'First Trimester Agony Brought My Life to a Halt'
Weeks of Illness Eclipsed by Twins' Birth
This is my story of a first-time pregnancy that came with much physical and emotional hardship, surprise, and eventually, joy. Before I knew I was pregnant, like many women, I thought I had the flu. Plagued with pain from head to toe - nausea, headaches and relentless fatigue - I visited my family doctor. Her test confirmed that I did not have the flu, but indeed was pregnant. We all figured that I had the typical "morning sickness" that many pregnant women feel in the first few weeks.
But my agony worsened. I was so weak that I had to crawl to get something to eat or drink. I constantly vomited and worried about losing weight. I lost nine pounds of my pre-pregnancy body weight by the eighth week of my term. After two weeks of missing work, I had to go on short-term disability. I couldn't take a shower on my own, let alone go to my job in the chaotic advertising industry.
My ObGyn diagnosed me as having Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a more severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. The exact cause of hyperemesis is not known, although it is possibly linked to first-time pregnancy and carrying twins. She prescribed Zofran, a very expensive oral drug commonly used to ease the nausea of cancer patients going through chemotherapy, now also used to help nauseous pregnant women. The drug didn't seem to help at all.
The only time I could leave the house was to go to my doctor's appointments. Even then, my husband and mother had to help carry me into the car. Most days I cried because of the depression of feeling sick all the time and not being able to do anything "normal." My house was in constant shambles because I couldn't clean anything (very stressful for a neat freak such as myself). My husband, Steve, was also stretched emotionally and physically--taking care of me, working full time and then going through the ordeal of his father having open-heart surgery. Steve also had to assume responsibilities of his father's business while his dad recovered from surgery. If it weren't for the gracious and saintlike help of my mother, who fortunately lives close by, I'm not sure how we would have coped. Mom brought dinner just about every night and visited me every day to ensure that I drank fluids and ate food, despite my aversion to putting anything in my mouth.
Upon my first ultrasound, Steve and I were blessed to find out we were having twins! Though there's no certain evidence, my doctor contends that this was a likely cause of my hyperemesis. But the joy of bringing my two girls into the world was shadowed by my fear of not being able to give them the nutrients they needed.
As late as my eighth week, I could not stop vomiting several times every day. I even had a nurse come to my home to give me an IV of another drug, Phenergan, which was supposed to help more than the Zofran. Instead of finding relief, we discovered I have a severe allergy to Phenergan. Uncontrollable shaking and a seizure-like experience put me in the hospital. There, they pumped me with fluids and made me eat foods that made me feel so much better. I joked that I needed to visit the hospital every week so I could get my day of feeling great.
Some women say that their hyperemesis turns off like a light switch and they return to feeling fine overnight. For me, it was much more gradual. By my ninth and 10th weeks, I slowly started regaining my energy, vomiting less, eating more and moving around freely. By my 12th week, I was able to return to work and continue working until the girls were born at 35 1/2 weeks.
While no one wants to endure three months of complete misery, loneliness, and helplessness, the outcome of having a normal pregnancy and birth of two beautiful girls was worth it. How could I say otherwise? The smiles and daily surprises of my daughters Carly and Kaitlyn have made hyperemesis a distant memory.
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