This is the hardest post I’ve ever had to write. And I am crying through it. And I might not get out of bed today.
I was kidding myself for the last few months when my wife and I were contemplating having a second child. I wrote out a pro/con list that I almost posted here but then it came down the question of how you properly weigh “Get to try again for my ideal birth” on one side of the chart and “Terror, Liver Failure, Possible Death” on the other? The “No” side of having a baby was longer but things seemed to have different weights. How can you measure the joy of birthing a soul? How do I measure my own life?
I was extremely sick for 18 weeks with Hyperemesis Gravidarum: extreme morning sickness (and the rest of the pregnancy was filled with gallbladder disease, aggravated by the HG.) Am I ready to willingly, willingly do it again and even risk death? I mean, for straight religious women who do not believe in birth control, it doesn’t feel like choice. But we have to plan and chart and buy really expensive sperm.
During my pregnancy and afterward, we said no more babies, but I think that is what many new parents say. Now our little girl is grown up and I would really love to nurse just one more and we would love to give Iris a sibling- but a pregnancy would actually just be RECKLESS for me, as far as I can see.
So a few days ago I decided that I won’t be having another baby. I wasn’t going to think about this at all for a few years but then I was told I need a surgery for a birth injury that would need to happen after birthing and breastfeeding is done for good. The world’s first Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness day was looming and I couldn’t any longer ignore my reality and cover it with dreams of home births and baby names. I also realized that I have PTSD from my pregnancy (and I made an appointment with an appropriate therapist- one who deals with grief and parenthood). I feel relieved to have finally made the decision and so, so sad that I feel possibilities or souls have been taken away from me because of a disease.
The worst part of it is that I have never been allowed to feel my grief. Everyone has said that my partner can just have the next baby (she’s older than me and doesn’t want to), or that we can adopt. That would be what they tell someone who has had a long process of infertility. Sure, there may be other options, but talking about them right away ignores the mother’s process and tries to hide her grief. How about someone just says something like “I’m really sad for you?” I’d like that.
Sure, we could try again to get pregnant. But if we inseminated again, I would the terrified and shaking during the insemination. While waiting to find out if we were pregnant, I would be terrified and shaking. Part of me would be hoping for a baby and the other part of me would be praying I wasn’t pregnant. After finding out we were pregnant I would be waiting anxiously for which minute would start the process. First low blood sugar and fainting, then the throwing up and I would be unable to get out of bed most days (or take care of my first child). Then the hyper-salivation would start and I’d be unable to leave the house without towels. I would lose many pounds. I wouldn’t allow myself to bond with my baby because I was so terrified I would lose her. The enamel on my teeth would further erode, I would see blood in my vomit when my esophagus tore.
HG ruins marriages because of stress, ruins families financially, takes women away from older children, causes long term health consequences and emotional trauma. For me the main emotional trauma was nobody taking my condition seriously until it was almost too late. People thinking I was overly dramatic and wussy, people thinking I was making myself throw up. I withdrew from friends because nobody understood and because I was so disgusting. I was depressed and when people wanted to help, I literally had no idea what to tell them to do. The only thing that made me feel better was to be on an IV and my medical team wouldn’t give me IV for my home. I prayed to get through each day without allowing myself to ask to go to the hospital again.
Sure, I could go for it anyway like all of the many women with HG who try to forget enough to get pregnant and then pray it is better the next time. Maybe the medical professionals and midwives would take me seriously this time before I damage my liver again. At least I would know more about the medications, at least I would know to get IV hydration immediately. Still, the chance for having HG again is 85% and there is a possibility that it will be much worse subsequent times.
Moms die. So many desperately wanted babies are aborted to save the mother’s life. I was reminded by two docs that this was an option for me. This was my first baby but I understand why moms may choose this especially to be around for older children! Many, many babies just die due to complications of HG. The names of the babies and moms lost are on the HerFoundation page today. A similar message from a few mothers to the babies: “I wish I was strong enough.” No mother should be made to feel like her baby died because she wasn’t “strong enough”.
We Are All Mother Enough
We Are All Strong Enough
Please spread the word about HG by posting this link on your blog, Facebook or Twitter:
The study being gone at USC is extremely important and has already yielded important results which will all eventually help treat and find cure for HG.
If you are a mom of two normal and healthy pregnancies, you are needed badly as a control! Email Marlena at : firstname.lastname@example.org
Please consider donating here: http://www.helpher.org/specialpages/give-hope-campaign.php
Please sign the petition for government funding for research! http://www.helpher.org/about-her-foundation/petition.php