This is Part Two of Millicent Makina’s experience with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which is severe nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. You can catch up with Part One of her story here. Millicent continues with her narration…
“Before I talk about my hospital stay, let me first just highlight the dynamics of vomiting violently while heavily pregnant. You lose bladder control. As if the madness you’re going through is not enough, now you have to deal with peeing on yourself as if you’re a toddler. I peed on myself so many times it became my new normal. At some point, I figured that if I rushed to the bathroom and peed before the vomit came out, I could potentially avoid that embarrassing situation. But the vomit wasn’t always so kind as to wait for me to get to the bathroom and my reaction time got slower as the belly got bigger and fatigue took over. So I just resorted to carrying a change of clothing. It was very embarrassing especially in the office and sometimes I would just walk out and go home. I felt so out of control.
Now, my hospital stay was less than pleasing. It took a while to know which doctor was treating me as so many were trooping in at a time, each with nurses in tow. Each doctor would ask me what the problem was and after explaining to them, they would smile cynically then tell me that what I was going through was normal. That it was just morning sickness which would go away when my pregnancy reached three months, never mind that I was four months pregnant at the time.
One particularly annoying doctor went further to tell me that quite frankly, he didn’t understand what I was doing at the hospital and if it were up to him, he would send me back home. To say I was angry is an understatement. Did this doctor think that I was just bored in my house and I decided to check myself in at the nearest hospital just for fun? I sent for the doctor treating me – the only one who seemed to understand my condition – but he was nowhere to be found. I was so mad, I decided that I was going to discharge myself from hospital. If I was going to die, then I preferred to die in my house. I was through with the pregnancy and with everybody treating me like I was pretending or being a sissy. I had reached my breaking point.
My husband and the wonderful nurses at the hospital who I must say had been very kind to me calmed me down and convinced me to at least wait for the doctor. When he finally came the next day and found me dragging myself around the room because I still did not have the strength to walk on my own, he asked me why I was insisting on going home when it was clear that I was not strong enough to be discharged from the hospital. In tears, I told him that I had had enough. I had no more fight left in me and was ready to go home, whatever the consequences.
At that point, I had become convinced that this baby, or me, or both of us… were not going to make it and I had made peace with that eventuality. Truth is, for my entire pregnancy, I avoided feeling too attached to the baby and didn’t even want to bother myself getting too excited about the baby’s sex or taking a baby bump photo shoot so that it wouldn’t hurt too much when I eventually lost the baby. I feel bad, remembering that I did not even buy a single thing for that baby until I reached 36 weeks. I did not even look at baby stuff. No window shopping, no planning, nothing. I was not convinced that this baby would be born.
I was discharged from hospital after a week, mostly due to my insistence. The IV rehydration and heavy medication had helped somewhat but the nausea and vomiting was still unrelenting though the vomiting frequency was now down to two times a day. I stayed at home for another two weeks with a concoction of medication and towards the end of the second week, I started feeling better and even managed to go some days without vomiting. As a result, I decided to do a daring thing and travelled out of the country though at the back of my head, I doubted the wisdom of that move. Surprisingly, those two weeks that I was outside made me feel much better, almost normal. I was on a heavily medicated truce. Actually, I had carried so much medicine with me I thought I would be stopped at the airport.
The day I landed back however, I was back to my old sick self. I’m not sure if it was because of the change of environment but I relapsed. I was five months pregnant at the time. The situation persisted until month seven when I started feeling better again. Now I could hold food down though the nausea was always lurking somewhere in the background and I still had infrequent bouts of vomiting. This is the month that saved me. I gained weight rapidly and my belly really popped.
Towards the end of the eighth month, I relapsed again. From then on, I would oscillate between recovery and relapse. Extreme fatigue also took over and I was told I had anaemia!
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