I had a post planned for Monday, which was World HG Day. Although I managed to make a Facebook and Twitter post, I didn’t make a blog post. I find Hyperemesis Gravidarum hard to write about. Although people have been asking for a one year check in, it took a raw and painful conversation with a friend to get this post going. So excuse the lack of posts this week, because writing this one has been an emotional drain.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a serious form of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. It’s characterized by electrolyte imbalances, ketones in the urine, and loss of 5% or more of your body weight. It’s, uh, pretty serious. In many people, it gets better after week 20. I took my last Zofran just a few hours before Critter was born, so I was not one of the lucky ones. Although I made it to term, there were lots of scares and mishaps along the way.
It took me a long time to start getting better after delivery. I was grey, I passed out a lot, my bones snapped in the lightest breeze. I felt sapped, drained, and devoid of energy. I wound up with gallbladder issues, kidney stones, and a slightly inflamed liver. Apparently being violently ill for nine months while something leeches out your nutrients causes a few long-term issues. Who knew?
Although I am doing better now, I wouldn’t call myself fully recovered. This makes sense, because some sources estimate that it can take up to three months to heal for every month with HG. I like to joke that I’ll be better by the time Critter goes to kindergarten.
Anyway, I’ll stop boring you with my emotional sob story. Let’s see what life looks like 1 year out from surviving HG!
Weight: This is what everyone wants to know. I’m still down around 30 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, around 17% of my BMI. Although people like to think this is the one perk of HG, most of what I lost was actually muscle mass. This makes a lot of things more difficult than they were pre-pregnancy. Although some people have issues with rapid weight gain or yo-yoing weights after HG, I have not personally experienced that.
Diet: Many people carry over foot aversions from when they were pregnant. I’ve carried over quite a few. Ketchup is referred to as “the evil red sauce” in my family due to a weird pregnancy aversion. I’ve developed a distaste for chicken on the bone, Sprite, ginger ale, and many other things I ate while pregnant. Also, my appetite has never returned to normal. Many days I only eat one large meal and a cup of coffee in the whole day. I’m working on that.
Physical: After pregnancy, I had the horrible realization that every time I was PMSing, my Hyperemesis symptoms would mildly return. I had the Nexplanon birth control implant put in, so I’m not sure if this still would happen. I’m scared to find out. I have brittle bones and find that I am more susceptible to injuries of all kinds. I have only had one major kidney stone event, which luckily passed on its own after an eventful ER trip. My gallbladder and liver also took a hit during pregnancy. The gallbladder symptoms have limited my diet, as fatty foods can cause some serious pain. I have tooth problems, but after a disastrous root canal pre-pregnancy, those have taken a back burner. I still find myself winded easily, possibly from deconditioning.
Mentally: During the throes of HG, I developed some serious depression and anxiety. This culminated postpartum, and I was diagnosed with OCD. Although I always had obsessive compulsive tendencies, they were heightened after a rough pregnancy. I now see a counselor and psychiatrist for OCD as well as a fear involving all things medical.
Baby: Critter is a toddler now, and progressing well. We had a rough start with severe reflux and food allergies, which continue to this day. She also suffers from pretty bad seasonal allergies. I don’t know if any of that is linked to HG, but everyone I know who had HG has also had a kid with food allergies, reflux, or both. Correlation is not causation, but I do find this interesting. Once we got Critter on a diet that didn’t cause projectile vomiting and diarrhea, she started growing like a weed. She’s in the 90th percentile for height and the lower forties for weight percentile. Despite the few health scares, she’s energetic (some might say too energetic), talkative, and strong-willed.
Although I will never regret having Critter, my months with Hyperemesis Gravidarum were among the worst of my life. I can’t even think back on those times without dread and anxiety. Some people who have had HG go on to have perfectly normal pregnancies later on, but I meet risk factors including younger maternal age, a medically restricted diet, and autoimmune disease.
I intend to continue raising awareness for HG, as it’s under-diagnosed and under-treated, but I’ll be doing so at my own pace. Until then, feel free to check out the “Motherhood and Maternity” section of my site, where I talked in some detail about my struggles with HG.