We need to talk about Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
It shouldn't take a duchess to make people aware. It shouldn't take a team of royal doctors and a nation obsessed to highlight the hell that hundreds of women are going through RIGHT NOW.
It should be enough that just one woman you know has lived through this. It should be enough that she has had tubes and wires coming in and out of her weakened body.
She has spent hours and hours and hours holding her head so still for fear that she may vomit again.
She has spent hours and hours and hours crying silently, her body unable to even make tears.
She may even have spent hours and hours and hours thinking wishing dismissing thoughts of a termination. Back and forth, back and forth.
It shouldn't take a duchess to let people know that HG is a problem. But it does. And since it does, let's do this. Let's talk about it.
Because what you don't know about the sickness...
It lasts long after the heaving ends.
Long after the waves stop sweeping and crashing and sweeping and crashing and sweeping.
It leaves an imprint on your confidence. It leaves a bitter taste. It leaves a scar. It stays to remind you that it can come back at any time it likes. And it will. It leaves memories deeply etched on your bones; of feeling like your body is on fire and your mind is mush and all you want is someone to hold back your hair and you physically cannot keep this up for one second longer.
But you do.
You do, because there really is no other choice. And it shall pass. And you know that. You take a pill and you close your eyes and you find some relief, somewhere, somehow.
But what you don't know about the sickness...
You can't do all the same things that you used to, before.
You can't travel long distances, or go to places you think will be crowded, or hot, or busy, or strange. Or the bathroom will be hard to find and you won't have spare clothes and you don't know the people around you.
And although the bad days are firmly behind you there is always the fear that they will return. And any time your stomach rolls you panic because you think it's starting again. And every time you remember, you taste it. You feel it. You live it.
What you don't know about the sickness...
It takes a long time to leave you. It stays. And it remembers.
And so what they don't know about the sickness is this.
It won't win. There will be bad days but they will be behind me, every day. And at the end of this I will be stronger, even without someone to hold back my hair.
So let's talk about it.
Let's not ignore the women who put their lives on hold for months and months. Let's not ignore the women who cannot lift their head from their pillows but would move heaven and earth to protect their unborn babies. Let's not ignore the fact that there is SO much you can do to help, right now.
Don't offer her ginger. Don't ask her if she's tried sea sickness bands. Don't frown upon the pills and IVs that are keeping her alive.
Instead, fold her laundry. Collect the kids from school and take them to the park for an hour. Make the dinner and clean her bathroom. Hold her hand. Show her you're there. You might not fully understand, but you're there.
And talk. Try to understand what it's like for her. Listen. She might not say much but she is speaking volumes. Be there for her to catch the tears as they fall, her heart as it breaks. Because the day to day agony of HG will end, and the days that follow will be flavoured with the compassion and kindness that you showed her when she was ready to fall.
We need to talk about HG and we may as well do it now.