankfully it affects only 0.3 of women.
Initially, despite constant nausea, I was only vomiting two or three times a day. By week nine this had developed into hourly visits to the Porcelain Goddess. I couldn't keep the tiniest sip of water down. After a while even the slightest movement caused me to retch. Reading or watching television had the same effect. I was getting weaker and more desperate by the day. To add to the misery sleep was impossible as I was constantly awoken by the need to be sick. Despite longing to stay at home, I eventually agreed to be admitted to hospital. Nothing they prescribed helped but I was given life-saving intravenous fluids and food substitutes. After two weeks, still unable to eat anything but dry bread I returned home.
I was six months pregnant (still no bump!) and two and a half stone lighter but at last the appalling nausea was subsiding and daily scans confirmed my baby's health.
The last two months allowed me to feel "together" again. It was nothing less than wondrous to eat and drink normally. I carried my baby to full term and delivered a beautiful, healthy girl.
Sadly, I don't think of those forty weeks as a pregnancy but an illness, which is exactly what it was for me. Nevertheless, I consider myself lucky. I had the constant love and unwavering support of my amazing husband whose hair holding skills were second to none!
If you have any doubts as to whether the extent of your morning sickness is normal, please don't be as stubborn as I was. Call your doctor and get treatment as soon as possible. This condition, whilst rare, should never be underestimated.
For more information: www.hyperemesis.org
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