Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Morning, Noon, and Night Sickness--The Real Deal--Part One

I've always appreciated candor.  I heard plenty of pithy, inspirational speeches at graduation but the one speech that stuck with me over the years was the hard core speech by a southern preacher friend of ours who shared how excruciatingly hard life would be--but that God is faithful through it all.  Lots of gals, who have forgotten childbirth over the passage of time or whom had 20 minute labors (that's right, Mom!) told me that it just feels like big menstrual cramps, but I sure appreciated the gal who laid the gory details out on the table for me as a young woman so that I prepared well for pain management in natural childbirth, which by the way did NOT feel like a bad case of menstrual cramps!

But no one prepared me for the horrors of morning, noon, and night sickness.  That's not because no one cared, or remembered having had it.  It's just a topic that didn't come up in our family until I had it, and none of my relatives or friends really dealt with it that were close to me in my first pregnancy.  Believe it or not, I'd rather go through two labor and deliveries per child if it meant I could skip the morning, noon, and night sickness.  Labor, however intense, is over in a day or two, and nausea lasts anywhere from 60-270 days.  It is one of the most difficult experiences of my life, and yet there are so few resources out there to help those of us going through it.  So, I wanted to write this little series on morning, noon, and night sickness survival to encourage those of you who are in the midst of it, "I feel your pain!", and as a reference for those of you who may someday find yourself going through this and wonder how you will ever survive.

First of all, let's go into definitions.  Morning sickness, inappropriately named since it can occur at any time of the day or night, is very common in pregnant women and is typically managed with small, frequent snacks, extra rest, ginger ale and saltine crackers, etc.  Statistics say that around 70 or 80% of pregnant women experience some morning sickness.  For some this may mean a bout or two of queasiness, throwing up once or twice, and having a strange taste in their mouth or some gagging or feeling the need to eat often, etc. 

But a small percentage of those women who have morning sickness will experience hypermesis gravidarum.  Wikipedia says: Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a severe form of morning sickness, with "unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids."   Hyperemesis is considered a rare complication of pregnancy but, because nausea and vomiting during pregnancy exist on a continuum, there is often not a good diagnosis between common morning sickness and hyperemesis.

Some medical sites I have seen diagnose HG cases as women who end up in the hospital, needing IVs who are in starvation mode and cannot keep anything down, including water.  I have never ended up in the hospital, thank the Lord, and have not vomited that relentlessly, thanks to my anti-nause medicine.  I do have friends who have though, and it was not at all pleasant for them.  But according to Wikipedia's list of symptoms of HG, I do have hypermesis gravidarum.  Some of you have had, or will have, much worse cases than I have, and I am very sorry for that.  HG is an awful experience, and depression is often a secondary cause of HG.

So, in my morning, noon, night sickness series, I want you to be aware that I am not speaking to the Saltine Cracker Brigade who can munch a little square of cracker bliss and find themselves cured of nausea.  I'm speaking to the women who are suffering from hypermesis or are close to it.  I'm speaking to the gals who have tried everything and for whom nothing works.  The gals who are desperate for some hope, who feel as though they are starving, for those who feel like they've had the stomach flu for 2 or 3 months straight, for those who can't go anywhere without a snack and a barf bag.  Those who can barely peel themselves off of the floor, those who hug the toliet or carry the barf bucket on a regular basis, those who are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

May you find some help and some hope in this series.  You are not alone.

Coming Topics:

Part Two--Life with Severe Pregnancy Nausea
Part Three--Methods for Coping
Part Four--Emotional Helps


Lesley said...

Oh Lindsey, I am so sorry. I really am. And of course, since I had HG with every pregnancy, I DO know how awful it is. Weeks and weeks of endless nausea is enough to make a person go crazy. I did look to see if I had some extra zofran for you and unfortunately, I had gotten rid of it. :( So sorry! Can you talk to your doctor about getting some? With Christian -- it was the ONLY thing that helepd the nausea go away. Sometimes I got a bad headache as a side effect, but I would take the headache any day over the horrible nausea. I bet it would help you too. Even if you just got one bottle to help you through this last stretch of sickness -- you might feel like a new person!
I only took it when I needed it the most and on the worst days and it helped me survive.

As always, I'm praying for you!

Gabrielle said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

My morning sickness lasted 9 months, and one of the hardest things about it is that people just didn't get it. I tried very hard not to complain, but I was frequently told to try crackers or ginger ale (and every other textbook remedy), as if I hadn't tried them already. Others said that they hated their constant nausea--they just wish they could've gotten sick, like I did. And my favorite: Isn't that just part of pregnancy? My response: Yep, but usually it ends at 3 months, and I'm 6 months pregnant.

I wasn't hospitalized with HG, and some books say it's when you've lost 5% of your weight, or something like that. That didn't happen, but at 6 or 7 months, I'd only gained 5 pounds. The definitions of HG vary so much that it's frustrating.

Thia said...

I am, so very thankfully, past this now with my fourth pregnancy, but still look forward to the series. My drs refused to give me anything unless I first went to the ER for fluids. They wouldn't understand I was trying to AVOID that! 'Cause drs don't get it either.

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