So in truly terrible blogging fashion, I completely fell off the screen in 2016. Looking back at my blog posts, I realize that I didn’t even muster the energy to share that I was pregnant again! If you’ve followed along and read about my 1st pregnancy then you might give me a pass. I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum the 1st time, and while #2 was different and not quite as severe, I was similarly useless and incapacitated as this time there was a toddler involved.
After I found out I was pregnant again, I celebrated and then got very, very anxious. Nervously waiting for the nausea and barfing to start, I was honestly a little alarmed when I didn’t get sick right away. With #1 the misery started promptly at 5 weeks. For me being pregnant=being sick, so not feeling like crap was disconcerting.
But, rest assured, it hit me. At 7 weeks, the cycle began in poetic fashion: I was bopping out the door on my way to work with my toddler in tow, and when riding the elevator it just hit me like a bus. I knew I didn’t have time to get back up to my apartment, so I just dashed outside and found the nearest tree. I’ve done a lot of barfing on trees in this city, it almost felt ceremonial to kick off the sickness by doing so again. It was extra fun with my daughter calmly watching from her stroller, amused and slightly perplexed at the goings on.
And so began another yucky 40 weeks. This time, I didn’t wait to get help. One of the biggest lessons I learned about Hyperemesis Gravidarum the first time is that when it gets out of control, it’s very, very hard to claw your way back to functional. So my strategy with this pregnancy was to use all the tools at my disposal right away. I demanded to see a doctor early (usually they like to see you at 10 weeks or so) to confirm the pregnancy and discuss all of my medication options. This helped a lot– I still barfed and dry heaved a ton, and I was still nauseous around the clock, but I took medication at the first sign of trouble and didn’t end up spiraling down so low as I had with #1.
Well, until the 2nd trimester. You’re supposed to feel better then, right? For me, in both pregnancies, the 2nd trimester has been the worst. Once again I had multiple episodes of literally being unable to cease vomiting. Like, you stop, but then you lay down for 5 minutes and then start again, until your body has absolutely nothing left, but it still tries. And then it gives up and you rest again and oh, great, some more bile has built up, and your body is excited that there is something to get out. Rinse and repeat for hours on end. This time, there was a toddler announcing the play-by-play “What are you doing mama? Mama are you spitting in the toilet again? Can I see it?” Sometimes I had no choice but to let her watch as it’s difficult to force a toddler out of the bathroom mid-puke. I felt badly about that, but also hoped it would help her understand why I spent every moment that didn’t require something urgent and important to happen laying down on the couch.
When it get’s like that, I’ve had to go to the hospital to get drugs and fluid through an IV. During one particularly awful week, I made a trip to hospital every afternoon for 4 days. I saw a variety of practitioners as it was over the 4th of July weekend and thus not the regular staff schedule. The variety in care I experienced was frustrating– some nurses/NPs/midwives/OBs seemed to totally get it and hooked me up with some fluid and drugs with no problem. Others were a little more conservative, or just slower to respond. One didn’t seem to worry until I started dry heaving without being able to stop while I was waiting to be seen. For any pregnant woman out there who is unusually sick: you MUST advocate for yourself. It’s not fair, but it must be done. They gave me one bag of fluid and I asked for two, because one bag barely makes a dent when you have crunchy lips. They offered me Zofran pills and I told them to get the liquid and put it in the IV bag. They offered Phenergen as pills to take home and, in the lowest of low moments, I instead took the alternative, which were SUPPOSITORIES, because that actually sounded more effective than attempting to keep the pills down. If you know what works and what doesn’t, speak up. It’s your body and baby.
Trimester #3 was probably the best part of the pregnancy, oddly enough. While the unwieldy size made me feel like a houseboat floating around my office, I at least had a few breaks from the nausea and managed to keep the barfing under control in a way that I never experienced with my first. I even managed to enjoy some food, venturing out with friends and colleagues for a few dinners out prior to the new baby.
But, I was EXHAUSTED. My poor husband was functionally a single parent during this time. When I stumbled in the door from work, he would do all the things to care for the crazy 2 year old, who was reaching the apex of her terrible-twos during this time. He and I are all about attempting to split parenting and household responsibilities 50/50, but at this stage he was running the show 90/10. I was only holding up my end of the bargain by continuing to get to work. Life note: if your pregnancies suck, reconsider timing. If I could go back, I think I would have either done it sooner, when the toddler was less resistant (i.e. during the 12-24 month period) or later, when they supposedly chill out (3 years +). I got pregnant just a couple months before she turned 2, and I swear the crazy switch flipped right on her birthday.
I worked until I was 37 weeks. I could have left at 36 weeks because I live in California, but financial considerations along with everything that was going on at my office in preparation for the holiday season kept me going. Sometimes I regret not taking every moment off, but as I discussed the first time around, working was also a major distraction. It was miserable dragging my body to the office every day, but at least my brain was required for a few hours to ignore the nausea and think about something totally unrelated. It’s a love-hate relationship for me, working while pregnant. I think if I didn’t, I would wallow in misery, even though I would likely be more rested and physically capable of dealing with how I felt.
Baby arrived early this time, right at 39 weeks. This was a surprise, #1 was over a week late. His birth was totally different than my first, except that it kicked of with my water breaking. That’s two for two on hollywood-style labors starts! Everyone loves a birth story, (or at least I love everyone else’s birth stories!) so I’ll save that for another post.
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Maternity photos by the wonderful Cristin More