Today I'm bringing you a guest post by the lovely Elle May who blogs at Garden of Eden. This post is a sensitive but important subject about Hypermesis Gravidarum, a potentially life threatening illness suffered by a small percentage of women in pregnancy. As someone who suffered what I would deem 'awful sickness' (but not HG) throughout both my pregnancies, I am both pleased and honored to help Elle share her story and raise awareness of this widely misunderstood condition.
I've always been one of those girls who wanted to be a mum. When I was a little girl I had lots of dolls who were my babies and I was so excited to grow up and become a mummy. I grew up around a lot of babies because my family is so big so as I got older I had a broody feeling. My pregnancies didn't turn out to be what I thought they were, they were torture, to say the least, it sounds so dramatic but it's the truth. The reason I feel this way about my pregnancies is because I suffer from a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) in pregnancy. Not a lot of people understand what it is and most of the time they will say it's just normal pregnancy sickness. There is nothing normal about HG; the reason it's different to morning sickness is because it can last all day every day for months on end, it normally ends around 14 weeks in pregnant women but women who have it most severe have it all the way through their pregnancy. Can you imagine being sick all day every day that it gets so bad that the inside of your stomach lining and your throat tear so you end up throwing up blood? Women who have HG usually have to be admitted to hospital for fluids and sickness medication to help get the sickness under control, it can be hard to get fluids in us so quickly as our veins tend to disappear because we are so dehydrated and it's not very fun being poked with a cannula in different places of your body.
May 15th is Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day and I want to talk about the reality of what a lot of HG women end up doing, something I would have never thought I would do but I had to do it. My pregnancy sickness started at the 6 week mark, I was sick one morning just a little bit then the next day the sickness elevated to the point where I couldn't even keep down a single drop of water. When my partner woke up the next morning he sat down next to me in the bathroom and hugged me and that's all I really needed, he wasn't aware of how bad sickness could get for me but I had warned him before so he had some kind of idea. Over the next few weeks, I couldn't move from my bed, I couldn't even pee because there was nothing in my body to pee out. I tried my best to eat something or drink something but as soon as I put it in my mouth I would just throw up.
Pregnancy was the loneliest time in my life. I was in a bad place mentally and emotionally and I could only escape through sleeping. I had people telling me that I needed to get out of bed and move about because it will make me feel better. Unfortunately, I couldn't do that, the HG mixed with my chronic illness made the pregnancy even worse for me and my body started to go into shut down mode. I was getting more and more ill, so it was then I decided I had to terminate the pregnancy, I couldn't carry on anymore. I wanted this tiny life but it was poisoning me, I saw no other way out, none of the medication was working for me and I couldn't pull myself out of the dark place I was in. I had to have an emergency doctors appointment to see my GP for him to rush a termination through for me, it felt like months whilst I was waiting for the day of my termination to come; it sounds horrible but I breathed a sigh of relief when the day finally came, after it was all over I started to fall into another dark place, this time I had an overwhelming amount of guilt. I felt like I was an evil and selfish person for getting a termination. I still have days where I sit and cry but I try to do it so no one can hear or see me, it's thanks to the reassurance from my family and friends I'm able to deal with my feelings towards it a lot more easily.
I recently found out there is a charity that could have helped me, I had no idea about it and nor did my GP. I'm not saying I wouldn't have had the termination if I knew about them but I would have got help for my sickness sooner as I knew I suffered from this sickness to start off with. The thing is I tried to see someone for the pregnancy and I kept getting told that I can't see anyone until I'm 9 weeks along which I found really unfair considering they knew my history with my previous pregnancy, they should have seen me earlier so I could have been put on sickness tablets to help control the HG. Luckily The Pregnancy sickness support charity are there to help, I contacted them to ask where my nearest walk-in clinic is for fluids and sickness medicine, it turned out its literally 10 minutes away from me which left me very conflicted as I could have got help much earlier on than I was able to, but I don't want to keep dwelling on that fact, I want to turn it into a positive and to let other women who suffer from HG know that there is help out there. My one wish is for HG to be taken seriously and for there to be more help in place, whether that is leaflets being given out so women know what charities can help them or more walk-in clinics being available for HG mums to go to. If you're suffering from Hypermesis Gravidarum and in the UK you can get in contact with The Pregnancy Sickness Support Charity. If you're not in the UK there is another charity called HelpHer.
You're not alone.