Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pregnancy Update

A lot of people have been asking me out of true concern how I am doing with this pregnancy. I usually try to smile and give a pleasant answer. Sometimes I am truthful and say that I don't feel good, but I brush it off as though it were a side note.

The truth is, that we are SO EXCITED to be having another baby. We have planned this for a while, and the baby will be about the same age difference as my sister an I. Though my sister and I did not always get along, we didn't have the most normal of childhood either. We are better than best friends now. That aside, It was becoming clear that Daphne would love someone to play with, and we were ready to make another addition.

Looking back on Daphne's pregnancy, I can hardly believe some of the stories that I tell. Yes, it is true, that I spent an entire summer laying on the floor of our condo trying to "work" while making frequent trips to throw up. It is also true, that after extensive and expensive doctor's visits, it was clear that we were not going to find a natural solution. From weeks 9-20 I took Unisom to help with the vomiting. I lost 15% of my body weight because I couldn't eat. Eventually, the Unisom helped to curb the problem, albeit, not stop it all together. The best move I could have made was to trek off to Europe alone. I left when I was 10 weeks pregnant or so. I spent the first 2 weeks going around Italy alone and then I met up with the school and spent another lovely 3 weeks exploring more beauty. When I was 16 weeks pregnant, I ended up on Paros. I got along well eating souvlakis and chicken burgers until all of the restaurants closed and I was stuck making my own food. After throwing up constantly, I decided I was going to cut my semester short my 3 weeks and come home.

It wasn't much better at home, our house was soon flooded (just two weeks after I got home) and we spent until mid Feburary working around mold and staying in a hotel. I still did not feel good. In fact, I remember Jared and I both got the flu in the hotel, and someone had to go get dinner that night. We were arguing about who was more sick and who had to go get the food.

We were back in our house for a mere 2 weeks before Daphne was born. I spent the majority of it in bed watching Good Eats assuring myself it would not last longer. Jared made me a very requested meal of bacon and zucchini one day, just for me to throw it up. Something about throwing up that meal was so discouraging.

Daphne's 48 hour labor ended up unexpectedly as a c-section. After she was born, I had a hard 6 weeks of recovery, that was still accompanied by nausea and vomiting. It took a while for me to not be sick.

Despite all of that, I was determined to find a solution to not being sick again.

This pregnancy has me in a bit more of a normal situation. I am at home, not trekking around Europe, but somehow this is worse.

When I found out I was finally pregnant, I was happy. I was determined to eat right, so I kept a journal and made it a goal to eat 100 grams of protein a day. That went well until I started getting sick. I kept track and kept track until I was so sick that I was discouraged how little I was eating. Almost none of it was staying down. I stopped this practice on 11.5.08 when it was clear that all of the pills were not working well, and that I was going to be sick again.

I spent some time going to the doctor and reading pregnancy forums for morning sickness cures. I got a lot of advice and tried it all, and alas, I was still throwing up a lot. In fact, it was increasing.

And so, I gave up in mid November and resorted to using Unisom. Sadly, the usual 25mg does was not working, so I was doubling it up to 50mg. I was wary about using Unisom because I am wary about all drugs while pregnant, but it was clear that I wasn't going to survive unless I did this.

Truthfully, I am a very lucky person that taking Unisom actually works. A lot of people with severe morning sickness aren't so lucky, and a lot of them have to go on strong drugs, or live on bed rest in the hospital on TPN.

Some days I feel good, while other days I feel terrible. I tend to take the good days for granted and do the necessary housework that has to be done so that Jared doesn't give up on me and hire a fully time nanny/housekeeper. On the good days, I feel invincible like it is time to take less Unisom, like maybe I am actually getting better.

I forgot to take the Unisom on Christmas Eve, and I discovered how badly I needed it. I spent the entire day throwing up. I stopped counting out of discouragement when I had thrown up the 40th time. I couldn't make food or eat food. I was hungry and thirsty, but the more I ate and drank the more I threw up. I felt miserable, and it was CLEAR that this was not just plain morning sickness.

I got back on the Unisom after that, but it took a week or so to recover back to being able to function on a basic level. I took a trip to my sister's house for a week last week, and I started to feel good. I decided to try taking 25mg of Unisom instead of the regular 50mg. Both times I tried it, I was feeling terrible, and I threw up everything that I ate.

So here I am back home 15 weeks pregnant still feeling sick. I went to go grocery shopping yesterday because were out of food. I tend to feel much worse in the afternoons, so I headed to the store with Daphne. I had a list and was making my way through the list when I started to feel really ill. Looking at all the food that makes me sick makes me even sicker. I made it to the frozen foods aisle and somethings snapped. I literally started grabbing random things while muttering, "This will do, this will do." I walked down random aisles picking up random food despite the fact that I had everything on my list. When I got to the tea aisle, I was sobbing because I felt so bad, and I wasn't even sure that I was going to be able to make the short 5 mile drive home.

When I got home, I apologized to Jared saying, "I spent 80 dollars on groceries, but I'm not sure what I bought." I even surprised myself with what I had gotten as I spent the time to put it away.

Over the past two days, I was asked to participate in a study about Hyperemesis gravidarum. Hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition of pregnancy of severe vomiting. It is characterized by more than 10% of your body weight lost, severe vomiting (in excess of 5 times per day), dehydration, malnutrition. Hyperemesis gravidarum usually starts much earlier in pregnancy and lasts much longer than regular morning sickness. Hyperemesis gravidarum can extend past the pregnancy at times.

I was accepted to participate in a study that studies some of the various aspects of the disease. I was accepted. This may seem dumb, but I was sure that I was not in this category. Not because I thought it was bad, but I just thought it didn't fit. After looking it over yesterday and being accepted into this study, it is almost relieving to have some sort of an answer.

My friend pointed out that I won the jackpot considering that it affects less than 2% of pregnant women. They have no idea was causes it and no way to handle it except for various drugs.

My basic spirit is strong in the midst of not feeling well even though I feel discouraged every day when I throw up, or can't eat or don't feel like going to an activity I had planned to attend.

I feel most discouraged by the fact that most people don't really understand. Unless you have experienced this extreme sickness, it is hard to get a grasp on. When people tell me to eat more protein or to just take this supplement or do that, it is discouraging to think that none of those things work, and that additionally, people think it's just a dramatic morning sickness.

I will make it through this, and I will be OK. My fate is not as grim as Charlotte Bronte's who actually died from Hyperemesis gravidarum. I AM excited to have another baby, just riding a little more of a bumpy road than I was expecting to.


Rachel Karl said...

This is incredibly enlightening, Chris. Thanks for sharing your story.

Rachel Karl said...

Very enlightening. Thanks for sharing, Chris.