This season on Black Love, actors Jazmyn and Dulé Hill opened up about their difficult pregnancy journey dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum. Before hearing their story, I was unaware of HG and the difficulties many women suffer because of it. If you’re like me and need a quick source of reference, according to the American Pregnancy Association, “Hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and electrolyte disturbance.”
To continue the conversation, writer Latrese Thomas was brave enough to share her story with our readers, which was originally published on her site. Transparent, honest, and real. Baring it all, here’s her emotional account of dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum.
Yep, I was pregnant…
In 2006, much to my surprise, I found out I was pregnant with my first child. Although I was with someone I loved, I had only been out of college and into my career for three years, so this news took some getting used to. Fast forward a couple of weeks, and I decided to keep my baby even after her biological contributor decided this wasn’t for him (another story for another day). I was hit with the most intense nausea and vomiting I had ever experienced. At first, I thought it was stress-related and just normal morning sickness as I was, after all, in my mid 20’s, newly in a career and now facing motherhood as a single mother, something I NEVER expected for myself.
Soon I realized this was MUCH more than normal morning sickness. I was nauseous from the time I woke up until the time I went to sleep, and most times, I woke up in the middle of the night to a room spinning or with an immediate need to vomit. I was hospitalized three times for dehydration due to vomiting. After trying quick dissolve Zofran tablets (which also made me vomit), my Dr. prescribed me a Zofran pump that administered medicine throughout the day.
Yes, you read that correctly, I had to stick myself with a needle daily and was attached to a pump that administered meds to keep me from dying or putting my daughter in greater risk. Of course, this meant I was now a high-risk pregnancy at the age of 25, with my first child.
The diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarum was something that I only found mentioned in white communities and mommy groups. Black mothers were not talking about this as an actual thing. I felt alone, depressed, angry, and confused. Why was this happening to me, and what did all these meds mean for the health of my child?
I love being a Black woman, nothing I’d rather be. Period. One issue that definitely needs to continue to be addressed in our communities, is the comfortability of open dialogue about difficult topics, especially around emotional things like feelings of depression, suicide, & sickness. Almost every person in my life, with the exception of my best friends, at the time, thought I was being dramatic, especially the older women in my life (Love you mommy, but you were guilty too).
I often heard, “Girl, women have been dealing with morning sickness since the beginning of time; you have to get up and go to work” “You can’t just stay on bed rest, you have things you have to do.” Those pieces of “encouraging advice” drove me crazy on top of my illness. I thank God every day that I had two close friends who were both already mothers that could help me get through this; both I had known since I was in my late teens/early twenties.
Nikki lived closed to me, so she would leave her own child in the middle of the night and bring me warm Kool-Aid to help ease my nausea, or she would literally clean up my vomit during the rare times I couldn’t make it to the bathroom because if I were to clean it up, it would send me back into the cycle of vomiting. Demetra, whom I met in college, also worked with me and would bring me pickles and water, the only things that didn’t make me vomit.
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There were many times I would be sitting at my desk on the phone and have to mute the client I was speaking with and throw up in the wastebasket. I don’t believe people understood how physically exhausting and mentally draining this was. I was suffering from depression BEFORE the baby even came, and there really wasn’t anyone to talk to about it.
My daughter, Tori, was born through an emergency C-section due to her umbilical cord being wrapped around her neck when my water broke, but she is one of the best things that ever happened to me. She is an honor roll student, a competitive swimmer, and now becoming a little actress. She’s amazing, even in this preteen stage of life! I can’t lie, though; I was so traumatized by the events of my first pregnancy that I was in NO hurry to do that again. With hyperemesis, there is a 50/50 chance that you will have it with subsequent pregnancies.
The second time around…
I met my husband when Tori was two years old, and I was scared to even pursue love again. Fast forward to 2017, and we are married, happy, living life, and had resigned ourselves to the fact that the two girls we had (each of us with one from previous relationships) was good enough for us. J adopted Tori and our oldest Zee, I see as mine as blood couldn’t make us any closer. Life. Was. Good.
During Hurricane Irma in 2017, I was crazy nauseous, and I thought it was just stressed related to us having to board up the house and weather the storm. After the hurricane passed, the nausea didn’t stop. I took a pregnancy test, certain that it was going to be negative. I mean, we had been vacationing like crazy, the girls were old enough to be doing their own thing with their friends, we had started another business, and I was well into my 9 to 5 just coasting and enjoying life. The first test was positive. I say first because I then took four additional tests. I was pregnant… again!
I know you are thinking…. “There are ways to prevent pregnancy if you don’t want to be pregnant!” This is true, but I’m telling you with Tori, I was on birth control, and with my second daughter, I’m thinking: in what world do almost 40-year-old people plus a uterus filled with fibroids create a baby?!?! We had been “lucky” up until now, as I hadn’t been on birth control since Tori’s birth. The luck had just run out!
HG was back to snatch souls…
There wasn’t even a rev-up time with my second pregnancy. I was geriatric, and I had hyperemesis AGAIN! Twelve years later, and they were still giving out Zofran, which was like a tic-tac to this chick hyperemesis, it did absolutely nothing. At the time, I actually followed (still follow) a mom blogger, Kerry, who is the mother to child Instagram star @JaydeKamille, who was also suffering and was on a med called Diclegis. Diclegis definitely helped me this second time, but I still fought with nausea and vomiting, I just didn’t have to be hospitalized. I only gained 15 lbs. during my pregnancy, and because of my hyperemesis and my age, I was once again high risk.
The depression came pretty early on this time around because, now, I wasn’t only sick, but I also had two daughters and a husband that could bear witness to the “rock” being down & out. It was hard to act strong and unbothered during the entire pregnancy, but it’s a burden that mothers often carry. I would go throw up and then take my daughter to softball practice or make dinner because everything still had to keep moving. We keep going so that everyone else can feel comfortable and safe. I did give birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl, Amina, in May of 2018, and parenting at almost 40 is another blog for another day, but a blessing above all things!
HG is a bitch, and I apologize for the language, but she is; there literally aren’t any other words to describe her evil and destructive ways. If anyone is suffering from this, please don’t let others tell you that you are dramatic or that it isn’t that serious. Try holistic methods first, as I did, but be your own advocate with your Dr. and insist on treatments that work for you. At the end of the day, we want healthy babies, but we also want healthy mommies too, physically and mentally.
Also, if you ever need a friend or someone to vent to when your arms are hugged around a toilet and tears are flowing down your face, I’m also a text, email, DM away. I get it, girl, and you are not alone!
Love & Light,
This article originally appeared on Unapologetically Living with Trese and has been republished on BlackLove.com with permission.