I sat on the couch one evening during my first pregnancy desperately scrolling through online forums for mums with severe morning sickness, hoping to find solutions and taking heart reading stories similar to my own.
I'd done too much research about hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness in pregnancy) to think that there would be any magic bullet to end my suffering, but that never seemed to stop me from looking for it.
I have two incredible children. They are happy and healthy and have my entire heart in a way I never could have fathomed possible, but bringing them into this world was my own personal armageddon. The first five weeks of my first pregnancy brought nothing more than surreal visions of motherhood and a periodic queasy stomach. Then, as the clock struck midnight to kick off my sixth week, I hit my knees on the bathroom floor and began my first of more than 300 vomiting episodes over the next nine months.
Frantic Google searches began. I tried the classics like ginger tea and candies, saltines, sea bands, and eating several small meals throughout the day. Not a dent. So I upped my game and added vitamin B6 and Unisom to my regimen, incorporated aromatherapy, and sipped fluids around the clock.
Nothing could transform my debilitating nausea and vomiting into something remotely bearable. When I finally met with my doctor for the first time at 12 weeks, she reassured me it would be over soon and it'd be best to push through without any anti-nausea medications that could present risks to my growing baby.
I made it through my first pregnancy without anti-nausea medications, but each time my doctor urged me to hold off, I wish I'd spoken up and opted in. I know now that I didn't need to allow the guilt of potential risks and stigmas to prevent me from advocating for my own emotional and physical well-being during such a difficult time. My second pregnancy proved just as brutal, but the lessons I carried from my first lessened the blow.
When I could feel myself becoming severely dehydrated and unable to keep fluids down, I'd head to the ER for IV fluids and medication. In my first pregnancy, the thought of going to the ER left me feeling like a drain on the system, and I thought I needed to "tough it out," but I'd come to realise that severe dehydration only exacerbates morning sickness and the only way to break out of the negative feedback loop was to rehydrate as quickly as possible.
I got on anti-nausea medications Zofran and Reglan, and, though it was only a mild improvement, it was a welcomed step up from every other failed remedy in the book.
I learned to let go of the guilt I'd experienced during my first pregnancy when I entered survival mode and did as little as possible outside of keeping myself alive. During my second pregnancy, this looked like letting my son watch too much TV while I laid on the couch trying to hang on to what little I had in my stomach.
Most importantly, I learned that no amount of misery in the world would equate to the unconditional and overwhelming love I'd feel for my children. Going through what I did, I questioned if being a mother could possibly be worth so much suffering for what feels like an eternity.
Now I know that I would do it all again, and again, and again if it meant getting to raise and love and soak in two of the best human beings I can imagine.
What most helped me: Staying focussed on my baby, remembering that the end of this sickness means the beginning of the most beautiful journey you can imagine, and doing my best to refrain from punching anyone in the face who asked me if I've tried saltines yet.