You know you've had HG when...
- You have a cupboard full of antiemetics and know which one to take for every possible “type” of nausea
- You judge food by what it's like coming back out – spaghetti bolognaise is the WORST!
- You can play any game on your phone without moving more then one finger muscle
- You can accurately judge not just the number of millilitres in a cup but how many mls you just wee'd… that’s quite a skill!
- You can list more forms of ginger food and beverages than the average person thought could possibly exist.
- Yet even the thought of ginger makes you want to punch that flipping ginger in it’s bastard gingery face
- You and your partner have a mental map of vomit sites around your local area which can be used in conversation ie. “you know, the place near the co-op I threw up” or “the place on the A30 we used to pull in to vom”
- When you’re in a public place you mentally plan the best direction to run should you need to hurl and you know where all the nearest public loos are
- But given that you have a handbag full of possible vomit receptacles a loo isn’t really essential
- You get a positive pregnancy test and you pack your hospital bag that day
- You judge the quality of new mixing bowls by their potential for receiving sick without splash back
- You don’t understand what all the fuss of labour is about – it’s a doddle compare to the nine months before it!
- Your partner has to eat their dinner in the garden, in the snow, in January, because the smell in the house might lead to another hospital admission.
- You thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse… then you pee’d your pants whilst spewing and realised, oh yes… it can still get worse…
If you’re suffering now and would like online support from others then please check out the Pregnancy Sickness Support Forum for threads like this and other supportive chat.
For USA and International forum support check out the HER Foundation's forum.
Oh and if you like my blog I’d really appreciate a nomination for the MADs by 5.30pm today… Blog of the Year category and Best Writer are the only categories I fit as I’ve not been pregnant in the last year. Thanks!
Inspiration, Compassion, Anger and Hope
On Monday I hosted the Pregnancy Sickness Support Healthcare Professional Conference in Birmingham which saw a host of excellent speakers discuss the services they are running for women with hyperemesis gravidarum. We were lucky also that Caroline De Bie from The Pregnancy and Medicine Initiative was able to fly over from Brussels for the event to present. I asked her to write about her experience of the day...
The HG conference this week was a poignant experience. It moved me in many ways, both on the personal and the professional fronts, with an explosion of emotions, from inspiration to compassion, from anger to hope.
I am not an HG sufferer. In fact, I was lucky to experience no real nausea during pregnancy. So hearing about how these women’s lives, their families’ entire world, were not only turned upside down but shaken, derailed, sometimes even compromised by this condition was such a heart-wrenching eye opener. How can something as beautiful as bringing a new life into the world have such devastating effects?
I was inspired by the women (and men) I met at the conference – the women who are giving their time and energy to help others, the ones willing to tell their story - the suffering and fear they lived through- to help others benefit from their experience, and also the people who were brave and fought the system, and the ones who are working hard to change things.
But I also felt so ANGRY. Angry that women would be denied, in the 21st century, the basic right to receive proper medical care for a condition that might KILL THEM. We heard about the consequences: termination of wanted pregnancies, long-term health impacts for the mother, potential developmental effects on the child, post-traumatic stress disorder, DEATH... And yet, still today, a pregnant woman might go to her GP complaining of repeat vomiting and nausea, and be told “that’s normal” and sent home. She might show up at the emergency department completely dehydrated and be sent to the psychiatric ward. How can this be happening? Pregnant women with other pregnancy-related medical conditions (gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, toxoplasmosis) are getting care and monitoring, why is this condition any different? Is the ghost of a disastrous medical mistake made 60 years ago going to deny these women’s right to evidence-based solutions forever? Of course, taking medications during pregnancy might also present risks, but who makes the decision of which risk is worse? Regulators? Industry? Healthcare providers? Shouldn't the women directly impacted have a say?
The great thing is that there is hope. There are studies taking place, there are guidelines being created, there are great women and men who are dedicated to making things change. There is still a long road ahead, and many challenges. But if more people – healthcare professionals, regulators, industry members –hear these women’s stories, perhaps the system will be adapted to grant them the right to appropriate care, informed decisions and evidence-based solutions. And everyone who was there is, in their own way, contributing to making that happen.
...If you like my blog and appreciate my work then please nominate me in the Best Writer and Blog of the Year categories in the Mad Blog Awards:
Dear Princess Charlotte, Welcome to the Club
Dear Princess Charlotte,
Welcome to the world! Happy 0th Birthday! You are part of a special club… and I don’t just mean the royal family… sure that’s a “special club” too but this is a different one… you are an HG baby. You and your mum and your brother are HG survivors and that is something special.
Welcome to our club!
We’re a welcoming and inclusive lot and are so proud of every member, royal or not. Not all of our member’s babies made it and some have lasting damage from the dehydration and malnutrition and the trauma they have been through, mainly through lack of care and treatment by doctors. Luckily your mum got great treatment (I hope!) and won’t have lasting damage or need operations to fix her oesophagus or stomach muscles. Hopefully she won’t need psychological help to recover from the ordeal (of the pregnancy at least!) and if she wants more children I’m sure she will have adequate support to enable that.
Unfortunately I have some bad news for you. You have about a 35% chance of suffering the condition yourself (should you choose to have children in 30 or so years, which, let’s face it, as a member of that other club, you kind of have to!). I won’t go into details about how awful it is as I don’t want to scare a little baby, but I think it would be wise to discuss it frankly with your mum in about 16 years’ time and adjust your expectations of pregnancy accordingly.
Really I’m writing to let you know what other members of this club are doing now for you and your generation. You see I have a daughter too and she’s not royal. That mostly means that she won’t automatically get good treatment and she may not be able to afford to have the practical help she would need in order to have more than one child.
We’re working on treatments that will hopefully mean you, and my daughter and all the other club members of your generation, won’t suffer so badly. By the time you have kids I’m confident we will fully understand the
cause and therefore may, possibly, have a complete cure but at the moment those things don’t exist. We are working to ensure that women stop dying from hyperemesis gravidarum and it’s complications, like your namesake, Charlotte Bronte, did and many women, even in my generation have.
Until we have those answers and treatments there is lots more we are doing such raising awareness so that women aren’t stigmatised as weak or neurotic (as you get older and get to know your mum you’ll realise she is far from weak or neurotic). We are educating healthcare professionals to know about the various treatments and ways of managing symptoms. We are developing services so that everyone can get the sort of top notch care your mummy (hopefully) got. We have developed a support network so that women don’t experience the sanity crippling isolation they used to with this. We are fighting for employment rights because, Princess Charlotte, believe it or not, a lot of women lose their jobs and homes because of this illness. We are conducting research, not just into the cause of hyperemesis but also the effects, both physical and mental, we are documenting the experiences of women with it and looking at the long term impact for both mum and baby. We are testing the drugs and increasing our knowledge, we are dispelling the myths and building the evidence base.
We are doing all this for you… and you generation of HG Sisters. For my daughter and any daughters you go on to have.
We are, I am, doing all this without pay, without compensation, without agenda or financial motivation… We, I, am doing this out of love for my daughter, love for you and all the little girls who will one day want to be mothers yourselves but for whom such a natural thing won’t be so easy. For who, a drug free, natural, earth mother, hippy dippy, blooming beautiful pregnancy will be nothing more than a lost dream, a source of guilt and jealousy. For who, what should be a time of happiness and wonder will be a daily battle to survive the long torturous process of creating new life.
The good news is that we are on the brink of exciting discoveries, of exciting treatment developments and scientific explanations. Awareness is growing, in part thanks to your mother’s own suffering but not only because of that… also, and mainly, because of the work that my colleagues and I are doing around the world.
What we really need though, more than anything, is support. Mainly from within our own club, but alas it is a difficult thing to ask of women who are physically, mentally and financially struggling because of the legacy of hyperemesis. Which is why it is so important that those who can help do. Those members of our club who can afford to help must, be it with time, money or simply speaking out.
None of us asked to join this club and I’m sorry for every single member of it that they have been through the initiation process of hyperemesis gravidarum. But here we are, fighting for our daughters and our daughter’s daughters and their right to survive pregnancy. Fighting for the memories of those lost souls, Charlotte Bronte and all the other mothers and babies who have died for this condition. Fighting for the hope of a future with a cure, or at least adequate treatment…
Perhaps one day, little Princess, you will join us in our fight and represent all the daughters of Great Britain whose mothers suffered as yours did. In the meantime sleep easy in the knowledge there are people out there working on a cure so that you won’t suffering it yourself. And once again, Welcome to The Club!
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In conjunction with Pregnancy Sickness Support and Plymouth University I am looking for women who have been treated for HG in the last 2 years in the UK to take part in a research survey. Please click here to find out more.
I am mother of three beautiful children and wife to a fantastic and supportive husband. I am a nurse, a farmer and a trustee for Pregnancy Sickness Support. I love working hard and spending time with my kids.
About this blog
Information and support for pregnancy sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum. Views are my own and do not represent those of any other organisation. Information provided here should not be a substitute for medical advice. My aim is to raise awareness and encourage sufferers to know they are not alone.
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