Maker Musings: We're Having a Baby! (A First Trimester with Hyperemesis Gravidarum)
We're having a baby! For the last few months I didn't know if we'd be able to say those words out loud, let alone be able to post it on social media.
Now that I'm not throwing up everything, all day long (and officially over the first trimester hump and in the doc approved clear), I figured I would share. Because it wasn't easy. It wasn't the gorgeous Pinterest-mom first trimester I thought it would be.
First, shout out to my husband and mother. When you're literally unable to do anything for yourself for weeks, it helps to have a support system. One that's not going to care if you haven't showered in days or can't remember the last time you washed your hair, but is happy to make food (that you won't keep down) and buy Gatorade (that you also won't keep down) and then proceed to lovingly watch you not keep it any of it down.
And the story goes...
When we first found out we were pregnant it was scary and exciting all at once. But after the initial shock of "OMG we're going to be bringing a tiny human into this world" we started planning. Which, as most parents will tell you, doesn't mean anything because nothing will go according to plan.
Those first week after taking the test were fantastic. I was tired, yes, but felt great otherwise. Then, all of a sudden I started getting nauseous. It wasn't all the time, but it would come and go.
Fast forward another couple days and BAM. Anything that went in came right back out. (Water included). I had gone from "this is going to be a breeze" to "please kill me now." Luckily, my husband is friends with a fantastic OBGYN who deals with high risk cases. She suggested I come see her and we figure out what was going on.
Besides having Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) (which she didn't diagnose for a few more days), she was worried about a few other things. So we did some tests, and I had more blood drawn. (You have a LOT of blood drawn when pregnant, apparently)
A few days after that, without being able to keep down liquids or food since I saw her, I made the decision to go to Urgent Care for an IV of fluids. I felt like one of those cartoon characters withering away in a desert somewhere waiting for the fluffy Saint Bernard to bring them water.
The nurses at Urgent Care were amazing. They took care of me like I was their own family. I was given an IV, blankets and heat packs (because my body temperature had dropped and I was shaking so bad). And then they left me to nap. After the IV had finished, they gave me a popsicle and sent me home. Well they sent me to Target to pick up something that would help with the vomiting. After throwing up at the pharmacy counter inside of Target, I made it home (the whole quarter mile), but passed out in the driveway. The warm nap was just what I needed to get me the 15 steps inside the front door and to the couch.
I told myself that the IV would help. That I'd be magically fixed. Well, no such luck. Being that dehydrated isn't easily fixed with one bag of fluids.
So the next day I had to go back. I still couldn't keep food or liquids down and I could barely stand. My husband took me to Urgent Care where we waited for a couple hours just to have the doctor tell us she recommended we go to the ER. She said this was no longer a simple Urgent Care matter.
So off to the ER we went. (I've NEVER liked hospitals, just so you know) Given my weird fear of aversion to hospitals, I was already anxious when we walked in. They checked me in and took me back for blood work and (or so they said) to start an IV infusion. As we were led to another, and if it's possible, more run down and crowded room, I started to feel even. more anxious.
The nurse went to draw blood and said she was going to get my medication. At this point, I had to ask, "what medication?" I had no idea what she was talking about. She said the one the doctor recommends. Funny thing is, no ER doctor ever approached me while I was in the waiting room. Hello, red flag (or lawsuit?). Being that I was anxious, hadn't eaten in days, and was starting to feel confused, I may have snapped. (She was also not very good at drawing blood)
Apparently, I can be rude when anxious, starving and confused. Or so my husband lovingly told me later. I don't remember what I said, but I'll attribute that to the hunger.
The nurse then led me to a chair in that same dingy, dirty, over crowded room and told us to wait until there was a "bed" available. In my nauseated induced confusion, I assumed this to mean a room.
So a couple hours later, there was finally a bed ready. A nurse led us to said bed, which was really what they said, a BED. Not a room, but a bed, shoved up against a hallway wall, in a row of beds. Again, I threw up. So here we are, waiting, again. I was given blankets and a heat pack and fell asleep. I was woken up so that they could start the first IV. And so the nurse could get some meds in me. It took her 10 minutes of telling me how safe the medication was, how she'd trust her sister to be on it, that she herself took it while pregnant, blah blah blah. It's hard to convince a couple who's lives are based in the idea that there's a natural solution.
And then she won. I tell you, I haven't so much as taken an Advil in the last decade, but as soon as that nurse brought up the baby being in danger, she knew she had me.
Three bags of fluids and 10mg of Raglan later, I was able to eat 2 crackers and have 5 sips of water. Twenty minutes later, they were still in my stomach. They even stayed in my stomach until the car ride home! Which we had to convince the hospital staff I was capable of doing, going home.
My husband was in touch with our amazing doctor the whole time and when she realized what I had (HG) decided to order me home health care. Meaning, nurses would come by and hook me up to an IV and medication pump that would go 24/7.
Two days after that visit to the ER, a shipment of IV fluid bags and medical supplies arrived on our front door. Then a nurse came, took us through a two hour training, showed us how to use everything and hooked me up to my first IV. The next day, she returned and explained my medication pump. A device that would connect a syringe of medication fluid directly to my stomach (at an insertion site I'd have to change every two days) so that I would have a constant flow of medication, helping to (not ease the nausea), but to keep me from actually vomiting.
At that point, we called my mother and asked her to come up and help. I still couldn't do anything on my own, and with my husband in school full time, we knew we needed the extra person. Plus, your mother tends to still love you no matter how long it'd been since you showered.
So there I was, hooked up a medication pump and an IV, when we also learned from my doctor that I would need to take extra Progesterone and shots to help thin my blood (blood clots are bad, just so you know). Great, I thought. What else will go wrong.
As luck would have it, nothing else went wrong. After a week I was, for the most part, keeping down canned peaches and red Gatorade. Then I could keep plain rice down. Then plain chicken.
But since I had lost so much weight, had extremely high ketones, and wasn't drinking enough liquids, the doctor still worried. Her final advice was to "eat only sugar." To this day, it's the only time I've ever wanted to hug a medical personnel.
EAT ONLY SUGAR. Done! I had my husband run and get me doughnut holes. They didn't stay down, but oh man did they taste amazing.
Needless to say, that didn't last long as figured out that too sugary of foods makes me throw up. But it sure lifted my spirits for a minute.
Weeks of my mother coming up to help, of the IV fluids and the medication pump went by faster than I thought. Looking back that is, because during it felt like time had stilled and the universe was trying to punish me.
Changing the insertion site didn't hurt as bad as I thought, but being poked with a needle every couple days doesn't ever get "fun." And finally, that first weekend in March I started to feel a little better. I was eating real food. Like food my Grandma had made! Although I was still eating small portions every hour and a half to keep from throwing up.
That's when the home health nurse asked if I'd considered weaning off of the medication pump. I immediately freaked out. I'd only started to feel half human because of it. I was terrified to stop. But the doctor had told us that she'd only allow me on it until the end of the first trimester. So I sucked it up. By the following weekend I had begun weaning off. At this point, I was puking significantly less and was eating a little more. I had even started gaining a little weight back.
By the beginning of that next week, I was able to take the pump out completely. Fast forward a few more days (and crazy emotional ups and downs), to when we're sitting at our 14 week ultra sound appointment and waiting patiently for good news.
I'd literally fought for a child's life, through extreme dehydration, a diagnosis that affects less than 200,000 women in the US each year, all to be sitting in that room waiting for the tech to tell us it was all worth it.
And she did. Meet the newest edition to The Willow Field family:
The picture is blurry because the baby was such a squirmy little thing the tech had a hard time getting a clear shot.
But here we are, with a healthy baby, a mama that's still puking, but healthy, and a crazy story that I will be sure to guilt our future child with.
Thanks for being a part of this wild adventure with us!