Pregnancy a continuum of misery
A friend, nicknamed Dot, is miserable because of a dot. A speck of matter has taken over her life.
“How are you?”
“Terrible. Queasy. Always.”
Morning sickness is a secret whose scope most of us never imagine.
Fifty to 80 percent of pregnant women experience some nausea; a “small percentage,” say journals, have a “profound” course. Estimates vary, but between .01 and .001 percent experience hyperemesis gravidarum: severe dehydration and malnutrition. I know two women who were hospitalized. One, Cici, was ill right to the day of delivery. If you’re faint of stomach, read no more.
For starters, for some it’s not morning sickness: it’s morning, noon, and night sickness. Every day, all day. I have a feeble stomach for motion, so I’d expected some trouble, to hurl a few times. But I couldn’t believe what hit me. I spent days on the couch, and hours on the floor unable to get to the couch. The debilitating nausea never gave me a moment off, even late at night.
I called my mother. “How long is this going to last?!”
“Oh, honey, a few weeks,” she said.
“Weeks?!” Thank God I didn’t know it would be 4 1/2 months.
My friend Macy had to house hunt when pregnant and acutely ill. She regularly threw up on the grounds; her observing 3-year-old took to making retching sounds whenever she walked past bushes. To this day Macy feels sick at the sight of a For Sale sign.
People don’t understand, either. I tried to tell a friend, a mother who’d never experienced it, how dispirited I was, and she – normally the most compassionate of women – said briskly, “Well, that’ll pass.” I just thought, “You have no idea.”
A friend, Kir, once read something bitter I’d written about it and told me later she’d thought, “Jeez, it’s part of pregnancy, deal with it.” Then, her first trimester, she was felled: sicker than I, unable to read a book, watch television, or – cruelly – even sleep.
It’s not health or attitude; just genetics. We have mothers, or aunts, who were plagued.
At eight weeks, I was asked to do a slide show at the Keystone Science Center two months later. The organizers would give us a condo, and ski passes. I hesitated, then figured I would be OK by then.
I gave the show, reached the condo, and threw up so hard it was like something in a horror movie, splashing on the walls, the floor. Finally, the toilet clogged.
The next morning a kid employee had to come to fix it. I lay apologizing, but he nicely insisted it was no big deal. That was before he entered the chamber.
I heard, “Oh, s–t.” Then, a few minutes later, “I don’t believe this.”
To all Dots: Try every trick in the books. They probably, cumulatively prevent worse. Potatoes (I once ate potatoes six meals in a row), toast, crackers, beige foods. Ginger root. Acupressure wrist bands, acupuncture. And it helped me to go to work, to put my mind on something else.
Among concepts, the best was that the nausea probably means you really will have a baby, rather than miscarry; your body is adjusting.
The sickness, bit by bit, gets better. Mine was always worst in the evenings but eventually I started getting mornings off. Then it would roll in like clockwork, at first at 10, then noon, then 3, and on.
After a while you probably have a good day or two, then a couple more, then more good than bad, and finally you’re OK. And then you get a baby and it is all worth it.
I often thought, those endless days, of people with cancer and other illnesses, who have no payoff.
It took Cici five years to embark upon a second pregnancy. But she did.
– Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at email@example.com (please write GSPI as subject heading).- Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org (please write GSPI as subject heading).
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