I hate being pregnant. There we go. I said it. I. hate. being. pregnant
And I don’t mean hate it like I hate bad manners, cucumber or crap maternity leggings. I mean hate it like there have been times I thought I’d rather die or worse, lose my baby than carry on being pregnant
This is probably the first time I’ve admitted quite so honestly and openly how I feel about pregnancy
The reason I hate pregnancy? Hyperemesis Gravidarum (yes, like Kate had). The reason it’s hard to be honest about hating pregnancy? IVF – or more specifically the survivors guilt that comes from successful IVF
When you’ve had a successful round of IVF the pressure (often self-imposed) to exude gratefulness from your every pore on a daily basis is huge, especially if you’re engaged in online support communities like I am. Knowing that others are literally going through hell to get where you are: 6, 7, 8 rounds of treatment, 5, 10, 15 years of waiting, £10k, £20k, £40k money spent and counting makes it very difficult, almost impossible to be completely honest about the darkness you might find yourself in when diagnosed with Hyperemesis
For me the guilt is compounded by not having just had successful IVF but by being one of the very lucky few to have a got pregnant on our first round of IVF – not just once, but twice. We have a 2.5yr old daughter that was conceived first time round and I’m currently 32wks with our second who conceived with our first transfer. At my age (38) and with our diagnosis (MFI due to a blockage) the chances of a live birth with each round of IVF are just 27%… This makes us not just lucky, but the luckiest of the luckiest of the lucky so to all extents and purposes I should be feeling #blessed every single second of every day
But as I’m sure you’ll have gathered that’s not the case. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is NOT just bad morning sickness. It’s a serious medical condition that can impact both mother and babies physical and mental health. I suffered with HG in my first pregnancy and simply never thought I could be so unlucky as to have it again, or god forbid have it worse but almost as soon as those two lines appeared I had a feeling I was in for it and lo and behold by 6wks pregnant I was on my knees, literally
The worse thing about HG is not the fact you’re being sick constantly or that you feel dizzy with nausea 24/7 or that you burst blood vessels in your eyeballs from heaving or get debilitating dehydration headaches or that your hair falls out from lack of nutrients. No, the worse thing about HG is not physical, it’s the emotional toll that it takes on you and your family: the isolation it brings, the frustration it causes and the despair it leaves you in.
You feel like a complete and utter failure every single day. A bad wife, a useless mum, a neglectful friend, a worthless colleague and an ungrateful daughter. You live in constant hope that things will get better. Every night going to bed hoping you’ll wake up without that watery sensation in your mouth, every trip to the hospital or GP hoping they’ll prescribe something that actually works, every midwife appointment hoping they’ll say you can have your c-section earlier just to bring about some relief. But no. It’s relentless. And whilst I’m most definitely over the worst of it now I challenge anyone to remain mentally stable when they feel nauseous 24/7. It’s a uniquely debilitating experience that is almost impossible to describe. At work it makes my brain foggy and slow, at home it makes me snappy and impatient. I’m not a horrible person but with HG I’m certainly not someone I would want to spend any time with and that’s pretty tough to accept
I’ve had a brilliant support network throughout both personally and professionally, I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive husband (he’s a saint), family or group of friends but there really is only so much anyone else can do for you. There are only so many times you can explain that yes, you do still feel sick, no you don’t feel much better etc. before you get bored of your own narrative and it goes without saying if one more well-meaning person were to suggest Ginger or Seabands…
Throughout IVF I found a huge amount of support and solace in meeting other women online going through the same thing, I built up a great network and felt I always had somewhere to turn when (through no fault of their own) friends and family just didn’t understand.
With HG I’ve found it almost impossible to be honest with anyone about how it really is, online or in real life. I’ve not wanted to come across as ungrateful or selfish so I’ve largely kept myself to myself. With about 6 weeks left of this pregnancy, as I start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel I realise that not sharing probably hasn’t been that helpful. In the cold light of day it’s clearly ridiculous to think I’m being punished with HG because I got so lucky with IVF and ridiculous to assume that people wouldn’t understand.
So, if there was a moral to my story (and I didn’t start out thinking there was one) I think it’s probably that it’s ok to admit that life after a BFP (big fat positive) isn’t all rainbows and unicorns it’s ok to admit that sometimes pregnancy is just a bit shitty and to ask for a hug whenever you need it
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