sianstock/Fotolia

I Can't Be A Good Mom As Long As I Have Hyperemesis Gravidarum

By
Share
Ad failed to load

"Mommy! I want mommy!" I can hear my little girl wail from her bedroom, but I'm doped up on Phenergan after an afternoon hooked up to the IV and I can't get up out of bed. I listen over the monitor as my husband opens the door and comforts our sweet 2-year-old, saying, "I'm sorry, baby. Mommy can't come right now." Rolling away from the tears on my pillow, all I can think about is how much I hate hyperemesis gravidarum for making it so damn hard to be the mom I want to be.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a condition also known as acute morning sickness. According to WebMD, it affects approximately 3 percent of all pregnant women. Although there is no known cause, doctors believe it's associated with high hormone levels. HG is characterized by severe nausea and vomiting. Other signs and symptoms, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), include food aversion, weight loss, dehydration, headaches, fainting, extreme fatigue, and low blood pressure. While mild cases can be treated with rest and dietary changes, more severe cases may require hospitalization.

I knew what I had wasn't run of the mill morning sickness. I wasn't exactly surprised either, I've always been susceptible to illness. When my kindergarten class got chicken pox, I contracted a side of staph infection. A cold in high school quickly became walking pneumonia. So when I was throwing up every day for weeks, it seemed like par for the course. But when I couldn't even hold down liquids, I knew it was time for a trip to urgent care. Nausea and vomiting were interfering with my daily life, and that's a strong indicator of HG.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Kimmie Fink

What boggles my mind is that my case isn't even that bad. I have crazy low blood pressure and have been treated for severe dehydration, but I've never passed out. I've been to the hospital, but I haven't had to stay. Some women need PICC lines, pumps, and feeding tubes. Based on experience, I know that my symptoms will let up after about 20 weeks, but some poor souls have to deal with HG the entire nine months of their pregnancies. I don't know how anyone does it (it's a damn accomplishment when I can stay upright for a shower, for goodness sake), but when you already have kids, it's just that much harder.

Rolling away from the tears on my pillow, all I can think about is how much I hate hyperemesis gravidarum for making it so damn hard to be the mom I want to be.
Ad failed to load

This isn't the first time I've experienced hyperemesis, but it's the first time I've had the diagnosis. I had the exact same symptoms with my daughter, but no one ever gave it a name. When I was dealing with it the first time, it was definitely scary, but I had the luxury of taking time off work. If things fell apart at home and my husband had to eat take-out every night, it was fine. I could rest, and no one was waking me up to get them a hot milk. This time around, I have a toddler to take care of, and as any ailing mother knows, little ones don't let you take sick days and they sure as hell don't tolerate being ignored.

Courtesy of Kimmie Fink

For me, having hyperemesis has meant giving up on a series of tiny commitments I made to myself and my child as a new mother. From the get-go, I was dedicated to raising my daughter bilingually. These days, I don't have enough spare brain power to operate in a language I don't speak natively. It breaks my heart that my kid says "milk" instead of "leche" now. I worked really hard to limit screen time up to this point, but I must admit that Trolls has absolutely saved me on my worst HG days. Feeding my kid a balanced diet was also crucial to my parenting. Let's just say that lately, baby girl is eating a lot more frozen pizza than ground turkey lettuce wraps. To be clear, I don't think any of those commitments on their own (or together, for that matter) make you a "good" mom. But they are very important to me, and it's hard to let go of that kind of stuff.

Ad failed to load
I have a toddler to take care of, and as any ailing mother knows, little ones don't let you take sick days and they sure as hell don't tolerate being ignored.

Over the past nine weeks now, I've had to prioritize my rest. When my husband is home, he gets up with our daughter. But when it's just the two of us, I'll let her stay in her room reading books and playing until she calls for me if it gives me an extra hour of sleep. My darling daughter stopped truly napping a few months before I got pregnant, but I insisted on quiet time in the afternoon. It's sacred time, now that I'm trying to manage my condition. I daytime potty-trained her, but she still gets a nap diaper. She typically poops in it, and I feel tremendous guilt when I go get her and realize she's been sitting in it the whole time. That diaper rash might as well spell, "You're a terrible mother."

Courtesy of Kimmie Fink
Ad failed to load

I think the most difficult part is that I'm not able to engage with her as I used to. I'm not a super active mom, but we typically do parent and child swimming lessons or dance classes and go to the library. I'm usually good for a puzzle or tea party. Currently, my to-do list looks a little like this: 1. Keep the toddler alive. Just getting her dressed and brushing her hair means I have to lie down for half an hour. I simply can't muster the energy to squeeze Peekaboo Elmo one more time. I'm not "present" for her like I should be, and I know that's frustrating for her as a toddler who, as is developmentally appropriate, lives in the moment.

When I'm "all done," she flushes the toilet and says "bye-bye" to my vomit. It's weird. I mean, I love that she's showing such empathy, but do you know any other 2-year-olds who knows how to hold her mom's hair back when she pukes?

I worry that I'm scarring my kid for life because there are parts of her reality that just aren't normal. Like, we have a routine for when I throw up. She comes running into the bathroom, rubs my back, and says, "Mommy OK. Daddy coming." When I'm "all done," she flushes the toilet and says "bye-bye" to my vomit. It's weird. I mean, I love that she's showing such empathy, but do you know any other 2-year-olds who knows how to hold her mom's hair back when she pukes? Yeah, me either.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Kimmie Fink

So her life is a bit strange and she doesn't get the kind of attention to which she's accustomed, but overall, I've been impressed by the resiliency of my child. My little one has developed an incredible ability to play independently, and she has a very rich inner life. She'll chat on her play phone with her grandmas (complaining about how lame mom is, I'm sure) or concoct something in her kitchen. She's content to check in with me on the couch periodically and "feed" me or tuck her baby doll in with me. I wish she could lean on me a little more, but maybe having to fend for herself isn't entirely a bad thing.

It doesn't escape me that, even through what has been a miserable experience, I still get to be a mom. With so many people in my life struggling with infertility, I can't help but be grateful. I am carrying a child, growing my family, and giving my daughter a sibling. That's a tremendous gift, and although I'd give just about anything not to have hyperemesis gravidarum, there is an end in sight. I know that, eventually, I'll get another shot at being Mom of the Year, or at the very least, the kind of mom I imagined I'd be.

Ad failed to load

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Ad failed to load

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

6 Early Signs You're Going To Have A Short Labor, According To Experts

As far as I'm concerned, a short labor is right up there with winning the lottery in terms of lucky life events. (And when I was actually in labor, I would absolutely have traded a bucketful of lottery winnings for a speedier birth.) While some women…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In March

You can always count on Netflix to keep it fresh: though there are already so many movies and shows to choose from, every month there's an influx of new content to keep your entire family entertained. As February enters its final weeks, it's time to …
By Megan Walsh

Here Are 10 Ways To Boost Your Baby's Immunity To The Flu

As I'm sure you've read in the thousands upon thousands of articles written about it this winter, the flu is spreading like wildfire and it's bad. Really bad. This strand of flu is the worst we've had in a very long time and it's the most widespread,…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Khloé Kardashian Asked Twitter About Her Bump, & Moms Totally Delivered

Like her younger sister Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian managed to keep most of her pregnancy a sort-of secret. But unlike Jenner, Kardashian chose to publicly announce her pregnancy several months before the baby's due date. While there's no wrong wa…
By Sophie Hirsh

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

An Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the t…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack