Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Sarah dropped in on her sister Molly and found her sitting at the kitchen table, staring blankly at a half-empty cup of coffee, her three kids squabbling loudly in the other room.  “What’s wrong Molly?” she asked.  Molly told her that she had morning sickness. Surprised, Sarah said, “Hurray!  I didn’t even know you were pregnant!”  “I’m not,” the harried middle-aged mother replied.  “I’m just sick of mornings.”

Unfortunately, for the next nine months, Kate Middleton is about to get very sick of mornings, evenings, and all other times of the day. This is because the Duchess of Cambridge has been diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum.  The term is a combination of the Greek and Latin words: hyper (excessive), emesis (vomiting), gravidarum (pregnant women) thus “the excessive vomiting of pregnant women.”

The good news is that HG is very rare, striking only one in a thousand pregnant women.  The bad new is that HG turns pregnancy into many months of agony with labour being something longed for.  There is no known cause and no known cure.  Almost from the moment of conception the nausea and vomiting begin.  In the first three months the expectant woman will lose 10% of her body weight as she cannot keep food down.  Extreme dehydration sets in.  Visits to the hospital for intravenous fluids become a part of your routine. 

Here are some HG interviews in light of Kate’s news:

“I wanted to kill myself.  My HG put my family, and me, through agony.  It is a crazy and depressing illness.  Some of that crazy comes from being treated like it’s all in your head.  When I arrived at the ER the nurses wouldn’t take me seriously.  They said I just needed to relax, drink some water, take some ginger.  But this isn’t morning sickness, it’s a disease.  It doesn’t feel like morning sickness, it feels like you’re gonna die.”   

“I started to think, it’s not worth going on.  I was too sick to function.  I remember calling my mother and crying so hard I could barely speak.  I told her that I couldn’t do this anymore.  She immediately came and got me and for two months of my pregnancy I lived at my parent’s home.  She would put signs up like, You Can Do This and One Day At A Time.  My children would come to visit, cautious and confused.”

“I became very sensitive to odors.  Diapers sent me over the edge.  My family was not allowed to cook anything.  If they cut onions, I could smell them three flights up.  In fact, the smell of food was the first thing I thought of when I heard the pregnant duchess was hospitalized.  There she will not be able to control the odors.  At least at home you can do that.”     

“I gave serious thought to terminating the pregnancy. This was my doctor’s advice.  But what got me through was the thought that this will eventually end.  And now, taking care of a newborn is a breeze in comparison.  But both my husband and I have made it biologically impossible for us to have any more children.”

As Prince William put it after being with his wife, “I don’t know why they call it morning sickness.  They should call it all-day and all-night sickness.”