Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day

May 15 is Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) Awareness Day.

Many people think of HG as simply morning sickness but do not realize that they are not the same. Women like me who have experienced HG might even venture to say that they are COMPLETELY  different.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening pregnancy disease marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and/or vomiting with potential adverse consequences for the mom-to-be and the newborn(s).” (http://www.helpher.org/blog/)

Here is a little chart copied from the HER Foundation showing the difference between morning sickness and HG.

Morning Sickness Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)
You lose little if any weight. You lose 5-20 pounds or more. (> 5% of prepregnancy
weight)
Nausea and vomiting do not interfere with your ability
to eat or drink enough each day.
Nausea and vomiting cause you to eat very little and get
dehydrated from vomiting if not treated.
You vomit infrequently and the nausea is episodic but
not severe. It may cause discomfort and misery.
You vomit often and may vomit bile or blood if not treated.
Nausea is usually moderate to severe and constant.
Dietary and/or lifestyle changes are enough to help you
feel better most of the time.
You will probably require fluid hydration through a vein
and/or medications to stop the vomiting.
You typically will improve gradually after the first trimester,
but may be a little queasy at times during the remainder of your pregnancy.
You usually feel somewhat better by mid-pregnancy, but
you may continue to be nauseous and/or vomit until late pregnancy.
You will be able to work most days and care for your family. You will likely be unable to work for weeks or months,
and may need help caring for yourself.
 ©HER Foundation

During this month, I will be sharing about my experiences with 2 HG pregnancies.

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Living THROUGH HG Part 1. Some of the things HG sufferers like myself experience!

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A while back I posted Vegan, Pregnant and HG Part 1 which was a very little insight into how it was to be vegan and have HG and still maintain the vegan diet despite being so sick.

Well this post is really about a lot of the challenges that women who suffer from HG face and what it was like for me going through it.

Several women with HG usually find out earlier about their pregnancy because of the high HcG levels

When I got pregnant back in 2009, my husband and I were both thrilled! We found out very early because I was not so patiently waiting for the earliest time that I could test. Well to be completely honest, I first tested a week too early because I just could not wait! Anyway, when I got the positive result it was VERY positive so we were hoping for twins. But nope. No such luck. The very positive result was because of high HcG levels, which is common in women who suffer from HG.

I felt so terrible I literally thought I was going to die at any moment!

A week or so after finding out I was pregnant, I began to feel TERRIBLE! I felt listless and not just listless but lethargic and not just lethargic, bu ON THE VERGE OF DEATH. I literally thought that something was horribly wrong and I probably was going to die! My back hurt, my stomach hurt, my head hurt, my muscles and joints ached. I could not concentrate. I had no appetite, I felt so terrible that I was convinced that at any moment I was going to die!

Not all medical professionals understand what HG is all about!

I quickly went to a GP because I could not believe that my symptoms were pregnancy related and I wanted to get into any doctor as soon as possible. Well the doctor simply told me that it was just the pregnancy and to eat mints, use ginger, chamomile tea and take some vitamins and I should be better.

My appointment came with the Ob/Gyn and by this time I had figured out that I really was producing a lot of saliva and if I swallowed it I threw up immediately. So to avoid throwing up, I had to spit. Well, at the Ob/Gyn’s office, I was called in to see the nurse and when she saw that I was spitting she said (notice that I am directly quoting. This statement is part of the list of things said during HG that I will never forget)

“You need to train yourself not to spit. Just swallow it. The reason women spit is because they get into the habit of spitting it out and if you just swallow it you will stop.” 

Well I went into the see the doctor and told him everything I was experiencing and he prescribed some medication, talked about using ginger, sweets, eating in smaller quantities etc. 

I went home and tried all of these things and nothing worked!

I was suffering from debilitating, chronic nausea

I constantly felt nauseous and I could hardly move or do anything. When I woke up, I would often not want to get out of bed because I woke up feeling so ill, even before I moved to do anything. The nausea was so bad that I often had to sit because I was just so sick to my stomach that I could not move. My stomach felt bloated, upset,and when it was like that I wished that I could just throw up to get rid of that feeling. But, throwing up did not get rid of that feeling. Throwing up was a WHOLE other story which is actually A LOT WORSE than the nausea!

Things started to get very quiet and lonely

Because I was experiencing the pthyalism, I started to speak less when I realized that the more I spoke, the more I swallowed the saliva and the more I through up. It was getting silent and lonely as I chose rather not to talk instead of throwing up. Conversations with friends and family disappeared and were limited to very short interactions with some of my family or girlfriends who would call to check to see how things were going.

I’m going to stop here for now. If I don’t this post will get extremely long as I have almost 9 months of HG struggles to talk about. So look out for Part 2 of my HG struggles.

If you are interested in finding out more information about HG visit http://www.helpher.org/

Vegan, Pregnant and HG Part 1

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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

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