My HG story: Alexandra Davison
223 days of constant nausea and vomiting (at least 10 times a day). 19 visits to the emergency department for dehydration. 2431 tablets taken (and only just kept down). That was the reality of my pregnancy. Women are constantly told that nothing can prepare you for how much your life changes after you have a baby. But if you ask a woman who has endured Hyperemesis Gravidarum, they will tell you that nothing can prepare you for pregnancy.
The memories I hold of my pregnancy aren’t surrounded by the excitement of ultrasounds or preparing my daughters nursery. Instead I have memories of vomiting at least 20 times a day, hospital visits, collapsed veins and failed cannula’s, discussions of feeding tubes, the inability to shower myself or walk without assistance or even talk without feeling nauseous. These were some of the hardest and most awful moments of my life. However, the part that I was most unprepared for, was what was to come after I gave birth.
Pregnancy for me meant surviving and just getting to the end. During each appointment or visit to the Emergency Department my midwives, would be encouraging, constantly promising me that once my daughter was born I would feel better. “As soon as your baby is born, it is like a switch is flicked and you will feel normal again”. This will forever be engrained in my mind. And just like they said, after hundreds of days of vomiting, right up until the moment she was born (I’m sorry mum for vomiting on you during my contractions) it just stopped. No more vomiting and no more nausea. For the first time in 9 very long months, I could eat food without forcing myself. I could drink water, without telling myself I needed it to keep my daughter alive.
The sickness had stopped but I didn’t feel better. I wasn’t excited, I didn’t feel like a mum and I didn’t feel the rush of love for my daughter that I had anticipated. For the first eight weeks after birth, I felt numb. I felt guilty for not enjoying my daughter. Her cries would be an instant trigger and I struggled to comfort her without feeling anxious and needing to hand her to my husband.
After three very long months of crying every morning when my husband would leave for work and counting each hour until he would be home again, my family finally convinced me to seek help.
My GP helped me to find a perinatal psychologist. Up until my first appointment, I felt so ashamed of having to seek help for motherhood, which in my mind, I expected should have just come naturally to me. My appointments with my psychologist helped me to understand that I was suffering not only from postnatal depression but also postnatal anxiety and PTSD from my pregnancy. Through these sessions I began to come to terms with the trauma I had experienced. She helped me to realise that my feelings of guilt and my inability to bond with my daughter were not because I didn’t love her, but because I had spent 9 months feeling like I was already failing as a mother before I had even given birth.
To this day, I still carry feelings of guilt. I feel robbed of many things that usually come with the enjoyment of pregnancy and having a newborn. However I have learnt through time, that although I may not have had a typical pregnancy, I (and every other survivor of Hyperemesis Gravidarum) fought with absolutely everything I had to carry my daughter and keep her alive.
To every woman who has ever experienced, or is currently experiencing HG, be kind to yourself. Reach out and find the support you need to get through, you are not alone. It’s ok to not feel ok. You have fought and you have survived. We are all so proud of you.