What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

According to website helpher.org, “HG is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening pregnancy disease marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and/or vomiting with potential adverse consequences for the newborn(s).”

Morning Sickness: Hyperemesis Gravidarum:
Nausea sometimes accompanied by vomiting Nausea accompanied by severe vomiting
Nausea that subsides at 12 weeks or soon after Nausea that does not subside
Vomiting that does not cause severe dehydration Vomiting that causes severe dehydration
Vomiting that allows you to keep some food down Vomiting that does not allow you to keep any food down

Signs and symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum:

  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Food aversions
  • Weight loss of 5% or more of pre-pregnancy weight
  • Decrease in urination
  • Dehydration
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Jaundice
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Loss of skin elasticity

It is important to distinguish normal morning sickness from hyperemesis. Many pregnant women experience normal morning sickness during their first trimester. The difference between morning sickness and HG is that women with morning sickness are still able to eat and go about daily functioning. Someone with HG has a lot of trouble eating and gaining weight and actually loses weight. An HG sufferer struggles with daily functioning – including going to work, taking care of the children, doing simple daily chores, even taking a shower.

Many women with HG end up in the ER due to dehydration and usually undergo long-term IV treatment to prevent dehydration and also to administer anti-nausea medication through the IV. The worst case scenario with HG is someone with symptoms so severe that the liver malfunctions and the pregnancy ends in a natural miscarriage or mom’s body is shutting down to the point where the doctor recommends termination of the pregnancy in order to save mom’s life.

I am so thankful that I am not one with HG symptoms so severe that it has threatened my baby’s life…I cannot imagine going through all the suffering of hyperemesis only to find out that the baby cannot make it. When I read stories of moms who have lost their babies due to HG, all I can do is cry and thank God that I have not had to go through that. The good news is that most HG pregnancies end up with healthy babies born full-term! It really is amazing how these babies are so resilient. It certainly brings a new image to mind when I think about “the miracle of life.”

Because hyperemesis is so rare (only 1-2% of pregnant women get HG), many people have never heard of it and do not understand this disorder properly. I hope this blog clears up common misconceptions about women with HG. Please share this information with the women in your lives – it can possibly save someone’s life!

Resources:

Hyperemesis Education & Research Foundation, www.helpher.org (leading source of information for moms, family members, and medical professionals; contains medical studies and treatment options)

Baby Center’s online support group for hyperemesis suffers, http://community.babycenter.com/groups/a986645/hyperemesis_sufferers

Beyond Morning Sickness, http://beyondmorningsickness.com/ (offering books for moms and kids, forums, and phone mentoring support)

Ayden Rae Foundation, http://www.aydenraefoundation.org/ (HG advocacy and research organization)

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Glimpses of Happiness

Today I really wanted to go to the beach. I’ve wanted to go to the beach all summer actually but every time I wanted to go, I got sick. So this morning when I felt a little nauseous, I ignored it and pushed myself and decided to go anyway. It would be Lisi’s first time at the beach so I was determined to go no matter what! And also because I was getting sick of being at home all the time.

On the way there, I got car sick of course. I forgot my Ziploc barf bag that I carry everywhere so I made a cup with my hands and threw up into my hands. It was disgusting! This is the 2nd time this week I’ve thrown up…it makes me so sad that I’m still throwing up at 26 weeks. I’ve wanted to return to a semblance of normalcy but it doesn’t look like that will be happening till the day I deliver.

On a positive note, Annelise did have fun at the beach – she liked playing with the sand and would giggle when the sand tickled her feet and hands. Glimpses of happiness are few and far in between but I’m thankful for my daughter who makes me smile even in the gloomiest of days.

Even so…

I am 26 weeks pregnant with my second baby and I’m feeling trapped inside a prison I can’t get out of. I’m confined inside my own body which has forsaken me miserably again and again throughout this pregnancy.

Today I was looking forward to my friend’s bridal shower. I went shopping for her gift on Thursday. I wrapped it all up, got dressed, put on my makeup and was ready to walk out the door when an unexpected and sudden wave of nausea smacked me. BAM! I went to go lie down in bed and my husband asked me when I was leaving…I told him I wasn’t sure if I should go. I played various scenarios in my mind…if I were to go, I would probably feel miserable the whole time and what if I threw up during the bridal shower or passed out?

I decided not to go…which was a good thing because a minute later, I ran to the bathroom and threw up my breakfast. (Sigh) I cannot believe that at 26 weeks I am still vomiting and battling hyperemesis. The absolute unpredictability of the nausea and vomiting is one of the maddening things about hyperemesis during the later months of pregnancy.

I decided to publish this blog to:

1) Just vent on those days I feel absolutely hopeless,

2) To be a resource to any pregnant mamas who are going through the same thing (hang in there!),

3) To educate the public about Hyperemesis Gravidarum and to clear up common misconceptions about HG,

4) To praise God “even so.” One of my favorite hymns is “It Is Well With My Soul.” And one of the most profound lines of the hymn reads “Even so, it is well with my soul.” The “even so” is certainly hard to swallow – no, impossible to swallow…but it is well with my soul because Jesus is the one who will carry me through the darkest storms of life.