Brynn's description at 4 months pregnant with HG
Close your eyes. Imagine yourself in a dark room. There are no windows to let in any trace of light. You are lying on cold, dank stone. You reach out and put your hand in front of your face, and you can't even see it. There is no way out of this room, and you begin to panic. You grope around the floor until you reach a wall, made of the same cold and wet stone. You follow the wall with your hands until you come to the next wall, then the next and the next. You are closed in. Trapped. But it's ok, you tell yourself. It's ok, there is a solution, I just have to find it. You center yourself. You become more calm. And then it strikes. Out of nowhere, you vomit. It's forceful. Your nose bleeds a bit. But in the darkness you feel a glass of water by your side. You drink it, thirstily, and think, "Ok, that's ok, I can deal with this." One time isn't so bad. So you continue to think of a way out of the room. A few minutes later you suddenly vomit again. This time, because there was nothing in your stomach, only bile comes up. It burns your throat and you can feel it in your lungs. But it's ok, because suddenly there appears another glass of water and some crackers by your side. This time you want to drink the water, but can only manage a few sips before you start to feel sick again. You hold the crackers up to your mouth but then shudder, and throw them down. They smell horrible. You can smell every grain of salt, every particle of wheat, even the plastic packaging that they were in at one time. You lay down on the stones, feeling weak. You think, "This will pass. Maybe if I just rest a bit, I'll gain my strength back and I can keep looking for a way out of this room." You sleep. When you wake up, you have hope that whatever happened to you yesterday was just a fluke. But it wasn't. You vomit again. You can't drink. You can't eat. But you sleep. And every time you wake you hope against hope that yesterday was it, the last time. But it wasn't. Day after day, week after week, month after month you lie in darkness on the cold stone floor, vomiting, retching, with drink and food at your disposal but physically incapable of taking them in. You begin to wish for an out. If you can't leave the room, surely you could leave this life. End your suffering. Take away your unendurable pain. But then you think of the other person in the room with you, because you are not, technically, alone. You are carrying a baby. And this baby has been sucking the life forces out of you so that it can grow. And it has grown. For every time you vomit, the baby has taken your hydration. For every time you faint, the baby has taken your nutrients. You can't eat, but the baby knows that it can take what it needs from your thighs, your calves, your stomach, your brain. You ache to allow your baby to take from you, but you know that neither of you will live if you can't eat or drink. Your days pass in wretchedness and you forget the person that you were before you landed in the dark room made of stone.
But one day, something has changed. You open your eyes to see a bright green "EXIT" sign above.....a door. There is a door. You have found your way out! You crawl over to the door and in the glowing neon light of the exit sign you see a note attached to the door. It reads, "Pass through this door and your suffering will end immediately. You will eat again. You will WANT to eat again, and you will crave food. Your body will be strong again, and you will not be trapped in this room. You will be free to go and do whatever you want, whenever you want, with no thought of weakness, nausea or dehydration. But be advised that only one life can pass through this door. If you choose to open the door, you are choosing to terminate your baby. If you choose to stay in the room, your baby will grow but you will endure unimaginable suffering for months. The choice is yours." You stare at the note, read it again. It's not fair, you think. This is a choice that no one should have to make. Your body feels broken, beaten, like it is in the active process of dying, all while this unknown person, your baby, is only doing everything it can to keep itself alive. It's not the baby's fault that you are in such agony, but can you really live through this? Will the baby even live through this? You curl up in the corner of the room and stare at the "EXIT" sign. You vomit up bile. You stare at the "EXIT" sign. Your calves cramp up in pain from lack of nutrients and hydration. You stare at the "EXIT" sign. Your nose bleeds and your head aches. You stare at the "EXIT" sign. You feel a fluttering in your abdomen, and instinctively know that you have just felt your baby move. You put your hand on your belly and stare at the "EXIT" sign. You vomit. But you roll over on the hard stone floor so that you cannot see the "EXIT" sign, even though you know it is there, and it will stay there. You will always have that choice. Each day that you stay in that room is a choice that you will make. You will choose your own suffering and your own pain to give your baby its best chance. But you know that it would be so easy to walk through that door, and you would never blame a woman who would choose that path, because you would know her suffering. But you have made your personal choice. You will stay in the dark, cold room. You will ache to eat but will not be able to. You will vomit and retch more times than you ever thought possible. And you will cry and sob and scream at times, and other times you will be able to do no more than stare at that "EXIT" sign. But you will summon every ounce of courage that you never even knew that you possessed, and you will stay in that room.
I have chosen to stay in my personal prison of Hyperemesis Gravidarum. If I am lucky the worst of my symptoms will go away in about 4 weeks, but I've learned not to hold my breath. I now have a PICC line that runs through a vein in my chest, close to my heart, that delivers vitamins, nutrients and fluids so that my body can do a better job of supporting me and my baby. I try so hard to eat and drink something during the days, but a food that worked yesterday can cause me to vomit today. It's unpredictable, and there is no logic or pattern. My sense of smell is so powerful and overwhelming that we have had to put a ban on cooking in our house. My husband and parents have to order food to-go, and then sit in the garage to eat it. I can even smell coffee that is being brewed in the basement when I am 3 floors up. Needless to say, I can't exactly go sit in a restaurant, or go to a grocery store, or even be around many people because I can smell the detergent they used when they washed their clothes. So I stay in my house. In between vomiting and nausea so bad that I crawl into the fetal position, I knit. I sketch. I watch TV. I read. I try not to look at my friends' facebook pages, because I don't want to see everything I am missing. I pray for night, because then I can get into bed, close my eyes, and thank the universe that I got through another day. When I open my eyes in the morning I steel my resolve, much as I would imagine a soldier who is going into battle would, and I proceed to the bathroom where I know I will be sick. I start my day fighting against my body, fighting to keep food down, fighting not to lay in bed and sleep all the time. And through all of this, I have my family. My resolve would have weakened and cracked a long time ago if I didn't have my husband and parents here supporting me, changing the TPN bag for my PICC line, bringing me medicine, letting me cry. They have kept me strong enough to make the choice to not walk through that door under the "EXIT" sign. And I will fight, through the strength of my family, to stay in that cold, dark room for the next 5 months, knowing full well what I will endure.
Updated on: Apr. 18, 2013