It’s More Than What You See.
On May 24, 2006, my world was changed completely and my beautiful and healthy Anna was born. Weighing in at 8 pounds, 15 ounces– I often said that if they moved her on the baby scale, the number reading would have turned over to 9.0 pounds. She looked healthy. And I was relieved.
I couldn’t help but be amazed that the very human being I felt I unintentionally starved to death, would reach more than a healthy birth weight– Thus tricking not only myself- but the world around me that hyperemesis gravidarum was indeed more than what you see.
HG sufferers and survivors live a very twisted reality, and I learned early on that it’s way more than what meets the eye- mine and society at large.
After I delivered Anna on that wonderful day in May, I thought my HG was over and my pain would subside. The majority of physical symptoms were over for the most part. But what I didn’t realize was that as time went on, I began to encounter a host of unexplained mental and emotional problems that would take me years to recover.
When I delivered my first baby girl on May 24, 2006, the congratulations were flowing freely. But I learned quick that all that most people saw was my heathy baby. No one saw the aftermath of what HG really did to me.
I simply couldn’t forget how sick I was. I couldn’t forget any of my pain or suffering. I wondered if going through the sickness was indeed all worth it. It wasn’t just “in my head”. I didn’t have a normal relationship with food again after I delivered. And I wasn’t sure if I could ever go through it all again to have more children.
You see- my baby was perfectly fine– but I was not.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum. It really is more than what you “see”.
No one saw my broken spirit.
No one saw my fears.
No one saw my anxieties.
No one saw my depression.
No one saw the conflict that managing HG had with my religious beliefs.
No one saw my inability to live a normal life.
No one saw my grief.
No one saw my anger.
No one understood my trauma.
I was living in an alternate universe as I honestly did not feel for years that my pain and suffering were ever validated. People were not empathic or sympathetic, especially most women- as many were quick to tell me that they too were “nauseous” during pregnancy, and it was a struggle to get to work. Many people told me to be thankful that the physical symptoms went away after delivery. It’s a very complicated disease to navigate through, and an even harder recovery process. My symptoms were perceived to be similar to what most women going through pregnancy have to deal with to some extent.
There in lies the issue with sufferers and survivors of HG. My symptoms were not comparable to what normal pregnant woman encounter. Because there is little awareness around HG in general, I felt all alone in my struggles, as many medical care professionals, friends, and family did not truly understand the debilitating effects of the disease.
The judgment I faced and the opinions of others were devastating. There were many people who actually believed that because I suffered from HG, that they had the right to control my fertility. Random strangers suddenly knew what was best for my health.
As strange as those encounters were, it truly complicated things further. Could these individuals not see that maybe, just maybe I was willing to subject myself to suffering for the gift of life? Could people not see that my suffering I chose to undertake was my choice? It is my life. It is my path. It is my recovery. It’s part of my story. And I learned…
You have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life.
I go more in depth with my struggles with HG in this particular blog post- ” When Pregnancy Nearly Killed Me”
After I delivered my firstborn, Anna, I went on to deliver two more healthy babies, Ian just 18 months later, and Elle, over 6 years later. In typical Just Being Jessica fashion, all of my children were “late” and not planned. Lol. My children are and will forever remain my greatest blessings– and I learned a whole new meaning to the quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. after I birthed each one…
“No one really knows why they are alive, until they know what they’d die for.”
It has been over 13 years since my first HG pregnancy, and I am confidently able to say that I am on the road to a full recovery. With the support of my family, friends, and the HER Foundation, I have finally been able to overcome my anxieties and fears, and look toward the future. Here are five things I did that have led me on a path to a full recovery.
1. I went to counseling.
I’m not sure why this is so hard to admit, but with the encouragement of my family, I sought outside help. Suffering through HG is traumatic, and it was not my fault. It took me years to realize that my aftermath symptoms were the result of suffering from HG. For this reason, I realized that I must work through the trauma. It has been confirmed through research that HG survivors will experience post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS). The aftermath is similar to those who have survived highly stressful situations such as combat, natural disasters, sexual assault, or other life threatening events. Finding an amazing counselor to help me work through the trauma was essential to a full recovery.
2. I have made a commitment to exercise daily.
When I started exercising daily, I began to see the biggest shift in my overall recovery. Exercise is the most under prescribed antidepressant. I know it is a vicious cycle that when you are feeling down you don’t feel like exercising (or even moving for that matter), but just taking that first step can make a world of difference. It will help you feel in control of your situation. Committing to exercise as a lifelong journey is a new focus of mine, and it has helped my recovery tremendously.
3. I meditate daily.
Meditation has kept me well, and it has eased my fears and anxieties to help bring me to a state of peace. Since I am Catholic, I have found great solace in the meditation of a daily rosary.
4. I have found a creative outlet.
Starting my blog and instagram account has kept me from focusing on the sorrows and traumas I have faced with HG. Finding a creative outlet has made a world of a difference for my recovery. I have started this blog with one of my focuses being to help others with HG or those recovering from the aftermath. The feeling of helping others has been very fulfilling to me. I believe my suffering was not in vain if I can help even one other person.
5. I make affirmations of gratitude daily.
Expressing gratitude is a part of every self-help program, and that is because it works. I make daily affirmations of what I’m grateful for. This has helped me through the self loathing pity party that I would partake in every time I thought about having HG. Gratitude has helped me not feel sorry for myself, and I have quit asking the question, “Why me?”
Helping others during the hard days of HG , as well as helping others through the aftermath have become a main part of my life’s purpose. This is why I have partnered with the HER Foundation today to help spread awareness of this debilitating condition.
One of my main goals during my time on Earth is to help as many women as I can that are suffering with HG, or have become survivors of this debilitating illness. I am your sister in HG- and I’m here to not only listen, but help you get the resources you need. I will join hands with the HER Foundation till the end of time until together we can find a cure.
For more information about HG or to donate to this worthwhile organization, please visit www.herfoundation.org
Thank you for sharing in my struggle and recovery and feel free to reach out anytime!
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