My HG story: Emma Davis

I remember lying in bed at about 8 weeks pregnant with my oldest daughter feeling violently ill and thinking two things: 1. Yay, morning sickness! Come at me pregnancy symptoms! And 2. Wow. I must be really soft coz none of my friends made this big a deal of it! I was 21, had NO idea what was normal, and when I mentioned to my midwife that I was struggling with all-day nausea and persistent vomiting, she suggested dry toast and gingernut biscuits. It wasn't until after my daughter was born and I noticed that the pervasive feeling of seediness I'd learned to live with had disappeared that I realised just how awful I'd felt. By the time I fell pregnant again three years later, I had stumbled across the term 'hyperemesis gravidarum' while researching an article in my job as a journalist and wondered if that's what I'd had, but I was optimistic that I wouldn't get it again, and anyway, what I had experienced was obviously on the milder end of the spectrum.

Ha! So young, so naive! I started vomiting at 5.5 weeks, and at 9 weeks, we found out we were expecting twins. I battled thru with a combination of IV fluids and two minute noodles, but was too scared to take any antiemetic medication for fear of anything happening to the babies. I vomited every single day, right up until they were induced at 36+5. 12 months later, I found myself staring at another positive pregnancy test, the result of getting a little carefree on the twins' first birthday. I was optimistic, expecting a pregnancy similar to my first and convinced that my HG was only worse with the twins because there were two of them.

Yeah, no. Heading out for coffee after my 6 week scan with her, I spewed unceremoniously in the carpark at the local mall (the poor security guard thought I was drunk at 9am!) And thus began the daily vomiting which again continued until the day she was born. This time, I had no choice. Without antiemetic medication, I couldn't keep myself hydrated enough to stay out of hospital. When I went in for my pre-induction appointment, I signed a form consenting to having my tubes tied if I ended up needing a c-section. Well, obviously I didn't have a c-section, because three years later, when we were convinced our family was finished and I had just started my dream job at Pacific Magazines, I started feeling a little queasy and sure enough, baby number five was on the way.

This is where things got really hard. I was hospitalised for the first time at 7 weeks, and spent the next 31 weeks bouncing in and out of hospital on an ever-growing list of medications and a diagnosis of 'severe, intractable hyperemesis gravidarum'. I was still having twice-weekly IV fluids at 38 weeks. I remember lying in bed at home at around 12 weeks feeling so violently ill that I knew I needed to be in hospital, but just the motion of rolling over in bed made me vomit so instead of going to hospital, I decided I would just lie there until I died of dehydration because it was just too hard. My mum turned up to help with the kids, took one look at me and dragged me to hospital. On arrival at the hospital, I learned that I had become so severely dehydrated that my brain had started to swell, and that had caused the confusion and irrational thoughts I'd been having.

I remember lying in hospital at 14 weeks and desperately wishing the obstetrician would recommend termination, because even tho we desperately wanted our little babe, I didn't think I could survive another six months of relentless sickness. He didn't suggest it, and to this day I'm thankful for that as I honestly don't know what I would have done if he had.

I remember waking up on Saturday morning at 28 weeks and puking my guts up (as I did every morning) and crying my eyes out because the end was still so far away. I had the perinatal mental health team on speed dial as my sanity slowly deteriorated under the burden of constant nausea and vomiting. I remember sitting up eating a pink cupcake in the birth unit an hour after my daughter was born, the first solid food I'd eaten in months. I was so relieved to have survived HG for what the last time.

Except it wasn't. After a bumpy road of loss and grief, when our youngest daughter was 5, I fell pregnant with our son. To say I was terrified is an understatement. I had experienced severe HG with a pregnancy I'd lost a few months earlier and I wasn't sure I was strong enough to endure it again. My GP and obstetrician were incredibly proactive and I started antiemetic medication at 4.5 weeks, before the nausea and vomiting set in, and while I found myself getting queasier and queasier, it never quite til off the way it had in my previous pregnancies. Of course, that then had me anxious that it meant something was wrong with the pregnancy, but our little rainbow babe grew strong on a diet of chocolate thick shakes and noodles, and I only needed two lots of IV fluids during first trimester. I took my last dose of antiemetics the night before he was born.