Scott and I brought our wedding forward a year because we couldn't wait to start a family. Friday 1st April 2011 was our wedding day and in the May I was given the all clear from some abnormal findings from a cervical screening so we were good to go! It didn't take long to get pregnant, we found out on the 10th August at 5am that I was four weeks pregnant. We were so excited, we'd done everything by the book, eating healthy, taking pre natal vitamins and completely cutting out alcohol since we started trying to conceive. For that one week we were walking on air...
One week later and the sickness struck, I thought "Ok, this is to be expected"... After a week it was becoming progressively worse, I was vomiting every 40 minutes around the clock over the weekend and by the Monday morning I was so weak I couldn't lift my head from the pillow. Nausea had at this point hit me like a truck. There's no point trying to explain the severity of the nausea, no one who hasn't experienced HG would understand it and there are literally no words to describe it! I tried to get into the shower and collapsed, so I had to stay at home while Scott went to work. I felt so humiliated to call work for a sick day because of "morning sickness" I hated myself, I couldn't understand why I was so pathetic that I couldn't cope with pregnancy like all other women? My mum took me to see the doctor that afternoon, 5 weeks pregnant and I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). I had no idea what HG was, I just assumed it was a fancy name for morning sickness. In fact Hyperemesis Gravidarum is nothing like pregnancy sickness (morning sickness as it was previously referred to), HG is a very severe and debilitating condition that can in some cases last for the entire pregnancy. HG can be a life threatening condition if it is left untreated which is why it's so important to raise awareness. The doctor prescribed me some anti-sickness drugs and sent me home with a sick note and instructions to send in urine samples daily until the doctors were happy that the ketones had gone, otherwise it was a trip to the hospital. After a week off work I thought that I was improving so I returned to work for one week. But by the Friday the HG was coming back with a vengeance! On the Monday, 7 weeks pregnant, I was back in the GP surgery, this time I was prescribed some different anti-sickness drugs to try and a sick note with strict instructions not to return to work without a full assessment from the doctor this time. I never made it back to work...
I had 24 hour care, my mum would arrive every morning 15 minutes before Scott left for work and she would stay with me until he returned home. Scott never went out, he went to the football because I begged him too, the way I saw it I couldn't be there to support the team, but he could at least! Scott also went out for a couple of drinks once with an old friend we used to both work with, but even then he stayed at the pub just down the street and even called back to check on me, despite my mum been there with me. He really is a wonderfully kind and caring man, I am so lucky to have him. I could not have survived this pregnancy without the love, care and support of Scott and my mum.
Vomiting would be at its worst from around 6pm through until 2pm the next day with nausea so extreme that I could barely sleep. This was the same every day. Scott would stay up all night with me, holding me up because I was too weak to sit up on my own to be sick in the bucket, holding my hand when I was feeling scared, he would talk to me for hours despite the fact that I could never say a word back. My nephew Zak, who was 14 at the time would also come and sit with me every week, he would sit there for hours telling me about school, his ice hockey matches and his computer games. He didn't mind that I barely spoke a word in return. He always made me smile and when my bump started to show he started to call me "Podgy" to make me laugh. He's such a fantastic kid, so kind and caring. My brother Ian was also a great support, he would call me regularly to check on me and to let me know he was thinking of us while he was busy away with work. He would call in to visit on a weekend too. My mum would drive me to the hospital every other week to see the consultant who would review my anti-sickness drugs and swap or change them, trying to find something that would work. She would drive me to the hospital for IV fluids usually every ten days - two weeks. My GP would see me every week and check my ketone levels twice a week too. No drugs seemed to work, I would vomit between 25-40 times every day for eight months. I also tried acupuncture with absolutely no improvement what so ever.
I had a lot of hospital admissions ranging from two to four days at a time hooked up to IV's and injected with drugs to stop the vomiting and rehydrate me. 28 weeks was when HG peaked to it 'a worst, the GP sent an ambulance, I was very weak, tachycardic and barely conscious. Scott was at work so my mum came with me in the ambulance. I had a severe allergic reaction to the first anti-sickness medication that I was injected with, which lead to temporary paralysis and breathing difficulties just to add to the trauma! Basically all the medications had stopped working and I had a severe kidney infection. After a week in hospital hooked up to IV's I went home with more new drugs, but literally within six hours HG was back in full swing! At 36 weeks whilst on the CTG machine at the hospital a doctor that I hadn't seen before, who was covering for my usual consultant, came to see me. He had researched HG due to his wife suffering from the condition previously and he very quickly prescribed me a new anti-sickness drug that I hadn't tried before, a very strong anti-sickness drug that is usually reserved for cancer patients. I took this along with the other medications that I was prescribed at the time. Within a few days the improvements we've clear, vomiting reduced to around 15 times a day and a "window" of about three hours mid afternoon where the nausea reduced enough that I could eat small amounts of food! I even managed a trip out to my Aunt & Uncle's wedding anniversary party, although HG made sure that I paid for that for a few days after!
At 38 weeks, Easter bank holiday weekend I was rushed into hospital late at night. They patched me up, checked baby on the CTG monitor, took some bloods and sent me home. On the Tuesday, 10th April I had the call from the hospital asking me to go in and bring my bags with me. They put me on the CTG monitor to begin with to check the baby's heart then informed me that my bloods had come back and that they needed to induce me as my liver and kidneys were not functioning properly. So I called Scott to come to the hospital and at 5pm they put me in a delivery suite and broke my waters. They gave me IV fluids and continued my anti-sickness medications. I was also put on a drip to increase contractions to help move the labour along. After 12 hours of labour, constant vomiting and barely conscious, baby's heartbeat started to slow down, he had also turned onto his side. The doctor came and decided that I needed taking to theatre for a forceps delivery. Griffin was then born very quickly. He was breathing, his heart was fine, he was perfect. I kept asking them if he was ok and I couldn't take my eyes off him. I couldn't believe that after eight months of starving, dehydration and so, so much medication that I had this perfect little baby!
The surgeon told me that I had sustained a third degree tear and that he was repairing it, it wouldn't take long. The midwife then asked me if I wanted to breastfeed still, which of course I did. I was shaking terribly though so Scott held Griffin on me and he fed for such a long time! That to this day is the happy moment that I hold onto through what was a terrible, traumatic day. As I was laid there in theatre feeding Griffin, I heard the surgeon call for the head consultant to come and assist him. The anaesthetist was instructed to give me another dose of the epidural, no one was smiling anymore, everyone went quiet. Even Scott looked white as a sheet, I was more scared then than I have even been in my life. The surgeon told me that the tear was worse than he had initially thought, that I had actually sustained a fourth degree tear and that he was having difficulty stopping the bleeding, the head consultant arrived and together they got to work. My eye lids were so heavy at this point, I could barely stay awake but the fear that I would never wake up kept me going, just. This was more terrifying than any part of my pregnancy had been and to this day I still remember every tiny detail of that theatre room. It took them three hours to repair the damage and stop the bleeding. I had lost a lot of blood and my blood pressure was very low, I was also very anaemic before I was induced which wasn't helping my recovery. I continued to breastfeed Griffin with Scott's help. I felt amazing to be honest, the HG symptoms stopped very quickly after Griffin was delivered and a few hours after the surgery I regained my appetite! I had toast and a cup of tea, it was amazing and wonderful to finally be able to eat and drink. I stopped my anti-sickness drugs straight away. By the afternoon they were still concerned about my blood pressure and I was extremely weak so I was moved to a side room
and they arranged blood transfusions for me through the night. They allowed Scott to stay with me at the hospital that night, he helped with Griffin which was a relief as I still couldn't move off the bed. By the next day I felt much better and had regained some strength, a couple of days later and we were able to go home.
18 months on and I am still recovering both physically and emotionally. I have suffered with post traumatic stress disorder since the birth and post natal depression during the earlier months. But writing down my story and talking about it has over time helped me to come to terms with everything that happened. My experience has motivated me to help other women who suffer from HG, I just can't bare to think of another woman suffering that way that I did or even worse.
Looking back I am so proud of our little family for getting through what has to be the toughest year of our lives, it has certainly made us stronger!