This story is from Starr, who wanted to share her story about her experience of having Hyperemesis Gravidarum and the complications that followed, how it impacted her mental wellbeing and how trauma can be caused due to a difficult preganacy.
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In May of 2010, I met the man I knew I was going to fall in love with and marry. On our first date we realised that we actually knew each other from a car club years before. We hit it off and got close very quickly. Everything just seemed to be going right for us; it truly was love at first sight with Robert and me! About a month later, we announced our engagement to everyone. Most were happy for us, some were shocked, but we were happy, as well as our close family, so that’s all that mattered.
We set the wedding date for October 19, 2010 in Las Vegas. We talked about having a child, but I thought it wasn’t in the cards. At 21, I got into a very bad car accident when a drunk driver hit me and turned my world upside down. My back was broken and my legs were crushed. I was paralyzed and in a coma for over 8 months! I had to learn how to walk, talk, speak, read and write all over again.
With a lot of therapy and hard work, I slowly started to recover. I was also living with Fibromyalgia, a disease that causes widespread pain all over my body with no cure! By the time Robert and I started dating, I was no longer using a wheelchair unless it was a bad day. Most days I could walk and some days I was stuck in bed, unable to move.
Following my accident, I was told I would never have any children. I was on a lot of medications and I had not had a period for eight years. When I was told this, I was in my early twenties and wasn’t ready for kids anyway. Now I was almost 31 years old, and I was so sad for my future because I wanted to settle down and have a family.
About the time I started dating Robert, my periods had returned, so I figured we could try for a family after our wedding. On July 12th, 2010, I started getting really nauseated. This type of nausea was different from the nausea I got from my chronic pain. I then started vomiting nonstop, sometimes 50-100 times in one day. I had bad stomach pain, I couldn’t keep any of my medications down, my throat was raw and I was vomiting blood. I couldn’t even swallow my own saliva without vomiting! There were days vomiting would last up to 98+ hours and no medication would stop it! I was scared I was dying!
Finally, Robert took me to the ER and I was treated for the pain with morphine and didaudid. I told them we were trying to have a baby and that my periods just came back after eight years. They tested me and it came out negative. Even though I knew it most likely would never happen, I was still disappointed. They told me it was food poisoning but Robert didn’t think so. I was released from the emergency room and went home. The next day, I was sick again with non-stop vomiting. We tried to control it but nothing was helping me. No matter what I ate or drank, it always came back up. My husband went out and bought some home pregnancy tests; I tested negative on each test. I didn’t understand why I was getting so sick every day.
After buying 15 or so tests, my husband went to the 99 cent store and bought another test. This time it came out positive. I had two pink lines for the first time – I was in shock. I took the rest of the tests the next morning just to make sure.
I wrote to my OBGYN asking for a blood test and went in to test my HCG level. I looked up the results and it was at 500. She said with my history to not get too excited because I could be losing the baby with how sick I was or I had a molar pregnancy. I wanted to be excited. I wanted this little life from the very start. I told my best friend, Kierra, all about what was going on and she said she knew this baby was going to be born and healthy. I wanted to believe her so much.
The sickness continued day in and day out and my doctor suggested I see a high-risk doctor. I was discharged after four bags of fluids and shots of intravenous Zofran, Reglan and a GI cocktail. On our way home, my phone rang and it was Kierra’s boyfriend – she had died in a car accident. I started crying so hard I could hardly breathe. I dropped the phone and was screaming to my husband, “Kierra is gone, oh my gosh she’s gone!” My best friend, who I could count on for anything, was gone. My best friend wasn’t going to be here for me. We made it home and later that night, I woke up feeling so sick to my stomach. A feeling, that I would have with me the whole pregnancy. I started vomiting non-stop. I tried my hardest to suck it up. It was just morning sickness right? Everyone was telling me it was. I also thought all mothers can’t go through this, something was not right.
We went back to the hospital because the vomiting wasn’t letting up. My throat was burning and I was vomiting blood! When we got to the ER, the nurse asked me if I had Hyperemesis. This was the first time I heard the word. Seven nurses tried to get an IV in me with no luck. I wanted fluids to feel better and anything to stop the nausea, vomiting and pain. I felt like I was dying. The pain I was in was just too much to handle. They sent in a NICU nurse since my veins were super tiny and rolled, and being so dehydrated, I was a harder stick than normal.
After all of the torture, we anxiously awaited our first ultrasound as we knew it would give us something to look forward to. I had my first ultrasound and it was amazing! We could see our little baby on the screen. Our baby was so tiny, but you could see the heart flickering. It melted our hearts and from that moment I knew we would fight for our baby!
While still in the hospital, an OBGYN asked if I wanted the baby. I said of course we did! I said I wanted my baby, but I wanted the nonstop vomiting to end. She said I should have a therapeutic abortion. By the time she left my room, she had me thinking this sounded good and that this was my only way out. The OBGYN said if I continue down this road, both my child and I would most likely die from starvation. She told me my blood work was very bad and that I was losing fluid faster then it was being put in me. My potassium was super low which could cause all sorts of problems like a heart attack, a stroke or even death.
My husband came back and I told him what the doctor said. He said they were trying to get me to do something we don’t want. I was upset that I had to risk my health and the baby’s health because I had some pregnancy condition that even healthcare professionals knew very little about. I felt this wasn’t fair to me. Why me? Why do I have to suffer?
While we were talking, I was puking my guts out. My Zofran was due and my husband was getting upset that the nurses weren’t responding when I pressed the call button. No sooner then he left, two women doctors came in with the OBGYN that was in my room earlier and continued to pressure me to get the abortion. Finally I said, “DO IT! TAKE ME IN THE OR AND GET IT OVER WITH!” My husband came back and I told him these were the doctors that thought it was best for us to give up our baby. They said Mrs Andrews we can’t do it here ! I screamed then why are you pressuring me to do it get the hell out of my room . Robert said we are keeping the baby so start treating my wife and the baby like a human being unstead of a cage animal .
He told them we were keeping the baby so they should start treating the baby and I to get us healthy. They excused themselves while I kept crying and puking. Every time I would throw up it took all my energy. I was finally given a NG Tube and was placed on TPN to give me some food while I was admitted I couldn’t hold anything down not even water or ice . The pain I was in from Hyperemesis Gravidarum was the worse pain ever, having fibromyalgia on top of Hyperemesis Gravidarum was hell. I was in the hospital for 3 full months they released me due to my insurance they said they send me home with a picc line but just sent me home with meds and left me on my own to die!
The wedding day came it was hard journey to get here but I made it without vomiting and it was beautiful. I was sick most of the night and finally got some rest before we headed home the next day. When we got back home I was hoping my “morning sickness” was over, but it came back in full swing. It was in the book Beyond Morning Sickness that I learned about PICC lines and home healthcare. I also learned that there is morning sickness and there is Hyperemesis Gravidarum they are not one in and the same!
It took two months of me going in and out of the ER and L&D and fighting for them to give me a PICC line. We were at the hospital at least 3-5 times a week for fluids and they were sick of me coming in for nausea and vomiting. It was hell on earth trying to get an IV in me I was treated so badly and poorly my the doctors and nursing staff at Lakeview Kaiser.
I ended up back in L&D for IV Zofran because fluids at home were not enough. I always waited until I had a lot of ketones to go in because when I didn’t, they said I wasn’t dehydrated like I “claimed.” I hated having to tell others how to care for me, but no one else was going to be a health advocate for me and my baby so I had to fight the best I could as sick as I was; I was to weak to speak most of the time. Robert would speak for me but I had a Hyperemesis Gravidarum medical treatment protocol plan written down on paper and would hand it to the doctors they didn’t understand I was in a conscious coma . This happen to many CVS sufferings but being pregnant and so sick I was worse. I was delusional and hallucinating at times due to malnutrition and severe dehydration .
I hated being pregnant. I was starting to get upset at my child and resent her for making me so sick. I wanted to have a normal happy pregnancy like my friends. But I knew if I had come this far and hadn’t given into those doctors that wanted me to abort my baby, then I could make it the next four long months until my planned C-section.
The hospital staff would say awful things to me like I was making myself sick on purpose because I didn’t want my baby, or I was an unfit mother because if I cared for my child, I should see a shrink about my eating disorder. They also said I was a drug seeker and was just there for drugs.
I was sick to the very end. My HG didn’t get better at 20 weeks like I told. I threw up all the way to the delivery room. Every day I just tried to keep myself and my daughter alive.
I got an ultrasound done to measure how big my daughter was and they said she was running on the small side and they said my HG could have caused this, but they claimed it was most likely it was the medications I was on! I had UGR Uterine growth restriction due to Hyperemesis Gravidarum many HG mothers have this issue I was unaware of at the time . Only found this out looking at medical records .
I vomited non stop everyday I only got short breaks before the HG started again . I would vomit non stop for a minimal of 24-98 hours get maybe about 4-10 hour break and it started all over again like clockwork! I vomited so much I popped blood vessel in my eyes to the point my eyes would bleed. I had broken blood vessels in my cheeks, tore holes in my stomach and throat and threw up buckets of blood. I was starving and pregnant I felt I was screaming at the top of my lungs and no one heard me.
I ended up having to go to NST where they monitor you and the baby to see if your having contractions and watch the baby’s heart. I did this the last three weeks of my pregnancy and each time my baby did what she was supposed to do. I was admitted one last time about a week before my scheduled C-section. This would be my last hospital visit for HG; the next would be to have my baby. My husband and I were so excited to see what our beautiful baby looked like. We had finally made it to the day of the birth of our baby. We made it though HG hell, the nightmare of the pregnancy, and all the drama the doctors and nurses put me though.
The day of my C-section, we both had feelings that were indescribable. During the delivery, we were waiting for the sound every parent wants to hear – the first cry. The C-section didn’t go as easy as I thought! It took a very long time to get the spinal in my back over 2 hours! The baby was stuck up above my ribs so they were pulling and tugging to get her out.
When we heard her cry for the first time, we both cried tears of joy. Finally, it was all over and she was here. Once our precious baby was released from the NICU, my husband brought her to my room to stay. When my husband handed her to me and I held her in my arms, I fell instantly in love. My daughter opened her eyes just enough to look at me and I said, “You are safe now, Kierra.” We decided to name her after my best friend who had passed away.
Even though my pregnancy was high-risk, I was blessed with my baby girl. So many mothers lose their babies to HG. It’s amazing that we survived with being so dehydrated and malnourished, vomiting to the point of blood and needing IV medications and fluids. Most mothers fear taking medication during pregnancy, but I didn’t have a choice; it’s what kept my daughter and I alive.
I’m happy to say that today my daughter is a happy thriving 5 year old. She is the love of my life and I would do it all over again for her. When I was in the midst of my HG, with all the nausea, nonstop vomiting and pain, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you are suffering from HG and thinking you can’t handle it, trust me, every second is worth it in the end for your baby but fight for your care and your babies!
I’m also thankful for the support from the people in my life – I don’t know if could have done it without them.
Kierra, you may have been in mommy’s tummy, but you helped me fight and to go on. Thank you my sweet angel for staying strong inside me when mommy was falling apart. I love you with all my heart. You are my heart and soul and my reason to go on! I wish we could of had better medical care so my daughters health issues and mine we not so bad . Fight for your care during Hyperemesis Gravidarum , remember Hyperemesis Gravidarum is dangerous and can harm you and your child . The aftermath of Hyperemesis Gravidarum has been hard on me because I’m still chronically ill with CVS Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome .
If you are an HG mom and need support on anything, please feel free to contact me. I’m making it my mission to help other moms that are suffering from HG and get them the support they need. I would have loved to have just one person that understood from personal experience help me get through it all.
You can read more from Starr and Hyperemesis Gravidarum here