Pregnancy sickness made me abort three babies
Anyone who has had severe morning sickness might have some idea of how this woman felt. She aborted three babies when she suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum. We got her story published in Bella magazine. If you have a story about morning sickness / pregnancy sickness to share, email Tell and Sell Stories today: firstname.lastname@example.org #hyperemesisgravidarum
Here she tells her story... Staring at the toast on the plate in front of me, it might as well have been a five-course banquet.
‘Just take it slowly,’ I told myself.
I picked up the bread and nibbled a corner spread with Marmite. I’d been trying to stomach the single slice for hours.
Within minutes, I felt a familiar nauseating sensation and ran to the bathroom to be sick. I’d vomited almost 20 times that day already.
I was six weeks pregnant and really suffering with sickness.
Too unwell to go to work, I couldn’t even get out of bed, speak or look at the TV or my phone without feeling queasy.
Other women cope with morning sickness, so why can’t I? I wondered.
I couldn’t understand how they could carry on as normal, when it was taking over my whole life.
I feared I would lose my job if I didn’t get better, but I only seemed to be getting worse. I couldn’t even shower, let alone work.
Days later, my partner Ben* called a doctor to visit me at home. He prescribed me two types of anti-sickness drugs and I hoped it would mean the end of my misery. But neither of them worked.
Two weeks later, I was curled around the toilet bowl retching violently. As I brought up bile and blood, I gasped for air in between each heave.
I’m going to die, I thought.
Unable to catch my breath, I began choking on my sick. Then everything went black…
I woke up on the bathroom floor feeling as though I was drowning and being suffocated by my own sick.
I quickly realised I’d passed out and I was absolutely terrified.
Days later, I made a decision.
I waited for Ben to get home from work, then told him: ‘I can’t carry on.’
He hugged me as I sobbed.
No matter how much I wanted our baby, I couldn’t continue with the pregnancy. It was like I’d been backed into a corner, left with no other option.
‘I’m here for you,’ Ben said gently.
It wasn’t the first time this had happened. Earlier that year, at seven weeks pregnant, I’d had a termination after vomiting non-stop each day.
Now, I was having to face doing the same thing again.
That week, I went to hospital and told the doctor I wanted to terminate the pregnancy.
‘I’m too young, we’re not married and we have no money,’ I said.
I was so desperate to feel normal again that I’d lied – anything to make things easier.
Surprisingly, the doctor didn’t question my request - even though it was clear I had a supportive partner at my side and I was obviously haggard, teary and nauseas.
I was given a tablet but I couldn’t swallow it, so I had an antiemetic injection, waited 20 minutes, then tried again.
Two days later, I went in for the final process.
Leaving the ward, I felt much better physically. Yet I couldn’t ignore the crushing regret and misery.
‘How you feeling?’ Ben asked.
‘Empty and numb,’ I said.
I tried to persuade myself I’d done the right thing. I told myself I was so ill I’d probably have miscarried anyway, that I needed to get back to work before I was sacked, and that I wanted my old life back.
I even decided my grandmother would have been horrified if I’d had a baby out of wedlock.
But I was kidding myself.
Time passed and I often thought about the babies I might have had. But when I thought about how unwell I’d been, I just knew it would never have worked out.
Two years on, I had a pregnant friend diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG).
I’d never heard of the condition before, but as soon as I read about it, everything fell into place.
I realised it was exactly what I’d suffered with during both my pregnancies.
‘I knew it wasn’t just morning sickness,’ I told Ben.
I learnt the condition was severe and excessive nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, that often required hospital treatment.
I was shocked to discover how dangerous and life-threatening it could be.
I read online about countless miscarriages due to dehydration and starvation, and many stories of women who had, like me, had terminations through absolute desperation.
I’d had no idea just how much danger I’d been in and how lucky I’d been not to suffer horrendous consequences, like seizures and organ failure.
Another two years passed and after getting married, Ben and I were keen to start a family.
Equipped with my new knowledge and a typed-up drug plan, I felt strong, confident and ready.
I was thrilled to fall pregnant quickly.
When I was five weeks gone I felt rough but I was able to get up, bathe and get on with my day.
A week later however, my health went downhill. I was unable to eat, drink or communicate, and was completely immobile.
To top it all, I had developed a phobia of being sick and was sure I’d suffocate to death on my bile.
Feeling weaker by the day, I went to A&E. I clasped a hand over my nose and mouth as the bright lights and smells turned my stomach.
I was given an ultrasound scan to check my organs and each time the doppler made contact with my skin, a tidal wave of nausea came over me.
When I couldn’t take it anymore, I pushed the doppler away and turned over.
‘That’s enough,’ I groaned.
Soon a doctor came to see me.
She raised her eyebrows and said: ‘You know that by not eating or drinking that you are harming the baby?’
‘Do you even want this baby?’ she added.
‘Yes, of course,’ I mumbled tearily.
I was shocked at her accusatory tone, but too weak to stand my ground.
Eventually, I was administered IV fluids to help me rehydrate and within 20 minutes I could feel an improvement. I even managed to nibble on a sandwich.
That night I was kept in and the next morning I was weighed.
‘You’ve lost over 8% of your body weight in two weeks,’ a consultant said.
That was almost a stone.
I was officially diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum and prescribed some drugs before being discharged.
But back home, I was feeling worse than ever.
It took me two days to get through one bag of Wotsits, I drifted in and out of consciousness, and I had to drag myself out of bed when I needed the loo.
I was hospitalised again and given more fluids.
Then finally, some hope.
My GP prescribed a different drug, Ondasetron. It took a few weeks to take effect but when it did, I had enough strength to get myself a drink, and I could just about manage a whole packet of crisps.
I may not have brushed my teeth or showered in weeks, but I was so relieved to feel slightly more normal.
The nausea didn’t disappear though.
Lying in bed, the isolation and loneliness was unbearable.
I would often gaze out of the window and wish a plane would crash land into my house, just so it would all end. Or I wished I would miscarry.
It sounded awful, especially when I wanted our baby so badly.
Somehow, I endured the final months of pregnancy until doctors agreed to give me a caesarean.
At 37 weeks, I gave birth to a girl, Anna.
But when I saw her, I felt robbed of emotion.
What the hell is that? I thought.
I had been so focused on the pregnancy that I’d almost forgotten I was actually having a baby.
‘Here you go,’ the midwife said, handing her to me.
I took Anna and looked at her briefly.
But it was all too much.
‘Please take her,’ I said, passing her back.
It was only weeks later when I looked at Anna that I felt a rush of love for the first time.
‘She’s actually really cute,’ I said.
Now Anna is three and a half and Ben and I have since separated.
It’s hard to believe how I first felt about my daughter because she is my absolute world. Every single day I am so grateful to have her.
I will never forget how Hyperemesis Gravidarum affected me. I still think about the babies I lost - whether they were boys or girls and what names I might have chosen. And I’m terrified of falling pregnant again - I’ve lost count how many pregnancy tests I’ve taken.
There’s one thing I want to make clear. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is not morning sickness. It’s a disease that needs to be taken seriously, and I want pregnant women and doctors everywhere to know that.