I’m a hyperemesis gravidarum “survivor.” I hate using the word survivor, because hyperemesis gravidarum isn’t a permanent condition. The physical effects only last as long as you’re pregnant. It’s more of a painful waiting game.
When I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was elated — and to celebrate, I went out to eat. I got the biggest burger you’re ever seen and happily ate the whole thing, thinking this was the sort of decadence my newfound pregnancy can guiltlessly afford me.
I was wrong.
Moments later, the whole thing came up. Everything after that came up as well…for months. I went to the ER once and was told it was just severe morning sickness and it would pass. I spent my first trimester and half of my second lying in the floor puking in a bucket. I could not move. I had to be carried to the bath and washed. Standing was impossible and walking was worse. I was so hungry, but unable to even think of eating. I lost 30lbs with my daughter. Luckily, she was born two weeks early a healthy 7lb 11oz little miracle. I felt as though I’d earned her. I had faced some sort of horrible trial and now was ready to face motherhood.
I eventually joined the Navy, where I met my current husband. He is a wonderful partner and a miraculous father-in-training to my now almost 4 year old daughter. We decided to conceive our second child a few months before he left for Qatar, and with very little time, we did. We were totally ecstatic! We went to our appointments and told our closest friends and relatives, giddy as can be.
Then I hit week 7.
That’s when the IVs started. I couldn’t turn in bed for fear of Exorcist-like vomiting. Water didn’t stay down any better than anything else. I was home vomiting more than I was at work. Luckily, the military pays you whether or not you’re there, and my command tried to be very supportive but there wasn’t much they could do. There wasn’t much anyone could do. I just laid there.
When you feel like you’re dying, you mind goes to horrible places. Suicide and abortion were the dark things that I thought about when the blood started coming up. Then there was the painful seeing-off of my husband to the middle east. He received multiple phone calls and contact from the Red Cross from the hospital, always dreading the news it would bring.
Once I could sit up, I started researching what could be done. I read about a woman who was pregnant more than 10 times. After miscarrying and reluctantly aborting due to HG, she finally discovered the miracle that allowed her two healthy children.
That’s right. Marijuana. Hell, it works for cancer patients, it makes perfect sense! Here, I’d been juggling Zofran, promethazine, Compazine, and Reglan to no avail and the answer was out there growing in the ground!
My excitement quickly faded when I realized one crucial element: I was in the military. I would have to choose between my career and my health.
It was a hard choice, but I chose not to smoke. The daughter I have needs me to continue doing what I’m doing and keeping our family secure. I’m now almost 5 months along, and I am glad to say that I can eat again. I’ve regained 5 of the 25lbs that I’ve lost. You could eat in a day what I ate in two and a half months.
As someone who never enjoyed smoking weed for recreation, I can now say that I am an avid proponent of legalizing medical marijuana. I would never wish what I went through on anyone. Women who are suffering and are in need should be afforded the treatment that they and their children deserve. I will be attending HempFest in Seattle to raise awareness for HG and support medical marijuana research.
I will not be having any more children. I don’t know that my mind or body could take the abuse again. However, I do believe it is the right of every good woman to have the experience of motherhood and that all possible treatments should be available.
For information on Hyperemesis Gravidarum:
For information on marijuana legalization: