I don’t really know where to start this post, especially since I have only started blogging again very recently after 4 months of nothing. I’ve been meaning to write something for a while but every time I start, I stop. For fear of I don’t know what really, but anyway, I’m here now and I’m going to post this no matter what, as I have some big news to share.
The reason for the majority of my silence over the last 3 months is mostly because I have been very unwell, in and out of hospital and mostly bed bound. However, the reason behind my sickness is incredibly exciting, I am pregnant! Before I start blabbering on about how horrendous the first trimester was and your start thinking of me as some moaning mummy to be- let me assure you that I couldn’t feel more overwhelmed or privileged to be carrying this tiny little bundle and despite my 13 weeks of morning, noon and night vomiting (up to 40 times a day) alongside countless other symptoms, I wouldn’t change my experience for anything.
Before I begin I also want to say that in no way is the condition I had during my first trimester anything to do with my Type One Diabetes, it’s completely separate and something that any woman can get during her pregnancy.
On December 26th and being in the earliest stage of pregnancy I started with extreme nausea and vomiting. It started off feeling a bit like severe motion sickness, but I couldn’t shake the nausea. After several days without any food or drink and constant sickness I had to be carried in to A & E by my husband, Ports, where I was swiftly diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, given a 3 inch injection in to my bottom (Merry Christmas!) and sent on my way with a few leaflets and a bag of anti-sickness drugs. 24-7 and 7 days a week for 13 weeks it clung to me. Even when I was sick there was no release as the nausea was still there. In just 13 weeks I lost 10kg (22lbs) and had been in and out of hospital and the early pregnancy unit on a concoction of rehydration, drugs and drips. My idea of pregnancy had always been that, other than my insulin, I was going to be the healthiest and happiest mummy-to-be and wouldn’t be taking anything else other than the usual folic acid and vitamins. Well, let me tell you that idealistic plan went straight out of the window. The anti-sickness drugs seemed to do nothing, but I was too scared not to take them for fear of my already challenging scenario being somehow worse.
Trying to balance my blood sugars as well as deal with the sickness was a task in itself. I couldn’t eat, or drink, even a single sip of water would leave me retching. Because of this I ended up with something called ketoacidosis which any one can get, but is particularly dangerous for diabetics if your sugars are high. For me, mine were the opposite, they were very very low and because I couldn’t eat or drink I was struggling to get them up. My body had basically gone in to starvation mode and so I had to be in and out of hospital on a drip to rehydrate me. It’s amazing once you are diagnosed with something and you start researching it, you realise how many thousands of other women there are going through exactly the same thing. I knew that morning sickness existed but I didn’t realise how severe it could be and by severe , this meant debilitating and for someone with Type one diabetes, life threatening. Hyperemesis Gravidarum isn’t widely spoken about until you Google it and read about all the women who have struggled with it. Some in an even worse state than me. I remember reading, one rainy afternoon at about 4 pm when I had spent the last 4 hours on the bathroom floor being sick with blood and bile that a woman had gone to full term with this HG and only on giving birth did it actually stop. I burst in to floods of tears at the thought that I too could be taking the same journey. The woman had started her pregnancy at 9 stone and by the time she’d had the baby she was 7 stone.
On my 6th week pregnant I had an emergency early scan, as they wanted to check that a) I wasn’t having twins (as they are notorious for causing HG) and b) It wasn’t something more sinister. As I was wheeled in to the room and climbed on to the bed I just remember feeling so deflated and worried. The very personable sonographer was so positive and calming as she put the warm gel on my tummy. No sooner had the transducer touched my skin, we immediately saw a tiny sack and a very big heart beat! Hearing it and seeing it was the most magical moment of our lives so far. Ports burst in to tears and so did I. I was most certainly pregnant with just one tiny, growing treasure.
Not only was I unfortunate enough to suffer with the HG I also had multiple other pregnancy symptoms, some unrelated to the HG: severe constipation (9 days was my record), headaches, boobs that were so swollen and heavy and that had come from nowhere- the only thing on my body that was big! Then possibly the worst symptom of all (yes, there was another) excessive saliva and the constant need to spit…. not just a couple of times a day, this was needing to spit saliva every ten seconds. There was no escaping it. Luckily I was so ill I couldn’t go anywhere any way, but the times I had to go to hospital I had to carry a towel with me in which to spit. It was VILE….I would go through 4 full-sized body towels a day, plus cups / bowls and containers and because of this my mouth was red red raw, swollen, dry and would bleed constantly. I’m not going to sugar coat this story as I think it’s only fair of me to be honest, and on those women who are still suffering from HG.
Ports, my parents and brother were incredible. My rocks. It must have been so awful for them to see me struggling and in such a terrible state, but they bought so much light to my very very dark days and I am so very grateful to have them as I literally couldn’t have got through it without them. It’s amazing how feeling so unwell for so long can completely alter your usual ability to rationalise and see anything positively. There were so many moments where I was inconsolable and couldn’t speak for pain and sickness, but all I could think about was that I was nurturing such precious cargo and I would and had to get through it.
I told a very small group of friends from the start who were equally incredible. I was so scared about the what ifs but I realised pretty quickly that just listening to their funny stories, their worries, their daily lives and their words of encouragement helped me no end in carrying on.
The positive day came on my 12 week scan, which was during my 13th week of pregnancy. I woke up that morning with no sickness and only a tiny bit of nausea. It was almost a feeling of normality and I couldn’t believe it. Part of me panicked a little as I suddenly feared there was something wrong as all the symptoms I’d had for 13 weeks solid had virtually disappeared! We went along to our 12 week scan and there was no longer a sack and a heartbeat but a tiny little human being body kicking its little legs and doing turns. It was incredibly overwhelming and from that moment, the nausea went and only 3 days later, the spitting stopped too and slowly my body began to heal. Throughout all of this, the baby was of course fine. It’s amazing what the mother can be going through and yet the baby remain in complete health. The sonographer said that the baby was quite similar to a parasite, in that it would just take exactly what it needed and not leave me with not much else!
I know I am incredibly lucky not to have HG any more (touch wood) as a lot of women suffer from it for the majority of their pregnancy, they can end up with feeding tubes and on a permanent hospital ward. My sugars have remained quite low but have certainly stabilised a lot from being constantly hypo and actually my diabetes has been the most manageable it has ever been (HBA1C 4.5%). The support I have received from the hospital has been incredible. I have to attend weekly appointments, either with a midwife or a nurse and then I have a once monthly diabetic nurse appointment and a joint diabetic professor and obstetrician (every 3 weeks). It’s monitored so closely and taken so seriously and I am very fortunate to feel secure that I am being looked after.
For the last 9 weeks I have got my strength back, I am eating and drinking normally and I have no nasty symptoms. I have put the majority of the weight back on that I had lost- and I have a wonderful bump that’s growing at a rate of knots and makes my heart flutter every time I look at it or touch it. Only in the last 3 weeks have I started showing, but it has been a rapid growth! I was especially proud last night when we popped in to the supermarket and the cashier said to me “how long have you got”, I didn’t know what she meant to begin with, and then suddenly it clicked, pregnancy lingo.
I am now 21 weeks pregnant and yesterday we had out 20 week scan, also known as an abnormality scan. Everything was normal and healthy for now with our tiny little bundle kicking its legs and having hiccups on-screen which broke my heart in to a million pieces. I can’t believe how in love both P and I are with it already and I will do absolutely anything in my power to keep my precious cargo safe.
The baby is due on 24th August, although because of my Diabetes I will not be allowed to go to full term so I will likely be induced at 37-38 weeks – unless my little womb lodger decides to naturally evacuate (safely and securely of course!!) before then!
I know this is going to seem strange for some of my readers, as you follow me for recipes on food alone, but I want to share my pregnancy journey in the hope that it might help other HG sufferers and those with Diabetes……and of course, any one who has a genuine interest in pregnancy! We all have a different story to share and I hope you will enjoy reading about mine, warts n’ all.