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Sunday, September 28, 2003

I am no longer eating. Yesterday I was able to take in five to six cups of fluid.

I don't see how I'm going to do this. It feels unbearable. I have seriously started hoping for a miscarriage so this can be over. I just want my life back. I just want to be my son's mommy again.

I hate abortion. Anyone who knows me knows how seriously I loathe it. But I have thought about it. God help me I have. I have even gone so far as to look up abortion mills in the Yellow Pages. Horrible. Shocking.

This is illness and desperation. Desperate desperation. It has only been three days of puking this time. On top of the years of puking I've done it just seems like too much. This was a very bad idea.

It is easy to feel that God is near, it is easy to be faithful when you are happy and well or are going through certain trials that don't just take everything from you. Now I'm thumbing through abortion listings.

Will I rob another child of life? Will I deny that I know Christ again? How can I help it? What ever shall I do here, now, in this dreadful situation?

Saturday, September 27, 2003

The nausea cranked up to about a seven or eight on the scale and just hung there. Yesterday I pseudo-puked for the first time. I.e., I got out of bed and retched over the toilet but nothing came out. Not so lucky this morning.

I woke up and thought I could choke down an Ensure to perhaps stave off the bad nausea and puking. I got it down alright—only to puke it up 15 minutes later. After that lovely episode I took a shower thinking it would clean me up and relax me. Hello. What was I thinking? Thermal changes relaxing? I puked up the rest of the Ensure in the shower. The bottom of the stall filled with chocolate puke, and that just made me puke even more.

I got in the bed and cried.

I'm already hoping I miscarry. What hyperemetic doesn't? I see where all this is going. I see the year-long days stretching out before me like a round-the-world journey. I try to live moment by moment, but it is so hard not to get daunted by what is ahead: fear coupled with 24/7 nausea and vomiting. I don't want to go down this road. I don't feel as committed as before. And yet, there's nothing in the world I can do about it. Nothing I will do about it, although the unthinkable thought has crossed my mind in nauseating daydreams.

I took some Zofran for the first time about three hours ago. I took it because my doctor wouldn't prescribe an anti-nausea wristband that emits small electric shocks at set intervals. His reason: he doesn't know enough about it. So here I am online gleaning info to justify my request for non-pharmaceutical treatment. But I'm already on Zofran at less than six weeks. Great.

After I took the Zofran I fell asleep. I woke up an hour later with searing anxiety. It reminded me of Reglan. Does Zofran cause extrapyramidal effects? I'll have to read through my research. Do I need Benadryl? Ah, more drugs. Great.

My husband was taking our tot to Grandma's when I woke up. I tried to hold it together, but I just got overwhelmed, unable to see one more day of this suffering. This, coupled with the bizarre anxiety, had me walking up and down the hall weeping, "God, please help me. Please help me!"

The awful part is, this is nothing. Nothing at all what it could be.

And yet it's the worst.

It is here, and it's happening to me.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Whoa, Nelly! How much longer until the puking begins? I thought for sure I'd be gone by yesterday, but I held it together and even managed to eat dinner. I waded through the day on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and three milkshakes. By dinner I wanted Chinese. Stinky, smelly, greasy Chinese. Eat it while you can. I wasn't sure about this meal choice, but it went down and stayed down, and I felt like a new person. It was hard to keep from crying all through dinner, because I was so utterly grateful. I'm teary-eyed just remembering it.

This morning I woke up throbbing with nausea. Quick, get something in me. Make it stop. I choked down a quarter of a peanut butter and jelly sammy. I'm already dead-sick of that, but it's all I can stand right now. Smells are bothering me. Don't cook it whatever it is. Bread toasting in the oven? Don't make me hurl.

I've been amazed that eating quells anything. I don't remember it ever doing so before. It could have been so, in previous pregnancies, in the early weeks leading up to HG, but perhaps I've forgotten. Or perhaps it's different this time. It feels like things are progressing.

I just ate something an hour ago, and it didn't do much of anything to help. I had a drink with it, and you're not supposed to do that. You’re supposed to wait an hour after solids. I was thirsty. I want to drink while I still have the pleasure of experiencing thirst, before the notion of drinking turns into an unthinkable horror. In former pregnancies I got so dehydrated that my lips cracked and bled, but just the suggestion of consuming fluid sent me to the toilet puking.

Soon, by week six I think, I'll begin unraveling. Already the hopelessness is seeping in, the "I don't want to do this! What an insane, idiotic idea this was!" I can’t be feeling this defeated so early in the game; my symptoms are trivial compared to what they could become!

If I think of the days ahead, the weeks ahead, 16 more of them (because I usually resolve by 20 weeks), and take them all in one lump sum, I realize I have about 112 days left. That’s 2,688 more hours of existing this way and worse. I can feel an acid scream rising in my throat. I can feel the fear. The desperation sets in. But somehow, God is here.

I am not alone.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Yesterday I had a period of time that was roughly a six on my 1-10 nausea scale. No sir, I didn't like it. Right now I seem to be able to eat and stave off the barfiness just like the pregnancy books say. Evidently, this is how it works for normal women. It is still an all-day battle. This time I am finding that sleep nullifies the effects of nausea. Sometimes my sleeping son will nudge me until I’m half awake, and for a brief moment of awareness I think, "Hmmm, I'm not nauseous at all." But when I fully awake the nausea starts in. This would support the neurological theories that HG is based on a malfunction of the "vomiting center" in the brain. Sedate the brain and that sort of shuts it off. This is part of the reason why women with HG are given sedatives, such as Phenergan and Thorazine, as antiemetics (puke-stoppers). The only problem with the theory is that the drug therapies aren't very effective. In fact, the drugs can actually make it worse. Theories are fun—when you're not sick.

Last night I drank a milkshake. First, praise God, I could drink a milkshake! It was really freakily effective in quelling the nausea. It lasted for a good 15 minutes before I was climbing back up to a level four or so. Still no puking! By week six it's going to be “on.” Unless God shuts it off. (“Hey, God! Please shut the puke switch off! Pretty please, with Zofran on top!”) I just had another milkshake to try to quell the nausea as I type this. It's not working like it did last night.

Eating is becoming troublesome. Foods that I know are delicious don't taste delicious, and I'm starting to have to sort of choke it all down. It is hard not to be afraid. It is hard to live for today and not be daunted by the months that stretch out ahead. If it were just like it is today there would be no problem. But HG is not here yet. Today the battle is cake, but it can get so very much worse.

I cried yesterday wondering what I had gotten myself into. I knew there would be days when I would feel incredibly stupid for inviting all of this into our lives again. Yesterday I was already having those thoughts, and this nausea I'm dealing with is nothing compared to HG, so it's distressing. What I'm going through now would probably be very significant to a normal woman, but I have something to compare it to. Something that was so bad that it compelled me to pay a terrible price in order to escape it.

I can feel HG coming. It's like a big dog barking in the distance. But God is bigger. Sometimes it is hard to remember in deep suffering, but I must never forget.

Monday, September 22, 2003

I have had hyperemesis gravidarum three times.

I am now pregnant for the fourth time and expect to get HG, although I am willing to suspend certainty. However, I'm five weeks and feel it coming on.

They say there are four things you're supposed to do when you're seeking God's will with a particular issue: pray, read the Bible, consult other trusted Christians, and examine the opportunities set before you. We did all this, endeavored, and are pregnant. I hope we did what we were supposed to do. So there’s the explanation for those of you who know me and are going, "What in the heck were you thinking?!"

I was thinking that I could do all things, live or die or suffer like a dog, with Christ. I was thinking that if it was OK with Him, I'd maybe go for it. We'd like for our son not to be a "lonely only." And I want another baby butt to diaper. Children=joy. More children, more joy. This is me attempting to justify what normal women are never asked to justify. But I am a normal woman. It’s my body that won’t cooperate. And so it begins…

I took three pregnancy tests that I bought online. One: negative. Two: negative. Three: negative. Why all these pregnancy tests? Because I was feeling kinda barfy before I even missed a period. Negative, negative, negative. I went to a doctor's appointment. They wanted to do X-rays. I said, "I can't, I'm pregnant."

What? I took three negative pregnancy tests. Why would I say that? I clarified, "I mean I might be." I was beginning to think I needed a shrink, because it seemed I couldn't accept the results of three pregnancy tests. But still, no X-rays, thank you.

Three days after the missed period I was feeling even more barfy, and where was the period? Forget the cheap online pregnancy tests. I went to the store and shelled out the big bucks for a pee-on stick.

At home the positive sign popped up in seconds. I retested with a pregnancy strip I bought online. It said negative. Sheesh. I wrote the company. X-rays aren't so bad, but what if I'd seen a dermatologist during that period of time and started taking tetracycline or something? Be careful about buying cheap tests online. Pay the big bucks for the one at the drugstore.

I've been eating like a cow, indulging in expensive restaurants several times a week. I know what is coming. I'm open to complete and total healing, but I know the illness could be a necessary part of my life journey, so I'm open to that too. Whatever happens, happens. But I'm eating my head off, because if HG returns I know there will be a day when I'd pay a thousand dollars just to be able to eat a sandwich.

I'm going to try to keep a diary. I have a laptop in the bedroom. The hospital bed and overbed table are coming just in case. Still, some days I know there will be no way I will have the strength to get online. I'll try, because it's important that people know what HG is like for the mother who suffers every single moment of every single day.

Today I woke up barfy. It's the barfiest I've been in this pregnancy. I'd say I was at a three on a scale of 1-10. That may not sound like much, but I am pretty conservative in my ratings, and I can go from three to barf in about two seconds. I haven't barfed yet. I'm pretending I might not. I am doing my best to be open to the proposals of some psychological researchers who say HG in subsequent pregnancies could be a learned response. It’s highly suspect, but I’m going give the theory a chance: every time I feel barfy I tell myself I'm not one of Pavlov's dogs.

As I say, I can still eat, although I feel that slipping away. Foods don't sound immediately good. Eatables are starting to give me the creeps. Still, if I ingest something I feel better for about 10 minutes or so. This must be what it's like to be a normal pregnant woman. I know a number of women who were not at all ill during their many pregnancies, but that sort of thing actually exists at the other end of the spectrum of "abnormal.”

I am monitoring my fluids closely. I know how important this is for HG moms. Keeping it together today means staving it off a little while longer before it becomes full-blown out-of-control.

I am planning to take ondansetron (Zofran) for the first time. I think this will be interesting, as I've had a tendency to sort of secretly discount it due to the studies I've read on HG and serotonin. Serotonin doesn't appear to be implicated, and ondansetron is a serotonin receptor antagonist. Explain that. However, I can not deny the myriad positive Zofran experiences that other sufferers report.

In addition to HG, I have an incompetent cervix (IC), so cerclage will be performed. HG doesn't go well with an IC. Nothing that puts pressure on the cervix is good especially as the pregnancy progresses. I'm also considering corticosteroids for the HG at around 15 weeks, if I haven’t miscarried by then. Even with the cerclage I will remain on strict bed rest and will have to walk up the hall three times a day to try to avoid potentially fatal blood clots.


I have never "done" HG while having to take care of another child. I will hopefully be able to use this blog to explore the experience. I imagine HG is a lot harder with other children. In fact, I've been contacted on several occasions by women who terminated the second child because they felt they could not take care of the first. It is especially difficult for single mothers.

Any and all prayers are welcome for all women with HG, and my name is Ashli for your prayer chains and lists at church.

I will keep you posted as I am able.

(Added 3/9/07: For more information about HG pick up a copy of Beyond Morning Sickness: Battling Hyperemesis Gravidarum. )

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