My Experience with Hyperemesis Gravidarum - The Second Time!by Jodie Keith
Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is an awful condition of extreme pregnancy sickness that affects an estimated 1-3% of pregnant women, although it is presumed many more suffer in silence without treatment. I shared my experience of HG with my first baby, so now that I have had a second baby, it seemed fitting to share an update on how I found having HG a second time.
Will I have HG if I’ve had it before?
Firstly, it’s important to note that having HG once does not guarantee you’ll get it again in subsequent pregnancies, as all pregnancies are individual. That being said, if you have had HG before it is likely you may experience it again, although this time you have the advantage of being able to be prepared.
For me, I was secretly hoping I would swerve the sickness the second time round, but with my partner working from home (the one thing I am thankful to COVID for) I felt much more prepared if it was to happen - it’s one of the reasons we knew that the time was right for a second baby. As soon as I saw that positive pregnancy test at only 4 weeks pregnant, I had the tiny worry in the back of my mind. Every day that went by without nausea was a relief, and after a few days, I was convinced I was going to be luckier this time and not experience HG.
Oh how wrong I was!
Noticing Hyperemesis Gravidarum symptoms for the first time
Hyperemesis Gravidarum hit me full throttle, once again, at exactly 6 weeks pregnant - which just so happened to be Christmas Day! The hubbub of the day and watching my excited toddler open presents kept me going through the first symptom I noticed, extreme nausea, but I was gutted I couldn’t eat much of my Christmas Dinner (my partner is an excellent cook, and what’s better than a Christmas Dinner?!). It wasn’t until Boxing Day that the vomiting started… and then it just didn’t really stop.
The first few months of Hyperemesis Gravidarum
I’ll be honest - it’s all much more of a blur this time round. I spent a lot of time in bed, and even more time on the sofa. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my partner was working from home, so life was definitely made a lot easier considering we had Arthur, our nearly two-year-old toddler, to look after. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without my partner in those first few months - he did everything. Cooked every meal. Kept on top of the house. Entertained the toddler. Every bedtime. Every bathtime… all whilst working a demanding full-time job himself!
Our daily routine
My partner would get up with my toddler, make breakfast, and often start work on his laptop at the kitchen countertop whilst I slept. One of the side effects of HG is extreme fatigue, as your body is just completely exhausted from having no food and thus no energy source. I would wake up anytime between 8-10 am and move down to the sofa, where the TV babysat my toddler far more than I would like to admit. I’d always have a sick bowl to hand and was never far from the toilet, too. The anti-sickness medication made me drowsy, so I often lulled in and out of dozing on the sofa whilst Arthur played on the floor. If my partner had meetings, he’d take them upstairs in the study, but more often than not he would work downstairs with us to help with parenting duties.
My partner would make lunch, return to work, then it would soon be time to make dinner and tidy up before putting the toddler to bed. He would then return to work to make up any missed hours from the day, and I watched a lot of TV on the sofa whilst being a zombie with no energy, or just went back to bed. Our daily routine was a dull, repetitive blur. The house got messy, dust piled up, and we concentrated on the basics of survival and just getting by. As long as our toddler was fed, watered and somewhat entertained then we considered that a win.
Was HG worse the second time around?
Overall I think I did have HG worse the second time around - despite being more prepared for what was in store, having a toddler meant I couldn’t rest as much as I was able to before. Even if I didn’t move much physically, I was still challenged mentally every day trying to think of new games and activities for him all whilst trying not to vomit myself.
I also think HG took more of a toll on my body physically this time - it sparked symptoms resulting in a cardiology referral and generally speaking my health and fitness took a massive downward turn.
I also found it a lot more mentally taxing, often sobbing to my partner that I didn’t think I could get through it, or feeling down that I wasn’t utilising the last few months as a mum of one spending quality time with my toddler.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Like my first experience with HG, it tailed off after about 4 months, which was a huge relief. My partner could slowly get back to doing more work, I was able to do more, and we all slowly became that little bit happier. We even managed to potty train Arthur in plenty of time for him to be out of nappies before the baby arrived! Of course, I did have flare-ups - random days of nausea and bouts of projectile vomiting for no reason - but overall I was able to have some more pleasant months of pregnancy. There is light at the end of the tunnel, I promise!