9.23.2014

the first trimester: my journey through hell

I always thought I'd know I was pregnant before I ever took a test. That's how it seems to usually go, right? Woman has sneaking suspicion, takes a test that turns positive, a rainbow appears, and she plans an elaborate surprise for her husband. A few weeks later they hire a photographer for an announcement photo shoot involving lots of makeup and ultrasounds and a pair of baby shoes and probably a chalkboard and so much glamour you'd think she'd never even heard of morning sickness.

That is not my story.

A few months ago, my body went crazy in all kinds of TMI ways. Pregnancy crossed my mind, but I was convinced there was no way. I know my own body! I think I would know if someone else was living in it. After a couple weeks of feeling progressively crazier, I took a test to definitively rule it out. I wasn't even nervous because in my mind, it was a guaranteed negative. Except it turned positive immediately. I shrieked, probably swore a little, and ran downstairs shaking and shoved it in James' face as he pulled enchiladas out of the oven. He ran to the store for more tests. Still positive. I experienced the full spectrum of human emotion and cried all night long, and here we are several months later. So if you're wondering the age old question, yes, it was a surprise. A very wonderful one we very much wanted, just one we thought would be a few more years down the road. Though now that it's happening we're so glad it's happening now.

I hadn't even begun to wrap my mind around this bombshell when the morning sickness hit not four days later. And it hit like an F-5 tornado in a trailer park and knocked me flat on my back. It turns out I am one of the SUPER LUCKY 2% of women with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Yes, just like Kate Middleton. Pin a rose on my nose. It's an extreme form of morning sickness (ALL DAY 24/7 FOREVER AND EVER sickness) that basically means that I can't keep food or water down without prescription medicine. And even then it's still a fight. I've always known morning sickness would one day be hard on me since I'm very prone to nausea, but I almost never, EVER throw up. It just doesn't happen, except on horrendously turbulent plane rides, but that's another story. I'm terrified of throwing up. If I actually do throw up, it's a huge deal. Cancel my day and make me some soup while I go crawl in bed and cry about it, and then please hug me every hour to remind me how brave I am for throwing up and surviving it. And when should I expect my Purple Heart?

I immediately began throwing up every thing I swallowed. Nearly every bite of food and every sip of water came right back up. It was horrifying, and I deteriorated really fast. Within days I got so weak I couldn't stand up in the shower. I had to crawl up the stairs. I didn't even have the strength to speak above a whisper. My skin lost absolutely all color and I honestly felt like I was dying. I called my doctor's office in tears, and they said "get thyself to the hospital stat!" Several hours later, I was sitting on the floor of the ER in my pajamas with unwashed zombie hair, crying into a bouquet of Kroger grocery bags in case the demons in my stomach struck again. I've never actually seen The Walking Dead, but I can guarantee you I could've gotten a role and not needed to go into hair and makeup. It was truly a rock bottom moment. The nurse immediately wheeled me back to a room, and I spent the day there with an IV. God Bless the IV. I was so excited to not die that I didn't even flinch at the big@$$ needle they stuck in my arm. I left with a zofran prescription and a little hope that a human the size of a sesame seed wasn't going to kill me after all.

I've been on three different prescription nausea medicines. For the majority of the population, they wipe away the nausea and everything's wonderful. For me, they just help me keep some food down. And for that I am forever grateful. Instead of gaining the normal 4-5 pounds in the first trimester, I lost 8, but the baby is fine so no need for concern. I know there are people out there that are like omg, it's just nausea you pansy. And you'd be right. I am a nausea pansy. However! This isn't your mother's nausea. This is the kind that forces you to curl up on the floor in the fetal position and cry, except you can't cry because you're too nauseous so you cry on the inside instead. Just ask my coworkers; I've pulled a nausea-induced George Constanza under my desk more than once lately.

As truly grateful as I am that my hormones are doing their hormone thang and keeping things chugging along, these past few months have been some of the hardest, maybe THE hardest that I've experienced. I have become a professional puker. No really, a professional. I don't even cry for ten minutes afterwards anymore. If barfing were an Olympic sport, I would win based on my Pterodactyl noises alone. It's a gift, it really is. Sometimes I throw up so violently I am led to believe that Satan unleashed a legion of demons on my insides, as I can only imagine that my heaving is what an exorcism feels and sounds like. My bathroom has become an excellent demonstration of 17th century Catholicism. Come watch! The cost of admission is listening to me cry afterwards.

Do we dare even discuss all the many things in this world that led to exorcism puking? I shouldn't dare to mention, but I will. I've suffered in silence long enough! It's time to bring you all down with me. SOUNDS. Different sounds have actually made me nauseous. Remember how coffee is my most favorite thing in the world? I hate it now. HATE it. The smell sends me into a downward spiral. The mere THOUGHT of it, no really...just the thought, grossed me out so much a few weeks ago that I barfed on myself in the shower. The smell of my shampoo has also been responsible for a few of those episodes. As soon as the morning sickness hit, I had to throw out all my scented lotions. If you walk past me I can tell you what soap you used in the shower this morning and what you ate for lunch yesterday. My sense of smell horrifies me with its supernatural powers on a daily basis. If I even go near my pantry, I have to wear a gas mask or the smells of the seasonings will once again be my undoing. I can walk through my living room and smell every candle that has been burned in the last year. My nose has become my own worst enemy. James occasionally has to eat in a separate room from me so I can keep my food down. Pinterest and Instagram are minefields. The food pictures have killed me over and over. If you've instagrammed or blogged something food-related, I love you, but you're dead to me. You may have been the reason I puked in my neighbor's bushes like a drunken sorority girl.

I've had several (albeit ignorant) people comment that I don't seem as happy as I should be about being pregnant, or that I must not be as sick as I say because that's not possible. Let me address that now so I don't beat those people with a steel rod. I am thrilled. TRULY, thrilled. When I think about having an actual baby, I get so excited (and terrified) that I can hardly handle myself. Change is a scary thing for me. Even good change. It takes me awhile for me to make peace with a changing routine. I didn't have a moment to wrap my mind around the fact that one minute I was putting enchiladas in the oven and 5 minutes later I discovered I'm having a baby before I was in the hospital from vomiting myself into oblivion. And I've been extremely sick ever since, nonstop, for the past three months. It's REALLY hard to show happiness and joy when I can't get my head out of the toilet and I'm fighting to keep down one bite of food so this baby can grow. Think about the worst food poisoning you've even had. That is my life 24/7. That sounds dramatic, and yes, I'm a very extreme case, but it's the truth. And when you have food poisoning and can't think about anything other than severe nausea, it's hard to appear giddy about anything. It's why I've completely cut myself off from the outside world. Interacting with anyone in any form took too much energy away from trying to keep my lunch down. Around the time I got really sick, someone posted something online that basically said she's sick of hearing petty complaints from pregnant women. In a previous life, I wouldn't have given it a second thought. But instead I was like put a stamp on me, because I'm going postal. There is nothing petty about morning sickness. Nausea in any form becomes debilitating when it's 24/7 for weeks and months on end, especially when you can't stop throwing up.

Plus, preparing for a baby has to be worse than wedding planning. Have you guys seen the price of cribs these days? And rocking chairs and dressers? And why does everyone have a bassinet and a rocking sleeper thing too and a swing? Listen, I am not Beyonce. All I need is a rectangle of wood my kid can sleep in that doesn't cost as much as college. Remember when babies used to sleep in dresser drawers during the Great Depression? They grew up just fine without $900 strollers and video baby monitors. I can't even finish this paragraph because I need to go stick my head in a paper bag, because in the words of every white girl ever, "I literally can't even."

And now, some pregnancy symptoms I wasn't exactly expecting:

1. I hate food. I hate it so much I can't begin to tell you. I eat only because I have to, but I have no appetite. Fruit is the only thing I can eat without gagging. I have an aversion to every food. Every day is a battle just to find something I can swallow without wanting to spit out. One time I tried to eat a grape and was so grossed out I nearly projectile vomited on an intern. She hasn't come near me since. 

2. Lack of dignity. WHERE DO I BEGIN. You guys, I haven't dried or straightened my hair or worn makeup in three months. Say it with me now: it takes too much effort away from trying not to throw up. Those women who gussy themselves up everyday and say they're having "bad" morning sickness? They're living a lie and I'm not afraid to say it. I will call you out so fast your head will spin. I have completely given up on my appearance, but it has been out of necessity. I have to wear the same jeans everyday because they're the only ones that fit and I've been too sick to look at maternity clothes. I no longer care. I officially don't. My coworkers either must've immediately guessed I was pregnasty or assumed I had contracted Ebola. I wouldn't blame them for guessing either. 

3. Crumbs in my bra. Hear me out. I have to do all my eating in a reclined position to help with the nausea, which means 73% of my day is spent trying to discreetly (but not too discreetly, because lack of dignity and all) fish crumbs out of my bra. It's exhausting. And itchy.

4. Black eyes. Oh man. I went through a stage where I was throwing up so frequently and violently that the blood vessels around my eyes started to burst. One day it got so bad that my eyes were swollen, and I literally, truly looked like I had been punched in both eyes. It terrified my coworkers. I looked like a victim of domestic violence, except my black eyes weren't at the hands of a man; they were at the hands of my precious unborn child the size of my pinky.

5. Emotions. I knew this would be a thing, but I didn't know that I would bawl over more than one episode of Gossip Girl. I didn't know bursting into tears at work would become a normal thing. I didn't know I would want to plot the murder of the girl who dared to eat bratwurst and sauerkraut next to me. I didn't know I would have to physically hold my mouth closed from telling one of my bosses to can it when she bragged to me about her sickness-free pregnancy. I am so happy for everyone who didn't get sick and in a few months I will forgive you for not being sick and telling me about it, but right now I need to you turn around and walk away. 

6. Aches and pains. Ligament pains. Shooting pains. zOMG, ouch. No one told me about this. No one told me sneezing would sometimes make my stomach feel as though it's ripping open. No one told me I would occasionally wake up in the middle of the night with my hips aching as though they're about to part like the Red Sea. 

7. Sneezing. I got so desperate I finally googled "SNEEZING AND PREGNANCY?!?!?!" and much to my surprise and relief, it's a legit thing. I sneeze 10 times a day and I'm over it. It's like a vomit flashback every time, and I can hear my abdominal muscles start to cry because they don't know if I'm sneezing again or they're once again going to be ripped to shreds. 

I had no intentions of disappearing for months and then dramatically reappearing with a human inside me. But as you've read, I think you can hopefully understand why I've needed to hide for awhile to get myself together. You're probably not even reading at this point and are instead refilling your birth control. I understand. But if you are reading, I have some promises to make. 

1. I will not post weekly updates. No one cares about my food aversions except for me...and James when I make him eat in another room. But if you're hankering to know, I will be more than happy to tell you anything and everything. 

2. I will never compare my child to the size of a fruit or vegetable. 

3. Most importantly, I hereby solemnly swear that I will never, EVER, create a custom hashtag for my baby. Never. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go hide the Cheez-it box from myself because it's making me want to hurl.  

28 comments:

  1. Remember when we were coming to visit, right after you got that magical IV, and you thought that would fix everything for you by the time we got there? Blah. You poor thing. At least you're in royal company.

    We can try visiting Columbus again once you've taken your head our of those bushes. :)

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  2. My goodness Michelle! So sorry to hear how challenging the last few months have been, it sounds awful! I hope that the second trimester is as magical for your as everyone makes it out to be, and that you get to enjoy part of your pregnancy! Also, I want to hear everything... Ammon seems desperate to implant a childlike parasite into my uterus asap

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  3. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU FOR BEING THE HG SPOKESPERSON AND SAYING WHAT I WAS TOO SCARED TO SAY ON MY BLOG. As they sang in High School Musical, "We're all in this togetherrrrrrrrrr." (Sorry for the bad reference. I watched that movie 18 times one summer while babysitting.) You have my full support if you ever knock someone out for asking if you've tried ginger.

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    1. Also. I applaud that you even take showers. I took baths for weeks because standing up for so long was difficult. Baths are the way to go. Who cares if you don't get to wash your hair?

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  4. You poor girl! Oh my goodness, I just want to hug you but 1. I can't do that through a computer and 2. I'm afraid it'd make you throw up. Is the serious sickness supposed to let up in the second and third trimesters? For your sake, I sure hope so!

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  5. oh lord this sounds like a nightmare but then at the same time hoooray a baby. but mostly 3 month+ nightmare. here's to feeling better in the next month! also thank you for not having a hashtag for your spawn ;)

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  6. First off- CONGRATS!!! I am so thrilled for you! Secondly, I am so sorry for how sick you've been! :( I can't imagine! I had food poisoning for about 48 hours once and definitely thought I was dying.... I have no idea how you've survived the weeks and months but just know I think you are a freakin' ROCKSTAR!!! And lastly... I already love your thoughts on just saying no to fruits/vegetables/custom hashtags. Thank you, thank you THANK YOU!

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  7. Oh goodness! I can't even imagine! You and Princess Kate can now be BFF

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  8. MICHELLE. I am so so SO sorry about all of this. (minus you being pregnant. I'm actually really happy about that.) Listen, I think that I'm reading a future post from myself because I have a horrible premonition I'm going to be that bad. And it might just be terror and paranoia, or it might be legit. Because I'm nauseous A LOT. And if I throw up, the next thing to do is call the priest because I'm on my death bed, obviously. Actually, in most cases, I'd rather die than throw up. And I cry too. Every time. I just lay by the toilet and sob.

    I think that I am going to need the TMI updates from you. So I can prepare myself. Because Landon wants to start trying to get me knocked up NEXT YEAR. HALP.

    Aside from all this though, I'm really excited for you guys. And I'm thinking that watching you going through the whole thing first maybe, JUST MAYBE will get me more excited to start a family. Love you, Missy. Here's to hoping for less days spent in the toilet.

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  9. Sweetheart, I'm so sorry you're feeling so bad. :( It sounds absolutely miserable. But if it's any comfort, you and James are going to be such awesome parents!

    I really missed your posting, but I completely understand. For the record, though, all ready any post of yours no matter how tmi. I really will. We're all here for you, so just keep being awesome.

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  10. Michelle! I hate that you've been this miserable so far but like, I can't say how excited I am for you to be back! Hopefully you'll be feeling better soon! Also - thank you for hating on weekly "bumpdates" and baby-based hashtags. Your ability to be sane and reasonable makes me feel like pregnancy isn't the main cause of crazy behind statements like "my little guava is 18 weeks today. #blessed"

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  11. oh man, i am so sorry you are feeling so crappy! but soo excited for you! and i mean, silver lining you're just like kate middleton?? (no? not helping?) i have a terrible fear of vomiting too! and (don't hate me) lucked out with never feeling sick so far... but vomiting reduces me to tears every time and i don't think i have done it since i was maybe 13? (despite some, ahem, college nights where i should have!)... also i know i don't actually have the baby yet, so take my advice with a grain of salt...but, we got a rock n play to act as our bassinet, apparently they work miracles. i think it was $35... and our crib was under $200...so sleeping can be done for less than $800! ha. i DO have a custom hashtag though... but i also have one for my dog, so it was only right my future kid got one too? i hope the sickness lessens soon for you!!

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  12. Pregnancy is hard! So much! It's just so much! But it's so wonderful too!

    The first time I got pregnant, I took a pregnancy test just for the heck of it before I showered. Halfway through my shower I check it and it was positive. Soap in the hair. I did the "oh shit oh shit" dance in the shower to get all (some) of the soap out and then ran upstairs to my husband to have him check it. Positive. Terrified. Thrilled. Terrified. Luckily by the end of the pregnancy you'll be so ready for baby to be out you'll be ready for it! haha. I really hope the rest of your pregnancy becomes more enjoyable!

    p.s. I loved having a co-sleeper, especially if you are going to breastfeeding. And it has wheels. Great for the NB. Baby is 5 mos and still sleeping in it at night. And a swing. Oh my goodness, my swing is a lifesaver. For real. Everything else I found completely unnecessary. There is too much. My registry was so stressful!

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  13. I'm sending tonnes of love and light your way, honestly this made me laugh and nearly cry all at once for you.

    LOVE AND LIGHT <3

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  14. you know what? anyone who has a problem with you not 'feeling excited enough' can choke on some male genitalia. not everyone wants ALL THE BABIES ALL THE TIME. in fact, there are woman who do not feel inclined to have children at all. *gasp*

    when i found out i was pregnant with gage, peppy was at work. i locked myself in the bathroom and cried all night long. and then i didn't talk to peppy for almost a week. like it was all his fault or something. yeah...i'm regularly pretty crazy. i am an insane whackjob when i'm pregnant, and i always develop this intense witch cackle that i miss once my kid is born.

    i hope your all day morning sickness subsides soon. also, just say no to all the baby crap. you won't use 75% of it.

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  15. Imma about to be NOT politically correct so excuse my language?

    FUCK those people that have a problem with you "not being excited enough". Fuck 'em. We were trying for this pregnancy and I was still not "oh my gosh you guy! baby!" during my first trimester. I cried that night and it was not a happy cry and we didn't even tell our families for a solid month - for us this had to do with post-miscarriage PTSD and not nausea but GIRL. this whole pregnancy thing is scary as hell. Wonderful? jury's still out (too much puke and too many tums consumed) but definitely scary as hell.

    UGH. The pain of the baby gear. SO EXPENSIVE. The only thing we have so far is a car seat but that's only because my MIL bought it for us because it was on super sale or something? other than that, I'm terrified at the costs. Our wedding might turn out to be cheaper.

    1. YES. I *just* got my appetite back. Except for the random craving I had, I could not for the life of me find anything that sounded good. So when something did? I bought in bulk and ate that and only that for days. I wish I was kidding.

    2. The only times I've worn jeans and not yoga pants in the past 5 months has been when I've been going out to a doctor's appointment. I've never been so grateful to work from home.

    5. I cried at the end of the first harry potter "because everyone was just so happy" and last week I cried watching the Science channel when they were talking about the higgs bosom, yay emotions!

    7. MICHELLE. I totally talked about this on my blog but I'm with you. I wanted to punch every pregnant woman that failed to warn me about the ligament pains because HOLY SHIT. I really thought internal organs had dislodged after sneezing one night - it hurt THAT BAD. I wish I could say it goes away but I'm not about to lie to you. I go into the fetal position every time I have to sneeze (which is ALL THE TIME now) because otherwise, there's tears in my eyes from the pain.

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  16. Okay - I will never complain about my morning sickness again! I've lost 15 pounds and I'm not even 14 weeks yet. However, I can mostly function normally. I'm so sorry you have to go through all this. I'm super excited to hear what name you pick. I feel like you have good name picking potential. And yes, I realize how odd of a compliment that sounds.

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  17. Also, I'm happy to learn that I am not the only one who feels as though my womb is splitting in two every time I sneeze.

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  18. I tried to comment on your picture from yesterday and I don't think it worked but it went something like this: OMG AJF KDLA;FJDIOA;FJDALKFJDLAFDJA.

    I'm SOO excited for you even though you probably hate me after reading my post the other day. I would totally share some of your morning sickness and take some away from you because OMG this sounds awful. I at least hope your mother in law and your always humorous co-workers had some fun things to say about your "condition."

    I hope you're feeling better now!

    PS Someone I know recently posted to Facebook seeking advice because someone else started using her baby's custom hashtag. Can we be custom baby hashtag crashers??

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  19. so, I have no idea how I missed this post from you since I stalk your blog like a preteen zealot, but WOW. thats CRAZY omg. And I can't imagine going through that sort of sickness. I really hope it gets better. Like, seriously. A lot better. Soon. I'll be praying for you!

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  20. Girl, I'm getting down on my knees and praying to the good Lord above that he heals you! All of this sounds awful. Now, your disappearance totally makes sense. I would want to crawl into a hole and die if all of this was happening to me.

    but seriously, praying that each passing day gets a little easier, my friend! :)

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  21. Oh girl. I've heard of HG and I am SO SO SORRY. You know that all caps was necessary there. And no one should tell you how to feel about your pregnancy. Especially when you're dealing with HG at the same time. Still praying/hoping that you feel better/it becomes manageable.
    When you're ready, shoot me an email. My daughter just turned one so we've gone through pretty much everything- and I know all of the good stuff to get on a budget. You will not go broke. It will just feel like it.

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  22. Kids are awesome. This sounds most emphatically not awesome. That sucks about the people saying you don't seem happy enough about your pregnancy....I've always been quite convinced it's the baby part that's happy, NOT the pregnancy part.
    My Mom was quite sick throughout all of her pregnancies (sometimes she was skinnier after having the baby than before getting pregnant because she didn't actually gain any weight of her own the entire time)--my aunt was having babies at the same time and absolutely loved being pregnant and never threw up and one time felt a little bit nauseous while brushing her teeth. You can probably guess that my mom did not appreciate her sis-in-law too much during those years. Apparently the experience varies immensely. Too bad you can just fast-forward 40 weeks till baby!

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  23. Oh girlfriend. I hear you. Not quite in the most miserable way as you, but I hear you. This pregnancy has hands down been the worst for me. 7-8 weeks of torture. I was mostly - sorta - ok from waking until about 1-2 pm (while still feeling nausea and forcing myself to eat) but once 1-2 pm hit, it was game over for the day until my body reset the next morning. I was couch or bed bound for the rest of the day and couldn't pick my lifeless body up from laying position except to run to the bathroom to puke. :( Enter 2 toddlers to chase around all day. waaaaaah. I wanted to hibernate and let them raise themselves. lol. Hope you're at the end or near the end of the crazy nausea!!

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  24. Dang I've heard HG is terrible... I'm sorry to hear it!!

    And shoot, just realized I HAVE made a hashtag for my kid... #princesspenny for life!

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  25. WE ARE SOUL MATES. I realize this post is old, but after your comment I had to come stalk you and although I was not nearly as sick as you, I still felt really bad for myself for about 14 weeks so you would've hated me if you heard me complain. Pregnancy is hard work, dang it. HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO WORK through that hell of sickness ? You are literally a rockstar.

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  27. I know this post is old, but I found your blog last night when I was in the throes of first trimester self-pity. Another night of choking down a few bites of dinner and just writhing in pain in bed with nausea. Why doesn't anybody prepare you for this?? Even though my experience is not as bad as yours was (yeesh!), I just want to say thank you for your honest depiction of what some women go through. I hate having to act like everything is all rainbows and sunshines. So far, pregnancy is a total SUCKFEST. You have found a dedicated new follower!

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