By Tracy M
In one of my college English classes, my teacher told us to “write about our dogs”, meaning the things we know closely. So here is my dog. Fair warning: If you are squeamish, just skip this post. PG language (Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and I don’t even play one on TV- if you are having extreme sickness, see your doctor.)
Morning Sickness. If there was ever an expert on such a wretched subject, it is me, and I may as well contribute something for the crown I hold. There are others out there who have shared about this too, (check out Allison at Don’t Let’s Start), but I have to find some pearl in the oyster, so here is mine.
1. There are as many different degrees, or ways of feeling ill, as there are levels of hell in Dante’s imagination. Most women have some feeling of nausea during the early months of pregnancy, but for others, like myself, the nausea transcends ‘feeling ill’ and the vomiting continues for all nine months, and even through labor and delivery. If you are blessed not to be like me, don’t tell me about how easy and wonderful and problem free your pregnancies were. That is like eating a Crispy Creme in front of a starving woman, and I might push you through a window.
2. My Relief Society president, mother of five boys, told me it was all in my head. NEVER ever do this! Not only does it belittle the experience of the woman in misery, it basically calls me weak and accuses me of trying to get attention through vomit.
3. There is such a thing as real, drastic, morning sickness. It has a medical name, but I am not a doctor, and I can’t remember it. With all three of my babies, I weigh less at delivery than I did when I got pregnant. This type of sickness is NOT imagined or something that can be cured with soda crackers. It requires an IV to keep from becoming so dehydrated as to be a danger to the baby.
4. There are drugs out there to help, but most of them are pretty ineffective, save one, and it is so expensive most insurance companies won’t cover it. The others make you so sleepy that it is dangerous to take them if you already have small kids at home.
5. There are endless folk-tales and home-remedies for morning sickness, and some of them may work if you are a little bit queasy. I have tried them all, and 99% of them can be thrown out with the bathwater. If one more person asks me if I have tried Preggie Pops or ginger I will scream. ( Yes. Yes, no it does nothing for me, and it burns your nose when it comes back up- same with peppermint, chamomile and Coca Cola)
6. The one folk-tale that has helped me is: To keep from gagging and vomiting when changing your already-here baby’s diaper, pack your nose with Vicks. This works in the nasty, smelly grocery store too, by the way. (p.s. An RN just said NOT to do this, so this one is out too!~)
7. ‘Morning Sickness” is a lie- it is twenty-four hours a day. Evenings are often worse for many women than mornings.
8. Throwing up does NOT make it better. Many people, out of ignorance, think that once you vomit, you will feel better. Maybe with the flu, but that does nothing for pregnancy induced vomiting- the nausea is still there, and in fact, is often worse if your stomach is empty.
9. Use a bowl or a bucket to be sick in. Forget the toilet, and all the smells associated with it- get yourself a good plastic bucket or big bowl, and use that instead. Heaving at counter-height is much more comfortable and things come up easier. Then, dump the bowl in the toilet and rinse it out. Much better in the long run.
10. Keep a gallon-size zipper top bag in your purse, with three or four paper towels crumpled up inside- the towels hamper splatter and disguise the contents. Zipper top makes it safe until you find a trash can. This will save you in public situations where you cannot reach a bathroom, and public bathrooms are horrid anyway. If you have to use a public restroom, use the sink. You don’t want public toilet water splattering up on you.
11. Carry a towel, a change of clothes and underwear. No details really necessary here, but almost all women who are still vomiting later in their pregnancy have pressure-release problems. Be prepared.
12. Soft, cold things, like ice-cream and smoothies, Jamba juice, and the like are generally bad news, even though they sound good and often taste good. That much liquid in your tummy doesn’t translate well. And throwing up something still cold is just too creepy.
13. Eating food without a lot of liquid can make it more likely to stay down, but if you know barfing is imminent, drink something quickly. It is much easier on your body and less painful to vomit soft things than dryer food.
14. When you have an empty stomach but are still heaving, the stuff that comes up looks like orange juice. It is bile, from your galbladder. You are not dying, even though it might feel like it.
15. In later pregnancy, you can, in fact, break your water by throwing up. I have done it, and I don’t recommend it. Again, the pressure-release problems and lack of space in your abdomen.
16. Small capilaries on your eyes, face and nose can break if you are having a really hard time of it. This does not happen to women who are ‘imagining’ it, or women who ‘it’s all in their heads’.
17. Go to the dentist if you are having a pregnancy like mine. The enamel on your teeth is in serious jeopardy from all the acid, and he can give you a special toothpaste to help.
18. Dishes can be a really, really bad thing when your stomach is so tender and smells are so vile. Invest in the Costco size pack of paper plates and utensils.
So what can you do to help, if you know someone like me? Well, unless you have a magic-time-speeder-upper wand, not much. Try and be kind, don’t tell me it’s all in my head, or how easy your pregnancies were. When you have been throwing up 3-7 times a day for 30+ weeks, hearing things like that only compound the misery.
Offer to take my kids for a few hours- that would be awesome. The friends that have helped me the most are the ones who call and say “I have time on Tuesday at 10 am, let me come by and pick them up until after lunch.” That is just the best- the hardest (although I know they are trying to be kind) are the folks who call up and want to chat and hear all about how I am, then put the onus on me to decide what they should do. Trust me, I always feel like crap, and I am starting to hate it when people ask. They give the little head-tilt, and inevitably say “oooooh? Still?” Yes, dammit, still. And I can’t tell you how many calls I have had to drop the phone and run to my bowl. Humiliation.
If you want to bring something by for my starving family to eat, that is really nice. They don’t get a lot of home-cookin’ these days, and my DH especially would appreciate it. However, do skip the broccoli casserole, the BBQ pork sandwiches, or the corned beef and cabbage, please. While it’s rude of me to look a gift horse in the mouth, food with strong smells is why I don’t spend any time in the kitchen in the first place. And completely innocuous smells to the average bear, are unbearable to me. I end up in tears in the bathroom with the fan on, crouched over my bowl, and my DH has to dump the food in the outside garbage can. What will work for your friend might not be the same as works for me, but avoiding cooked broccoli is a good place to start.
Feel free to add anything I may have missed. My brain is not firing on all cylinders these days. T-minus 10 weeks and counting….
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