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What Kate Middleton and I Have in Common

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

I was hit by the latest designer pregnancy sickness: hyperemesis gravidarum. Sounds chic, doesn’t it? Well, let me tell you how it really is: Severe morning sickness is a ROYAL pain in the ass—shortness of breath, debilitating nausea, vomiting and/or all day dry-heaving, and migraines that can last 24 hours straight. The last month hasn’t been a picnic in pregnancy land, which is why I’ve been silent on the blog.

But the hardest part? Being sick like this while trying to be a mom. A working mom. My OB put me on bed rest for two weeks, and in that time I did little more than lay in bed and pray to the pregnancy gods to have mercy on me (and, okay, I also watched all four seasons of Felicity on On Demand to take my mind off how miserable I felt).

There’s not much you can do for this—except complain endlessly to your husband. And to my mom. And anyone else who would listen (hey, if you don’t really want to know how I’m feeling, don’t ask!).

There’s absolutely no way to pretend you’re fine while suffering from HG. The symptoms are mostly due to dehydration—I’ve had serious food aversions this pregnancy, which makes eating not only difficult but extremely unpleasant. My shortness of breath was the scariest part—I was having chest pains and these weird panic attacks when I was in crowded places like grocery stores, getting faint and then breaking out in all-over body sweats. My OB had me see a cardiologist because of an irregular heartbeat, and she found a heart murmur. I’m having further tests done in a couple of weeks, but hopefully it’s nothing more than dehydration...

The good news is—yes, there is some!—I think I’ve finally turned a little corner. While I’m not counting on a pregnancy glow this time around, I’m thankful for the small victories—my appetite has come back for the most part; and eating small snacks every hour helps keep the nausea and headaches at bay. In turn, I don’t feel as depleted. I’m back at work now, and mostly functional. Nighttime is much worse for me though—I have a witching hour at about 4 p.m., when my body feels stretched to its limit, as though I’m 40 weeks pregnant, and my breathing gets more strained. It slows me down in every way. But my OB says that’s fairly common in second pregnancies.

And with women my age. Can you believe he said that to me!?

But I refuse to spend this entire pregnancy complaining (I still have more than half way to go), since I’m pretty sure it’ll be my last one. And as everyone and their mother has pointed out to me, just remember what it took me to get here! (Seriously, if you see me, don’t say that to me. No one knows better than I do…)

Here are a few more things you should not, under any circumstances, say to a woman experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum, or severe morning sickness.

  1. Just don’t think about it so much.
  2. Aww, Princess Sarah isn’t feeling well—you should call Kate Middleton!
  3. You STILL have morning sickness? (Please—I’d welcome “morning sickness” at this point.)
  4. Drink some ginger ale. (Zofran is my miracle drug, thank you.)
  5. Babe, maybe you’re having a harder pregnancy this time because you’re almost 40. (Thanks, Husband, I'm 38!)
  6. And avoid this conversation at all costs:

Friend/family member: How've you been feeling!!?
Me: Do you really want to know the truth?

Friend/family member: Yes!
Me: Like total crap. I've been very sick this pregnancy. I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum—I have a lot of sympathy for Kate Middleton now. It's the worst----

Friend/family member: Well, just think about what it took you to get here.
Me: [Silence.]

Friend/family member: And just be happy you’re pregnant.
Me: [Silence.] Obviously I'm happy I'm has nothing to do with that. This is not a sick you can simply shake off.

Friend/family member: It’ll all be worth it in the end.
Me: Thank you, I didn't realize that everything I've just been through in the last two years—including how sick I am right now—will be worth it in the end. Who knew!

How was your second pregnancy compared to your first? Mine do not resemble each other even the slightest. Let's discuss in the comments!