To the HG Mommas: A Letter of Gratitude and Respect

There was only a 1% chance that this would happen to you. Maybe you were aware of the condition, as your body began producing massive amounts of progesterone and estrogen for your newly developing child. Maybe the disease was completely off of your radar.

In the midst of excited discussions of “Do you think? Could I be…” and that first positive pregnancy test, your body was beginning to war against itself. In your time of rejoicing, sickness struck. Again and again. Unceasing. Perpetual.

You reached out for help from the masses who simply didn’t understand what was going on. Veteran mothers reassured you that it was normal. They went through it and so can you. So suck it up, already! Pull yourself together! Go to work, take care of the house. You’re fine.

“It’s nothing a little ginger tea won’t fix.”

“Have you tried getting some fresh air, dear?”

You spent night after night sleeping in the bathroom. Quick motions and pungent odors sent you into an abysmal fit of heaving. Nothing sounded appetizing and nothing could quench your thirst. Dehydration began to take its toll and you watched, hopelessly, as the number on the scale decreased each day. Your eyes were dark and sunk in. Your hands shook from weakness and exhaustion.

They told you that your ailments would diminish as your pregnancy progressed. So, you waited… and waited… and waited for that elusive moment when you would suddenly feel like yourself again.

After multiple visits to your doctor (and ER visits, too), you got the diagnosis. Hyperemesis Gravidarum. A condition many told you wasn’t real. A disease people argue is psychological.

And so you began treatments. Routine IV fluids, feeding tubes, Zofran pumps… Of course there were still intermittent excursions to the emergency room, but other than that, you were confined to your home. Your boss couldn’t seem to understand why you needed so much time off from work. He couldn’t grasp the severity of your situation and he wasn’t alone. You quickly found out who your real friends were… the ones who were willing to hold your hair as you hugged the toilet. The ones who held your hand as you cried in pain and frustration.

You lived in agony with a tender stomach, sore throat, and blood shot eyes. And through it all, you loved your growing baby and nurtured her to the very best of your ability. You never regretted the fact that you conceived. The hope of holding your sweet child in your arms was what got you through the day and your light at the end of the tunnel.

12 weeks… still sick.

16 weeks… still sick.

24 weeks… still sick.

You embraced the very likely possibility that you would feel awful through your entire pregnancy. You did not despair. You put on a smile and chose to cherish even the most horrendous experiences because you realized how blessed you were to have the opportunity to carry this child and bring forth life.

And then, you reached full term. Despite the malnutrition, the poking and prodding, the prescription medications, and the anxiety of the last 9 months, you gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby.

But your story doesn’t stop there. You wanted to use your experiences to make a difference. You signed into numerous pregnancy forums and began to educate the world about HG. You offered hope and help to other struggling mothers. You reassured sick women around the globe that it would all be worth it in the end. You shared the joys of motherhood. Your stories were a beacon of hope to many.

…Including me.

I am one of the lucky ones. I’m not on a Zofran pump. I don’t need routine IV fluids. With a low dosage prescription, I am now able to (almost) live my life as normal. I’ve only had one trip to the ER for dehydration. I am 20 weeks pregnant and have seen slow but steady improvements. I was diagnosed with HG around 12 weeks, but I am reluctant to claim it. What I have is really just typical morning sickness, compared to you. But, when I was lonely and depressed, kneeling by the toilet at 3 a.m. you were there for me. You comforted me. You reassured me that everything would be fine.
You are my hero.

I don’t know how you did it. You must be a heck of a lot tougher than me. During what should have been one of the happiest times of your life, you were battling HG with grace and dignity. You took a wretched situation and turned it into something good. And, the amazing thing is that you’re not afraid to do it again. You rock at motherhood and aren’t scared to take on HG for baby #2 or #3. I applaud you and want you to know that I have the utmost respect for you.

You are amazing. Keep sharing your experiences and reminding mothers that they are not alone. You are deeply loved and appreciated. Thank you.

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