Here are my top tips for surviving Hyperemisis Gravidarum. (HG).
1. (Preferably BEFORE falling pregnant) Find yourself an amazingly supportive and hardworking Super Partner, similar to the one pictured below. (This guy is worth his weight in gold. And then some. Even with a seedy Movember mo.)
2. If you are lucky enough to also have a toddler in your care whilst suffering from HG, train said toddler to bring you tissues when you vomit (and be prepared to be showered with tissue-confetti whilst you spew).
This is also a good time to enlist the help of your wonderful in-laws who eagerly take said toddler whenever they can for as long as possible – leaving you to sleep in between vomits.
3. Enlist in an excellent medical team, like the crew at my local hospital. With doctors who go above and beyond to try and ease the symptoms, nursing staff who deliver only ‘the best’ care, kitchen staff who are willing to prepare anything you think you can stomach, and cleaning staff who leave nothing behind except a little ray of sunshine.
Find them, utilise their services and then thank them accordingly.
4. At all costs, avoid moving house while suffering with HG. It is a terrible, terrible idea.
However, if it cannot be avoided, call on some amazing friends to assist the afore mentioned Super Partner (because you yourself, will be about as useful as a cold bowl of porridge). This is also a prime opportunity for those amazing in-laws to step in – yet again!
5. Befriend a bucket. Find yourself a nice big bucket and start hugging it; (whilst sometimes you’ll have no choice) throwing up in the toilet has it’s own set of hygiene issues. A good sized bucket will allow you to rest your forehead on the rim while retching, in turn giving you an impressive imprinted mono-brow, only slightly less attractive than the bushy mess that is your ACTUAL eyebrows, left to grow wild and free.
Also, call by your local hospital or chemist and pick yourself up some ’emisis bags.’ Keep them EVERYWHERE – I’m talking car, handbag, under your pillow, etc – you never know when a surprise spew will launch it’s attack.
6. If you’ve previously suffered from HG and are crazy enough to fall pregnant again, spend the entire time from conception until the day your HG kicks in, eating everything in sight. (I lost 8kgs in 3 weeks so it’s lucky I had spent up until the end of week 5 eating my way through each day, thus giving me a little more in reserve.)
7. Regardless of how hormonally charged and mentally and physically drained you might get; just smile and nod when you’re given (well-meaning) advice from friends/family/strangers/brochures. Because let’s be honest, you will feel like punching the next person who suggests you ‘snack on plain dry crackers throughout the day’ or ‘boil up a ginger broth and drink it each morning.’
These suggestions, while they are said with the best intentions by people who have a) been lucky enough to suffer from average run-of-the-mill morning sickness, b) have never been pregnant, or c) are male; are about as useful as sticking a floret of broccoli up each nostril.
8. Get over any fears you might have associated with needles or becoming a human sieve. The chances are, those wonderful medical gurus I mentioned earlier, are going to be sticking you with needles your entire first trimester (If you’re one of us lucky ones who’s HG subsides around the 12-14 week mark).
9. Try to avoid your ‘vomiting triggers.’ For example: cooking smells, certain textures and flavours, looking at pictures of food, thinking about food, food, changing nappies, the sound of emptying your spew bucket, the sound of anything ‘swishing’, the sight of your bucket, the thought of your bucket, the smell of your bucket (despite repeated disinfecting), swallowing your own saliva, eating anything, drinking anything, smelling anything, driving, brushing your teeth, showering, moving, being upright, being awake.
10. There is a category of people who you should avoid at all costs. These are the people who tell you you need to ‘suck it up, it’s just morning sickness.’ If you encounter one of these people, either leave the room immediately, or punch them. In the throat.
Because truth be told, you would LOVE to have ‘just morning sickness.’ You would LOVE to be one of those people who have (albeit debilitating) nausea, without the vomiting. Because you are actually STARVING. You’re dreaming about walking the supermarket aisles, plucking things off the shelf and enjoying every single mouthful without retching. You’re so thirsty that in your dreams, you’re laying in a pool skulling bottles of water. And you’re so exhausted and sore from the vomiting, you can hardly stand up straight and you can feel your muscles wasting away by the minute.
“Oh, but it’s the popular thing to have now that Princess Kate’s got it, isn’t it?!”
Are you even serious?! You’re either suggesting that the HG is being put-on in order for the sufferer to be ‘popular,’ or implying that it’s ‘like, totes amaze-balls, and like super-dooper fun’ because the Princess has it too. No.
Nobody in their right mind would put their family and their body through this kind of trauma – especially while growing a tiny human – just to be popular. And aside from the awareness Princess Kate has raised about HG, there is absolutely nothing else to gain from knowing that she is suffering as well. Leave me alone.
11. Prepare to drop your public image standards. Applying makeup and brushing your hair are usually the first to go. If you can scrape your greasy, unkept hair into a rough ponytail to keep it from dangling into your spew bucket, then you’re on a winner.
Changing out of pyjamas is also a feat all of it’s own. So when you manage to put on actual clothes (the comfiest-most-like-pyjama clothes that you own), you miraculously manage to be somewhere other than home or hospital, clutching your emisis bag (which you don’t dare go anywhere without), with your pasty pale complexion, and birds nest hair; don’t be embarrassed by the way you look, be bloody proud that are upright and (so far) haven’t vomited on the person standing next to you.
12. Be grateful.
Be grateful to your amazing partner for functioning on your behalf. To your toddler for being patient with you and allowing a re-run of Playschool to be the highlight of the day. To your family, for picking up your slack, entertaining your offspring, calling to check up on you and delivering food requests from the supermarket. To the wonderful friends who offer food, babysitting and company; those who come to visit and don’t judge you for spitting in your bucket every two minutes. The wonderful medical team who bring you back to the land of the hydrated. The staff at the local takeaway shops and supermarkets, for not judging you on your appearance or frequent/unusual purchases. And for the invention of mouthwash.
And when your two year old gently places a hand on each of your cheeks, and asks softly, “how do you feel today, Mum?”
Try to remember that this will all be worth it in the end.