A husband’s perspective, Hyperemesis Gravidarum

A letter from my husband :

*Long post warning, BUT worth it”

I have wanted to share some information from a perspective that not many people have had the opportunity to hear and/or understand.

As many of you know my wife suffered from an extreme case of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)  while pregnant with both of our children, however, with my daughter my wife nearly lost her life. During a conversation last night about having more children my wife casually mentioned “well I was dead at that point” referring to a point in time while she was pregnant with our daughter.

The reason I am writing this post is because even though it was mentioned so casually, it really sent an overwhelmingly strong pit in my stomach.

In August of 2016 my wife had surprised me with a photo shoot where she revealed that we were being blessed with a new baby. This amazing gift was going to be blessing our lives soon. Immediately, like many other people do, we started planning. Will it be a boy or a girl, what color should the room be, where will the office go, we need a bigger car, and all of the other wacky things people do when they are expecting their second child. I would say I am a pretty typical husband in these instances where I take the back seat, and roll with what their pregnant wife desires. Men instinctively know that what their pregnant wife wants, their pregnant wife gets. This was the dream that all people blessed enough for this opportunity have when they first find out they are expecting. However, this was very short lived.

My wife is a Navy veteran and our first child was born in the Naval Hospital in San Diego which, overall was a great experience. The difference this time around is that she recently finished her contract and was in the public health realm. Her first OBGYN (not going to say which practice that resided at 362 Maitland Ave S, Maitland, Florida) was a terrible experience and we did not know what we were in for at this point.

After about 4 weeks my wife started developing this sickness that she has never experienced before. This was crippling. Unable to eat, drink, walk, talk and nearly do anything. Sleeping was a chore and we knew that something was different and something was wrong. We went to see that OBGYN that I am keeping completely anonymous and had an eye opening experience. When my wife explained her symptoms and advised that something was just not right, the Doctor said “Honey, all women get sick when they are pregnant” while laughing. Little did she know that my wife was at her wits end and was not going to take her laughing so casually. After the dust settled from the verbal assault the doctor received from being completely uncompassionate, we “mutually” decided we were not coming back and needed to find a new doctor who would actually help.

Little did we know that the next three months would be the most trying times for our family and what we actually had to go through was unimaginable. After a few weeks we were able to get into a new practice where the doctor advised my wife had lost 14 lbs when she should be gaining weight. The baby and my wife were suffering and her body was going into organ failure. The endless appointments finally led to my wife receiving homecare where she was constantly on fluids and getting medicine administered by IV every few hours. When my wife’s veins started to shrivel up due to the medicine, she needed to be hospitalized to actually get “tanked up” enough to rejuvenate her veins.

This is the time my wife referred to herself as “dead.” This is not an understatement. She looked and felt dead, and was literally deteriorating due to her lack of nutrients. This was when the real depression set in. This was when a woman who loved her son more than anything, was unable to hold him for months due to all of the wires, tubes, and time in the hospital. This was a time where if my wife was able to fall asleep for a few minutes she would wake up shortly after and be stuck in the bathroom for another hour because, even though she had not eaten real food in months, her body told her she still needed to throw up. This was a time where walking around the house lugging an IV pole became normal. This was a time where all of a sudden dad became mom as well. This was a time where I followed her around because there was a 50% chance she would pass out yet again for the 4th time that day. This was a time my wife almost gave her life for our daughter. This is when my wife was “dead,” but still gave everything to our daughter.

While writing this I have a tough time fully describing how this all felt and looked from my eyes. To see the women you love in the absolute worse shape she has ever been in is absolutely heart wrenching and indescribable without living through it. There is no way I can describe the feeling of catching your wife as she passes out to make sure she doesn’t hurt herself on the way down. There is no way to describe what it is like watching her get hundreds of IV and cry because yet another vein is shot. There is no way to describe the utter defeat in her eyes everyday she wakes up. There are no words and not enough “I’m sorry’s” to be said when she has spent more time in front of the toilet in the day than not. There is no way to count the amount of tears, and the “why’s” that are said. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think of how embarrassed and ashamed she would look when we had to do the 2nd or 3rd load of laundry of the day because she could not control her body anymore. She had lost control. I will continue to use the word selfless throughout this post as it is the only way to describe my wife through all of this.

It is beyond my pride to say simply it is exponentially more difficult to be a mom, than it is to be a dad. In reality sometimes it is difficult enough to be a dad never mind being a single parent. I say this only because I had that feeling for a few months. The role of mom was thrown in my lap, and I was in no way shape or form aware of what it takes to be a mom. I was not ready for it. I was not ready to take on my son full time, my work full time, attempting to be a nurse, attempting to hold the house together all while being extremely frustrated with myself, because I would feel bad for myself. After reading above, how dare I feel bad for myself. My wife was giving (literally) every ounce of her being to bring in our daughter and here I am feeling sorry for myself. It is indescribable how difficult it was to juggle it all while trying to keep it together for your family. Remember I am the man, I should be keeping it together, but with everything that had been happening, it was nearly impossible. In the end, my wife was giving everything, and I wish I had half of her selflessness.

I wrote this to give everyone some type of idea of what actually happens when a women gives up everything to be a mother. My wife loves her kids so much that she would not hesitate to do this all over again. This is the definition of selfless. This is where our conversation started yesterday as we were planning our future. She will do it over and over again to be blessed with another angel.

I know there are people who do not have the opportunity to have these feeling and are unable to be blessed with a child, and I truly feel for you. This is a post about our experience and I appreciate you making it through to the end.

 

The other side of pregnancy, hyperemesis gravidarum

Pregnancy, the most amazing thing a woman’s body goes through, a miracle, a blessing, a gift from God. Those are all things I would say are the general populations thoughts on when someone becomes pregnant. While I would never disagree with those descriptions when it comes to a baby, different words come to mind when I think about being pregnant.

We had trouble getting pregnant at first and when we found out we were pregnant with now our second daughter, we were ecstatic. I planned a surprise photoshoot and when the photographer promoted us to write something we love about the other person my sign read “We’re having a baby!” Everyone was crying and it was a happy day then about a week later the sickness began.
Hyperemesis gravidarum   (HG): “Rarely, morning sickness is so severe that it’s classified as hyperemesis gravidarum.Symptoms include severe nausea and feeling faint or dizzy when standing. It can also cause persistent vomiting, which can lead to dehydration.This condition can require hospitalization and treatment with IV fluids and anti-nausea medications.” Otherwise known as hell on earth.

I suffered from it during my first pregnancy with my son but was active duty Navy and to be honest no one really cared. The doctors barely diagnosed me after several emergency room visits and told me that pregnancy was hard on some people and that I had to deal with it. For ten long months I went to work everyday, went to the closest bathroom to throw up, brought a change of uniform and underwear for those daily incidents and pulled over about three times to and from work to throw up everything I had in me on the side of the highway. It was awful but bearable.

Then a couple years later I got pregnant with my daughter.  The sickness started about 8 weeks into my pregnancy and came on strong. Things were different this time, I was losing more weight than last time, couldn’t keep down any fluids or solids, was dry heaving the entire day with small breaks and overall felt like I was dying.

I saw several doctors and everyone told me “this is called morning sickness.” I couldn’t explain how I felt, I pleaded with them to help me and tried to convince them this is different, something is wrong. I could not find a doctor to hear me out, everyone thought I was being dramatic.

I found my third doctor, someone that was recommended for high risk and when I went they explained I was a little over nine weeks pregnant and sometimes woman get sick. She wouldn’t even listen to me, belittled me and made me feel like a whiney little girl. I broke down, cried, yelled and stormed out. I later got a letter releasing me as a patient.

Then I found a doctor about 30 minutes from out house that was highly recommended. She was new to the practice and I booked an appointment. By this time I couldn’t drive any longer, I was throwing up all over myself with every movement and without warning. I was already bitter and just assumed this would be another fail.

After reading my charts, talking to me, taking my blood pressure, watching me throw up several times just during our 30 minutes appointment and actually examining me she assured me, I was not crazy. I was losing too much weight, my entire face was broken blood vessels, my blood pressure was too low and I was dehydrated. She quickly realized I needed home care and a constant IV.

She ordered it immediately but with insurance and overall BS you have to deal with it took a three long weeks to set everything up.

You see, HG takes over. Its not just morning sickness. It affects every part of you, mentally, physically and emotionally. I woke up everyday waiting for the day to end, I couldn’t take care of my own child, I couldn’t pick him up, smell his breath, cook for him or even stand up long enough to care for anyone including myself.

For the first time in my life I was truly depressed and didn’t want to see another day. The sickness took over. For four months I had every bodily fluid all over me, had to get picked up by my husband off the bathroom floor, rushed to the hospital multiple times for losing consciousness and wished and prayed it would be over.

I couldn’t even think about the baby I was growing, I didn’t wonder about the gender, how I was going to decorate the nursey, what we needed to prepare, nothing. All I thought about was survival and how I am going to get through the day. All the things that define me I couldn’t do, I was excited, I was scared and angry.

My husband became my nurse, changing my IVs, distributing my meds, changing my dressings and setting timers for everything I needed to do to survive the day. My body was a disaster. Dozens of blown veins and bruised arms and feet from dehydration, hundreds of needle sticks trying to find a vein that would work always failing the first few times causing pain and overall disappointment.

My home nurse would come around every other day to check on me, I had weekly appointments that I dreaded because I had to be carried to the car and the motion mad things worse, if that’s even possible.

Everyone, including the doctors told me things should get better after my first trimester so I was counting down the days. Well, it didn’t, nothing changed and things were only getting worse. I needed a to be hospitalized for a few days to get “tanked up” and strong enough to carry this baby.

Once I arrived in the hospital it was determined a PICC line was the only way to go. I was hesitant but followed the doctors orders. It hurt, was always irritated, I was constantly nervous my son was going to rip it out and just losing more hope by the day.

After that hospital visit but labs weren’t looking good and organ faulire was the weekly fear so infusions began. I started going to facility and getting infusions a couple times a week to ensure I was staying healthy. I wanted this to be over.

Not often would you hear a woman who is happily  married, who has always watned a huge family and who has prayed for a child to consider ending a pregnancy but that is what was going through my head. I am embarrassed to even admit it but that is what HG is. It messes with your head, it makes you want to die, it makes you not want to be carrying a baby.

I didn’t smile for four months, I didn’t drink one thing for four months, I solely relied on my PICC line and IVs to keep me alive. I had things shoved in my veins, feet, stomach, butt and mouth. I wouldn’t wish this sickness on my worse enemy (and I’m pretty spiteful).

There is nothing happy or fun about this disease whether you are the person suffering or a loved one of someone suffering. Everyone suffers.

I imagined glowing. working out, doing prenatal yoga and binge eating on all my cravings. I cant help but see the woman who get to enjoy pregnancy and be completely jealous and honestly, angry.

When the ten months is over, I am blessed with two HEALTHY kids and would do it 1,000 more times (reluctantly) in order to make sure they were brought into this world that way.