My HG story: Caitlin Kay-Smith


I can honestly say that if I had known that I would have HG, and that it would last for 34 weeks and five days, I would not have had the courage to go through with my pregnancy. That’s how bad HG was for me.

I say that today at 11 months postpartum with a smiling, happy, (literally) bouncing baby girl who I adore beyond measure. I say that knowing my life would be missing something I’d never be able to put my finger on. I say that believing I’m doing a good job as a mum and enjoying every part of it. That’s how bad HG was for me.

I was hospitalised 17 times, lost 15kgs and was on 6 different kinds of medication to get me through the day. The medication barely touched the sides - and I know now that it was because I wasn’t being treated properly - so my version of getting through the day wasn’t what most people would consider ‘managing’. I was bed bound, or at least housebound, for the last eight months of my pregnancy. I couldn’t work or take care of myself so we moved back in with my parents to save cash and ensure there was always someone on hand to help me.

It was the single hardest period of my life. I’ve never been so debilitated by anything, and my mental health suffered. I would cry hysterically, begging for my husband to end it all for him. I don’t know if I was asking him to end the sickness, the pregnancy or my life. That’s how bad HG was for me.

This may all sound a touch dramatic to you - and believe me, writing it seems like I’m talking about a crazy cousin who lives in my basement. But it was me. That was the internal reality that I was living with when I was supposed to be glowing, with glossy full hair, eating organic food and looking forward to welcoming my little darling into the world. Truth is, I called my daughter ‘the parasite’ until I was five months pregnant. She was trying to kill me. And if one more person said ‘at least the baby’s healthy’ I was going to throat punch them.

Yes, my baby was thriving. But at what cost? I ceased to be a human being and instead was an incubator. It took me until she was almost 10 months old to say that she was worth it. Because of course she is. But that’s a huge ask of someone - to say that nearly dying, vomiting countless times a day, loosing any and all semblance of life and being reduced to a glorified pin cushion was worth it.

HG changes you. It’s impossible for it not to - the way that a broken leg, cancer or prolonged mental illness will change you. And just because you get a baby at the end of it doesn’t make it better - in many ways it makes it worse. When you’ve not eaten, slept or showered properly in months, when you can’t stand the sound of your partner blinking or the smell of water, when you can’t be alone in a room in case you pass out and all you want is to wee unsupervised - someone hands you a helpless baby, that’s just been trying to kill you, and demands that you keep it alive for the foreseeable future. What kind of sick game is this?

You probably can’t tell that I’m really totally okay now. I’m not the person I was before HG but I’m a new and improved version. I’ve found a new motivation and purpose in life - partly that I want to be a fab mum to my girl - helping women with this shitty condition survive the worst nine months of their lives. HGA was born out of tremendous amount of suffering, depression, vomit, tears and misunderstanding. But what we’ve built here is beautiful - I believe that.

I love my life as a mum tremendously, but I wouldn’t wish HG on my worst enemy. And since I can’t take it away from any of you, I’m going to help you get through it. Because you deserve to enjoy the time before you get plonked with a baby. And you deserve to enter motherhood feeling strong, invincible and so full of your own power that you can’t help but succeed.