Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Five Favorites: Hyperemesis Gravidarum edition

Linking up with the lovely Hallie, of course!

No, hyperemesis gravidarum (hg or hyperemesis for short) is NOT one of my favorite things, and it's been worse for me this pregnancy than it was with Sister Stinky (at least, from what I remember). I've realized recently that it is really hard to find women's stories about hyperemesis, and most of the ones that I've seen have dealt with it in the severe throwing up way. BUT, hyperemesis gravidarum is severe nausea and/or throwing up in pregnancy...and neither are any fun! My throwing up is usually pretty limited, but the nausea is severe enough to make things like staying hydrated and well fed difficult in later pregnancy and practically impossible in early pregnancy. (Hence, why you can go to the hospital with dehydration caused by severe nausea, even without throwing up.)

I know that it's been a journey, this time, with my friends and family. Many of the friends I have now I didn't know when I was pregnant with Sister Stinky, or I didn't know as well...so for them it has been a learning experience! They've been so diligent in trying to understand, and I've seen how they've all come to realize that hyperemesis is waaaayyyy different than morning sickness (i.e. way more severe and limiting).

So, in the interest of helping others who have friends with hyperemesis, I thought I'd share with you my five favorite things from this pregnancy - the things that have truly helped me through the hardest moments. Hopefully, that will help those who have friends with HG to better understand (which, if they're anything like my friends, they will very much want to understand!!) and be supportive.

note: Every woman has a different experience with hyperemesis. I'm just sharing my story but know that things that have helped me might not help you or a loved one who has hyperemesis!


-1-

These three people:



I cannot overemphasize how much having a supportive, understanding family helps a mama suffering from hg. The Abbot has been amazing! It has helped a lot that this is our second go-around with it (so we're both able to cope better) but he has been so good about getting me food when I need it, stepping in to help with Sister Stinky when I'm feeling really awful (i.e. every evening - those two have been eating dinner together every night since Thanksgiving...even though I can't be part of our family meals he's keeping the tradition going!), and being really flexible with the fact that I so often go over the grocery budget because the limited foods I can eat (salads, heated lunch meat, yogurt, frozen fruit, cereal, frozen peas...and sweet tea from McD's!) often costs more than I would normally spend on groceries. We've had our ups and downs with it (the poor man is human, after all!) but he has just tried so hard to be supportive and it's made a world of difference!

He really is my best friend :-)

Sister Stinky, bless her heart, learned the word "nauseous" within a week of two of the hyperemesis kicking in. (We chose to use that word rather than "sick" because we didn't want her to think something was seriously wrong with Mommy...just that she's nauseous! Now, when she wants attention she sometimes says, "Nauseous, too!") She had to grow up a little faster than I would have liked during those early weeks (we had to wean very suddenly to stop those hospital-rehydration visits...I just couldn't drink enough to nurse her and take care of me and the baby), had to deal with some time apart from Mommy at the worst junctures (our friends were wonderful about taking her for some afternoons while the Abbot was in class so I could rest without having to leave bed...because, well, I couldn't really leave bed in those early days!), but she's been such a trooper. Once the worst of the nausea had passed, and as soon as I was able, we picked up right where we had left off, and I was delighted to see that she and Abbot had grown very close during that time (so she wasn't lacking emotionally at all). Looking at her little face has helped remind me what good can come from such terrible nausea!

And Baby Sister...well...she is my ultimate motivation, of course! I know she is worth suffering for! (And judging from her weight estimates at our ultrasounds she hasn't suffered in the least! I think she may end up being bigger than Sister Stinky!)

-2-

This guy:


My prayer life has not been - from an outsider's view - anywhere near as good as it was before being pregnant. But between you and me? I've gotten sooo many graces. 

After Sister Stinky, I didn't know what future pregnancies would be like for me. I hoped against hope that they wouldn't be as hard as hers was. In a lot of ways it's not (not working full time outside of the home has helped a ton!!) but the nausea has probably been more severe and my diet has been MUCH more limited this time around. It was really hard for me, in the beginning of this pregnancy. I couldn't understand why God would place a desire for children in my heart if it meant I was going to suffer so much during pregnancy. Alot of the hyperemesis forums I read were not helpful in that regard either...they kept talking about women just deciding not to have any more children after their experience with hyperemesis. But I still felt the call to more children strongly in my heart!

Much of the spiritual work of this pregnancy has been trying to reconcile those two things - my severe nausea with my desire for many children. And, in time, I think God has helped me to understand a few things. First of all, it is a gift to be able to have something to offer up - for the child in my womb, and for others, too. In heaven, we will have soooo much consolation and comfort, but on earth...this is our only opportunity to be able to offer up our sufferings!! We might as well take advantage of the opportunity. So, first of all, Jesus has continued to prompt my heart with reminders to offer things up and to draw closer to his kind of love in doing so. 

The second thing that I've learned can best be summarized by this awesome quote from Pope Emeritus Benedict, "The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness. I've stumbled across this quote over and over again lately (I just looked it up on the Busted Halo site to be sure I got it right!). And it is soooo true. It is inevitable that we will all encounter suffering in our lives, and if we follow Christ we are guaranteed crosses. Hyperemesis is my cross. I have other friends with the cross of over-fertility or infertility, with gestational diabetes, with loneliness (as they long for a spouse), with different forms of anxiety and depression, with a spouse dealing with any one of these things...the list goes on and on. I have begun to see I couldn't carry any of their crosses but God has definitely given me the grace to carry mine. It's hard, though, living in a world that says that we shouldn't ever be in pain or discomfort, that pregnancy and childbearing and parenthood should be as pain-free as possible, etc...when that's just not true!!! The world denies the cross, and that makes it hard for anyone bearing a cross to be content....until you realize something important. The world is not our home, but through our crosses, Jesus prepares us for our true home. And, as funny as it sounds, keeping in mind that we are made for greatness not comfort leads me to a much deeper joy. Were it not for the cross, and for knowing that through the cross we grow closer to Christ and learn to love as he loves - I would be utterly miserable these days. But with the hope of the cross, I know I am truly not alone and I know that there is meaning in suffering! This makes it all worth it and keeps me going...and it shows me that if God calls us to have more children, I can endure the nausea without losing my mind. :-)

-3-

One of my favorite things (for now):


I do have two other friends who had hyperemesis (one who had it worse than me and one whose was less severe). The friend who had it worse said something very wise early on - to not worry about people judging what foods you're able to tolerate. Of course, you eat as healthy as you can, even with hyperemesis. But, with hyperemesis it's better to have some food and some drink you can get down - even if it's not the healthiest or the best or the most diverse - than to not eat or drink anything. And she is so right! So, if you have a friend of a family member with hyperemesis - be patient with their food cravings and indulge them!! Because often, if they're craving something, it's THE ONLY FOOD THEY COULD POSSIBLY EAT and it's better for them to eat a McDonald's cheeseburger than nothing. (Or to live off canned tamales for weeks, like I did over the Christmas holidays. Our parents found that very amusing, haha.) 

I was so overly anxious about healthy foods with Sister Stinky...but I'm more relaxed about it this time around and I think it's definitely helped mine and Baby Sister's weight gain. For example, with Sister Stinky I was terrified to drink any caffeine. With Baby Sister, I follow the guidelines for limited caffeine intake, and if a sweet tea is all I can drink to stay hydrated (which is the case these days)...I drink it!

So, be supportive. And make them food! The hardest is when you think of a food you can eat (for hg sufferers a "craving" is translated as "the only food that will not make me throw up or dry heave or be nauseous out of my mind right now") but can't make and just desperately wish someone could or would make it for you!

-4-


Oh, how you have helped me Netflix...let me count the ways...

When I was newly pregnant and lived in bed for a month or so, listening to shows on Netflix (I often couldn't watch them without feeling nauseous but I could always listen to them) helped take my mind off my nausea. When I've been feeling super sick and the Abbot has had to work, a pre-approved kid show for Sister Stinky has been a huge lifesaver!! And, the Abbot and I love to relax and watch movies and shows together...which we can still do with Netflix, even if I can't leave bed! A huuuuge blessing for us!

-5-

Friends. 

Friends who have had hyperemesis (especially those two friends I talked about earlier...their e-mails and texts have really helped me through my worst moments!!!) and friends who haven't. Friends who are moms and friends who aren't. Blogging friends, and "real life" friends (and some who are both!!!). Having people care enough to ask questions and try to understand, people who send you e-mails to check up on you...it helps SO MUCH. I don't know if I've said this here before but I really think the worst suffering that comes with hyperemesis is not the nausea or vomiting...it's the loneliness. It is really lonely to not be able to eat with people, not be able to go to friends houses, to be stuck inside so many days, and worst of all to feel like no one understands (since most women don't experience this during pregnancy). But each time a friend has reached out to me, asked questions to better understand, offered to help in some way (blessed are those who cook meals for the family members of hyperemesis sufferers...for their reward will be great!)...each time someone called, or texted, or e-mailed to check up on me and remind me I wasn't forgotten, it has helped! Each time someone had said, "I could never go through what you're going through. You're such a trooper!" has made me feel like others do understand. So, to all of you friends who have done this for me this pregnancy (and the last) THANK YOU!! 

I hope these thoughts help you or a loved one suffering from HG. Any other HG sufferers feel free to jump in with more advice!

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for an education on hg

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    1. I just hope it helps some other moms out there!

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  2. Michele, have you come across Sarah's blog, www.memoriesoncloverlane.com ? She has had hg with each pregnancy and has 6 children ranging from 19 or so all the way down to her new baby. She has some nice posts on hg and also on all sorts of aspects of motherly life. Maybe she can encourage you about wanting many children but still having to deal with the realities of being extremely sick.

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    1. I haven't checked out her blog but I definitely will! Thank you so much for sharing that with me. Really, the most helpful thing is just knowing that there are other mothers out there who have survived it, too :-)

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    2. I have it, too, although I've only had one pregnancy so far, and I agree with you -- knowing you're not the only one helps a lot! Thanks for your post!

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  3. Must. get. Netflix.
    My kids are only watching youtube videos...

    Thanks for the education. I really cannot relate at all because I have super easy pregnancies with no sickness at all so I really do not get feeling miserable at all. It is such a beautiful thing to see all the ways the God purifies mothers!

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    1. Oh my goodness, yes! Netflix is awesome! You can make your own instant watch list and hand pick what you want your kids to watch (commercial free!). Such an awesome tool to have in your pocket!

      And yes, I totally agree...God is very good about tailoring our crosses to fit us, isn't he? Hyperemesis is awful but He gives me the grace to bear it...but I look at your cross (having a sick little one) and know that there's no way I would be able to deal with that! It is beautiful to see the ways He helps each of us grow in His love :-)

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  4. I love you! That is all:) HUGS!<3

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