First I just wanted to say THANK YOU for your overwhelming responses of love, encouragement and excitement about our pregnancy news I shared here a few months ago. We are so so excited and feeling so blessed to add another little one to our family.
I’ve said it before, but babies are a freaking miracle. And such a gift.
But…… the process to bring them into the world (however that happens)….. well, it’s rarely an “easy” journey, even though most of what gets portrayed in our culture shows pregnancy as this beautiful, blissful, glowing time. For some, it is. And that is wonderful and amazing, truly.
For so many women out there, it’s just not the case. It’s rarely easy. It can be emotional. And can feel isolating at points. Or full of expectations or pressure. It can also be up and down, with so many different emotions at so many different parts in the journey. And it’s different for everyone.
So, I think the more we can share our REAL stories and journeys, the better. The honest ones. The ones that will help other women not feel so alone in the process of bringing a baby into the world– ANY part of it, and however that looks.
So I’m writing this post in hopes of doing that– sharing my own experience this time around so that if there is another woman out there that had felt anything similar, she will know she’s not alone. And second– so that I remember these details myself.
So, here we go.
Basically, in a quick a summary, it was not what I would call a easy or blissful experience for the most part— I was sick and nauseous all day until 3rd trimester. I couldn’t work, look at computer screen, eat, cook or do most of the things that brought me so much joy in my regular life. I didn’t expect to ever feel that sick, let alone past the first trimester, so it was something that caught me by surprise– and made things a little extra stressful when you also run a business…and when I was also writing a cookbook (but couldn’t’ stand the smell or sight of food, ha). More on that later.
Let’s just say it wasn’t my favorite of times, but just like everyone says, it did end up being sooo very worth it….. one look into Noah’s eyes and I knew that was true. To this day, I still think that. And what a miracle it is that he’s so healthy and thriving, even though I felt anything BUT that when I was pregnant with him.
So, when we started thinking about adding to our family again, I knew that I had a little bit of PTSD to work through from the last time.
I knew that this time around I needed to be prepared in case history repeated itself: when I was down for the count in my business, and as a wife and as a human…..and this time, being down for the count as a mama of a toddler too. I knew I needed to be prepared for 6 months of the same thing…..and then add 3 months minimum on the back end if I wanted to take any kind of time to recover and for a maternity leave (which was also important to me).
Because friends, that’s 9 MONTHS out of a calendar year when I wouldn’t be even close to normal functioning or feeling. 9 months pretty out of it in my business. 9 months out of it as a mama and wife and friend. 9 months, out. At least. Most of which before you have a newborn in your life.
So, needless to say, it took me some time to feel ready: physically ready for that. But emotionally and mentally ready too.
And also to make sure I had support (in my business with my now amazing team), support with childcare and help with Noah (I love you mom), and support at home with Kyle 100% on board, before we even started trying. And to feel like I had a bit of a rhythm figured out with those things. All of those things took a while before I felt ready. Months and months.
But then, I was.
And it’s a good thing I took the time…. because, well, it all DID happen again…..
I got pregnant quickly this time, and we were so thrilled.
(Side note–> I need to write a post on this part in itself and healing my hormones from PCOS the first time around, plus keeping them balanced and healthy throughout postpartum and after, so that trying again for another baby would be possible whenever we WERE ready. I have so much to say on this topic, so let me know in the comments below if you’d like a post on this part too).
I was pregnant!!
Then at 5 1/2 weeks, one morning I couldn’t get out of bed. Last time, I had until week 7 1/2 or 8, so it hit me a little unexpectedly.
Within the next 2 days, it escalated quickly. I could not get up or out of bed, unless it was to throw up, which was happening around 12-15x/day.
I couldn’t even have a sip of water without it coming back up, let alone any food, no matter how plain it was.
This was different than just 1st trimester morning sickness. There was no amount of ginger chews, nausea tea, peppermint essential oil or saltine crackers in the world to ease whatever was happening.
Within a week I had lost 10 pounds. Not exactly what you’re going for when you’re trying to grow a baby. A quick google search confirmed my instincts….this wasn’t “normal”.
I called my midwives and after a long phone consult with so many questions on their end (that got interrupted twice to throw up), they explained that this was something different.
It was the first time I heard the words: Hyperemesis gravidarum, otherwise known as HG.
(Yes, if you’re wondering, it’s the the same thing that Kate Middleton and Amy Schumer had with their pregnancies). 3% of women have it during pregnancy. The causes are unknown, and no one really knows why it happens. But it is not the same thing as morning sickness. It is morning sickness on crack– both with speed (quick on set), intensity (the most extreme) and duration (it can last anywhere from the first 2 trimesters to until the baby is born).
Within hours, my doctors had ordered immediate IV treatments, 4 hours at a time, 3 days a week, just to try and keep my body hydrated at a minimum. And prescribed medication to try and at least reduce the number of times I was throwing up (diclegis at night, which is like a time-released version of unisom + b6, which is common for more “normal” nausea in first trimester).
Bless Kyle. He had to take on both of our jobs, at once. To take care of Noah, cooking, feeding, bathing, sleeptimes, everything, on top of his normally demanding 10-11 hour/day job.
I couldn’t be close to food, or upright, so I’d lay on the couch while they made and ate dinner together, just so I could see both of them for some part of the day.
My mom came in to help every single day with Noah, while I laid in bed and threw up every 15 minutes, trying not to cry each and every time.
I’d remind myself This was a blessing to be pregnant. I was one of the lucky ones. I thought I was ready for this. I knew it was only temporary……. but still, I felt myself decend into a dark hole. Again, reminded of my experience last time, and knowing that it could be (at least) 6 months before I felt anything close to normal again.
After another week and no relief, in came the prescriptions for both more Diclegis (at night) and Zofran (during the day).
I resisted both for as long as I could (for context: I don’t even own advil, and really try to avoid medication if it’s possible and pursue all other options first. My body is so sensitive to anything that’s not natural at this point, and even the side effects of anything hit me hard, always). But after 2 weeks and now being down 12 lbs, there was danger for the baby now.
I got over myself. There is a time and place for more traditional medicine, and this was one of those times– there was no other options, or ones that were working. So, everytime I took one of the pills, I would just imagine white light covering my body in healing, and pray that my body would know exactly what to do with it — to take the parts it needed to help, to protect my baby, and get rid of the rest.
I know that probably sounds crazy to most of you, but it helped me a lot. Energy is everything.
At 8 weeks, I started taking both (Diclegis at night, and Zofran during the day). And going in for IV’s three times a week, for 4 hours at a time. Each time, having to pull over to throw up on my way there, and on my way back.
I wish I could say that the medication helped a ton and life turned around. Ditto for the IV’s.
They did help me throw up less, but I was still throwing up a multiple times a day for weeks at a time. I couldn’t eat much of anything, but had to try and force myself to, knowing it would come back up. But I had to try.
I lost all my muscle. All I could do was lay in bed for months, and feel physically like I was dying.And how ironic it was that growing a new life, but it felt like death.
I know that sounds dramatic, but truly there is nothing I can even describe about how it feels to feel on the brink of projectile vomiting every second of the day, and not able to eat, drink water, or do anything productive, normal or joyful in your life.
I’d lay on the bathroom floor just so I didn’t have to move so much. The walk to the bathroom alone made me dizzy and more nauseous.
And the cold tile felt nice on my throbbing head.
I missed Noah so much — he would come in and read with me, and say things like “mama’s sick” and “mama feel better” and it broke my heart.
I couldn’t look at my computer screen or phone without throwing up. My team had to fully step in and take over, even though we were heading into a big launch of a project I had been working on behind-the-scenes for over a year on, that couldn’t be put on hold.
The days were so slow. I felt so empty. So void. So sucked dry of any ounce of vibrancy or happiness.
Mentally, I kept reminding myself to keep a bigger perspective.
That I was lucky. That I could get pregnant. That I was currently pregnant. That I had help and support around me– more than I did last time (thankfully).
That it was a good practice in asking for help. That’s more than most women have during pregnancy.
I’d tell myself this was all temporary, I could hope it was for 6 months like my last pregnancy, but I also knew that with HG, a big percentage of women experience it the entire pregnancy until they give birth. 9 months. But 9 months out of my whole life. I could do it. And also— people felt like this all the time, and they didn’t have the blessing of getting a baby out of it in the end.
It helped going in to the Cancer care unit 3x/week for my IV’s— everyone else in there didn’t know if it was temporary for them.
I should be grateful. And I was. I would get through this. It would be worth it.
5-9 months of true darkness for something that I would get to treasure the rest of my life.
But…… then I’d see another healthy mama announce a pregnancy, and that she LOVED being pregnant, and felt nauseous for a few weeks or a month, then was just glowing and happy, and eating good food . The message was that if you’re healthy and take care of yourself, your pregnancy should be easy.
I couldn’t help but compare myself.
Or I’d see another pregnant mama entrepreneur, working away on big projects with her belly and saying how she loved the creative process that pregnancy brings in. I was laying there, dying to work and create and help people and do things with my time……..but couldn’t.
So many times I had to catch myself. To stop comparing. To stop looking at other people’s experiences and measuring mine to theirs in pregnancy. What’s the point?
It took all I had sometimes, but I would then have to tell myself: this is all happening for you. This experience, although shitty feeling and uncomfortable, is here to show you something.
What is this here to show you, or point out?
Maybe it was the shame I felt as someone healthy, that my pregnancies are supposed to look a certain way.
Maybe it was that my value as a person stems so much from what I do for work. My purpose. My job.
As an entrepreneur, my situation is unique. I’m lucky– if I was working in a corporate job, I would have to take immediate medical leave for months.
But as an entrepreneur, when I don’t work or can’t show up, there’s no one that is going to do it for me.
Luckily, I knew from last time to be prepared— and this time around I was. I have an amazing team, we planned ahead, I have multiple sources on income that do not rely on me alone, and it can run much more without me than ever before. But yet….. 8 months out of your body, your mind, your energy, your soul…….. it takes a mental toll on you, if I’m being honest.
First trimester came and went. Still nothing changed.
Weeks 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 came and went. Not much had changed. Week 20, the halfway point. Still nothing.
I tried to keep perspective. I knew so much of this hurdle would be mental for me— like the thoughts above.
So let’s talk about some of the things that did help me in this phase, in case you or someone you know goes through something like this at any point in your life.
- Listening to books on audible or podcasts that I would drift in and out of sleep to. Some of my fav podcast episodes were: Jerry Seinfeld on Tim Ferriss’ podcast, Guy Raz on The Skinny Confidential podcast, and 3 things 7 figure entrepreneurs do differently on James Wedmore’s podcast. And favorite books, I’ll do a book club rec blog post soon, because I cruised through so many at night.
- Resting as much as I could–— aka, asking for help in any ways possible that would allow this. 2-3 hour naps every day when Noah was napping, and using my childcare time that normally goes for work hours…. all into rest. I couldn’t do much else.
- Watching my mental game most of all—- being aware of when negative thoughts came in, and not letting them takeover or run the show.
- Writing down all that I was grateful for. There is always sooo much, and pen to paper makes them all pour out and can change your perspective in an instant.
- Doing a online program or course in a topic you want to learn more about (that I could listen to on my headphones as I lay there). Aka, something to help your brain stay stimulated and distracted in something…. you might as well make it count, right? I did one one on money mindset I’m still working though (so good and fascinating), and then finished up BBD (Business by Design), that I’ve been working my way through for the past year. It’s by one of my favorite business mentor’s, James Wedmore, who’s teachings have helped my business scale and grow so much, even amongst the last 3 year span of being sick & pregnant with Noah, having a newborn, figuring out my flow as a working mama, then into a pandemic and me being so sick again with this second pregnancy). This concept goes back to the bigger theme in my life right now of learning to get help and working smarter not harder, which is something I’m going to be talking about a lot more about— this pregnancy has solidified a lot for me on this topic: of how to have more of an impact in whatever time you DO have, as a business and leader and human too. Anyways, for anyone who feels me on this, James does a free live training every year before BBD opens this summer, and it’s so good, and starts next Thursday. You can get on the list to see it here. Always being a student is so important in life, and times when we are in transition or not able to do our normal things can be great times to dig in to things you want to learn more about.
- Having Noah come join me in bed to read books and snuggle….even if it lasted 5 minutes max. They were the best 5 minutes of the day!
- Epsom salt baths at night. Sometimes lukewarm, sometimes warm, epsom salts clear your energetic field and help your body and nervous system relax with the magnesium. It helped me sleep and helped having something to look forward to each night.
- Voice texts with my close girlfriends…. there is nothing that lifts your spirits more
- Making ice cubes out of coconut water or an electrolyte powder (I used this one) and sucking on those vs trying to drink water. In my lowest point, I also tried gatorade ice cubes and some stayed down and others didn’t.
And reminding myself that I could do hard things. That it may not be enjoyable or fun, but I knew that it would all be worth it one day. Delayed gratification.
And on the harder days when I couldn’t see an end in sight, I knew I needed something to look forward to. And to get a change of scenery, some warmth on my skin and some fresh air in my body. I started dreaming about Hawaii…… told Kyle, and he agreed. He probably needed it just as much, let’s be honest. We booked it.
It helped me so much to have something to look forward to.
So from December until the beginning of April, that was my life.
In late April, past the halfway point by a few weeks, I did start to feel a lot better. Meaning I could eat a little bit more nutrient dense food (not just Annie’s gf mac n cheese and lemonade). I could go longer than 3 hours without medication (I could go like 5 hours now— big win!). I wasn’t throwing up anymore. I still had to be in bed most of the day, but I could drink water now…. such a win.
What did you eat?
In an effort to make all pregnant women who feel sick less alone, I want to share the realities of what I ate in this time. I can’t tell you how many women come to me asking what they should be eating when they’re pregnant. My answer is always: as much real food and nutrient dense food as possible when they’re hungry for it.
In theory I can tell you exactly what that means and what would be ideal……but that’s been so far from my reality both pregnancies. At first this food part was soo hard for me. I’m used to feeling good. I’m used to loving food. I’m used to feeling good from the food I eat. It’s part of my identity, part of what I believe and teach and base my whole life around.
Pregnancy has been one giant practice of GRACE for myself, and trying to not be so hard on myself. And to just do the best I could– to keep it real food (or as close to it as possible), to keep it gluten-free (to not trigger any auto-immune responses for me on top of everything else), and to try to think of what sounded good and upgrade it if it was possible (for example, buying fevertree brand ginger ale made with real sugar vs the conventional brand with high fructose corn syrup, or smart sweet brand gummy worms vs the kind with red dye #40). It’s not always perfect but so many things can be upgraded if you look.
The important message here for all pregnant mamas is to feed yourself as best you can- WITHOUT the guilt or extra added stress. Know that your baby is going to take everything it needs from you, and the nutrients you have stored up in your body from years of eating well and taking care of yourself. I really had to trust that.
Here is what I ate, week by week. Most women don’t have this extreme condition of hyperemesis like I did, so again, eat as healthy as you’re able to. This was what that looked like for me:
1/2 lemonade, 1/2 sparkling water (threw up)
Refried beans & rice (threw up)
Rice chex cereal (dry)
Honey nut cheerios (dry)
GF Annie’s Mac n Cheese (white cheddar) (threw up)
Electrolyte ice cubes (threw up)
GF instant oatmeal & maple syrup
Whole Foods Lemon Lime Soda (threw up)
Vegetable broth with instant gf ramen (threw up sometimes)
Vegetable broth with instant gf ramen noodles
Mashed potatoes (at IV appt where it was made for me)
Green apples (threw up)
GF bagel & cream cheese (threw up), GF bagel & butter (threw up)
Applesauce (threw up)
Thai curry & white rice (vegetable only) (takeout)
Macrina Bakery gf currant scone
Portage Bay gf banana pancakes
GF phad thai (takeout) (sometimes threw up)
Yum Earth gummies
Alden’s vanilla bean ice cream
Week 12: finally was able to keep some sips of water down this week. such a win.
Caesar salad (takeout)
Mashed potaotes (takeout)
Smart Sweets gummy worms
Green apples with whole milk yogurt and honey (fage brand)
GF instant oatmeal with dash of maple syrup
Portage Bay banana pancakes
Vanilla ice cream
Chickepea spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce
Toasted GF english muffins (food for life brand) with melted cheese
GF instant oatmeal with maple syrup
Pasta and Co black eyed peas salad
Green grapes, frozen
Week 14: did my first workout… a very slow prenatal Melissa Wood Health workout. Felt more nauseous after so gave it a break for another few days, but still a win.
Rice cakes & peanut butter
Brown rice spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce
Veraci pizza (gf, takeout, all veggie)
Raspberries + Cocoyo coconut yogurt
Lentil soup (Amy’s canned)
Split pea soup (my instantpot recipe) (recipe in the Cooking Club)
Pink lady apples
Frankie & Jo’s Mint Coconut Milk Ice Cream
Week 15: Still throwing up a few times a day, esp after meals
Rice cakes with peanut butter
Raspberries & Cocoyo yogurt
Brown rice or lentil pasta with homemade tomato sauce most nights.
Week 16 & 17:
Quinoa & tomato salad
Quinoa, parmesan cheese & spinach (threw up) (recipe from SRH Cookbook & the Cooking Club)
Rice cakes & peanut butter
Gf pasta & tomato sauce
Tuna salad (sometimes throw up) (recipe from SRH Cookbook & the Cooking Club)
Strawberries & raspberries
Cucumbers with sea salt (first vegetable!)
Green beans with sea salt and butter
Week 18: Finally was able to stop taking zofran every 4 hours and could space out more. A win!
Dried banana chips
Hummus & cucumbers
Chopped greek salad (cucumbers, tomatoes, feta)
Photoshoot salad (recipe from SRH Cookbook & the Cooking Club)
Lentil feta salad (recipe from SRH Cookbook & the Cooking Club)
Lemon spindrift (sometimes threw up)
TJ Blood Orange tea (iced)
Week 19: Feeling hunger start to come back slightly. First walk in 4 months, very slow, felt nauseous afterwards but did it!
Mary’s Gone Crackers with cheddar cheese
Talenti mint chip gelato every night
Week 20: trip to hawaii, first time I was able to take a 20 min walk each morning & do a MWH flow most days too.
Dry roasted & salted almonds
Rice cakes with tuna salad (primal kitchen mayo)
Green smoothie (first one! first leafy greens!)
At that halfway mark ^, we flew to Hawaii, and it was the best decision we ever made. I didn’t feel great physically– I was still nauseous everyday and mostly at night, but it was such a recouping trip for me…. well, for ALL of us as a family to process the past few months together. It was healing in so many ways– to get to be outside, to get to spend quality time with Noah and Kyle both again, and I felt myself slowly coming back to life. I even could take short walks in the morning again, which gave me so much life.
For the 2nd half of my 2nd trimester (weeks 20-28), things started to slooooowly get better. At a snail pace. I didn’t have to go in for the IV’s anymore, because I could keep my own water down. I could do a little less medication, and start using it as needed vs just to get through the day.
I’d get a few hours of feeling more normal, followed by days of feeling horrible again. Then I’d get a day of feeling so much better…..followed by 2-3 days of not. It was unpredictable. But little things and wins were keeping me going (being able to eat peanut butter on a rice cake! a protein!….being able to take a slloooooooooow walk around the block! being able to sit up to watch a show at night with Kyle).
Writing this now, I’m heading into 3rd trimester.
I’m feeling so much better…..but yup, still not great. Or close to my normal high energy self. I still feel nauseous most days, especially after 3pm. So I just try to make the most of my mornings— a yoga/pilates flow and walk, time with Noah, and then jumping into work to get as much done in the 3 hours I feel good enough for it.
I def have stretches of days where I can do a lot more….. and then times in the day, or days at a time that I can’t. It’s been humbling, frustrating and hard some days, to say the least. But I have to to keep giving myself grace and counting the little wins. I think it’s one of the biggest lessons I’ll be walking out of this experience with: just how important and lucky I am to feel great most days. That feeling healthy and alive IS a gift, not to take for granted.
It’s been such a good practice in just listening to my body (even when what it needs is wildly different than what I’m used to). It’s helped me let go of control and just surrender to exactly where I am each day, and being at peace with that.
And also– a practice in resting. And continuing to ask for and need so much help…..and doing all those things without feeling bad. It’s funny how HARD those things actually are. But when you’re forced into it, there’s no other option.
I can eat vegetables now…well, sometimes 🙂
And my hunger is just starting to come back a tiny bit, although eating doesn’t feel joyful just yet. I know it will come back with a vengence when I’m nursing (and I can’t wait for that).
I can feel her kicks (yes, a baby GIRL!), and I know that I can do this. I put my hands on my belly every night and just pray her to be healthy and strong, and to take whatever she needs from my body. Women are so amazing.
And I feel grateful.
So, I write this to tell you, that sometimes, the things we want the most, don’t always come in the ways we anticipate or expect. Or in ways that are easy. Sometimes the things that are the most worth it, feel hard or challenging to walk through. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You will always come out it stronger– mentally especially so, and with better perspective and empathy for those going through seasons like it.
And also to remind you that EVERYONE goes through stuff that is hard or challenging. And that you never really know the things that people are going through behind-the-scenes, so to be kind. To give people (and yourself) some grace and time and space when you need it. We ALL have times in life when we need it.
Hopefully I’ll keep just feeling better and better week by week. Third trimester was my JAM last time around because of it, so I’m keeping the faith that it will.
Thank you all for coming along in this part of my story– for all your notes and messages and emails of encouragement and thanking me for sharing more about hyperemesis and this experience. It has boosted me on my lowest days, and helped ME so much to know I’m not alone too.
Hopefully this post will do the same for so many other women down the road, and let them know they’re not alone, they can do this, and what
Ok, what other questions do you have? Leave them below in the comments or drop them to the Q + A box I’ll put on instagram after this comes out.