HG Awareness Day 2015

In honor of HG Awareness Day, we had our first annual HG Survivors Meet Up. When I was pregnant with Katelynn and battling depression during my third trimester, Sarah (an HG survivor herself) visited me with her 9 month old son in tow. She listened to my story, empathized with me, offered encouragement and prayed the sweetest, most compassionate prayer. At that moment, I could feel the Lord’s presence during a time I felt very abandoned. It was wonderful to reconnect with her. Thank you Sarah for touching my life and the lives of so many others’!

HG Meet up 2015

Glory in Suffering

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Mother’s Day has passed and today is HG Awareness Day. Almost a year and a half has passed since I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum for the second time. HG is a rare, debilitating pregnancy disorder which occurs in about 1-2% of pregnant women. It is a disorder which is commonly misunderstood and routinely minimized by the public as well as by the medical community. Often times family members and friends are clueless as to the severity of the disorder which complicates matters and the HG sufferer suffers alone and in isolation.

HG is characterized by severe and excessive nausea and vomiting which can lead to dehydration (and subsequent visits to the ER for IV treatment), weight loss due to the excessive vomiting and inability to hold down food or water, hyper olfaction (extremely strong sense of smell), fatigue, lightheadedness, and overall inability to function due to the severity of nausea. HG causes disruption in day to day activities – inability to care for oneself, inability to work, inability to care for children, inability to shower, etc, etc! Many HG sufferers are forced to stay on bed rest simply to avoid movement which makes the nausea worse.

HG symptoms are the absolute worst the first trimester. Some women find relief after the first trimester but many HG sufferers still battle severe nausea/vomiting to the very end of their pregnancy. Severe cases require in-home IV treatment or a PICC line for continuous IV fluids to make sure the HG sufferer is hydrated.

Heavy doses of anti-emetics (anti-nausea med’s) are given – Zofran, Phenergan and Compazine. The most severe case would require a feeding tube so that the woman is not completely malnourished. Fortunately most HG pregnancies end with successful full term births! However, I have heard of cases in which the pregnancy was terminated by the doctor due to the severity of the disorder in order to preserve the mom’s life.

Nausea seems like such a harmless thing at first glance but imagine being so nauseous that you cannot stand the smell of your own, dear husband. Walking around or trying to take a shower becomes an insurmountable task because you end up puking due to the motion. I have described HG as a 9 month bout of severe food poisoning or stomach flu.

The most challenging part about HG is not the physical suffering (as difficult as that is!) but the emotional toll it takes on the sufferer. Many women with HG suffer from depression due to the chronic medical issues day in and day out. Many women contemplate abortion as well as suicide due to the immense burden that excessive nausea/vomiting and dehydration take on the body and subsequently on the mind and soul.

My journey with HG started with my first pregnancy in November 2011. We didn’t even have a chance to rejoice in our first pregnancy because of how fast HG ravaged my body. I had no clue that this nightmare would hit me. But I found out very quickly that my pregnancy was not going to be normal when I threw up everything I tried to eat very early on in my first trimester. My mom kept insisting that I try to eat for the baby’s sake but I would get extremely frustrated knowing that it didn’t matter what I ate, my body was simply rejecting it! I remember telling my OB about my excessive nausea/vomiting and she brushed it off, saying that it was just normal morning sickness and that I should feel much better soon.

She, unfortunately, was very, very wrong. It got to the point that I was starving, not eating anything, but still vomiting! I was vomiting water and bile. I was on bed rest and the nausea was very relentless and there 24/7. My only relief from the nausea was to sleep. I remember very distinctly on Christmas day of 2011 just vomiting all day (maybe 10 times). I felt very out of it. I stepped onto our scale and was shocked to see that I had lost 15 pounds! My gut told me that something was very, very wrong. This could not be normal morning sickness.

We went to the ER that day and I was immediately admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum. The doctor ordered a PICC line (a long term IV line) for me and set up in-home IV treatment. I received in-home IV treatment for one whole month before I was able to start eating normally. During this time, Danny faithfully took care of me and even administered the anti-nausea medications through the PICC line for me daily. After my first trimester, I felt much better and was able to go back to work. I still had mild-grade nausea and had nausea till the day I delivered. Annelise was 8 pounds, 5 ounces – a healthy and big girl!

My second battle with HG was much, much harder than the first. I remember finding out I was pregnant and feeling angry that it happened so soon (Annelise was not even a year old)! I was not ready to face hyperemesis again. I hoped and prayed that my second time would be easier. But those prayers were not answered and my second HG pregnancy was an even darker nightmare than the first.

My symptoms were worse and lasted the whole pregnancy. I lost a total of 20 pounds with my second pregnancy. Again, the doctor ordered home health care and I received in-home IV treatment for two, long months. I hoped that by the end of the first trimester, I would feel much better. But no relief came and I continued to vomit through my second and even my third trimester. There were occasional good days where I felt good enough to go out and eat. But those were really rare. Most days were spent at home, in bed, watching television around the clock just to keep my mind distracted from the nausea. I had insomnia at night due to the nausea and would stay up till 3 am.

I was unable to take care of Annelise so I stayed with my parents for several months so that they could take care of me and Annelise. I was unable to shower regularly during my first trimester so my mom would wash my hair for me once a week. My hair would get so tangled; I felt utterly inhuman, like an animal, like a zombie.

I battled depression with my first pregnancy but the depression with my 2nd pregnancy was worse due to the longer lasting symptoms and my frustrations that I wasn’t feeling better. Every day, I wanted to die just to escape the merciless nausea. Every day, I asked my husband to shoot me, to end my misery. Every day, I felt the temptation to abort the pregnancy just to feel normal again. The spiritual battle was enormous and I am so thankful for God’s grace, the unconditional love of my husband and parents, and many friends’ prayers – for protecting me not only physically but spiritually.

Even after giving birth to a very healthy and even bigger baby (Katelynn was a whopping 9 pound, 5 ounces!), I had mild-grade nausea that lasted a month! I was petrified that this nausea would never leave me, but it did. And I’m grateful to have survived this ordeal. I’m thankful for my two, lovely girls – my reward and my gift after the suffering. If there is anything I’ve learned from all of this – it is this – that God is good all the time.

This is the lesson that Job and Joseph learned. This is the lesson God forced me to learn. There is glory and a purpose to our suffering because it molds us into Christlikeness. Suffering from HG has taught me to appreciate life and health. It has brought me a greater compassion and empathy for those suffering from chronic medical illnesses.

I am reminded of these verses from the book of Job which ministered to me during the long, dark nights I battled insomnia and nausea.

Job 1:8-12

“Did you notice my servant Job?” the Lord asked. “There is no one on earth as faithful and good as he is. He worships me and is careful not to do anything evil.”

Satan replied, “Would Job worship you if he got nothing out of it? 10 You have always protected him and his family and everything he owns. You bless everything he does, and you have given him enough cattle to fill the whole country. 11 But now suppose you take away everything he has—he will curse you to your face!”

12 “All right,” the Lord said to Satan, “everything he has is in your power, but you must not hurt Job himself.” So Satan left.

At the end of all of this, I still have my faith in Christ and that was the great test that Satan requested and that God allowed in Job’s life.

I hope that you have a better understanding of how debilitating hyperemesis is. If you have the means, please consider making a donation to the HER Foundation at helpher.org. We need to raise awareness as well as funds to research this disorder in order to find the cause and cure!

I hope my story inspires you to fight whatever battle you’re going through and to come out stronger at the end of it!

Blessings,
Mimi

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Mother’s Day and HG Awareness Day

This Mother’s Day, I am so grateful to be a mom of two, healthy HG miracle babies. Annelise is almost 22 months and Katelynn just turned 4 months! One of the things I learned when I underwent hyperemesis is that we cannot take our health for granted and that it is truly a blessing from the Lord to be healthy. I’m still so amazed that despite my 15-20 pound weight loss with each pregnancy, Annelise and Katelynn are both so healthy…and so big!

May 15th is HG Awareness Day. If you have the means, please consider giving the gift of a donation to an organization near and dear to my heart – the Hyperemesis Education Research (HER) foundation. www.helpher.org

I hope and pray that we can one day find a cure to this devastating disease so that pregnancy does not have to turn into a nightmare!

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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.

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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!

The Big 3-0!

This year I turned the big 3-0 in April. I had a quiet celebration with my husband. We went back to one of our first date spots – Sir Winston’s aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach. We also celebrated with my parents and brother at a cute little restaurant in Larchmont. And my friends took me out to a Persian place in Westwood. This all happened right before I become pregnant and the HG storm started in May.

This week, I’m so excited to say that I made it to another big 3-0. By God’s grace, I made it to the 30 week mark of my pregnancy! I think I’m more excited to celebrate this milestone than even my 30th birthday. I’m excited because I am that much closer to the due date and meeting our little girl, Katelynn. I am 10 weeks away from beating HG for the second time. Ten weeks away from living nausea-free again. Ten weeks away from finally feeling normal again!

I’m also so grateful that this blog helped to inform another blogger about HG and that she decided to make a donation to the HER foundation! What a wonderful gift to celebrate hitting the 30 week mark. I’m so honored that she mentioned me in her recent post. Please support Miss Marzipan and her commitment to donate to charities on behalf of her little “cupcake” who is due in 14 weeks!

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)