This is the full piece I wrote for HerFamily.ie
They didn't edit much to be fair, but I think this sounds a bit more true to my voice.
1. Tell me about your experience with HG
It was awful. I knew I was pregnant before even having to do a test, because the vomiting started. I thought I had a bug at first, but after 2 weeks of getting sick every day I knew I was pregnant. I had my booking in appointment with my midwife at 8 weeks. I fainted while having my bloods taken and was transferred to A&E by ambulance. After a course of IV fluids I was discharged home to rest. I was dehydrated and exhausted. This continued the whole way through the pregnancy. I was sick morning, noon and night. I would wake up getting sick. It got to the point that I was afraid to eat anything, or I'd eat things that I knew were easier to get back up. Because everything came back up. I tried to get on with it. I went about my day as best I could when I had the energy, you do what you have to do when your a Mam but it definitly took it's toll.
2. Although it's different for everyone, can you describe what it was like to go through for you personally?
Physically it was draining. I had an energetic toddler, who didn't stop. There were days I physically didn't have the energy to stand up, let alone carry him down stairs, so I'd hear him calling from hisbed in the morning, and I'd crawl to his room and lay on his floor with him playing around me till my husband came home from work.
I lost 11KG from my 8 week booking in appointment to my 6 week post partum check up. I was having scans every 3 weeks to make sure Daithí was ok. At one stage, I had lost 1KG between scans, but he had gained 1.5KG, so I was in negative weight.
Emotioally it was even more challanging.
There were people (and I'm talking family as well as strangers) who would scold me for feeling down and constantly remind me that I was lucky to be pregnant and that women would kill to be in my shoes.
What ever about how physically draining it was, it was the emotional stress that I found worse Somethimes you just need to be acknowledged that things aren't going according to plan, and youre aloud struggle with that.I stopped talking about how I felt, and would play down my symptoms, because it was easier than having to listen to everyone.
3. Did it continue for your entire pregnancy?
Yes, from day one, untill after Daithí was born. I had a cup of tea and some toast about an hour after he was born, and within minutes had puked it back up. I didn't eat then until the next morning, and was fine!!
The muscle damage from the constant retching and vomiting is still evident, and took a few months for the pain to die down.
4. Were you hospitalised and if so, for how long?
Yes, in total I spent 6 weeks in hospital. I was taken by ambulance twice. I fully fainted 3 times, and had countless spells of such low blood pressure that I almost passed out. Daithí's heartrate would drop, every time my blood pressure did, and I rushed to labour ward twice fearing an early delivery would be necessary. A midwife explained, that there was nothing in my system to keep me going, so my body went into survival mode. Pulling resourses from the extremities and just focusing on the vitals. It was like turing a computer off and on again. I'd get blurred vision, get dizzy and have to sit down. Then when my body realised I was ok, I would slowly be able to start doing things again.
5. What treatment were you given/offered? (Medical and natural)
I was given every pill under the sun, but I'd puke them up as soon as I swallowed them. It was only when I was in hospital, and was given anti-sickness medicated Cyclizine through an IV that it made any difference. I would still retch, but I was able to keep small amounts of food down.
I was given IV fluids daily while in hospital, and every week or two throughout the pregnancy.
Everyone who heard I was sick thought their home remedies would be the answer; ginger buscuits, crackers, flat 7up. When in reality I couldn't even hold down my own saliva!! If one more person suggested a dry cream cracker, and I'd have had the strength I'd have killed them.
One of the more bizarre suggestions, was to crawl around the house like a cat, as mimicing what a pregnant cat does, should stop me getting sick.
In my desperation I tried it.
It did not work.
6. How many children do you have? Did it happen through all of your pregnancies?
This was my second pregnancy. I had a mild version of Hypermesis from 20-42 weeks on my first pregnancy, but on my second it started from day one. I am now 32 weeks into my third, and I haven't been sick. It's bizarre how different every pregnancy can me. This pregnancy was a bit of a surprise, I definitly never would have intentioally tried to get pregnant so soon, after how aawful the last one was.
7. Did you have to take time off work? If so, how much did it interfere with your job?
Yes, I had to come out of work, I was signed off with long term sickness, and depression. This meant I had to start my maternity leave early. I ended up being made redundant the week Daithí was born. It was very sly on the part of my employer, but I didn't have the mental or emotional capacity at the time to fight it. My husband also had to come out of work for a month to mind Fionn while I was in hospital.
8. What advice would you offer other women with HG?
Push for a diagnosis. Doctors, especially male are too quick to dismiss us, so you sometimes need to shout to have your voice heard. Report everything. Keep a sickness diary if you must, and show it to every health care professional you see.
Also, seek out support. Prefrably from people who have experienced it. It is very hard for people to understand, unless they've lived it. From my experience, although often said with the best of intentions, some peoples 'support' and 'advice' can make you feel worse.
9. Do you think there is enough support available in Ireland for women with HG? How do you think this can be improved even further?
I am in the UK, but I know from FB support groups, there is no where near enough support for women in either country. I think awarness among health care professionals as well as the general public is the best way forward. HG is not just morning sickness. It's not just an inconvenienct part of pregnancy. It's debilitating and potentially dangerous. In extreem cases it can cause iriversable dammage, and needs to be taken seriously. Women's health, especially maternal health in Ireland is treated apawlingly, and I think that is the root of the issue.
10. Had you heard about it before you experienced it personally
Only that Kate Middelton had it on Prince George a few months before I got pregnant on Fionn, I had never heard of it before. I don't think a lot of people had. I'm glad she's being open about it, and not pretending everything it ok. I don't know if it's the case of another taboo subject relating to pregnancy, like miscarriage or fertility issues, or depression, that we're not supposed to talk about. but the more people who do, the easier it will be for those coming after them.