In my last post I talked about the things that no one tells you about when having children. I didn’t talk about pregnancy or birth but one thing I didn’t really think about was the possibility and reality of morning sickness and how sometimes births don’t go to plan. Here’s my story, for no other reason than to write about it and hope that it might just help one person who had a horrible time or is currently struggling with things.
I’m writing about this now, even though my children are 10 and 6, because I’ve seen that Kate Middleton is again suffering with Hyperemisis Gravidarum for the third time. I’ve also just started following @hgreality on Instagram who is pregnant with her second child and has severe HG and it’s made me reflect on my time being pregnant and the awful nausea and sickness I experienced.
I realise this is a niche subject so feel free to skip this one, especially if you don’t do sick talk…..
When I fell pregnant back in 2006 I was aware that I might feel sick and yes as soon as I’d peed on that test and it came back positive the sickness started. What I always thought, and what is a common misconception, is that around the 12 week mark it would magically disappear. Well it didn’t. Plus it’s not just a bit of throwing up in the morning, it’s all consuming nausea and not quite knowing when the urge to vomit will occur. The best way to describe how it felt was like a constant hangover, overwhelming tiredness, fuzzy head, churning stomach and queasiness. At first it was manageable, because after all in a few weeks I’d be feeling great again wouldn’t I? As week 12 came and went and I reached week 16, I still felt terrible and then the restless leg syndrome kicked in. Who knew this was a thing? I’d never heard of it before. Sitting on the sofa was an issue, lying in bed was an issue, sitting at work was an issue. It’s almost indescribable but to me felt like a mix of aching muscles and lots of little electric shocks in my nerve endings. The only way to relieve this was to move about and I spent many a night (at 3am watching the Big Brother live feed) sat on a birthing ball bouncing around to try and relieve it. Then eventually of course, came the birth.
How I imagined birth would be – waters would break, I’d get contractions for a few hours, be in loads of pain then push a baby out and go home.
Reality – my waters never broke. I woke up in the early hours of a Saturday morning having contractions. I’d read about having a warm bath to help with the pain so this is what I did. I then diligently sat and timed my contractions for hours. Saturday night, still no sign of waters breaking and pain was getting worse. Phoned the maternity ward to be told to stay at home until the contractions got closer together. Sunday came and went and by Sunday evening I decided enough was enough and got my husband to drive me to hospital. They sent me home with nowt but a couple of painkillers. I borrowed a TENS machine off a friend, for anyone who doesn’t know this consists of a couple of sticky pads that stick to your back and give you electric shocks. Amazingly this helped for a while but by the time I was sat on Monday evening watching the return of Robbie Coltrane in Cracker (why I remember this particular thing I don’t know) I’d had enough and declared that I was going back to the hospital and was not leaving until this baby came out. They let me stay and gave me gas and air which made me sick (great just when I was feeling better), then I got an epidural and the difference it made was life changing. It meant I could sleep a bit, but spare a thought for my poor husband who had to try to sleep in a chair in the corner. By Tuesday lunchtime this bugger wasn’t coming out and the consultant declared a c-section was needed, I still remember him saying to me “don’t worry you haven’t failed by having to have a c-section”. Ha! I could have kissed him, by that point the thought of pushing this baby out was just too horrific to bear! The thing I remember most is the music they had playing in the operating theatre and how lovely and kind the anesthetist was. After much pulling and tugging they declared “it’s a boy” and what was, quite frankly, a toddler was held over the screen for me to see, all 10lbs and 7oz’s of him. Thank god that was over.
The experiences about pretty much put me off having anymore, which is why there is nearly a 5 year age gap between my two. However, I quite fancied a year off work so thought sod it, it can’t be any worse than last time.
Cue maniacal laughter and the wonder of hindsight. Did the pregnancy test, pretty soon after the sickness started again. Except this time is was constant and was coupled with migraines so bad I couldn’t see properly one day and had to rush from work to A&E where they promptly did loads of tests and I burst into tears when my mother in law turned up to see if I was OK. The sickness this time lasted until the day I was sat in the labour ward waiting to go to theatre for my c-section. This time it led me to being signed off work for nearly 2 months, not just for the sickness but also for the effect it was having on my mood and mental health. I can’t tell you just how much it got me down, I would be desperate to go to sleep at night as it was the only time I escaped from feeling sick. Random smells would set me off, to this day I can’t smell certain shampoos or washing powders without retching. We spent a week on holiday in a house in Cornwall and there was a certain smell there that just made me feel awful for the whole time. In fact I can still smell it now if I think about it hard enough and it still makes me nauseous. Smells like fresh lemons made me feel sick, coffee, garlic, onions and if one more person at the time said “have you tried ginger tea” I might have poured a hot cup of it over them. The pure relief when my daughter was born and I woke up the next day and didn’t feel sick made me want to weep (but that could have just been the morphine wearing off too….) Talking about the birth, this time I elected for a caesarian. We turned up at the hospital at some ungodly hour of the morning, stupidly thinking I’d go straight into theatre and have a new baby by mid morning. I was nil by mouth so by 4pm you can imagine how I was feeling, I had almost started hallucinating that my husband was a giant chicken drumstick like they do in cartoons. Hangry doesn’t even cover it. When I finally got taken into theatre I had to have an epidural and the realisation hit me that last time this happened I was so out of it I wouldn’t have cared less where they stuck a needle. This time I was completely stone cold sober, as it were. This was not something I was ever in a hurry to repeat again in the future. But anyway, my lovely daughter was born and thus led to a morphine-fuelled online shop on my phone buying up loads of lovely girl clothes. There were days after I got home from hospital where things were delivered that I had no recollection of ordering…….
So I never bloomed or blossomed whilst pregnant and I didn’t have standard births but I brought two amazing children into the world and don’t feel sick anymore, which is a bonus I guess.