My Rock – My Husband

Where do I even begin to describe how grateful I am for my husband? He has been the steadiest of rocks throughout this harrowing experience of HG for the second time. Danny used to be a Navy EOD officer so I guess that should tell you a little bit about his personality. Being a military man, he’s one of the toughest people I know.

I’ve heard ill-fated stories of husbands bailing on their wives who are battling hyperemesis – it was just too much for them to handle. One of the best qualities about Danny is his loyalty and dutifulness. He didn’t waver once in terms of his commitment to take care of me and Annelise during our tumultuous nightmare with HG.

When I was on daily IV treatment for two months at my parents’ house, he faithfully would go to work, swing by my parents’ to spend time with Annelise and to check up on me, and go back to our place in Culver City at night to take  care of our dog. On the weekends, he would take Annelise out to give my parents a break. Danny would administer the Zofran pump for me and change IV bags for me like a pro. I think some men would be squeamish about doing things like that but it never fazed my husband.

There were myriad times I broke down crying and countless times I wanted to give up, but Danny was there to reassure me and tell me that this was temporary, that it would end, and that we would have our little girl in the end. HG is so unpredictable and I felt so out of control but I took comfort in knowing that I could depend on my husband. Danny took on extra responsibilities that I couldn’t do because the nausea was so debilitating. There were days where the nausea would completely knock me out and I would have to ask Danny to watch Annelise the whole day. He ended up doing the bulk of the chores and cooking.

HG robbed us of a normal marriage. We went from being best friends, lovers, co-parents, and partners to simply a very sick patient and her devoted care-taker. Danny also became a single dad overnight. It’s funny because when Annelise was just 2 months old last September, Danny left for a five-month training out of state, so I essentially became a single mom for those five months. And now that he had just gotten back from his training, here we were with reversed roles with him the being sole care-taker of our daughter.

This December marks our 4th wedding anniversary. I’m sure Danny never imagined when we got married that he would have to deal with a wife suffering from HG twice! He has truly exemplified the marriage vows we hear so often but take so lightly  – “I take you to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.” I’m so thankful for my fellow HG warrior. I would not have made it this far (34 weeks!) without him.

HG & the Holidays

We made it back to Los Angeles from the Bay Area yesterday! On Thanksgiving morning, I puked my breakfast. I wasn’t too shocked…but still kind of surprised since the last time I threw up was a month ago.

We celebrated Thanksgiving at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. It was a grand, luxurious buffet! Unfortunately, after throwing up, my nausea was pretty bad so I couldn’t enjoy the food at all. It’s like the nausea masks the authentic taste of food.

The ride up and down the Bay Area was so difficult! Thankfully I didn’t throw up in the car but I was pretty nauseous during the whole drive and my pelvic pain and sciatic nerve pain definitely made the ride less than comfortable.

Then on Sunday, we were supposed to attend church service but when we got there, we found out they cancelled the service and instead the congregation was going to volunteer somewhere. At that point, I just wanted to go back to Danny’s grandmother’s home because I was on the verge of throwing up and the thought of volunteering does not sound pleasant when you’re nauseous!

I honestly thought that by Thanksgiving, I would be feeling a lot better but I guess the HG is still prevailing. I can’t believe how debilitating and long-lasting the HG’s been with this pregnancy.

The holidays can be pretty difficult for HGers. Thanksgiving and Christmas involve celebrations with a plethora of food and mingling with family and friends. It’s hard to enjoy those moments when you’re nauseous and/or vomiting. It’s frustrating to see everyone relishing their food when you can barely hold yours down. It’s also tough to socialize and engage in conversations with everyone when you’re nauseous. The nausea literally sucks the energy out of me; all my energy is spent on trying to keep a lid on the nausea. HG is a killjoy during the holidays.

It was wonderful to see my in-laws though. Thanks to my mom-in-law and sister-in-law, hubby and I got to see a movie (just the two of us) for the first time since February! And Annelise loved playing with her aunties, uncles and grandmas. These are the moments I am truly thankful for. And I can’t believe I survived two nightmare, 7 hour drives to and from the Bay Area!

The Palace Hotel, SF

Thanksgiving Reflections

Time to count my blessings as Thanksgiving is drawing near! Praise the Lord for sustaining me thus far! I’m thankful that the worst of the HG is over. I’m grateful that I haven’t vomited in about a month – this is the longest I’ve gone without throwing up since May! I am truly indebted to my husband and my parents and their faithful love and support throughout this ordeal. I’ve been blessed with my little chub-chub, Annelise who makes me smile and laugh through the nausea. I’m thankful for friends and their uplifting prayers. Thank the Lord for His protection over baby Katelynn thus far – that despite my initial 15 pound weight loss, Katelynn is alive and well!

I made it to 32 weeks…just a couple more months of HG!

Thanks for reading and know that I’m grateful for all of your support!

For Thanksgiving, we are planning to drive up north to the Bay Area to spend time with my in-laws. I’ve been bracing myself for this trip. Wish me luck that I won’t get car sick and throw up during the long drive! Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ve been receiving cards and letters from various Beyond Morning Sickness volunteers all over the country. I am so touched by their efforts to reach out to me, a complete stranger. They truly are like angels, lifting me up in their thoughts and prayers.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Whoa. How did this happen? Creative DIY blogger Miss Marzipan nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Miss Marzipan – I cannot thank you enough for your donation to the HER foundation and your continuous support and love for HGers! You are an inspiration in what you are doing to raise awareness for charities and donating to them on behalf of your little “cupcake.” Best wishes for a smooth rest of your pregnancy and many prayers for a safe delivery for your “cupcake”!

I just started blogging a couple months ago. It’s funny…it’s always been on my bucket list to publish a novel or a blog. I never would have imagined blogging about HG and to get an award for it! I’m truly touched and thankful for so many of you who have reached out to me and encouraged me throughout my HG journey.

http://missmarzipandotcom.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/very-inspiring-blogger-award.jpeg

Below are the rules for the Very Inspiring Blog Award so please follow carefully:

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. State 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
  5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements

Seven things that you, perhaps, didn’t know about me:

  1. I don’t know how to swim! I am hoping my hubby will be able to teach me soon – he used to be in the navy so he’s well-qualified.
  2. I went skydiving when I was a college freshman. It was based on a dare! Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’m glad to have done when I was younger!
  3. I have the worst sense of direction. I got lost going to my own wedding…
  4. I hate cilantro with a passion.  Yuck!
  5. My dream vacation would be to go to Italy! And eat tons of pizza and pasta there.
  6. We have a two year old Australian shepherd and Lab mix named Cole. He does this peculiar thing where he whines when my husband gives our daughter a bath. We have no idea why he does that!
  7. My favorite authors are Jane Austen and L.M. Montgomery.

My 15 nominations:

  1. God loves Eliana – Baby Eliana was born on June 20th. She has a chromosome 18p depletion and was born with a cleft lip/palate and heart abnormalities. I am truly inspired and amazed by Eliana’s mom’s faith despite the many difficulties of raising a child with special needs. Love & prayers for Eliana and may God continue to strengthen this family with His grace! Please check out her blog and support this beautiful family!
  2. Post Loss Confessions – a heartbreaking blog about a mama who battled Hyperemesis Gravidarum and ended up with a stillborn daughter. I’m so thankful for her painfully honest confessions as she grieves her daughter Hannah. It is a reminder to me everyday that I cannot take my pregnancy for granted and to be grateful that my baby is alive & well today despite the HG. Love & prayers for you and yours and good luck as you TTC!
  3. BabyGlende – chronicles the ups and downs of mommyhood, all the while trying to glorify God through motherhood and marriage. She inspires me to do the same!
  4. Joyful Recollections – a beautiful photo blog by an HG survivor & Beyond Morning Sickness volunteer. Thank you for all the love, Hilary!
  5. Melissa Goes to Indo – a travel blog started by another volunteer for Beyond Morning Sickness. Melissa decided to resign from a successful job in NY and leave her comfortable life in the US to journey back to her homeland, Indonesia. Her journey will be from December 2012 through April 2013!
  6. jRox Designs – crafty and creative DIY inspirations by an HG survivor.
  7. Iron Dad Blog – this Iron dad is dedicating his triathlon race effort to his wife who is an HG survivor.  He is raising awareness for Hyperemesis Gravidarum and hopes to raise $5000 for Hyperemesis education and research!
  8. HG Survivor – a fellow HG blog which encourages others going through Hyperemesis
  9. Island of Grief, Mountain of Joy – a brutally honest story of HG and subsequent termination. This is such an important story for us HGers to hear! Thank you so much for your bravery in sharing your story. It is a reminder of the horrific nightmare that HG is…
  10. Hyperemesis 2 – this tough mama chronicles the journey of her fourth HG pregnancy
  11. Just One More… –  another brave mom who is pregnant with her fourth child and battling HG currently. Also shares her story about infertility and IVF.
  12. Knocked Up, Knocked Over – journal of a 2 time HG survivor. She has a useful HG protocol and also writes about attachment parenting, breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding, lactivism, natural birth, and green living.
  13. Whining Puker – this blogger shares her research on HG treatment
  14. It’s a crazy (good) life… – an adorable mommy blog. She shares about her battle with HG and its complications including PICC line infections, pulmonary embolisms , and preterm labor! I am inspired by her strength and faith as a fellow HG survivor.
  15. My Hyperemesis – information about HG and postpartum residual nausea

Many thanks to Miss Marzipan for the award! Please check out her fabulous, mouth-watering recipes!

Fears, Aversions, & Phobias

The only thing foreseeable about my HG now is its unpredictability! One day, I’ll feel fine and my nausea will be at a manageable level. I’m able to take care of my daughter and even go out for a little bit. Then the next day, the nausea will kick into high gear and I’ll be rendered helpless. On my bad days, I end up staying in bed most of the day because the nausea’s so bad. I won’t be able to take care of Lisi and going out is definitely out of the question.

It’s impractical to make plans with people because I honestly don’t know how my nausea will be that day. So I end up staying home most of the time just to be safe. It’s a lonely place to be. And the lack of control that I have over my own body is a really scary thing to live with.

Because of this unpredictability, I had a lot of fears, aversions, and phobias earlier on in my pregnancy.

I had many food aversions. I would avoid particular foods because of the fear that I would throw up the same food item again. For some reason (maybe because I’m not a huge fan of Korean food to begin with), I had a lot of aversions toward Korean soups that I had previously thrown up.

I had a major phobia about going out because I didn’t want to throw up in public. I made sure to carry a large Ziploc bag in my purse at all times, just in case. During the summer, the heat was so oppressive and would make the nausea worse. I had a lot of anxiety about going out to places with no A/C and feared that I would pass out in public.

I also worried about driving by myself because I was afraid I would throw up while driving and cause an accident.

Another major fear was showering. The combination of the heat from the water and the motion of washing myself was enough to trigger major nausea.

I also had a major phobia of the 2nd trimester blood glucose test. To test for gestational diabetes, you need to drink 50 grams of glucose concentrated in this thick, orange syrupy drink and then get your blood drawn. I distinctly remember throwing up the orange drink with my first pregnancy so this time around I refused to drink it. The doctor allowed me to do an alternative which was to eat 23 large jellybeans. I ended up getting carsick after eating such a large amount of candy in one sitting but I was able to hold it down.

Because I didn’t pass my first glucose test, I needed to do a second glucose test. Again I refused to do the syrupy drink. So instead I had to test myself via a glucose meter at home. The doctor ordered me to prick myself four times a day and to measure my blood sugar level with the meter. I had to do this for a week. Thankfully, I passed the test and do not have gestational diabetes!

Falling Through the Cracks…

Unfortunately, many HG sufferers fall through the cracks due to a simple lack of knowledge about HG in the medical community. We expect doctors to know a lot but many haven’t dealt with hyperemesis so they can be quite unhelpful or even harmful to the patient.

With my first HG pregnancy, I had no idea that I had hyperemesis but I knew something was very wrong early on and when I talked to my OB about my excessive nausea/vomiting, she simply reassured me that it was “normal” morning sickness of the first trimester and that I would feel better soon. It took two visits to urgent care for hydration treatment and eventually an admission to the ER for my doctor to realize that what I had was not normal morning sickness and that I would require long-term IV treatment in order for me to survive.

All that time that had lapsed before I was diagnosed with hyperemesis was time in which I was rapidly losing weight due to the excessive vomiting. This could have all been prevented had the doctor been more cautious and informed me about hyperemesis, its symptoms and what I should do if I kept vomiting. Because hyperemesis symptoms can worsen so rapidly, it’s very imperative for aggressive treatment to be started right away.

This time around, I made sure to inform the doctor right away about my previous HG pregnancy and treatment. Thankfully, I was able to start in-home IV treatment immediately so that I didn’t have to go to the ER for fluids.

I have heard of horror stories in which the doctor refuses to order home health care and so the HG sufferer ends up going in and out of the ER numerous times for IV hydration. I have also heard of doctors getting angry with the patient and blaming them for losing weight! Some insurance companies deny coverage for home health care for hyperemesis which places an enormous financial burden on the HG sufferer. My bill for home health care (2 months of continuous IV treatment) came out to be $20,000! Thankfully, our insurance covered 100% of it!

In the past when there was no IV treatment or proper medical care available for HG, women have died from malnutrition and dehydration. HG is not something one should take lightly but many doctors still tend to minimize HG.

I wonder…what will it take for doctors to be well-informed about hyperemesis so that HG sufferers do not have to suffer any more than they already are?

Annelise’s First Birthday

Have you ever forced yourself to smile even though you feel like hell on the inside? Nothing about nausea is pleasant. But what do you do when your nausea lasts for 9 months? People might be sympathetic for the first few months of the pregnancy but they expect you to feel better after a while. So, at some point, you have to suck it up and fake a smile for the world. And at some point, you have to minimize your symptoms and tell people you feel okay even though you don’t really feel all that great.

So I forced myself to smile for Annelise’s first birthday this past July.

Traditionally, Korean families hold big celebrations (called “dol janchi”) for their child’s first birthday. Apparently, this tradition came about because in the past, babies frequently died before their first birthday due to various diseases. So if a baby made it to his or her first birthday, it was a big deal. Of course, these days in Korea, most babies survive well past their first birthday but people still throw elaborate and extravagant “dol” parties.

Because of the HG, I hadn’t done a single thing to prepare for Annelise’s birthday party. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure I would feel good enough to even attend her party! We decided to do a simple, cozy family party. My mother-in-law made the reservations for the restaurant. My mom arranged catering for the fruit and dessert and she also bought a han-bok (traditional Korean dress) for Annelise. The one thing I did was order a custom-design cake for her.

It took every ounce of energy for me to get ready and go out to the restaurant for Lisi’s birthday. This would be the first time I would go out in public since my HG nightmare started. I had just discontinued my home IV treatment. Taking a shower was arduous. Getting dressed and putting on makeup for the first time in months felt strange. I was very anxious about throwing up during the car ride to the restaurant or during her party but thankfully I made it through the day without vomiting. I couldn’t eat too much because my stomach still hurt every time I ate anything.

I forced myself to smile during pictures – I really wanted a good family photo. It was pretty overwhelming to see all our relatives after being cooped up at home, but I was so thankful for everyone coming out, so I forced more smiles.

Annelise is quite a character. She became cranky and started bawling in the middle of the party because she was sleepy and tired. But as soon as we gave her a snack, she immediately calmed down. She loves food!

Looking at her gleefully chowing down on the puffs made me smile. And this one was a genuine smile…I was glad that my daughter was happy. I was thankful that the Lord blessed her for one year and that she is so healthy and chubby. My first HG miracle baby.

Beyond Morning Sickness

I’m 31 weeks and I’m just so tired…tired of the unending nausea. It seems to have gotten worse this week. I’ve been more constipated (maybe it’s a 3rd trimester thing?) which probably makes the nausea worse. I feel so gross.

I’m tired of being stuck at home and not being able to go out regularly. I’m tired of being dependent on everyone. I’m tired of the nerve pain in my leg and major pelvic pressure. I wanted to go see the acupuncturist today for the nerve pain but I was so nauseous…I decided not to go after all! That’s when I realized the nausea is worse than the pain. I’m tired of waiting for the baby to come. I’m tired of people not understanding HG fully. I’m tired of being a halfhearted mommy to my 15 month old. I’ve been feeling down all day today due to the nausea.

By the end of the day, the fatigue was taking its toll on me. I broke down and started crying…but I couldn’t wallow in self-pity for too long because Annelise brought me a book and asked me to read to her. I wondered if she noticed that mommy had been crying. She didn’t seem to notice thankfully. I read to her…in between broken sobs. And then she wanted me to read the book again. So I did, even though I just wanted to cry.

I decided to email Beyond Morning Sickness, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting women suffering from HG. Ashli Foshee McCall, the founder of this organization, wrote a book about her HG experience, “Beyond Morning Sickness”; she chronicles her horrific battle with HG which ended in termination of her pregnancy. The book also contains valuable information about hyperemesis as well as a comprehensive treatment plan for HG.

Someone from BMS emailed me back immediately and offered to send me a free copy of Ashli’s book as well as a children’s book about HG. He also said that one of their volunteers (someone who has survived HG) could offer support via email. I was so touched by the generosity of this organization. I emailed him back to thank him and this is the response I received (which brought tears to my eyes):

“Mimi, you are more than welcome!  Thank you for your wishes for Ashli.  And thank you for doing so much for your baby.  YOU are an example of what true generosity is.  It’s easy for me to ship out a few books — but the sacrifice you are making is simply astonishing.  You have endured the horrendous suffering that HG brings for another human being who you have never met, and who may not even have a name.  The few minutes and few dollars I spend for you are nothing compared to what you are doing for your family and your baby.

God bless you!

Lyle”

I was so touched by this email! It is nice to know that someone truly understands what I’m going through. I’m really looking forward to reading these books. If you or anyone is suffering from HG right now, please contact Beyond Morning Sickness!

Getting “Crackered”

If you don’t have HG, you probably aren’t familiar with what getting “crackered” means. HG sufferers came up with this term to describe moments when non-HG sufferers offer (well-meaning, but insensitive) advice/suggestions regarding the pregnancy or to help reduce nausea. A common suggestion that people like to give is, “Try eating some crackers and you’ll feel better”. I guess getting “crackered” is inevitable since HG is such a rare, unknown disease. But it is frustrating nevertheless! Here is a list of times I got “crackered”:

1)      “Have you tried _________?”

If only there was an easy, magical cure for HG! Yes, I’ve tried ginger. I’ve also tried ginger ale, sea bands, Unisom, Vitamin B6, oral Zofran, oral Phenergan, oral Compazine, oral Reglan. I’ve tried everything under the sun and nothing has worked.

2)      “You’ll feel better after you eat something.”

I never feel better after I eat. I feel more nauseous after I eat. And during the worst of the HG, I threw up everything I ate.

3)      “Why don’t you try taking a walk outside? Maybe getting some fresh air and exercise will help you feel better.”

Any kind of motion/movement will make the nausea worse. Do you know anyone who wants to exercise when they’re nauseous?

4)      “You’ll forget all about it when the baby’s born.”

I still have traumatic memories from my first HG pregnancy and I know I’ll have long-term trauma with this pregnancy. HG is something that one never, ever forgets.

5)      “This is what moms have to go through…”

Many moms go through morning sickness. However, most moms do not go through hyperemesis. HG only occurs in 1-2% of pregnancies!

6)      “You look good…you don’t look sick at all!”

The reason I look good now is because of a lot of makeup and because you only see me when I feel good enough to go out in public. You don’t see me when I stay at home because the nausea’s so bad, when I’m vomiting into the toilet, when I’m in bed half the day. You didn’t see me when I was on IV treatment and when I had lost 15 pounds.

7)      “It’s easier now when you’re pregnant…Enjoy it now. Wait till the baby gets here…you won’t get any sleep!”

You think being nauseous 24/7 is easier than taking care of a baby? You clearly have not dealt with nausea on a long-term scale. I would much rather deal with sleepless nights with a newborn than the unrelenting HG nausea!

8)      “So you just suffer?” (the anatomy ultrasound doctor asked me this when I told her that anti-nausea medications don’t work for me so I haven’t been taking anything orally)

Yes, I just suffer. I choose to suffer because I’m that masochistic!

There are HG sufferers who have had friends or relatives doubt/minimize their symptoms and call them “lazy” because they are lying in bed due to the nausea/vomiting. It’s infuriating to think that people discredit HG as if it’s something fake or just “in your mind.” Fortunately, for the most part, my family and friends have been very supportive and understanding. But at times, I still feel paranoid that maybe people will think I’m exaggerating my symptoms. If you know someone suffering from HG, please refrain from “crackering” them. The best thing you can do is to simply offer a listening, non-judgmental ear. And please pray for them because HG is a spiritual battle as much as it is a physical one.

Forbidden Fruit

It’s funny how we desire forbidden fruit. During my first and second trimesters, it was literally fruit and food that my body craved. My stomach rejected all the food I ate – everything would come back up. So you would think that I would be utterly disgusted by even the mere thought of food. And to a certain point, I was. I had vivid and traumatic memories of specific things I vomited – so I had many food aversions. I would get frustrated at my parents if they cooked something in the kitchen because the aroma of whatever was cooking would trigger nausea.

Yet somehow, paradoxically, my body still craved sustenance. It was like my body knew that I was starving and that I needed to eat. So even though the smell of food would make me nauseous and even though I had so many food phobias, I still had many fantasies about food. I religiously watched Masterchef and Hell’s Kitchen and would dream about eating delectable meals one day. I would yelp various restaurants and scroll through pictures of food that people posted online. I became obsessed.

When I battled insomnia night after night due to the excessive nausea, guess what I did? I started making a list of restaurants that I wanted to visit when I got better. I saved the list on my phone. It’s so funny to look at it now. Half of these restaurants I have no interest in going to now because my appetite is still shot due to the nausea. There is this constant sour taste in my mouth from the nausea and my taste buds seem disappointed with even the most delicious treats.

Maybe after I deliver the baby and when the nausea is completely gone, I will start making my way around LA and check off each restaurant on my ultimate food list!