I found out I was pregnant with Mason while I was sitting on an exam table, waiting for a steroid shot for my eczema. My doctor wouldn’t give it to me until I took a pregnancy test…and I was totally annoyed. Yes, my period was a few days late, but my cycles had never been super regular. Yes, we had been trying for a baby, but we were taking a break over the holidays. I thought, if I hadn’t gotten pregnant after deliberately having sex during my most fertile days, how could I possibly get pregnant having sex at random times? (Of course, this kind of logic is exactly why “Teen Mom” exists.)
I knew my doctor was just being cautious (and actually doing exactly what she should have done), but I didn’t want to hear what I was sure I already knew — that I wasn’t pregnant. I even rehearsed saying “Oh well, we haven’t been trying for that long!” nonchalantly in my head so that I wouldn’t burst into tears when she delivered the bad news. That’s how badly I wanted a baby. Instead, she shocked me by telling me something unbelievably amazing: I was pregnant. Pregnant!
I left her office elated, dazed, and, OK, itching (steroids are a no-no when you’re pregnant). But who cared about a little eczema? I was having a baby! I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I spent the next two days on a baby high. I was bursting with happiness, holding my special secret close. I couldn’t think about anything but that precious little bean growing in my belly; I shopped for maternity clothes online and made a list of baby names I loved. We were traveling to my hometown for Christmas and I couldn’t wait to share our thrilling news.
But then, three days after finding out I was pregnant, I was vomiting in a toilet in a public bathroom at the airport. I had never felt so sick (I had felt queasy all day but had convinced myself it would pass). I couldn’t even board our flight. The airline agent took one look at me and gave us vouchers for a future flight; I imagine he was relieved I wasn’t getting on that plane.
Chris and I took a taxi back home and I spent the entire night throwing up. I become so weak I couldn’t even make it to the bathroom; I got sick in plastic bags by the bed. My ob-gyn sent me to the hospital the next morning, and I was treated with anti-nausea medication and fluids by IV. We kept our fingers crossed that it was just a virus with maybe a touch of morning sickness. We returned home…and an hour or so later I was sicker than ever. We went back to the hospital the next morning and stayed there all of Christmas Day.
“Welcome to nine months of hell!” the ER doctor joked. I was only five-weeks-pregnant, but unfortunately that doctor had just accurately described the next eight months of my life (fortunately I didn’t know that at the time).
In the months that followed, I vomited frequently and dealt with acid reflux so severe I had to sleep sitting up. It even hurt to drink water. On top of that I developed severe anxiety and depression and became someone I didn’t even recognize (it’s impossible to be happy when you’re hellishly sick for nine months). When I delivered Mason at 39 weeks, I was only 7 pounds heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight.
It was an absolute miracle that my boy was born perfectly healthy after all that; I loved him with all my heart and I loved being a mom. But I swore that I’d never go through another pregnancy. I even contemplated having my tubes tied (my mom talked me out of it).
Then a surprising thing happened a few years later. I became a pregnancy editor for a national parenting magazine/website, and I began to think of pregnancy in a more positive light. Yes, it was hell for me…but the actual process of growing a baby was pretty damn amazing. I could finally separate my ordeal from the beautiful reality of what my body had accomplished. I was enamored with my boy and I longed to give him a brother or a sister, as well as parent another child. Those feelings grew until I was willing to jump off a cliff (yes, that’s what going through with another pregnancy felt like to me) and go through it again. So, I took the leap.
In August 2014, I gave birth to my daughter, Poppy Belle. Shockingly, blessedly, my pregnancy with her was a total breeze compared to my pregnancy with Mason. I experienced only moderate morning sickness during my first trimester. When the all-day queasiness ended suddenly at 13 weeks I was positive I had miscarried again, but nope, all was well. I felt amazed every time I enjoyed my dinner (I’m pregnant…and I can eat without horrible pain and vomiting!). I slept lying down (Miraculous!). And I felt unbelievably happy.
I was lucky. Incredibly lucky. Some women, like Kate Middleton, aren’t so lucky. (The Duchess experienced severe morning sickness, known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, during her first two pregnancies, and she’s experiencing it once again with her third.) I admire her — and all the other moms out there who have had HG — for being brave enough to get pregnant again. It’s not an easy decision at all, but I imagine that everyone who has taken that leap is grateful that they did. I know I sure am.
Did you experience severe morning sickness? How did you cope?