Hyperemesis Gravidarum (Or My Wife’s Pregnancy Sucks)

My wife suggested I write a post on my blog about living with someone with Hyperemesis. Something until this year I had never heard of and never knew existed. Something that now has taken control of every aspect of the lives of myself and my family. It is an experience I would like to share if I can find the words.

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This won’t be one of those posts full of pictures like a lot of my posts. No one wants to see her pale as a haint hugging the toilet, the stacks of medicines I can’t even pronounce, the IV poles, the PICC lines, the blown out veins and bruises all over her arms or the continually growing stacks of hospital bills. This will just be trying to explain how this thing has taken control of our lives.

From the start.

I don’t remember the exact date, but I remember the call. I was working and my wife Emily called me and asked if I was busy. I told her I was about done for the day and asked her what she needed. She said she needed to tell me something, to please come to the shop where she was working when I had time. I said “Just tell me Hon”, but she insisted I come there so she could tell me in person. I was scared. I just knew something was wrong. So I rushed over the the shop.

I drove up and parked my old truck in the rear of the building and started walking around the side. Emily met me about halfway down the side of the building with my daughter Rhiannon with a strange look on her face. When I asked her what was wrong she looked at Rhiannon, then turned to me and held out her hand. She was holding not one, but two positive pregnancy tests. She quietly said “I’m pregnant”.

I’m like “Yeah, right. What’s wrong? Where did you get those?” I didn’t believe her at first. I really thought she was kidding. Finally it started to sink in. I’m going to be a daddy again. At my age. Damn. I didn’t know how to feel. She was expecting me to be mad, but I was more… Shocked.

Emily had one child and had told me that she was very sick with Lily when she was pregnant and had to be hospitalized several times. That she hadn’t had a period since then, that she most likely could never have anymore children. I was 49 years old. Too old to father any more children I thought. We had talked about children, and I knew she wanted another child but we knew it was never going to happen. Then a few months before this day, we had taken in a baby we are adopting and really thought that was God’s answer to her prayers for another child. (You can read the post “Throw Away Boy” for how Connor came into our lives.) After we got Connor she had gotten back on birth control to make sure we didn’t ever have an unexpected pregnancy, no matter how slim the chances of that were. This was so unexpected. But after it sunk into my thick country skull… I was happy. I am not a real religious person, but I do believe God gives us what we need, so I decided it was meant to be. A little piece of Emily and I.

Cool, we are going to have a kid!

We made a doctor’s appointment and had another pregnancy test done to be positive she was pregnant then announced it to our family and friends. For the first few weeks it was smooth sailing. We thought up names, looked at baby stuff online, laughed and hugged and held each other. Then Emily got sick.

It was fast. One day she woke up feeling sick. She ate something then immediately threw up. Just that fast she couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink anything, and went down hill fast. In just a few days she was so weak and dehydrated I had to take her to the hospital. The admitted her to give her fluids and run some tests. Since that time it’s been in and out of the hospital constantly.  I’ve came so close to losing her several times. When she was in the hospital the first time she caught an infection. Then another. Then another. Until this last time in the hospital she spent eleven days in isolation in the ICU ward. The first three or four days it was touch and go whether she was going to live.

No one who hasn’t lived through this can’t understand. I try to be a good daddy, but I’m not a mommy. I feed the kids, give them their baths, get them dressed. But somehow I do everything wrong. It’s never the way mommy does it. I spend my days by getting up at 6 am and waking the kids, getting them fed and dressed, change the baby’s diaper, walk the dogs while I burn my mouth trying to gulp a cup of coffee. Then Rhiannon would watch the kids while I went to check on Emily at the hospital for a couple of hours. Then home to check on the kids, do a few chores, start some laundry, sweep and mop, try to think of something to thaw out for supper then go try and work a couple of hours. If I didn’t get called to the hospital for an emergency with Em I’d try to work enough to make gas money to go back home, check on the kids, feed them, get them ready for bed then go back to the hospital and sit with Em, talk to the doctors and nurses, then just hold her hand as she laid in the bed or try and hold her hair out of her face while she puked her guts up. I’d sometimes help her change when she was so sick she couldn’t control her bodily functions. But mainly? I just tried to be there. To keep her knowing she was loved and wasn’t alone. Then sometime during the night or wee hours of the morning I would give her a kiss on the forehead and drive home and check in on the kids. I would take a quick shower and pass out from exhaustion on the bed just to get a couple of hours of sleep so I could get up and do it all again. A few times I fell asleep sitting on the couch taking my boots off and never even made it to the bed.

There are no words to describe how sick she has been. Think of the worst case of nausea, The worst achy flu and and a case of food poisoning all rolled into one. Then magnify it. Then have it last five months without a break. I think it’s about as sick as you can be without dying. And? I could do nothing. I don’t handle being helpless very well. I’m a grab the world by the balls and twist kind of guy. I get things done, I make things happen. I work hard and I never ever quit. But with this? I could do nothing but worry and stress. I have been a nervous wreck. My kids missed mommy. I missed my wife. Meals were rushed affairs instead of our family time we are all used to. I couldn’t work. Our lives revolved around Emily’s Hyperemesis.

I daily watched Em hurt so bad. Held her while she cried because she couldn’t see her kids. Watched her try so hard to keep even a tiny bit of food down. Watched her lose her memory and forget people when the infections were at their worst. She lived through hell. She has suffered. She has cried. But she is strong and she never stopped trying. She is an amazing woman. I’m lucky to have her.

I’d like to tell you what this thing is, the medical reasons and treatments. But I’m just a simple dirt farmer. I don’t know all that stuff. I researched it, read all about it until my head hurt, but all I truly know is how it affected us.

I’m not sure why I wrote this. I guess maybe I’m hoping it might help someone else who is going through it or is with someone who is. I know my wife was probably expecting me to tell about the five different PICC lines, the six hospitalizations or the different tests and treatments she has had to go through, but I can only write what I know. What I know is I love my wife. I love our lives together. And I love the fact that this week she is home and doing better finally. 77 more days until Luke is scheduled to arrive and I’m praying that maybe we can make it through the rest of this pregnancy without another hospital stay.

I’ve always heard that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I guess we are tough.

And soon this will all be a memory and we will be snuggling with a beautiful miracle baby boy. And on that day… It will all be worthwhile.

Life is good.

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