Morning sickness is one of those things you have to experience to really understand. Movies, television shows, and overplayed stereotypes make it seem like a bad hangover (which would be semi-accurate if hangovers lasted months). And since most people can't understand, you're left feeling isolated and alone. Fortunately, however, there are empathetic people in the world who will offer you support, sympathy, and food you can actually keep down. Those people will totally change your life when you have morning sickness, and I think it's time we show them a little love.
Before I found out I was pregnant I kind of assumed I would end up suffering from morning sickness. But, honestly, I thought "morning sickness" meant throwing up once or twice in the morning, then moving on with my day. Yeah, I was wrong. I suffered from intense nausea and vomiting my entire first trimester, morning, noon, and night. And because I'm just lucky, I guess, my second pregnancy was even worse. Instead of experiencing the regular, run-of-the-mill morning sickness, I had full-blown hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) — severe nausea and vomiting — that required medical intervention. It was a nightmare. My third pregnancy wasn't any better, so after my son was born I decided I was done with the whole "getting pregnant" thing and had my tubes tied.
During each bout of morning sickness I realized that most people, especially people who are physically unable to get pregnant, just don't get it. I think most non-pregnant people are under the misconception that morning sickness is not a big deal, or even a rite of passage that all pregnant women just have to endure. But I did encountered a few people who seemed to "get it." And, to my surprise, some of those people didn't have any personal experience with morning sickness, but still saved my sick and miserable ass. So even when all feels lost and you're spending an inordinate amount of time with your head in a toilet, look around. There are people who can help, who will be supportive, and who will straight up change your pregnant life.
My partner was the first person to help me cope with morning sickness. He not only took care of me — and our other kids — when I was sick, but he went out in the middle of the night to find foods I was craving and could actually keep down. I couldn't have gotten through morning sickness without him.
Your OB-GYN Or Midwife
I have to admit, when I told my midwife that my morning sickness was out of control I was half-expecting her to tell me to just deal with it. I was embarrassed to bring it up or have her think I was "complaining," but it was impacting my mental health.
Thankfully, when I came in for a prenatal appointment and told her I had been unable to keep anything down, she took me seriously and offered options. It turns out, there were a few different medications we could try to help with my morning sickness. I am so glad I asked for help.
Your Mom Friends
When I first had morning sickness, I was so afraid to talk about it. I thought that my friends would laugh or treat me like a drama queen. It turns out, some of my friends had morning sickness too, and they were a huge source of support for me during pregnancy.
The last time I was pregnant, my OB-GYN gave me samples of an amazing medication that actually worked to treat my morning sickness. When I went to fill my prescription at the pharmacy, though, they told me it was not covered by my health insurance plan, and would cost hundreds of dollars. I broke down and cried right then and there.
Then the pharmacist told me that the active ingredients in the medication were available over the counter for less than $20.00, I cried again, but for a very different reason.
I eventually had to take some time off work due to morning sickness, and I will never forget my co-workers who covered classes for me when I couldn't get out of bed or drive to work.
Your ER Staff
The ER is generally a crappy place to hangout, but it's worse when you are pregnant, dehydrated and can't stop throwing up. Thank goodness for the ER doctors and nurses who gave me IV fluids and medications to help, especially when I was sick after hours on end.
My family eventually started to understand how morning sickness was impacting my life. They did things like come to my house for the holidays so I didn't have to ride in the car, and watch my kids when I had to go to the hospital. I couldn't have done it without them.
Your Online Support Group
The first time I posted online about my morning sickness, my mother-in-law asked, "Have you tried saltine crackers?" Then, someone else told me that I couldn't take any medications for morning sickness, because they could cause birth defects. I felt so discouraged. I was looking for empathy, not advice.
That post ended up being a godsend, thought, because a friend then linked me to an online support group for women suffering from HG. I had finally found a reliable source of support, information, and solidarity.
So yeah, there's nothing like throwing up (and simultaneously peeing your pants) on the side of the road on the way to work to make you feel like crawling into a hole and dying. I will never forget the kind stranger who stopped to help me. Same goes for the clerk at my favorite smoothie place who created the most sour and soothing drinks (with as many calories as she could pack in) just for me. Being kind to family and friends is easy. Being kind to strangers makes you a superhero.
If you have severe morning sickness or HG, you don't have to suffer alone. Visit the Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation for info and support.