A BRECHIN born mother has made a call to highlight the horrors of the debilitating condition suffered by the Duchess of Cambridge.
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is potentially life-threatening, yet few people are aware of what it means.
Heather Miranda, a music instructor at schools in Arbroath, who now lives in Dundee, was one of only one percent of women with pregnancy sickness who suffer from HG - a condition at the extreme end of the pregnancy sickness spectrum.
Heather explained: “My hyperemesis started at week five of my pregnancy and after weeks of doctors shrugging it off as ‘morning sickness’, they eventually let me start medications at week eight.
“It wasn’t until week 11, after weeks of hardly eating or drinking anything at all, vomiting several times a day, feeling horribly sick all of the time, and being unable to do anything but lie down all day every day and count down the minutes to bedtime, that doctors finally realised this was more than morning sickness and I was admitted to hospital for IV fluids because I had ketones (which basically meant my body was in starvation mode).”
Heather was again hospitalised at week 16 and, although the sickness lessened from about week 17, she felt sick right up to her delivery date.
“I was finally able to function again to a certain extent, eat and drink certain things in small amounts, and was able to have some sort of life again,” she continued.
“I returned to work after five whole months of sick leave - I felt terrible about taking time off but had no option.”
Every day actions such as turning her head or speaking made her sick. Watching the TV, showering, cleaning her teeth, driving and even having a drink of water were actions that Heather just could not do. Just the mention of food or drink, made her vomit.
“It was just devastating – made worse by the fact that I know pregnancy ‘should’ be an incredibly happy time!” she added.
“The medications I took were Cyclizine, Buccastem, Stemetil, Zofran, Maxalon, Ranitidine and Gaviscon.
“Zofran is in fact a drug that is usually only reserved for chemotherapy patients, but at week 16 doctors were perplexed as to why I still had ketones in my urine and was still losing weight.
“I didn’t find any of the drugs helped at all unfortunately and it was a huge struggle to swallow and keep down the medication.”
Hypnotherapy and acupuncture also failed to help.
“One of the hardest things I found during my pregnancy is that people, including medical professionals, kept saying ‘you’ll feel great at week 12’, ‘you’ll feel great at week 16’, etc., and I never did,” she said.
“HG made me feel incredibly isolated and lonely. I felt no-one could understand. I felt robbed of having a joyful pregnancy. I couldn’t leave my bed/the couch, let alone leave the house - it was so isolating and depressing.
“I was so thirsty, and so hungry and yet couldn’t drink or eat a thing, not even water, without throwing up. It was torture.
“Even when not eating and drinking I would still dry wretch or throw up bile. It was so painful, physically and emotionally - and was by far the darkest time of my life.”
Despite having dreamt of having more than one child Heather does not know if she could go through another pregnancy.
“It upsets me the thought of ever being pregnant again and having my little boy Joseph to look after,” she explained.
“It would break my heart to not be able to be the Mummy I want to be to him for so long - not be able to read to him, sing him his bedtime lullaby, give him his bath, feed him his dinner, take him to fun activities, etc.
“I always dreamt of having more children but now I am seriously considering sticking to just having an only child.
“I just don’t think I am selfless enough to give up my life again for so many months, and go through such physical and mental trauma, no matter how much I would like to have more children.
“It is a horrific condition and it does not surprise me that it causes many women to abort very much wanted babies.
Heather volunteers at a pregnancy sickness support charity website, www.pregnancysicknesssupport.org.uk, where she is in charge of supporting all HG sufferers from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northern England.
The charity are desperately looking for more support workers to help at the site as well as HG friendly doctors to register on the site.
Also the charity are always looking for donations. For more information visit the above website.