Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Aftermath

When you’ve survived Hyperemesis Gravidarum, you hold your baby and thank God that you made it, and that your baby made it, and that you’re both  alive. You survived. Then you kind of forget about it, or try to, at least, while you get on with feeding your baby, changing her and learning to be a mother. You kind of assume that Hyperemesis Gravidarum is gone, and you hope that that’s the end of it.

I did, both times.

And for Ameli it was. She’s suffered no ill fate from this ghastly condition. I assumed the same would be true for her sister, born two and a half years later. But things were different. During my pregnancy with her I was already running on depleted supplies, and the sickness was worse, and when I started throwing up blood at 10 weeks, I went on medication because by 12 I couldn’t get out of bed without fainting. That’s not an ideal way to look after an almost two year old.

The medication I was on – Ondansetron, also known as Zofran – wasn’t specifically tested in pregnancy and my doctor wasn’t happy about giving it to me, but I showed him information about it being used for Hyperemesis Gravidarum in the US, and he agreed. He prescribed three tablets a day, but I took one in the morning so that I could eat something at least, which would carry me through the day. Anecdotal evidence mentioned incidence of deformities and I didn’t want to take any chances.

Aviya was born at home in water at 42+5, a perfect baby girl.

At 10 months and 8 days she rolled off a bed, but seemed okay. She was a bit cranky for a few days and cried whenever we tried to pick her up, but on investigation she seemed totally fine. (My mother is a remote areas nurse practitioner, and my brother is a medical student, so they should know.)  At 10 months and 10 days she took her first step on Christmas day, but even so… something wan’t right.

I finally took her to Perth’s Children’s Hospital where they said that she had broken something – her clavicle or scapula, I can never remember. We treated it, and went about our business. After all, we were in Perth for my mother, who was dying of cancer.  I never thought much of it again, only fearing for Aviya’s health whenever my mother commented on a blue ring around her mouth, saying that I had to get her heart checked out when I got back to England.

Months passed, we found ourselves back in England, trying to find a normal life again. Ameli started back at  nursery, Aviya was running around, engaging in the world, doing the things that one year’s olds do. Her first tooth appeared, and then her second tooth appeared and as happens with these things, so did her third and fourth. Our girl was doing great.  Until one day I had a piercing pain in my nipple as she tried to nurse!

Her tooth had chipped! No, not chipped broken! It looked like a vampire fang! I felt awful! How could I not have noticed a fall that did that to her tooth! We went to the dentist and had it filed down, a traumatic experience for her, for sure.  Not a week later, guess what? Her second tooth did the same. Broken! I was glad her arm had broken in Australia and not England. At least there’s no medical record of it here. I mean, a broken bone and two broken teeth? I know what I’d be thinking.

Well, we took her to the dentist again, and again with the third tooth and again for the fourth. And again, and again. It was only when we discovered two abscesses in her mouth that the dental staff started to take it very seriously. They were going to put her on a waiting list for our area’s special care unit, but an hour later I got a call to say they were going to  transfer her to a hospital in London to be seen sooner.

Then the guilt sets in. The dentist said I should stop breastfeeding because that’s what’s causing the tooth decay (but not for the other teeth in her mouth?) Clearly, I’ll not be taking the advice to wean.

We brush her teeth, but probably not long enough.

Maybe I feed her the wrong things.

But no.

A bit of reading, and it turn out that – anecdotally of course – HG babies often have weaker enamel on their first four teeth due to malnutrition in the mother (or something like that).  She loses these teeth now, but her adult teeth should be fine. With removing them, however, there may be problems with her teeth descending as the ‘tunnel’ for them isn’t there. So she won’t lose her front teeth either. There’ll be nothing for the memory box.

But there’s maybe more.

While reading about all this, I found something else, slightly more alarming: again anecdotally, of course, but there are a number of babies who had  Ondansetron/Zofran who also developed heart problems – thinking about my mother’s comments about the blue ring.

Well. Nothing’s proven. But it’s a worry.

So my little girl has her first ever course of antibiotics for the abscesses. 

And we wait.

We wait for the GP appointment for the referral for the scan or whatever they do for her heart. Then we wait for the referral for her dental surgery. Then we wait and see what else life throws our way.

And whatever else Hyperemesis Gravidarum takes.

Did you have Hyperemesis Gravidarum? How has it affected your child or your life since having a child?

Living With Hyperemesis Gravidarum

There’s so much I want to say and have wanted to share about life with HG but I haven’t because talking about it actually makes me feel sick. That said, I have explained at some length what Hyperemesis Gravidarum is, as well as informally mentioning it during my first pregnancy, before I really understood it.

I’ve had Hyperemesis Gravidarum both times, and true to form, this time has been worse, sickness wise, but it has been ‘better’ living with it due to the fact that it’s been managed by Ondansetron (Zofran in the US), a drug actually meant for treating sickness in chemotherapy patients.

The sickness and its associated problems aside, one of the hardest things about living with Hyperemesis for me has been people and their intended-to-be-helpful comments. “Have you tried sucking on Ginger?” Yes. “Ginger snaps before getting out of bed in the morning really helped me.” Then you didn’t have Hyperemesis. “Everyone gets sick during pregnancy, you’ll get through it.” Yes. But not everyone loses 20kg (3 stone, almost). Or doesn’t eat for four months. Or can’t keep down water. Or vomits up blood from tearing their stomach lining and oesophagus from the sheer violence of the sickness (me neither, thankfully). Not everyone can’t move out of bed, or are unable to look after their toddlers. (more…)

Mourning Pregnancy

I spent a bit of time today surfing the ol’ world wide web, just catching up on reading that I’ve not been able to do for a few days due to extreme sickness, and read an article on actress Kate Hudson who had a successful VBAC this weekend. While that’s fantastic news, it was her comment about pregnancy that struck the very core of me.

Hospitalisation – Hyperemesis Gravidarum

When a doctor tells you that you’re okay, and perhaps just need to suck on some ginger, you think, “Ok… let me buy some ginger”. In the case of Dr.W however, I am pleased so say that I was right and he was oh so wrong.

After my Monday visit with him, and a frantic breakdown of desperate tears on Monday night, I took the tablets he offered on Tuesday and Wednesday and although I wasn’t sick during those two days, I was so tired I could not stay awake or continue to do a full day’s work.  On Thursday I had a busy day and couldn’t afford to take the tablets, so instead spent the day between my desk and the bathroom again, and by Friday morning was at the point of self harm out of sheer desperation.  I had a meeting with one of our providers during which I had to excuse myself at least once. At the end of the meeting Duncan, the director of their company and by now someone I know quite well asked me if I was okay, because I wasn’t really myself.  I told him in brief strokes what was going on, and he was very sympathetic, having known someone with the condition previously.  He strongly encouraged me to go to A&E and have myself admitted.  Strongly to the point of wanting to accompany me for the afternoon wait!

dripI persuaded him that I would go and did not need company.

Upon arriving at A&E and almost passing out in the que, it was finally my turn to spread my woes to the smiley woman behind the counter.  Upon her question “have you been to your GP”, I lost all control of my faculties and resumed Monday night’s frantic sobbing (great fun with a whole emergency room full of people watching you blubber!)  I went to see the nurse within about 15 minutes, and although she was okay, she too had that “this is your first pregnancy, isn’t it?” sneer about her.  Two hours later, parched to the point that I could no longer swallow, I was finally summonsed in to the emergency room. I  was given a bed to lie on, a urine test to take, and my bloods were drawn. I was allowed to stay there and sleep while the bloods went off to the lab.  My urine was the colour of muddy water, and my feelings of sickness were justified when the results came back with +++++ (i.e.5+) ketones.

I was immediately put on an IV saline drip, and half an hour later on another.  I was then moved to an observation ward where I was able to see Martin, although I don’t believe I was overly coherent at that point! Six hours after walking in to the A&E of Kings College Hospital, I was admitted to Katherine Monk ward, bed 20 where I was to spend the next 3 days.  I was given 5 litres of intravenous liquid before I was able to go to the toilet again, and it took two days for my ketones to get back down to zero.  So much for Dr.W’s diagnoses that I wasn’t dehydrated enough to be taken seriously.

As far as hospital stays go, this was a good one.  My tv was broken, so I slept and read and played a lot of puzzle games, and I shared the room with two annoying women, but fortunately I was able to tune out their eccentricities in my own misery!  The night nurse, a lady by the name of Janel was my own personal angel of mercy.  Not only did she treat me as a person, make me feel comfortable, explain what was going on and what I was to expect, but when she had time, she also sat with me, spoke to me and made me feel at ease.  I know that if I was ever to be sick again, I would request whatever ward she’s on.

My ward was where the bottom set of open windows are

My ward was where the bottom set of open windows are

I was released on Monday afternoon, and went straight back to two full on days of work. That wasn’t really clever as it turned out on Wednesday evening when I became violently ill again.  I have taken the rest of the week a little easier indeed!

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

I have not written anything in a while.  Not because there’s nothing to write, but because once things are down in black and white, it becomes impossible to take them back.  If said, you can always deny the charge, but once written they stay written forever.

This is a very difficult and somewhat lonely time in the pregnancy, I think, because the mom to be is the only one who ‘sees’ the pregnancy.  The dad to be can’t really be involved yet, because there’s nothing to be involved with, and the same goes for family. Where friends are concerned, all that’s happened is that you’re not really around much anymore.  Or maybe that’s just in my case.

hyperemesis20gravidarumI have been suffering from unbelievable morning sickness – well “morning sickness” is a misnomer – it’s sickness every time I eat or drink pretty much anything no matter how many times a day, what time of day, where I am or what I’m supposed to be doing.  By the time my dehydration, retching and general misery had reached a climax, my mom (who is currently practicing as a midwife in Australia) sent me information on a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Yes. That’s about as pleasant as it sounds. I went to the doctor’s surgery and saw the fifth new person, we’ll call him Dr. W,  in a row, gave him my diagnoses (to which he responded “O, yes. That is what you have!) and began discussing treatments with him.

I will spare you my rant, but in short, Dr.W wasn’t really helpful. His most common response to symptoms was “That’s horrible” and his summed up treatment plan was “Grin and bear it. Lots of women have morning sickness”.  Fortunately for them, lots of women do not have HG.   The symptoms, in short are:

  • constant nausea, especially after the first trimester
  • vomiting after eating or drinking
  • vomiting not related to eating
  • overactive sense of and sensitivity to smell
  • weight loss
  • dehydration

The weight loss is not a problem – I’m quite pleased in fact, getting dressed this morning, I found I fit into my old smaller sized trousers – so long as I don’t do up the top buttons, what with my slightly distended belly and all! The rest however, is torture. Planning your day around trips to the bathroom,being really thirsty but knowing drinking anything will make you run out of the meeting you have to endure with people drinking coffee (currently one of the worst smells in my world!)

Hyperemesis Gravidarum was, years back, concidered to be a psychological disorder. Medical professionals believed that developing HG was a symptom of an unwanted baby. What an awful misconception. If anything, it’s life with your head in a toilet bowl that makes you doubt how much you wanted the child!  Now, I’m not saying I’m doubting wanting my baby, but I have to tell you there are some days where ‘is this worth it’ crosses my mind!  Fortunately I’m a child of the enlightened age, but I cannot help but feel deep pity for the years of agony and guilt desperately ill women must have felt! To quote a bad doctor… that’s horrible!

Dr. W gave me some medicine that they usually give to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy! He says it’s safe, but I did some research myself and it hasn’t even been tested in pregnant women in proper clinical trials yet, so my mom got on the case again and has advised me to use it when i need to but do so sparingly.  In the worst cases, HG lasts till well after the child is born, but I’m hoping for best case and an end to it in a few weeks.

Our baby is doing well, thankfully.  I had a follow up scan three week ago, and everything is progressing well.  They moved my due date back by two weeks (to 28 September – my brother’s birthday and four days before my own) and decided that I was actually only 7 weeks.  The baby’s heart was thumping away at 152 bpm and s/he had grown so much in two weeks, to 1.3 cm.  1.3cm, with a beating heart and a little skull. It was a magical moment, Martin and I shared watching our baby on the screen.  It wasn’t like it is in movies where people pretend to see it but dont really. Our little Button from the last scan looked like a little person with a head and partially formed body. So beautiful to see.

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