December 20, 2014

Coping with Hyperemesis Gravidarum

twinsDisclosure: This post is not meant to serve as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor before making any changes to your treatment plan. 

I’m going to die.

Okay, maybe not really. But right now it really feels like it. The whole world already knows that I’m expecting twins. For me, pregnancy also means dealing with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which basically means I throw up until I’m ready to pass out. Sounds fun, no?

During my first pregnancy I lost 20 pounds before they realized I was dealing with something more than your standard morning sickness. I was working at the time and ended up being written up for missing too much work. The days I was there, I worked with a trash can next to me — which, let me tell you, not humiliating at all, especially when I was teaching teenagers.

I’ve got my routine down now so this time I’ve only lost 6 pounds but it’s still early in the game, and with twins, I can’t afford the weight loss.

This is my 6th pregnancy and my 6th time dealing with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. That should make me an expert but the sad fact is, there’s no fixing Hyperemesis Gravidarum. You just have to cope with it as best you can. While I wish that I could say I’ve found a wonderful way to completely get rid of this nasty beast, all I have are a few coping mechanisms. But . . . if you are dealing with Hyperemesis Gravidarum any relief is better than nothing.

Medicate

I’m all for going natural but early pregnancy is not that time for me. Without anti-nausea meds I get so dehydrated that I end up hospitalized. Ultimately, the meds are better for my baby (in this case babies) than the consequences of dehydration and malnutrition are. Talk to your doctor about your options. If the first prescription doesn’t give you relief, don’t be afraid to ask for another. There are several options out there and each med has different methods of delivery. You’d be surprised at how different each med works depending on how you take it.

Sometimes prescription meds aren’t even your best option. In most of my pregnancies, good old half a Unisom and B6 do more to take the edge off than anything else. In my case, I do Unisom and B6 at night and Zofran during the day. The combination is the only thing that keeps me functional. For the record, I can NOT swallow that so my husband crushes them into a powder and I drink them in chocolate milk. The key here is to talk to you doctor and find something that works.

Don’t be Afraid to Get Rehydrated

Once you get dehydrated everything is downhill from there. I can’t keep down even tiny sips of water when I’m already dehydrated. At that point, the only option is to go into the hospital and get an IV. I ALWAYS stall on this but each time it makes me feel so much better. What happens with Hyperemesis Gravidarum and morning sickness in general is your blood sugar drops and you feel sick. Once you feel sick it can be really hard to keep anything down so the cycle continues. Getting IV fluids breaks that cycle. Once I am hydrated I can usually get some food down, which in turn makes me feel better. I’ve been told most anti-nausea meds actually don’t work if you are already dehydrated, which is kind of stupid if you ask me. Someone needs to get to work developing a fix for that.

Distraction is your Friend

You know when you were a kid and had the stomach flu your mom would park you in front of the TV to watch movies all day. There’s a reason for that. When you are paying attention to something else, you can’t focus as much on how bad you feel. I have barely left my house for the past month. We’re in survival mode around here. I’ve been watching a lot of TV, mindlessly surfed the internet, listened to audiobooks, etc. This is not because I’m trying to be lazy (although truthfully I’m so tired that a little laziness right now isn’t a bad thing). I’m just trying to get through each day, sometimes each minute. To do that, I have to distract myself.

A side benefit of being distracted is I’m able to eat more when I’m not paying attention to what I’m putting in my mouth. Usually this is a bad thing which is why watching TV isn’t a great idea most of the time. During pregnancy, this is awesome. I can surround myself with snacks and mindlessly much throughout the day and I’ll get a lot more calories in without it causing a lot of stress. . . and believe me, when you are this sick, eating is stressful.

Eat Whatever you Can

watermelon smoothieEvery article I read about what to eat during pregnancy focuses on super foods. That’s fabulous . . . if you can get them down. If you can’t, any calories will do. I don’t usually eat processed foods or fast food but during pregnancy I’ll take whatever sounds remotely good and has a chance of staying down. Somedays this means I eat nothing but watermelon. Others, I eat nothing but Cheetos. Whatever works. Your body has an amazing ability to get by on whatever it has during early pregnancy. I do try and snack on fortified cereal or drink Instant Breakfast whenever I can to get some vitamins in (and no, those are not normally things I eat when not pregnant, but again . . . survival mode here).

Same goes for fluids. I’ve really been trying to drink a green smoothie every day but on the days when I can’t, I’ll take what I can get. Fluids are actually more important when you are dealing with Hyperemesis Gravidarum than food is so make sure you can pack is some electrolytes and calories in those fluids. My favorite thing to drink when I’m sick is this easy watermelon smoothie. It’s easy on your stomach and gets some great vitamins in.

Find Support

There is no way to get through Hyperemesis Gravidarum alone. You have to have a support system. I worried about that this time around because we moved out of state earlier this year and away from all our family and long-term friends. Fortunately our friends and neighbors here have rallied around us.

Accepting help is hard. Asking for it is even harder. I have to remind myself of something a good friend told me years ago when I was on bedrest with my second son. She told me that people want to help. It was my job to give them a chance to serve.

This time around, I’m seeing what an impact the service we’ve received has had on my kids. After a friend brought dinner my 8 year old son kept telling me, “Mom, they worked so hard to help us. People are really nice. I can’t believe they did that for us.”

Food is the way to that boy’s heart (and honestly after I’d fed him cereal and frozen burritos for a week he was very excited to have real food). He’s really been thinking about the service we’ve received. The other day he told me that when our family is doing better he wants to try and help someone else. This is a lasting lesson for him and it’s my job to accept the service that is given without feeling guilty and allow him to learn that lesson.

Online support can be a great thing too. Find a Hyperemesis Gravidarum support forum and get advice from someone who is going through the same thing.

Keep the End Goal in Sight

I’ve been tempted to tape pictures of squishy newborn babies on the lid of my toilet seat so I can remember why I’m doing this. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is exhausting and emotionally draining. I’ve told my husband I’m dying more than once during this pregnancy. The days are long. Hope seems a long way away. The only way to survive is to remember why you are doing what you are doing.

Eventually it starts to feel better.

Have you dealt with Hyperemesis during pregnancy? How did you cope with it?

 

About Rachel

Rachel knows what it is like to be busy and worry about balancing everything without losing your sanity. As a homeschooling mom of 6 incredibly different kids, including newborn twins (and one tiny angel who passed away at birth), she's just about seen it all . . . when she isn't too sleep deprived to notice.

Rachel holds a B.A. in English and is a former teacher. She is the creator of Busy Mommy Media and works as a freelance writer from home.

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  1. […] holidays were fun at my house but getting through them while dealing with Hyperemesis was challenging to say the least. My parents came in to visit and my husband had some time off work […]

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