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Journey into the world of hyperemesis gravidarum...
26Mar 14

Make your kids proud

It's my first son's birthday today. It's six years since my first encounter with hyperemesis finally ended after the longest nine months of my life. It's been the best six years of my life, despite two more rounds of hyperemesis and various other significant trials, none of which felt as challenging as hyperemesis.

I know those of you reading this suffering now wonder how I did it more than once. Those contemplating another, or perhaps newly pregnant with second, will be worrying about the impact on your first and perhaps second child. I did. We contemplated adoption after Alfie was born but decided in the end that we had survived it once and could do so again, better armed and educated. The second was the worst, the third was the best (although I'll talk more about why another time).

I missed out on my first son, Alfie, twice. There were times when he was really little that I could only see him for a few minutes a day and Rob would take him out of the bedroom once I was retching again. Later in the pregnancy he would rub my back and pretend to vomit with me. It was pretty cute really and would make me laugh through the nausea. He and Rob would make cards for me and bring me gifts back from their days out. They were such a little team and Rob now cherishes his memories of those days as a “single dad”. He grew as a person and gained confidence as a father. He potty trained Alfie and got him sleeping in a big-boy bed and he learned to cook and clean (sort of). Alfie learned to be flexible and easygoing. He didn't miss me much when he wasn't with me, the tricky times where when he was with me for a while and then had to go... he didn't like that. But Rob handled it and Alfie survived.

He was so excited about having a brother or sister. I think he wanted to call a brother Potty and a sister Wee Wee (we were potty training at the time!). He gets on well with them now but I think he could take or leave them to be honest (last night Orla climbed out of her travel cot and landed on Alfie's head who was just drifting off to sleep, keen for the morning to arrive... we are living in an Airstream trailer in the Appalachian Mountains of North America at the moment). Have more children because you want them, not because you want to provide siblings.

Alfie is now six years old and he's such a great little kid... He's smart and kind and amazingly capable. Sure he's grumpy and has melt downs and can be seriously annoying and repetitive but he has not been negatively affected by my hyperemesis which spanned 18 months of his six years. He doesn't even remember it now. And I know he will be so proud of me when he is old enough to understand what I do for other sufferers of hyperemesis gravidarum.

We are at the brink right now. The awareness of hyperemesis gravidarum is increasing rapidly. Amazing Green Top guidelines for the UK are being produced soon and our book will be out within a year. More and more hospitals are embracing better practice and care for hyperemesis patients and the media are taking note (I spoke with a producer this week looking to document a sufferers experience for a major channel). Healthcare journals are publishing best practice articles and poor practice is being challenged. We, the mothers of now, can change the situation further for our daughters and nieces and grandaughters... stand up, take action for your children, your HG Survivors, make them proud, set the example, let them know that they can improve the world and add compassion and empathy and care to people who are suffering, not just from hyperemesis but all sorts of misunderstood or under-appreciated conditions.

We talk so much of being proud of our children. Well lets make our children proud of us! Lets make sure that when we tell them about the hyperemesis we suffered during pregnancy we can add “and this is what I did about it... I went on to support other women, I raised money for the charity that supported me, I raised awareness about hyperemesis, I changed practice in my area, I fought for the rights of sufferers, I spoke out about it and advocated for other sufferers”.

Becoming a parent is the best thing I've ever done. It's given me a passion for life and love which I never imagined could exist. My enjoyment and passion for hard work has changed beyond recognition, as has my understanding of it. My appreciation for the important things in life is far more acute now, such as my health, and that of my family. My appreciation for sleep, as with any parent is deep! But I appreciate detail like waking up in the night and not feeling sick. I appreciate my ability to brush my teeth without retching or vomiting every night now. I appreciate being able to kiss and cuddle my children without finding the smell of them stomach turning. I appreciate everyday I have with them, although some of those days it's not until long after they are in bed and I have a glass of wine in my hand that I appreciate it. But most of all I appreciate my voice – when I was sick I couldn't defend myself at all, it was like I was mute, I couldn't speak out without being sick. I felt so weak, helpless and pathetic. Now I can shout at the top of my voice, not just for myself but for the women suffering now. And that's what I've done and I'm doing and I'm going to carry on doing... and one day Alfie and Patrick and Orla will be old enough to understand the work I do and they will be proud.

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And very proud they should be too! Too many people say "can't you just get over your pregnancy...move on." But what does that achieve for the other sufferers out there? It just means they have to suffer the same way as you did. Your last two posts have managed to make me cry and make me more determined to educate others and change the care of HG sufferers - thank you
Emma Edwards, 26th March 2014

Spewing Mummy replies...

You're doing a great job already Emma! People have often said the same to me, in fact I suspect my entire extended family think just that... but then they haven't suffered! If they had they would understand why we are trying to improve things. Keep up the good work hun. x

Hear hear! As Emma says, too often we are told to "get over ourselves" when what we are actually doing is crucial for the well being of others. When you work so passionately on something so poorly understood you can be seen as melodramatic at best and selfish at worst, but nothing could be further from the truth and it is why we fight so hard to challenge this and make positive change, for ourselves, for other women, and for our children! I dream of the day when we are no longer needed to speak out about these things, when women receive the care they deserve without a fight. But until that day, we'll keep fighting and hopefully teach our children (the ones we fought do hard for!) to stand up for themselves and others, to have compassion and create change rather than allowing others to make us accept our lot in life as if change is impossible. I have no doubt whatsoever your children will be so proud of all you've achieved... You are an inspiration to all of us and how lucky we all are to have such a strong voice speaking for all those who cannot speak out for themselves right now! How could your children not be proud of that?
Amanda, 26th March 2014

Spewing Mummy replies...

Thank you Amanda, unfortunately at the age they are at the moment they totally don't get it and get frustrated with the amount I work, LOL! I keep thinking "when they are older they'll understand and they'll be proud of me" :) 

This blog post has inspired me to think of more ways that I can make my daughter proud and to learn from the experience I went through. Now I need to think of some way that I can make a difference. You are an inspiration and I love your blog, it really helps and is so important.
Katie Manley, 26th March 2014

Spewing Mummy replies...

Thank you so much for the praise Katie, I'm really glad you enjoy my blog :)

If you aren't already then please register as a volunteer for Pregnancy Sickness Support and get involved in fundraising... we desperately need funds for the charity work we do and don't get any formal funding yet. By volunteering you can also get involved in supporting women and helping them advocate for themselves. x

This blog post has inspired me to think of more ways that I can make my daughter proud and to learn from the experience I went through. Now I need to think of some way that I can make a difference. You are an inspiration and I love your blog, it really helps and is so important.
Katie Manley, 26th March 2014

It's also my son's birthday, he turns two today and like your son he had to go through watching his mother being very ill. Though luckily it was only 7 months for him (his sister was born 10 weeks early - do wonder if the HG had anything to do with that too). Still I know he found it upsetting to see me vomiting and crying, he was too young to understand why his mummy couldn't cuddle or play with him, and had to go without seeing me entirely whenever I got admitted into hospital. Even waking up sometimes not knowing where his mummy was as I'd been rushed into hospital while he slept. Like your son he learnt to comfort me, often lying beside me stroking my hair or handing me his favourite cuddly toy. Which a 1 year old shouldn't have to do. I'm currently putting together books for both children about their first years, and I've been torn about how much to mention the HG as I feel the books should be cheerful and positive, but the HG was such a massive deal I cannot skim over it. Your comment about making them proud has struck a chord with me, and I wanted to ask if I could help you raise awareness in any way?
MurderOfGoths, 26th March 2014

Spewing Mummy replies...

Thanks for your comment. I think if it were me I would definitely talk about the HG and how it impacted his life but I would do it in a positive light, ie. Because mummy was so sick you learned to be strong and independent and you and daddy had such a great time together. You learned to be kind and caring around people who are sick and you would lend me your teddy to make me feel better. That sort of stuff. And for your daughters book you can talk about how you fought for her as her warrior and how she is strong for surviving HG too.

It's great that you would like to raise awareness about HG too. Your daughter has a higher chance of suffering having been born to a sufferer (about 35%, so still a good 65% that she'll have normal pregnancies). 30 years from now we can tell our daughters “well in our day treatment was awful... but it's so much better now because of the work we did 30 years ago... we fought for our rights and educated the masses. Doctors know about hyperemesis now thanks to our generation, thanks to our work!”.

If you want to get involved then please register with Pregnancy Sickness Support as a volunteer. You can apply here:

You don't have to support women 1-2-1 if you don't feel able, there are lots of other ways to help the charity using your skills. I'm a trustee for the charity and see applications as they come in but my colleague Amanda will be the person who gets back to you. We'll also hold a conference in the Autumn you'll be able to come along to and in the meantime fundraising for PSS is crucial. We don't receive any formal funding at all yet and rely entirely on donations and volunteer fundraising. The charity is launching a fundraising/awareness event soon you will be able to join in with so please look out for details of that in the next week also.

Caitlin x

Ditto to what Emma and Amanda said. A brilliant and inspirational post from a truly inspirational person! I had a little weep a few days ago when I realised that Charlotte is now the same age that James was when I started being ill with HG. It's such a lovely age and it made me think of all the time I missed spending with him and vice versa. But we have all gained so much in the long run. I even wrote a blog post about it (not as good as yours!) which I ought to publish.
Susie, 26th March 2014

Spewing Mummy replies...

Thanks Susie... get on and publish your post! But try to focus now on what James gained from your illness rather than what you missed out on... I'm sure that he will have gained skills in compassion, care, independence and personal strength and will have gained a closer relationship with other people while you were ill! You are inspirational too and already do so much for PSS and HG awareness generally... But you know what you can do to make an even bigger difference and help me on my mission! ;) ;)

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The Book

Hyperemesis Gravidarum - The Definitive Guide by Caitlin Dean

The Kids Book

Hoe to be an HG Hero by Caitlin Dean

About Me

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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MAD Blog Awards UK 2015