I always thought I’d be an adorable pregnant lady. My sister had three wonderful pregnancies and when I got a positive test I looked to her to be sort of a pregnancy Sherpa – to guide me through the ups and downs of what I was about to go through.
My fiancé and I attended our first ultrasound and saw our daughter’s flickering little heartbeat. Everything looked good, and we were due to meet our little girl on July 6th.
I felt good for about two weeks after that. I quit smoking cold turkey, cut out all caffeine, and started prenatal vitamins immediately. The vitamins made me a little queasy, but I kept taking them because I knew it was best for my baby.
Everything changed at about 8 weeks. My fiancé made a pizza . I ate one bite and immediately headed for the bathroom to throw up. Morning sickness was here. The next morning, I opened the freezer to thaw dinner and was hit with a smell so terrible that I immediately retched all over the kitchen floor. Frowning, my fiancé gently told me he didn’t smell a thing. That day, I was sick three times. The next day, four.
On the third day, I still hadn’t managed to keep anything solid down. A few spoonfuls of chicken broth, a few sips of Gatorade, and that was it. I wondered if I was sick. I called my midwife and she said it was normal. Lots of pregnant women were sick and had a heightened sense of smell. I called my sister, hoping desperately that this was normal. She didn’t know. She’d thrown up maybe twice in all three pregnancies. I looked up morning sickness and everything I read seemed to say it would start to get better around twelve weeks. In the meantime, I drank ginger ale, ate small meals, nibbled saltines, switched to Flintstones Vitamins because the prenatals were just too harsh, used seasickness bands, and for one glorious week, ate nothing but Kraft Mac and Cheese because it was all I could keep down.
Twelve weeks came and went. I was throwing up at least four times a day, but sometimes as many as nine or ten. I remember pulling over my car one morning to puke on the side of the road and thinking “this just cannot be normal morning sickness.” I called the midwife and begged to be seen. They booked me for later that day.
They took me seriously this time. I was admitted to the hospital for a bag of fluids to rehydrate me. I had lost fourteen pounds since getting a positive pregnancy test. The baby was fine, but was miserable. My midwife came in and asked me if I’d ever heard of Hyperemesis gravidarum, or HG. I hadn’t, which wasn’t surprising. HG only shows up in about 1 out of every 200 pregnancies, to varying degrees. It’s basically never ending, severe sickness during pregnancy. I wasn’t thrilled about this diagnosis, but I was happy that I’d been right – there was something wrong. My midwife went on to explain that they’d be putting me on a few different pills to combat the vomiting. If I continued to dehydrate and to vomit, and lose weight, I’d need to be put on a PICC line to continuously pump the medicine into me. She prescribed me Zofran, Reglan, and Phenergan. They were all safe for the baby, and I needed to gain weight. She suggested protein shakes, milkshakes, switching to full fat yogurt and milk, and sneaking calories in wherever possible.
It took a little while to get my dosages right. The Reglan was an awful experience. It made me extremely anxious, jumpy, and moody. I stopped taking it after about two weeks. Phenergan helped a little, but made me so tired I couldn’t function. The only time I could take it was right before bed. The Zofran helped. We were lucky- a lot of insurance companies won’t cover it, and it’s extremely expensive. Our insurance covered it and I was finally able to eat small bland meals. It didn’t stop me from vomiting completely, but I was down to only one or twice a day and the extreme nausea was nearly gone. I lost twenty pounds before we got everything mostly under control. Through it all, my little girl grew and thrived. Apart from the HG , I had a healthy pregnancy. My midwife decided I didn’t need a Zofran pump. I started gaining back what I lost, and at thirty weeks we celebrated when I gained a pound over my pre-pregnancy weight. At thirty-four weeks, I had to hang up my non maternity pants for good. I had a few stumbles along the way – I was admitted three more times for fluids, and I had good days and bad days. In nine months of pregnancy, once the HG started, the best streak I had without throwing up at all was two and a half days.
On July 3rd, I woke up at 3:30 am with contractions. I labored in the bath at home until around 6:30, I was officially admitted to the hospital from triage at 9:00, and I had my little girl at 2:30 pm after half an hour of pushing. In true HG fashion, I threw up all over my intake nurse and my fiancé before I was admitted. We knew she would be on the smaller side – even without the twenty pounds I lost I’m petite and my fiancé is tall and skinny. She was a perfect 6 lbs, 11 oz, and even now at nearly fourteen months has just topped the 20 lb mark. She’s a petite, perfect little girl.
People often ask me if my pregnancy experience was enough to scare me off from having any more children. During pregnancy, I said yes. After pregnancy, I wasn’t sure. When my daughter was a few months old, I’d all but forgotten how terrible it was. Being a mom is the best thing I’ve ever done, and a few months of being uncomfortable won’t keep me from doing it again. Every pregnancy is different. There’s a chance the next one will be smooth sailing. If not, at least I know how to handle it.
About our Mom at Last Contributor
Caitlin Rogers has a B.S. from Towson University in Creative Writing and Literature. She worked for The Baltimore Sun and Johns Hopkins University before taking a part time job in a cloth diaper boutique to spend some time at home. She now resides in suburban Baltimore with her fiancee and 14 month old daughter.
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