The one thing that no one (besides MAYBE your mother if she was really sick with you and likes to remind you of that) tells you about when you’re trying to get pregnant or just found out you’re pregnant and the hormones haven’t really ramped up yet, is morning sickness. I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage that morning sickness isn’t just in the morning – and for me, it DEFINITELY wasn’t. I’m writing this not to scare you newly pregnant mommas – there is already more than enough stuff out there on the interwebs to do that – but to hopefully provide some solidarity to mommas who are just in the thick of it.
“I would only have a name for when my lactation consultant mentioned casually that I had hyperemesis months after I’d given birth. I’d only remember the name of hyperemesis because Amy Schumer got REAL about it in her Netflix special, Growing.“
In fact, the point of this is to share with you what worked for me while dealing with astounding morning sickness that I would only have a name for when my lactation consultant mentioned casually that I had hyperemesis months after I’d given birth. I’d only remember the name of hyperemesis because Amy Schumer got REAL about it in her Netflix special, “Growing.”
As I said previously, no one tells you just HOW FREAKING BAD it was. Maybe their mind played tricks on them in the excitement of their new babe? It doesn’t match their persona? Or maybe they hope to minimize the struggle of other mamas? Well, I’m not here for it.
I was so sick. So sick in fact, that I wish I’d kept a running list of the places I’d puked. If you’re doubting how sick I was, let this stand as evidence: by the third month of pregnancy, I’d taught my two mischievous little dogs to leave a puddle of vomit alone until I finished puking and could clean it up. Let me tell you, my dogs are NOT super stars at dog training. They’re not even trained well, but they learned that!
To give you an idea of the drastic nature of my illness, I puked all over the floors of the apartment we’d lived in when we found out I was pregnant. John and I were relieved to move into our new house where the floors were almost entirely hardwood – this meant it’d be easier to clean up my vomit! Yippee! I puked in the car. I puked beside the car. I puked in the toilet sooo much. My toilets were never cleaner. It turns out when you stick your face into your toilet bowl multiple times a day, you like it to be sanitized daily.
I even once puked down the center of my classroom floor, leaving a trail on the way to the staff restroom.
I even once puked down the center of my classroom floor, leaving a trail on the way to the staff restroom. I had to call a dear friend and co-worker, admit to her that I was pregnant, and explain the problem. Within 30 minutes she had three custodians in my classroom and a sub for my classes. I was sick and embarrassed and I was out the door. (I also learned this day to always keep an extra set of clothes in my desk.)
Much like the Little Mermaid had “gadgets and gizmos aplenty,” I had aversions and food allergies galooooooore! (Thingamabobs? I probably still have twenty.) The only difference was I didn’t want mooooore! Pre-pregnancy, I meal prepped. I was in much better shape and just figuring out how to manage my food allergies in a practical way. I didn’t even know what an aversion was. For those of you like my sweet innocent pre-pregnancy self, I’ll explain.
An aversion is a repulsion to a particular food, smell, or beverage. The rising hormones in your newly knocked up body, cause your body to develop this repulsion. Add in low blood sugar and fatigue and you’ve got the perfect storm. My most notable aversions were as follows:
- Water – yes, that’s a thing
- Meat – most notably chicken
- Prenatal vitamins
- Green Vegetables
- Coffee – sad, I know!
- Basically anything that wasn’t plain white, non-GF bread
Some of these things I think I eventually just avoided because they were so awful to have come up in a vomiting spell.
I remember vomiting so hard that blood vessels would REGULARLY bust in my eyes. This left me with red, swollen, unattractive eyes that led to a student even asking, “is your husband a nice man?” because she thought that maybe I was not safe at home. I spoke with a former student the other day and he reminded me that I couldn’t wear makeup because I would smell it on my face and get sick! (Sadly, this is true!)
Things I could eat (most of the time):
- Egg McMuffins – only if they were NOT homemade. I tried to get ahead and prep my own Egg McMuffins to reheat for breakfasts and lunches but I’d get sick on it every time. I threw so many sandwiches away.
- The Starbucks Pink Drink (referenced in this post)
- Starbucks Cinnamon Coffee Cake (also referenced here)
- Orange soda -this one was odd as I never usually drink soda! But alas, another Amanda DeJournett remedy worked for me.
- Chipotle tortilla chips. Plain. I think I lived for weeks on these.
- Bowls from Chipotle with only white rice, chicken, sometimes black beans, corn salsa, and cheese.
- Later in my pregnancy I would be able to eat more things but at the transitional phase between dying of vomit and learning to live again, I ate a lot of chicken fingers and fries when I was feeling sick.
Now that you know that the crazy things you’re literally sick over are normal and okay, even if that’s not what is always shared or represented, I’d like to share with you what helped me.
What helped me:
- Shortly after finding out I was pregnant, my mother-in-law visited and mentioned that sometimes pre-natals can be really hard on your stomach. She took me to the store where we purchased Gummy Pre-Natals that were lifechanging and really helped with my sickness at the time. I used them for the rest of my pregnancy as well as the whole time I was breastfeeding.
- Ordering out – if you’re able to cook at home or tolerate someone else in your home cooking for you, that’s great and perfect and ideal, however, I was not. In the beginning, I was so sick that we ordered out a couple times a week because I was so sick I couldn’t handle the smell of something cooking in our small apartment. On really bad days, we’d just order out and hope it stayed down for me! This was crucial when John left for his deployment and there was no one left to cook for me!
- After several weeks and much weight loss during the first trimester, my midwife prescribed Vitamin B6 with Unisom at bedtime to prevent the super tough morning sickness. (This is what made it possible for me to even eat most of the foods listed before!)
In this post I talk about my early-pregnancy anxieties surrounding eating. Pregnancy for me was hard.
In June, I went in for my check up and I’d lost 27 pounds. My doctor wasn’t satisfied with this and knew that I’d been horribly sick. She suggested a few things. Initially, she wanted to prescribe me protein shakes. This was not an option because all of the things she could prescribe contained whey protein which is a derivative of dairy and I am allergic to dairy. Then she suggested, as she had previously, that I take Ondansetron for the constant nausea. I was very hesitant even after discussing the potential risks and I didn’t take it for a couple weeks after filling the prescription. I was terrified of the potentially negative risks for my baby. After talking with my husband and doing my own research in addition to the information supplied by my doctor, I began to take the medication as needed. I determined based off of my research that the risks were minimal. As always, it is most important that you do your own research and you are comfortable with the choices you’re making for your own health and well-being.
I carried it with me my entire pregnancy when my OBGYN told me to just give myself some grace. I think this is something women commonly struggle with.
When I went in to the check up where I’d lost so much weight in just a few months, my doctor showed concern and explained that losing weight and not being nourished would impact my baby as well. I carried it with me my entire pregnancy when my OBGYN told me to just give myself some grace. I think this is something women commonly struggle with. She asked me to give myself some grace in what I was eating – you saw the list. It wasn’t pretty! She advised that I should eat whatever it was that I could keep down – including allergens if my body tolerated it. She told me that stress and tiredness only make it worse. To my own great surprise, I listened and I gave myself some grace.
A note for those of you supporting a pregnant mama: SO many well-intentioned people said, “It’ll be worth it!” “The baby will make it all okay!” “You won’t even remember this after he’s born!” – this was not helpful to me at all! Sometimes, when you’re sick for literally six months straight, you’ve reached the third trimester and you’re still sick, all you need is some empathy. For once, make this issue about the mama! I PROMISE she hasn’t forgotten the little one who she is currently sheltering within her own body. She’s in this for the outcome. Please, please, please – just ask her what you can do to help, offer to find food she can tolerate or medicine that will make her feel better. Remember that she is more than the baby within her.
Remember that she is more than the baby within her.
I WAS thinking of my baby. I WAS thankful to be pregnant. I knew it’d be okay and it would be worth it. I was thinking of my baby more than anyone in the entire world. This type of comment feels dismissive of the mother who is likely going through SO much right now. It always made me feel a bit like an ungrateful wimp and had the unintended consequence of making me feel worse than before the comment was made.
Even if you mean it and you have the best of intentions, please withhold the comment that “it will be worth it,” because I promise, that mama knows. You’re not telling her anything she doesn’t know and she doesn’t need a reminder to be grateful. Sometimes she just needs an ear or some empathy or maybe a hand with some chores so she can rest!