I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Here's my story.

During my years of infertility and loss, I imagined that when I would get pregnant and stay pregnant, I would be a blissful, happy pregnant woman skipping through Target adding to my registry. I worked as an OB nurse for years and came alongside thousands of pregnant people. I trusted my body! I knew what to do! 

When we finally got that positive test around 4 weeks, I knew I needed to start prioritizing my nutrition and daily protein intake, and I felt like I was doing a great job. I was really proud of myself. I felt on top of the world for those first two weeks. 

“It has to get better”

When I hit the six week mark, I was quickly overcome with violent vomiting and ongoing nausea that was relentless. I was hovering over the toilet 14-18 times a day. I kept thinking “Just make it through the first trimester. It HAS to get better.” In the back of my mind, I knew some women experienced this the entirety of their pregnancy for multiple reasons, but I was sure that it wouldn’t be me… I was in the best shape of my life! I wish I could go back in time to that girl and give her a pep talk. 

“I don’t know how I’m supposed to do this”

The first trimester passed… it was only getting worse. My days were spent in bed. Movement made me vomit. Water made me vomit. The thought of food made me vomit. Lights made me dry heave. Taking my supplements and medicine made me vomit. It all felt so helpless. Quickly, there was a dark veil over what was supposed to be the happiest time in my life- we were having our long awaited angel baby! He was healthy and growing strong. I remember distinctly having a thought one day “I don’t know how I’m supposed to do this.” and those thoughts turned darker as the depression set in. Many days I spent wishing all of this away. Everyone told me “It will be worth it when he’s here.” and it was incredibly hard to believe them in the moment. Looking back now, I get it and it was worth it. But, during these nine months it felt anything but happy.

I knew that the risk of preterm labor was higher with HG, so I wanted to do everything “right” to increase our chances of a full term pregnancy. In an ideal world, this meant taking my supplements, moving my body, hydration, positive self talk, eating lots of yummy omega 3’s and protein. But nothing about HG is ideal, and the guilt and anxiety I felt over not being able to even take my prenatal left me in tears most days. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough and my body was just working against me. Looking back, I know my son took just what he needed from me to grow strong and in those moments, it was hard to believe this could be.

“I felt like I was shrinking”

During this time, I felt so alone even with a dreamy support system. I wasn’t expecting this feeling and it was a million times harder than I thought it would be. I felt like I was shrinking and quite literally- I was. The weight I had worked hard to gain in our season of fertility to nourish our future baby was withering away and I was left feeling fragile. My husband was scared to leave me so he could work and I constantly had people checking in on me. My incredible husband who took on all of the responsibilities, family who was willing to drop everything for whatever I might need, a friend who was always just a phone call away when a Chick-fil-a lemonade sounded amazing. A midwife who was doing house calls for all my prenatal appointments so I didn’t have to leave my home with the most thorough and caring prenatal support.

It wasn’t until I was around 33 weeks that I started to vomit only 4-6 times a day and this felt like a major win! I remember getting a bit confident one day and grabbing a big burger only to have to open my door and puke in the road at a stop light. But man oh man, it was worth it! It was also when I was able to switch to Needed’s Prenatal Multi to really help to boost my insanely depleted mineral stores and incorporate their Prenatal Collagen Protein. I puked daily until I had my son at 40 weeks 4 days. I guess he gave me a free pass because I didn’t have any nausea or vomiting during my non medicated birth to bring him into the world. Another helpful tool I utilized was the Expectful app, I listened to a meditation daily and took a warm bath. This felt like my time to connect with my son and my body. Talk therapy meant worlds to me during this time, too. Being able to get outside of my head and process it all with another voice (who was a mom and got it!) was key.

A life changing experience

The experience with hyperemesis is one that isn’t shared about enough. It is all encompassing and everything in life changes for you when you’re walking through a pregnancy feeling this way. It has complicated our journey and timeline for having more children in the future because I genuinely don’t know if I can get through it again, especially with a toddler. If you’re a mama walking through HG, I know it’s hard and every day is a struggle. While it feels like there is no end in sight, I can promise you the second you hold your little one, the challenge of growing them inside of you will melt and you’ll be met with the most intense and wonderful joy you’ll know. The other side of mothering is beautiful and wonderful, but getting there is a really tough journey. Us mamas have an unspoken strength to continue trekking along when it’s hard. More than anything, remember that your little one chose you. The puking, pregnant you and the postpartum you who is going to enjoy alllll the yummy food. 

About the author:

Kinsey Olson is a nurse, doula, wife, mama and homesteader based in southwest Missouri. You'll usually find me working in our garden with a matcha in hand. My online practice, Motherland Birth Co. started after years of healing my own hormones and walking through five chronic diseases, learning to intuitively listen to myself and understanding my fertility struggles. I work with hundreds of clients annually through 1:1 coaching and online programs to get to the root cause of their fertility and hormone struggles to feel at home in their body. You can follow along over on Instagram (@motherlandbirthco) where there is lots of free education and resources, along with a healthy dose of real life as a mama.