Our fall favorites are here! 🍂

Kate Middleton and Prince William announced this weekend that they are expecting their third child. They also announced that, once again, Princess Kate is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum during this pregnancy. For those who haven’t heard of it, hyperemesis gravidarum or HG is a very severe form of nausea, vomiting which leads to weight loss and general misery. You can read the medical description here. 

You may be wondering what it is really like to suffer from HG. Unfortunately, I am a bit of an expert. I had HG while pregnant with my son two years ago, and I am currently suffering from HG while pregnant with twins. In most pregnancy books, it merits a paragraph at best, so most people mistakenly believe it to be the same as morning sickness. As Kate and those of us who have survived HG know, it is so much more than that. 

Here is what it’s really like to have hyperemesis gravidarum.

The Physical Toll

If you have hyperemesis, you will likely be unable to eat anything for days at a time. Not very little—nothing. During this pregnancy, I was unable to keep down any food for over a week, and any water for several days. I was hungry, weak and dehydrated. It didn’t matter what I tried to eat, when or which “morning sickness remedies” I tried. Hyperemesis does not play by morning sickness rules. After one month, I had lost 15 pounds. After 3 months, I have gained back 1 of those pounds. 

The constant nausea is like a film that coats your mouth all day and night. The smell of food makes you retch and even fast food advertisements send you running for the nearest bathroom. You can’t open your cupboards or fridge and cooking is absolutely impossible. Your breath constantly tastes bitter, but brushing your teeth makes you vomit. Everything makes you vomit. All. Day. Long.

Since you are not able to eat, you feel physically weak and shaky. You may be unable to get out of bed or stand without fainting. I spent a day lying on the floor in the bathroom, because I was unable to get up. That’s when I decided it was time to go back to the hospital for the third time. 

If, like me, you find yourself admitted to the hospital you will probably be given IV fluids. If you are very dehydrated, you may find yourself being poked in search of veins, or having an IV stuck in your elbow, leaving you bruised, unable to bend your arm and freezing. 


The Mental and Emotional Toll

If you suffer from hyperemesis, you will feel completely miserable. You will read about all the joyful moments of pregnancy in your pregnancy books and wonder, “Where is my joy?” You will read that your second trimester is the best one, but still be so nauseous that you can’t even go to the grocery store. You will feel completely isolated. You can’t go out to restaurants with friends, or to backyard barbecues because the smells overwhelm you. Every day is a constant battle, where there are no rules and you are not sure you’re going to make it. You want to punch anyone who tells you that it’s only temporary or questions why, if things are so bad, you would voluntarily do this again. (Because people do all kinds of difficult things to have children.)

If you have HG, you will feel that no one understands your feelings. In reality, most do not. Many people will tell you that they were also sick and just “got on with it.” I have had people question whether I really need to be taking the medication that is saving my life. I have had people react with doubt and scepticism when I describe the symptoms I am experiencing. I constantly have people equate their mild morning sickness with my HG. I don’t blame them for not understanding. It’s outside their experience, but it increases the isolation.

If you suffer from hyperemesis, you will feel almost constant guilt. If this is your first pregnancy, you will feel guilty that you do not enjoy being pregnant. Especially when there are so many others who struggle with infertility. If, like me, this is your second pregnancy you feel guilty that you are unable to care for your first child while growing your second. (Or second and third, in my case) You will feel guilty that you can’t attend family functions, go to work or cook dinner for your family. 

If you are taking medication, you may worry about how it is affecting your baby. You may worry that you are taking too much. You may worry about the long term effects of HG on your body. You may worry that you will never feel better again. (Here’s the good news: you will.)

If you have HG (or you think you might) please seek help from your doctor. If you are unable to eat or drink anything for days, go to the ER. Don’t try to “tough it out.” Just get help. Pregnancy may be one of the worst experiences of your life, but the end result will be the only thing on earth that makes the experience worth it. I promise you are stronger than you think and you will get through this. 

If you are reading this and have not experienced hyperemesis: thank you! Hyperemesis is a special kind of misery that can only truly be understood by those who have experienced it. However, you don’t need to experience the hell of HG to be supportive and empathetic to those in your life who may be going through it. So how can you support someone with HG? Listen to them, bring dinner for their family, visit them in the hospital, walk their dog. There are so many little things you can do to help them feel a little better. They won’t ask, but they need you, and they will thank you. (When they stop barfing.)

You May Also Like: 7 Things You Shouldn’t Say To Someone With Hyperemesis Gravidarum

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Liz Parker-Cook

Liz is a mother of three children under four and has the dark circles under her eyes to prove it. She is also a high school music teacher, which is much louder than parenting but has much fewer dirty diapers. When she gets any time to herself she writes on her blog: Newbiemomsite.com. She lives in Toronto with her husband, children, and dog. 

The Greatest Gift We Can Give Someone Is to Include Them

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Female friends laughing together outside

The greatest gift we can give someone is to include them. Never have I felt more isolated and excluded than I did as a new mom. With two babies born a year apart, socializing was impossible. I couldn’t hold a conversation with my kids in tow. And they were always in tow. In those early years of motherhood, something like a hair appointment meant more than just a cut and color. It was an opportunity for uninterrupted, adult conversation. After a couple of years of baby talk and mom buns, I was intensely in need of all three. I booked...

Keep Reading

Dear New NICU Mom, You Are Strong

In: Baby, Motherhood
Baby girl in NICU, color photo

Author’s note: September is NICU awareness month. As I reflect on our four-year anniversary of becoming NICU parents, these are the thoughts that came to me. According to the March of Dines, about 14.4 percent of births result in a NICU stay, so this one is for you and all your beautiful NICU babies.  Hey mama, I know you never thought you’d be here. Even if you had a warning of a potential stay, it’s not what you pictured when you pictured motherhood. None of us did. Sure, you were nervous about the birth of your baby. Will it hurt?...

Keep Reading

What Baby Books Don’t Tell You about Motherhood

In: Motherhood
Mother hugging toddler daughter in kitchen

The thing the baby books don’t tell you about leaving the hospital is that two new people emerge. Yes, you’re going to come out of there with another person, but you’re going to be a different person too. The world changes in the matter of a moment. Some part of me was buried, laid to rest back in that stark birthing room after I gave birth to my first child. A new person emerged who was intensely immersed in his little toes and the piercing cries, waiting with bated breath to catch the first smile. The feeling of mine-ness and...

Keep Reading

Why This Blogger’s “Dear Husband” Poem Has the World Sobbing

In: Living, Marriage, Motherhood
Father holding newborn in bathtub with siblings nearby

It’s one thing to read an article that gets you in the feels . . . but when you read those words aloud? It brings the emotions to a whole other level.  An Irish radio host from Corks RedFM proved that this week when she read a poem live on air about motherhood, marriage, and the bittersweet reality of time passing quickly. The viral piece was written by blogger Jess Urlichs, and it perfectly captures what it feels like to be thankful and heartbroken at the same time.  Watch radio personality Vic on the RedFM Breakfast with KC show read...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Heart is Never Ready to Let Go

In: Motherhood, Teen
photo of a teen packing up his truck

Although I knew it was coming soon, I didn’t know today would be the day. I’ve pushed it to the back of my mind, knowing my heart wasn’t prepared. But maybe it never would be . . . Because I guess a mother’s heart is never really ready to let go. While I’ve dealt with these emotions before and it broke me . . . there’s something about the finality of the closing of a chapter in parenthood that cuts a little deeper when you watch your baby pack their belongings to move away. You know from the moment they...

Keep Reading

Keep Loving Your Teen Even When It Hurts

In: Motherhood, Teen
Sad teen girl sitting against railing with sun setting in the background

When I was 16, my social living teacher at Berkeley High School had us write letters to ourselves. She told us to write a future date on the envelope and promised to send us our letters on that day, which she did. Mine arrived 10 years later when I was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My mom forwarded it to me, and I remember sitting in my rented basement room, having just finished rehearsing with a dance company I’d joined, unfolding the piece of yellow legal pad paper, and marveling at my teenager handwriting, letters squished together to make room...

Keep Reading

The Sink Is Always Full and So Is My Heart

In: Motherhood
Sink full of dishes, color photo

The sink is always so full. No matter how hard I try. No matter how much time I spend trying to empty it. No matter how wrinkly and wet my hands have gotten throughout the day. It’s always, always full. I can’t help but feel like this is such a representation of our world. It’s not just that kitchen sink that is always full. It’s our calendars. It’s our schedules. It’s our heads. It’s our hearts. All of it. All the time. There is always so much to do and somewhere to go. There is always something that needs to...

Keep Reading

Mom’s Viral TikTok about Having Kids in Sports is All of Us Right Now

In: Motherhood
Woman sitting in front seat of car looking up

If you have kids in extracurricular activities and have ever wondered how on earth you’re going to manage it all, this one’s for you. In a viral TikTok video from popular content creator Mo, who owns the account Rex & Mo, the young mom speaks for a whole lot of mothers as she laments the busy life that is having kids in sports and activities.   “Being a mom is hard,” Mo begins from the front seat of her car, “and being a working mom with children that have extracurricular activities is unrealistic and SO hard. It just doesn’t even make...

Keep Reading

It’s Time to Talk about the Crushing Weight of Motherhood

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and three children, color photo

As millennial women and mothers, we have been making waves in the sea of mental health. We have unashamedly and unapologetically shared our postpartum depression and anxiety stories so that future generations won’t feel as though they’re drowning in the weight of it all.  I remember sitting in my living room, staring at my newborn, crying in frustration and fear that I was already failing him.  I remember the pain of trying to use the bathroom for the first time after labor, to have family suddenly stop by, and feeling so embarrassed I screamed and they left, ultimately leaving me...

Keep Reading

When the Hugs Disappear, I Won’t

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mother and teen son hugging, overlooking balcony, color photo

There is a time that lives in my heart that feels like it’s straight out of a Star Wars intro. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. A time when I received endless hugs.  A time when kisses on the cheek were plentiful. When bedtime rolled on for hours, with baby blue eyes, raspy little voices, and sweaty curls begging for more books, more snuggles, more time. There was a time when I gave underdogs until dusk, piggyback rides for miles, and lay on the floor flying my kids on airplane journeys that ended in crash landings...

Keep Reading