Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Hyperemesis: A horrendous condition... to call it morning sickness is an insult

Pippa Middleton leaves the King Edward VII hospital in London after visiting her sister, the Duchess of Cambridge

Hyperemesis. Simply writing the word makes me feel sick. For any woman who has ever suffered this horrendous, debilitating condition, describing it as bad ‘morning sickness’ is an insult.

It’s morning, noon and night, unrelenting and violent vomiting. It’s weeks on end of starvation, with an inability to even look at food, let alone eat it.

It’s looking at a glass of water and seeing a glass of paint-stripper. It’s quite simply the worst experience of my life, despite the wonderful reason I had it.

I’ve had hyperemesis twice — and landed in hospital twice with severe dehydration — so my heart goes out to the Duchess of Cambridge as she lies connected to a drip.

In my first pregnancy, ‘normal’ morning sickness set in at around seven weeks and spiralled quickly into non-stop vomiting.

I struggled on until eventually I gave up and got in to bed. I didn’t get out for seven weeks, except for trips to the hospital.

If I shared the full, gory details, I suspect you would stop reading.

This is the sanitised version. I vomited up to 10 times a day, and that doesn’t include the endless wretching brought on by your incredible heightened sense of smell. Everyone’s perfume, dinner, washing powder and smoking habits provoke a violent reaction.

I genuinely thought I was starving to death. It didn’t matter to my body that I hadn’t eaten for weeks, I just kept vomiting.

And that took a physical toll such as rib injuries, pulled muscles in my chest, permanent damage to the skin on my face and burst blood vessels in my eyes.

I fainted regularly and couldn’t stand up unaided for any longer than a few minutes. When I lost a stone and a half within three weeks, I was put on anti-nausea tablets which didn’t work.

The only thing that gets you through, is knowing that the baby is fine. Scans revealed my daughter to be several weeks smaller than expected, as she remained until full term, but perfectly healthy.

My sickness subsided enough by 15 weeks to return to work, after seven weeks off, but I kept being sick every morning until 21 weeks when it suddenly stopped.

By the time I reached full term, I was still lighter in weight than I was when I conceived.

I had my second battle with hyperemesis earlier this year when I had two spells in the Ulster Hospital with dehydration, the first at eight weeks pregnant and again after losing a stone and a half.

I spent three days on a drip and was back three weeks later for another day on a drip.

I couldn’t drink water because it genuinely tasted like paint-stripper. My head told me it was water, my tastebuds disagreed.

When you have a toddler, you simply can’t get in to bed for weeks on end but that’s where I ended up again, leaving my saintly husband to it.

My sickness this time came to an end when I lost the baby at 11 weeks, a harrowing experience for both of us.

I will forever be haunted by the countless times I wished my hyperemesis away in my lowest moments.

My advice to William and Kate is tough it out.

The journey is rough but the reason is precious.

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