When the Sickness Never Stops: Surviving Extreme Morning Sickness

Love of a Mom-to-Be

Like most women who have babies, I had morning sickness.

But unlike most women, my sickness never stopped.

It started at around six weeks and continued through my entire pregnancy. I threw up at home, at work, in public restrooms, in a parking lot, and once in my car while driving to work. And when I wasn’t throwing up, I felt like I was about to.

Every day. For nearly nine months.

The Princess Pregnancies

A royal baby is always big news, so the pregnancy of Kate Middleton, wife of Britain’s Prince William, got lots of attention. Each of her three pregnancies to date started with morning sickness so severe it landed her “in hospital,” as they say across the pond. Her plight introduced us to the term “hyperemesis gravidarum,” an extreme morning sickness that can pose a danger to both mother and baby. HG sufferers become violently ill and can’t hold down any food or fluids. Many end up in the hospital with an IV to prevent dehydration. 

Not What I Expected When Expecting

For me, pregnancy problems started even before I got pregnant. My husband and I tried to start our family for two years without success. My abnormal mammogram delayed us another year, and then we went through fertility testing and two rounds of IVF before getting that positive. Finally, our miracle baby was on the way.

I wanted so much to love being pregnant. I looked forward to cute maternity outfits and weird cravings and feeling my baby move. When the sickness came, I initially saw it as just another milestone of pregnancy. I popped hard candies and assumed it would pass. My doctor reassured me that at around 14 weeks or so, it would feel like someone flipped a switch and I’d suddenly feel better. So I waited.

Week 13: “Maybe it will stop early.”

Week 14: “Any time now.”

Week 15: “Seriously, what’s with all the puking???”

Pregnant lady

Most pictures of me during pregnancy look like I’m trying really hard not to seem miserable.

In my sixteenth week, my extreme morning sickness had me lying on the bathroom floor, unable to even take a drink of water without throwing it back up. The doctor said if it didn’t improve by morning, I should go to the emergency room. My mom brought me Popsicles and cups of Italian ice. A few bites of Italian ice at a time, I regained my strength and avoided the ER.

Five More Months of This?

The rest of my pregnancy is a nausea-induced blur. We skipped a friend’s Christmas party at my favorite restaurant because the thought of smelling the food made me ill. I didn’t have cravings, but the foods I could tolerate changed often. One week I could eat only yogurt; the next week it made me sick.

Pregnant woman grocery shopping

Looking for something to eat that won’t make me sick. Jell-O, maybe?

I’d see other moms-to-be doing all kinds of things – staying active, going on “babymoons,” shopping for their new arrival. Meanwhile, a good day for me was keeping my lunch down. Provided I’d eaten lunch at all. By the end of my pregnancy, I’d only gained 12 pounds.

The day I had my son, I threw up before they wheeled me in for a C-section. And then I threw up again on the operating table.

The next day, for the first time in months, it was gone. Someone finally flipped that darn switch.

How to Cope With Extreme Morning Sickness

To be honest, I’m not sure how I got through extreme morning sickness other than taking it one day, one hour, one moment at a time. But I do have a little advice.

  • Talk to Your Doctor  – Don’t ever think your morning sickness isn’t important enough to mention. Although my doctor never diagnosed me with hyperemesis gravidarum, they did keep a close eye on my fluids and made sure the baby was growing. If you’re still sick beyond 14 weeks or you’re unable to keep anything down for an entire day, say something.
  • Try to Rest – You’re bound to be tired while your body grows a baby, but extreme morning sickness will really wear you down. Forgive yourself if you just need to lie down for a while.
  • Get Fluids Wherever You Can – Dehydration is the enemy. Whatever fluid you can tolerate, take it. For me, carbonated drinks helped. So you better believe I drank soda, with my doctor’s blessing.
  • Don’t Worry – I learned to just take it easy, try to relax, and think about my sweet baby. As long as my son was doing well, I could hang in there.

People say that your baby will make you forget all the pains of pregnancy. I won’t say I’ve forgotten my extreme morning sickness, but it’s in perspective. It was part of my experience. And I hope if it’s part of your pregnancy experience, you’ll take solace in knowing that sooner or later, someone really will flip that switch.

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