A Love Letter to Zofran, My Pregnancy Anti-Nausea Medication

Pregnant and NauseatedDear Zofran,

Happy Valentine’s Day! This time of year always makes me nostalgic for when we first met. Do you remember?

It was November, 2010 and I was 6 weeks pregnant. I was desperate, throwing up multiple times a day and losing weight when I knew I should be gaining it. I quickly worked through all of the homeopathic remedies for nausea: ginger ale, peppermint tea, bland crackers, etc. I needed Western medicine. Pharmaceuticals. I needed you, Zofran.

My doctor described you as a medication originally used for chemotherapy patients that is also safe for pregnant ladies. He prescribed me 4-mg tablets that dissolved in my mouth (and tasted minty and chalky at the same time—yuck!). You didn’t eradicate the nausea like I hoped, but you did halt the vomiting so I could at least get some nutrition.

As I suffered, people repeated the same refrain: “It’s just the first trimester.” But week 12 passed, and then week 13. It started to ease around week 14 but never really disappeared until I delivered my baby. I kept a bottle of you in my purse (with your fancy generic name that I can’t pronounce: ondansetron) for the whole pregnancy.

When I got pregnant again in 2012, I prayed that nausea wouldn’t wallop me again. I clung to another annoying refrain from well-meaning folks: “Every pregnancy is different.” But come week six, I felt the nausea slowly creeping up. I immediately called my doctor and requested a big ol’ bottle of you. A few days later—desperate—I called back. “What is the absolute maximum dose of Zofran I can safely take?” I asked. He told me that in dark times, I could take up to 8 mg. Hallelujah! That’s double what I could take when incubating my first! The news got even better: you came in swallow-able pills so I didn’t even have to do that minty, chalky, dissolvy thing anymore.

My second question: “Is there such a thing as Zofran that lasts longer than four hours?” I hate to bring this up, lest you question my gratitude and debt to you, but you do have a significant shortcoming. When my nausea is at its most vicious in the first trimester, I am only able to sleep in four-hour chunks because right when you wear off, I wake up because I feel so sick. Alas, no. Four hours is as long as you can go.

That’s it! I won’t bring up any more negatives while I sing your praises. Because oh the praises! You make my first trimester survivable. I know that pregnancies happened for thousands of years before you existed, but I struggle to imagine how I would have been able to take care of a toddler, the house and myself while pregnant without your help.

Zofran, you take away my pain. You made it possible for me to have two beautiful children. I love you. Happy Valentine’s Day.