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Pregnancy health

Surviving Hyperemesis Gravidarum While Raising a Toddler 

Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or HG, is one of the most difficult things to experience during pregnancy, but having it while also raising a toddler is a whole other challenge

Surviving Hyperemesis Gravidarum While Raising a Toddler

Aubree Watson

Imagine having the worst hangover of your life — except it lasts for weeks or even months. That’s what it’s like to have Hyperemesis Gravidarum while pregnant. This debilitating pregnancy disease makes thinking about things like your newborn checklist or the best baby registry nearly impossible.

I’m in the thick of my second pregnancy with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (or HG), thankfully with a case not as bad as with my previous pregnancy. When I say "not as bad," I still throw up at least 10 times daily. So, my mornings always begin the same, spending hours sick in the bathroom before my daughter wakes.

What are the symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or HG, affects up to 3 percent of pregnant women. Unfortunately, I am part of that unlucky group. HG can be difficult to diagnose, and many pregnant women go weeks or months before receiving proper treatment.

Symptoms of HG include loss of appetite, inability to keep fluids down, dehydration, weight loss, and malnutrition. Extremely severe cases of HG can also lead to preterm delivery, and even death.

If you’re an HG survivor, there is a 75 percent chance of having HG in a second pregnancy. Knowing this, and after experiencing HG with my first, I didn’t plan on having any more kids.

But in my case, the universe had other ideas. Just 10 short months after the birth of my first baby, I found out that I am pregnant with baby number 2...and have HG yet again.

author aubree pregnant standing next to a stroller with her daughter Aubree Watson

How do I deal with Hyperemesis Gravidarum during pregnancy with a toddler?

There is a new set of challenges to overcome when battling HG while raising a toddler.

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My daughter is only 12 months old, and taking care of her while feeling so sick has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, mentally and physically.

As moms and caretakers, we don’t get to take a sick day. There are no options, except to push through it and be there for your child, regardless of your feelings.

Not having help to care for my daughter makes it even more difficult. When my partner leaves for work every day, I stay home and care for our daughter whether I'm sick or not.

Between breaks of running to the bathroom, I complete all the caretaking tasks: playtime, diaper changes, tidying, organizing, and everything in between.

I look forward to the end of every day when my partner comes home from work. He always makes sure to help us in any way that he can — be it by cooking dinner or bathing our daughter — and his help means a lot to me.

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At night when I’m finally able to lie in bed, I wonder, “How was I able to get through the day?” Becoming a mom makes you realize how much strength you have inside that you didn’t see before.

author aubree watson showing her pregnant stomach Aubree Watson

Hyperemesis Gravidarum affects more than just your physical health

I’ve never felt more mentally drained than I do with HG. It’s easy to become lonely and depressed after feeling so sick for days. What also makes it worse is feeling like nobody understands what you’re going through.

So, how do I get through it? One day at a time. Thinking about how many weeks I have left creates anxiety. So instead, I try to stay present and tell myself it is another day to get through.

Taking the pregnancy day by day makes battling HG much more manageable. Staying present in the moment is a helpful coping strategy for anyone dealing with a similar challenge.

My daughter also helps motivate me. Watching her grow, and seeing her personality emerge, is a nice distraction from all of the negative thoughts and feelings HG brings. Looking at her, I remind myself that I will have another beautiful baby to love just like her and raise as part of our family at the end of this pregnancy.

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If you or someone you know is struggling with HG, I hope this story resonates with you and helps you find comfort in knowing someone understands. The suffering is only temporary. When your baby is finally here, and nausea and vomiting are over, you’ll be so happy you stuck it through and fought as hard as you did.

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