It took quite a few years for us to get pregnant due to complications with endometriosis, so I had a lot of time to plan my perfect pregnancy and birth, even writing it all in a journal ready for when the pregnancy miracle would happen. I had planned everything, and I was prepared for everything,except the unexpected.
Before we found out we were pregnant, I felt sick, really sick. I had a laparoscopy 6 weeks’ prior for endometriosis complications and so it never occurred to me that pregnancy was the cause as it seemed too soon after the operation. But, after multiple ultrasounds to rule out ectopic pregnancies and twins, we had a confirmed pregnancy. All I should have felt was joy, but it was tinged with nausea and I could not stop vomiting. I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum(severe pregnancy nausea and vomiting leading to weight loss, and dehydration) it affects 0.5 to 2% of all pregnancies. By the fourth month of pregnancy I had dropped nearly 9kg instead of gaining weight.
I was not prepared for this, I was ready to fill my body with nourishing organic food, to listen to classical music while cradling my growing belly and having maternity pictures taken while glowing in the miracle of pregnancy. I was not prepared to be terrified that I was failing as a woman as my body was not coping well with pregnancy.
I was not prepared to be hospitalised multiple times, to barely be able to suck on ice without vomiting, and to have to leave work earlier than planned. I was not prepared for this to not go to plan.
My Obstetrician was extremely supportive but kept telling me it would get better… it didn’t. For the first three months I was in and out of hospital and barely able to consume anything. I was petrified the whole time that my baby was not going to receive the nutrients it needed. Luckily for me, babies are much more resilient than we give them credit for and the pregnancy continued. Unfortunately, though in hyperemesis cases the baby is able to survive by depleting the mothers’stores of minerals and nutrients. This has left lasting thyroid and deficiency problems in my body that I am still recovering from but I am still thankful every day that I was able to even conceive a child.
The worst part of the hyperemesis is not the constant vomiting and nausea but coming to terms with the fact that society has cognitively ingrained in us that this is a natural process for a woman and that the body is designed for it. Mentally I struggled with the fact that not only did we have trouble conceiving but my body was not handling something I was supposedly biologically built to do.
By the sixth month, even the water droplets from the shower made me vomit. The ultrasounds were my only light at the end of the tunnel, seeing that my baby was still growing despite my illness. As my body weakened labour became an unknown and scary prospect for me and I questioned whether I would even have the strength to do it but it was the last part of my birth plan that could still happen and I clung to it and visualised how I was going to bring my baby into the world.
Finally, a few weeks before my due date for medical reasons my doctor told me that the natural birth I had planned was not possible and a C-section was needed within the week. Every single part of my birth plan was gone and I was devastated
But, I had a healthy little girl and I was lucky to be able to get pregnant again (and hyperemesis again! not so lucky) with a boy that completed our family.
My pregnancy journey was not what I’d wanted. But I have gained strength knowing I could get through it and recover from it. I now know whatever your pregnancy and birth journey is, if it doesn’t go to plan you will be ok. I was extremely fortunate and blessed to have a supportive husband and family who helped me through emotionally and physically in this difficult process. In fact, I believe I’ve come out of it a more resilient person, and more grateful for my body for giving me my children even if it wasn’t the way I’d planned or hoped.
The hyperemesis changed my birth and pregnancy plans but my imperfect pregnancy and birth journey led to two healthy, happy babies. This for me was the perfect outcome of an imperfect journey and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
I’m an Australian stay at home mum to two beautiful children Olivia (2- years old) and Jensen (1-year-old). I suffered from severe hyperemesis gravidarum during pregnancy and endometriosis prior to pregnancy. I love reading, and learning particularly about holistic living, women’s health and parenting. I currently live in New Zealand.
photo by Norris Chau Photography