How morning sickness can become something quite cruel

With my first child, I had nausea. All-day nausea, but somehow through sheer force of will I managed to not throw up. You see, I have a bit of a phobia when it comes to throwing up. As a kid, I couldn’t be in the same room hours after someone threw up because the smell was too much. I’d start crying. As an adult, I went out of my way to avoid being around people throwing up and actually throwing up myself. So when I was pregnant with my first, I was actively fighting that urge to throw up the whole first trimester.

As it turns out, I am pregnant again. A part of me hoped that nausea would lessen this time around. After all, every pregnancy is different. Unfortunately, that was not the case. My nausea started early this time around. I hadn’t even tested positive yet when I started feeling queasy all day. By the time I was 5 weeks, I hadn’t started throwing up but the nausea was enough to keep me in bed all day and avoid food. I went to the GP and they prescribed me the first anti-sickness medication. The hope was to get my nausea under control before I started throwing up and so I could actually work again.

I wish it worked. Truly I do. The nausea got worse and by week 6 I started throwing up 3-4 times a day. The medication was barely keeping it down. This is also the worst point for advice because the normal advice just wasn’t working for me.

Try drinking ginger tea: I would throw it up 20 minutes later.

Small meals throughout the day: I would just throw up even more often in the day.

And on and on.

By week 8, I was throwing up 7-8 times a day so I called the GP to tell them the medication wasn’t working. Unfortunately, the receptionist didn’t let me make an appointment that day because she didn’t consider “morning sickness” to be an urgent case. Sigh.

I should also mention that calling people on the phone is a lot of work for me. It takes a lot of planning before the call and recovering after the call to make it through one phone call. By the time I’ve committed to a call, a lot of energy has already been spent. Combined with me having no energy because I’m not keeping anything down – well it took another week to call back.

By week 9, my partner noticed I was getting thinner. I was losing weight and a shell of a person. I would just go from the bed to the toilet and back. I didn’t want to think about food or drink or anything. I was craving just ice at this point. But of course, if I drank anything I threw it up again. So I found the energy a couple days later to call the GP again. The stars aligned and I had a different receptionist. She set up an appointment for the GP to call back that morning.

By the time he did, it was lunchtime. I went through and explained what was going on and how I was barely using the bathroom. He asked me how much I had thrown up that morning before he called. I told him 3 times. He went, “Okay that is a lot. Clearly, the other medication is not working for you at all.”

He prescribed different medications to control nausea and also something to manage the burning in my oesophagus from throwing up so much. He also said if I can’t keep that medication down, I need to go to the hospital to get treated. In all honestly, I probably should have gone to the hospital the week before because I was so poorly. But I wasn’t in the right frame of mind.

Luckily, I kept the new medication down. The first day after I went from throwing up 7-8 times a day to throwing up 2-3 times. By now, almost 2 weeks later, I am down to throwing up once a day. Usually in the evening. The biggest difference is that the head fog has mostly cleared. I am still tired and things wear me out much more than before. But that could also just be because I am pregnant. I do have to be careful of any triggers for nausea since smelling them undoes the medication or the day. We found that out the hard way when my partner used the air fryer – and I spent the evening throwing up again.

I am writing this post mainly to let others know that if they end up in the situation I did – don’t delay getting treatment. I struggle sometimes with not wanting to be a burden on others. But in doing so, I just made things worse for myself. There are also many people who underestimate the toll pregnancy sickness can take on the body. They also underestimate how extreme it can be. My mental health rapidly deteriorated because I felt imprisoned by my own body. At one point I was considering terminating just so the sickness would stop for 5 minutes.

Luckily in the UK there is support out there. I didn’t find out about it until last week but it is there. If you are pregnant, reach out to your midwife or GP. And don’t be like me and avoid going to the emergency room so that you won’t be a burden.

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