Just after Christmas, I was driving home from work when I had the sudden realisation that my period was very late. I’m used to irregular periods, that is my normal, but since starting on meds for my thyroid, it has been irregularly regular. I checked my trusty app and my period was 10 days late. I remember feeling sick and anxious about what would happen if I was actually pregnant. You see, I would love another baby, but my body does not tolerate pregnancy well at all. You see, I have had Hyperemesis Gravidarum with Alex and Emma.
I knew I was pregnant with Alex eight days before I had a positive test due to the unrelenting nausea. The vomiting kicked in at 8 weeks. I would get sick upwards of 10 times a day and this continued until Alex was about 3 weeks old. Mum went through something very similar with her pregnancies, but I never thought that it would affect me too.
It was worse with Alex than Emma, but I still lost a colossal amount of weight with them both. During the first 16 weeks I could hardly leave the house. The nausea was horrific and I spent most of my time crying or sleeping, praying for the day that it would pass. I thought it couldn’t get any worse, and then the vomiting kicked in. Nothing prepared me for how difficult it was. I could be in the middle of having a conversation and next thing I was getting sick. There was many (many) days that I was pulled over at the side of the road for 20 or 30 minutes getting sick. I used to often joke that I was like a dog marking my territory. There was no where that was safe from me. In the early months, Michael wanted a sticker for the car to say ‘No, I’m not drunk, I am just pregnant’! It is funny to think about it but when I remember how sick I was, I want to cry.
I had no safe food or drink so nothing would stay in my stomach for very long. The first time I vomited up blood, I was terrified. But just like all the rotten symptoms that comes along with HG – you get used to it. The trips to hospital for dehydration, the weight loss, the lectures from the midwife – they were never-ending. At no point was I ever offered medication or any solution to the sickness. At one lovely appointment, as I sat there crying due to feeling so bad, my doctor told me that research showed that the only reason I was like this was because my husband must be abusing me and it was my mind rejecting the baby. I stared at him in complete disbelief. Of course this was the furthest thing from the truth but he wasn’t really willing to listen.
As bad as it was when I was pregnant with Alex, I could manage it because there was no one else to look after. If I couldn’t get out of bed, it didn’t matter. If I needed to go to the hospital for fluids, I didn’t have to arrange a babysitter. I had other issues during my pregnancy with Alex, like high blood pressure that had me in hospital for a week and then on best rest and medication for 5 weeks until I had to be induced as the medication wasn’t working any more. But I could cope with it all as there was no baby or toddler to look after.
When Alex was 10 months old, I found out that I was 8 weeks pregnant. I had been out for Sunday dinner with my parents and when I came home, I got sick. I knew instantly I was pregnant. I convinced Michael to drive to a late night pharmacy to get a test and it was positive immediately. Although I hadn’t been as unwell as I was with Alex, when I looked back, all the signs were there. I was gagging at certain smells. Every time I sat down I fell asleep and there had been a certain amount of nausea but I had brushed it off. The vomiting was worse with Emma. It was relentless. I never got a break and because of being heavily pregnant during the Cypriot summer I was dehydrated most weeks. It happened so easily.
Again, I could have dealt with the sickness and kidney issues and elevated blood pressure (which all started immediately during this pregnancy) but this time I had a baby to care for. During this pregnancy Alex was cared for but it was the bare minimum. There were days that I couldn’t cook and that I couldn’t move except to make sure that he didn’t injure himself. When I look back on those months with Alex, I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. Guilt that he didn’t have my undivided attention. Guilt that I was only barely managing to meet his needs. Of course, mommy guilt is a bitch and it is never-ending. Alex won’t remember those months, but I will. In years to come he isn’t going to say to me “Mum, remember how hardly looked after me when you were pregnant with Emma”?. All he will know is that I loved him.
Deciding to have a third baby will be a difficult decision that will need to take in to account the weather (I CANNOT go through another pregnancy in the summer – it nearly killed me with Emma and that is not an exaggeration) and how old Alex and Emma are and how well they will be able to cope with a sick mummy. But I do think there is one more baby left in me. I feel like I could just about manage going through this all over again for one more tiny newborn. Maybe!