Ja'Nai's 2nd HG Pregnancy
By Ja'Nai Wilkes, HG Survivor and Peer Support
We had been trying to conceive, but after some time and no “luck” I decided it was best to continue my education. Weeks went by. Then, trails of body odors and perfumes began to linger in the air. A family member jokingly laughed and suggested that I might be pregnant, so I immediately took a pregnancy test and it was positive! It started to look like my little one had plans of their own.
I was a cosmetology student, finding my new found freedom and creativity, and it was a wonderful direction my education was headed in. Then one day, the chemicals began to turn my stomach and the fumes were becoming too intense. Walking through the halls of the cosmetology school, I felt the all too familiar nausea. Because of the growing intensity of my dizziness, I could not tolerate the air long enough to be a fulltime or even part time student. So I had to drop out. It was such a difficult day letting go of a dream, but there were more difficult days to come.
I didn't know what was ahead, but I was excited to meet our little one- hopeful to meet our little one. The news was shared with my instructors and classmates, and everyone seemed to have that “pregnancy cheer”, even me.
I naturally assumed that this pregnancy would be something similar to my first. But, when they say, “Every pregnancy is different,” they really mean it… I was ready to face this. I was ready to fight. I battled HG before and was ready to do it again. My heart was ready to hold more love, and it grew more and more everyday.
During this pregnancy, I no longer had healthcare insurance, and the assistance I applied for had an unknown amount of waiting time. No insurance meant the costly medications were going to be out of pocket. Since our home was a single income household, we struggled to afford it, that miracle pill Zofran and at times, Phenergan. And without those pills, the vomiting was unrelenting. 24/7 nausea. I would vomit excessive spit, or heave it with stomach bile until my stomach and sides would tightened from cramps. Sweat would drench my clothes. And just as quickly as I was hot, the wetness made me chilled and nauseous. Cold fabric would cling to me and it would hurt my skin. I could smell myself. I could smell everything and it was horrid, even the smell of my child. Exhaustion lasted all day and all night, with no relief. The headache was constant and so was the pain.
I had more Emergency Department visits than I can remember throughout this entire pregnancy. No trimester was “safe” for me. One of the more memorable times in the Emergency Department was a wintery day. Snow had fallen, and rain came and froze everything. While my partner at the time watched our child (my first HG baby) someone gave me a ride to the hospital. I remember thinking how long and dizzying the drive seemed on the ice. All I wanted to do was keep my insides inside of me and get to the hospital safely.
Throughout this pregnancy, I began learning how to pronounce Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Checking into the emergency department or calling 911, I would say, “I am X amount of weeks pregnant. I have Hyperemesis Gravidarum, and I haven't been able to keep food or water down for X amount of days.”
Hospital visits were usually the same. I would wait for hours, trying to sleep leaning in a chair, but that was fine with me, as long as they gave me IV fluids and anti-nausea medications. There were multiple needle sticks for IVs, multiple blown veins, multiple nurses who would try to get tiny, dehydrated veins to corporate. If you were to look at my arms, you would have seen a hospital bracelet, fresh and old bruises covering them, band aids, medical tape residue, chapped skin and the many attempts for an IV.
Oh, but once someone successfully got the IV in, I could feel the coolness of the fluid flowing into me. IVs always felt like a flush of life. It was within me to go another day. There was a great mental relief as the nurses prepared to give me Zofran and/ or Phenergan. Phenergan never helped with nausea, but it did help me get some much needed sleep, even though I threw up almost immediately after waking up.
When you throw up most of the day, unyielding stomach and esophagus burning, 24/7 nausea and you are caring for your child under the age of 2, you don’t sleep much. When caring for a child and you have HG, things are incredibly, monumentally difficult. Well, it was this way for me. Our home was a disaster.
Not on medication, I could only lay on my bed and vomit into my trashcan, exhaustedly pleading with my body to just sleep, and wish my pregnancy away. I was too weak to walk to the bathroom. When I was on medication, I could eat and drink and my thankfulness for these medications was immense.
I had hope and as the days moved closer to term, my insurance finally went through and emergency department visits began to decrease, because we could now afford my medications.
My favorite, most memorable meal was a roasted chicken. There was a totally different relationship with food by the end of this pregnancy.
Since I went over 40 weeks, my doctor decided to induce me at exactly 41 weeks. I went into the hospital exhausted, but ready. Before they could induce me, my baby came on his own. Oh what a glorious day!
I had conquered my second HG pregnancy with a strength inside that I had never known before, but so grateful that I could endure it.