kate middleton and hyperemisis gravidarum
Given today's Royal news, everyone's talking about Kate Middleton and why she's been hospitalized during her early pregnancy. We turned to Amy Lupold Bair (AKA Resourceful Mommy) for her own experience with the scary diagnosis.
Today the Royal Family announced that Prince William and Kate Middleton are expecting. Apparently the decision to share the news was made after Kate was hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum. I watched as the media began to talk about Kate’s hospitalization with reactions ranging from curiosity to complete dismissal. One news outlet used the phrase “just morning sickness” is a headline while another morning talk host displayed shock that Kate would be hospitalized for such a thing.
But to those of us who have suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum or HG, our experiences were nothing like morning sickness and hospitalizations are not at all surprising.
Nine years ago I became pregnant with my first child. I was a completely healthy twenty-five year old who was fortunate enough to conceive on my first try. My husband was also healthy, our parents free of any strange illnesses. My mom completed a medical residency while pregnant with my brother, only needing to step out to be sick once during her surgery rotation. She went back to work just four weeks after giving birth to me. There was no reason for me to believe that my experience would be any different.
But it was radically different. This is what those who have not suffered from HG struggle to understand. An HG pregnancy is radically different from a healthy pregnancy.
In my first week of pregnancy I lost nine pounds. By the time I was approaching the end of my first trimester I had lost thirty pounds. The list of foods I could eat without vomiting included not much more than bread and water. Something as simple as a couple bites of corn could land me in the hospital for 24 hours, IV’s required to stop the vomiting and muscle spasms, fluids needed to stave off dehydration.
Unlike morning sickness, which can often be soothed with cracker and ginger ale, vitamin B6 and seabands, hyperemisis gravidarum’s only cure is the ending of the pregnancy. For some mothers this means the miraculous birth of a healthy, full term infant. For others it means the loss of the pregnancy or the required termination of the pregnancy as the mother’s body crumbles from the illness, which can result in kidney and liver failure as well as stress on the heart. For me, it ended when my daughter was born two months early, a birth likely brought about by dehydration and malnutrition.
When I began suffering with HG, which was almost immediately after conception, I was dismissed by doctors who asked questions such as, “Oh, is this your first pregnancy?” and pointed out that I would be fine because I was twenty pounds overweight and had “plenty of poundage” to lose. It took an amazing team of doctors at another location during my second pregnancy to diagnose me with HG, and I am certain that it is because of them that I was able to give birth to a full term infant who suffered only from dehydration and spent only one day in the NICU.
While I am grateful for their care, I should not have suffered the humiliation, extreme illness, and mistreatment at the hands of my first set of doctors. We should have progressed to a point where women are no longer dismissed as hysterical when presenting with physical ailments.
I wish William and Kate and their baby-on-the-way well. I am certain that they are receiving amazing care. And I sincerely hope that their honesty about Kate’s hyperemesis gravidarum will begin to open the eyes of both the medical community and the media about the reality of this horrible illness of pregnancy that is taking lives of mothers and infants.
To read more about Amy’s battle with HG, visit Resourceful Mommy.