This post is a modified version of one originally posted here.
With the announcement that the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant and experiencing Hyperemesis Gravidarum once again, the questions have started rolling in: Lots of women deal with morning sickness in pregnancy, why does Kate get all this attention for being sick? But this isn't just morning sickness; it's morning sickness with a chip on it's shoulder and a tendency to be an overachiever. It's the Hunger Games of morning sickness, except your fiercest rival lives inside your body and is what you are defending the most. Hyperemesis Gravidarum, Latin for "lots of puking in pregnancy," isn't something to be fought with ginger ale and crackers; it can be lethal. I don't know how to tell you why this matters to me or what HG is like. Though I'm used to being able to express myself fairly well via the written word, for some reason, I just can't find the words. The truth is, I just don't know how. There's too much and it is still so hard to talk about.
I don't know how to explain the way HG robs everything wonderful, everything beautiful from pregnancy.
I don't know how to tell you that though I wanted every one of my babies, I never wanted to be pregnant.
There are no words to describe the guilt I felt and grief I sometimes still have over hating pregnancy.
I don't know if I can even begin to explain how much I wanted to "just eat" but every time I ate, my insides would turn inside out and punish me for hours until there wasn't even bile left.
Or the courage it takes to admit I wanted to end my pregnancies or my life.
And I don't know how to tell you that sometimes, it was hard to hear about or see happily, glowing pregnant women.
Because I know, I KNOW that even with that, I am one of the lucky ones. I got to have my babies.
I don't know how to tell you that being told I was lucky I got to be skinny while pregnant or how good I looked made me crumble that people couldn't see how I was dying, physically and emotionally, on the inside.
I don't know where to start on the toll HG takes on my family, my husband and my children. Their suffering burned more than I can say.
I don't know how to explain what it's like to vomit so much you can't breathe.
I don't know how to share with you how the force of vomiting and dry heaving out of control leaves you spent and dizzy and gasping for air.
I don't know what words to use to paint the picture of never ending nausea and vomiting.
I don't know the way to make you understand why I stopped counting how many vomiting sessions I had in a day once I reached 24, even if it was only noon.
And I really don't know how to spell out what that looks like every day, all day, for 40 weeks.
Because I know, I do KNOW that it could have been so much worse. I got to have my babies.
I don't know if it will make sense that I couldn't eat anything, no matter how hard I tried, not even crackers or ginger or anything else.
I don't think you'll want to hear how much I wanted to take said crackers, ginger or anything else and shove them where the sun don't shine to the next person attempting to be helpful that suggested I "just" try that.
I don't know if I can handle sharing how my nurses would try to find a viable vein in my dehydrated body and still fail after a dozen attempts. Even the specialists.
I don't know how to tell you that nobody doubted me having absolutely no control over the HG as much as I did.
I don't know if I can make it clear how much I felt like a failure every day, every time I vomited, every time I heaved.
I don't know if blame even touches the contempt I felt for myself when my babies weren't growing well.
Words fail me when I try to explain the confusion, depression and physical bleakness that comes with dehydration. I was almost always dehydrated.
And I don't know when I'll stop crying when I confess that I was always afraid of how this was hurting my growing baby.
Because I know, I KNOW so well that in the end, it was all OK. I get to hold my babies.
I don't know if I can deal with your questions as to why I would continue having babies if my pregnancies were so terrible.
I don't know why you would want to hear about how I got down to 83 pounds at five months pregnant, my skin yellow, my organs failing, and how as much as I wanted to just eat, I couldn't.
I don't know if I can keep it together to recount the things people, health care providers, said to me as I fought to get well.
I don't know what stories to tell, like how my toddlers would pretend to throw up, that if I ventured outside my house, I christened every place I visited in my town, or how I would do my job in between vomiting -- if I could not pass out long enough.
I don't know if it will make any sense that I have a love/hate relationship with my PICC scar, a bittersweet reminder of what it took to survive growing my babies.
I don't know how to describe the taste of bile and then blood on my tongue for weeks at a time.
The gratitude I feel for those that believed me, fought for me and took risks for me defies adequate expression; I know they saved me.
Because I know, trust me, oh how I KNOW that this agony ended well. I get to hold my babies.
I don't know the vocabulary required to detail what the caustic stomach juices did to my throat and my teeth and my spirit.
I don't know how to tell you the fear I still hold that being on the maximum dose of Zofran and the drug cocktail that was poured directly into my veins harmed my babies.
I don't know if I can voice the even greater fear that organ failure and ketosis was harming them more than the drugs ever could.
I don't know how to narrate the experience of trying to decide if I should save the life of the mother of my existing children or hope to live through my body shutting down to try to keep growing their little sister.
Or the anxiety I have that my daughters will face the same fate when they begin to have children of their own.
Because I know, please know that I KNOW how blessed I am to even have my children.
But I know this too: more people need to be aware of HG, to help with research and to help support those families impacted by HG. I know this. To learn more about HG please go to helpher.org.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
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