Sorry Kate Middleton, But I Am Happy About Your Hyperemesis Gravidarum
By Andrea Chmelik on December 03, 2012
Duchess of Cambridge Catherine Middleton is pregnant and has been hospitalized with hyperemesis gravidarum. If you don't know what hyperemesis gravidarum is, it is a rare condition which causes severe vomiting during pregnancy. The severity of the vomiting can cause dehydration, weight loss and a build-up of toxins in the blood called ketosis. It affects 3.5 per 1,000 pregnant women and can cause women to vomit blood. I know what hyperemesis is, because I currently suffer from it.
If you are surprised that I am glad to hear Kate Middleton is miserably sick, here is why. Hopefully it will raise some much needed awareness. Hopefully Kate will share with the world how difficult this condition is to deal with and how much it affects woman's feelings about pregnancy and the unborn child. It appears that most of female celebrities revel in their pregnancies and wish to be pregnant forever. It puts the rest of us in a very difficult position - women are not expected to complain about the miraculous life creation. They are expected to shine and glow and be forever thankful and humbled.
Well, guess what - it is hard to be humble and thankful when you are vomiting around the clock. It is scary when you vomit blood. It is unfair that you have to put everything else in your life, the children you already have included, on hold, because you just don't have any energy left.
Here is what every pregnant woman hears - for the love of everything that's dear to you, don't ever take any medication, think about your unborn child! Don't forget about thalidomide! What is more important to you - your unborn child's health and happiness, or a little bit of discomfort that will end sooner or later (worst case scenario once the baby is born)? Clearly, only a person who has never suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum has the luxury of having this opinion. Lots of pregnant women throw up in the first trimester. Very few of them are unable to keep anything down. You can't compare an occasional vomiting with severe morning sickness. It's like comparing cutting your finger with a butter knife to losing a limb in a chainsaw accident.
When I was pregnant with my son, my hyperemesis wasn't as severe as it is this time around, but it was bad enough to make me feel like the pregnancy was not worth it. I don't know if you can imagine what a desperate feeling it is - to have a baby that you planned and wanted growing inside of you and wishing it wasn't there, so that you can feel normal just for a minute. You feel guilty, you feel like a failure, you feel you don't deserve the child and the child deserves somebody better than you, and in the end you are too exhausted to truly care.
I was dreading to get pregnant again. But we wanted to have another child and I was hoping maybe the second time won't be that bad. It turned out to be worse. I have been on anti-vomiting medication since week 6, and I still throw up almost daily. I still feel guilty. Having a child now, I like to think that I would do anything for him. Absolutely anything at any time. Die. Get tortured. Get locked in a room full of big spiders. Give up chocolate. Anything. And then, after 30 hours of nonstop vomiting, when I picked up the medication, it hit me that maybe I won't do absolutely anything for my children. I like to think it is just smart reasoning with all the facts at hand - the fact that the medication has shown to be safe, the fact that dehydration is just as dangerous to both the mother and the child - but frankly, I can't tell where the line is. It is easy to judge. It is so easy to say "if it was me, I'd do anything for my unborn child and I would never take any drugs".
Things are rarely as simple. They are rarely black and white. But now beloved, smart and famous Kate Middleton is pregnant and she is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. And my hope is that she will stay healthy and have a healthy baby. And my other hope is that she will speak up about how difficult and sad and unfair it is to go through such a pregnancy. I hope she will let the other women know that it is OK to struggle with your emotions, your relationships, or just simple being and making it through the day. That it does not make you a bad mother. She is a Duchess and has responsibilities. I am afraid she will get out of the hospital, puts on a brave face and say everything is worth it for the child. She might. She might even feel that way. But I hope she won't. I hope she will shed some much needed light on the other side of the pregnancy.