In 2009 when I got pregnant with our first I was extremely excited! I knew both of my sisters had very tiny bellies and so I just figured I would look the same when pregnant. So I opened the closet and tried on all my clothes with a pillow stuffed under them. (OK to be completely honest I was doing this before we got a positive test) However, one thing I forgot was that both of my sisters were sick while pregnant- one for 7 months and the other for the entire 9 months. And so was my mother. So it seems like it was/is hereditary. But, when I say that they were sick I am only simply saying that they had morning sickness and nothing more ( I’ll mention it eventually in another post about HG). Anyways, despite the fact that my mother ans sisters were sick during pregnancy somehow being sick never crossed my mind.
Well that is until about 5 weeks and I started to feel like I was going to die. I could not believe it was the pregnancy, so I went to the doctor who congratulated me on my pregnancy and told me it was normal.
Normal??!! You have got to be kidding! And women do this more than once!! Crazy!! (By the way I am one of those crazy women.)
Around that time I started to produce a lot of saliva, to which an old nurse at my OB/GYN office, promptly took out her medical dictionary and showed me that this condition was known as ptyalism. And to make matters worse, if I swallowed this saliva, I would throw up (sorry if this is a bit graphic for you). So here I was producing all this saliva that I could not swallow and what did I then have to do? SPIT!
That was soooooo very nasty to me and I remember pre pregnancy looking at pregnant women who were spitting in disgust. Sigh. Never judge.
It was disgusting to me and one of my sisters remarked that it was probably a good thing because I was very squeamish (where I come from we use a word, which sounds way more accurate to me but I doubt you guys would get it) and maybe this would help me prepare for all the joys of mother hood-wiping snotty noses, changing diapers which I had never done and I was 28, etc.
Well, my spitting continued and so did the extreme sick feeling, and then came the vomiting at about 7 weeks. I could scarcely eat a thing. I was suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), also known as Extreme Morning Sickness.
I was now down to eating pumpkin, potatoes, golden apples, mangos and LOTS OF SALT. And I could only drink extremely cold water and watered down grape juice and malt. And those would not always stay down…well nothing wouldn’t always stay down.
After a while of eating this, I could no longer eat the potato, pumpkin or pineapple, but mangoes remained ( I was so glad for that because I ABSOLUTELY LOVE MANGOES). I added pasta, lentils, tofu and salted almonds and cashews to the very meagre list of things I could eat without immediately throwing up.
My family would joke that the only thing that might stay down was if I ate meat. I did not eat any meat but when you are VEGAN and have HG, the thought of eating meat does not just cross your mind, it lingers because you just want something to stay down. Well at least that is what happened in my case.
After about 4 months of this I developed a desire to eat 2 things I never liked-papaya and yam. There was a canteen near to where I worked that was run by a “family friend” and he had yam pie slathered in cheese. I ate it! (Hanging my head in vegan shame lol). But I wanted it and it was staying down most of the time. We also had a papaya tree and those papayas could not get ripe fast enough!
So this was my diet -salt, mangoes, pasta, lentils, papaya, baked tofu with only salt, salted cashews and almonds, extremely cold malt and water..So with the exception of that yam pie I still maintained my desire to eat mostly vegan. But to be honest, I really don’t think I could have eaten anything else.
I mean, even the prenatal vitamins were not staying down. The medication the doctor was giving me was not working so I suffered through it as best I could and did not bother taking the medication because I threw up just as much on it as I did off. And by the way, by just as much, I mean I threw up 10 or more times a day-everyday-for 9 months.
The throwing up was EXTREMELY bad for the entire pregnancy that when I got to about 7 months my husband said, “That’s enough dear. You cannot drive.” How I managed to drive during this time is beyond me. I mean I had to drive with a plastic bag in my lap, a roll of toilet paper and a bottle of almost frozen water to swish my mouth out(Sorry if this is too much for you BUT believe me I am leaving out the really gory details!). One time I had just left work and there was a lot of traffic coming up the street while I was going down. I started to feel very ill and then I threw up ALL over the steering wheel. Oh man! I can’t imagine what those people who saw me thought but I know if I were in their shoes I would have been totally disgusted.
Well the pregnancy progressed and I only had one trip to the doctor to get IVs for re-hydration Then I finally decided to get off that cheesy yam pie and return to my vegan diet. Besides, mangoes were now plentiful and I sent EVERYONE in my family hunting for mangoes for me. Sweet memories! Oh if they would only do this for me now!
Even though I was vegan (again) and only had this meager diet, I was never anaemic. I do believe this is from all the lentils I was eating.
Well I had to deliver early via cesarean section for unrelated medical reasons. My son was born, weighing in at 5 pounds 12 ounces, which is a great size all things considered.
So at 37 weeks my HG roller coaster finally ended, that is at least until I decided to do it again the next year.
Stay tuned for Part 2