All over the world, people have been sitting down at their breakfasts, standing around water coolers (if these actually exist any more) and waiting for the bus (ditto), while trying desperately to get their unaccustomed tongues around the buzz phrase of the day;
“Oooh, I hear she has hypereme-, hypereremem-, no, wait, hang on, hypereemic- oh look, it’s really bad MORNING SICKNESS OK?!” (As opposed to ‘good morning sickness’, one presumes.)
Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or HG, are the words we’re all struggling with.
And for anyone who has it, just keeping any food or liquid down
for more than five seconds is the what they are struggling with.
Kate Middleton has it, apparently. And this is why, despite having been around for Millennia, talk of its existence has suddenly reached breakfast tables and water coolers and bus queues, like a wave of ancient novelty.
Any woman who has ever had morning sickness knows that it is one of the most debilitating, HORRIBLE aspects of pregnancy.
And considering that there are approximately 43,784 horrible things about pregnancy, that’s pretty impressive.
After three pregnancies, all of which came blessed with three months of unbroken morning sickness, I would rather give birth again than endure another twelve weeks of constant nausea.
No really. I would. And mine were 9lb-ers.
Considering how common sickness and nausea are in the early stages of pregnancy, very little is made of how bloody awful it is. And myths about it abound.
Here are a couple of little factoids about morning sickness that nobody tells you:
1. It doesn’t occur in the morning. Or, at least, it doesn’t necessarily only occur in the morning. I had evening sickness with all three of mine. Every night, 5pm, BOOM. Hello nausea. Hello toilet bowl.
Some women have it all day long, every day. The deal here is that we buy these poor, pukey ladies very nice shoes, and let them watch whatever they want on telly. Forever.
Some obedient, rule-abiding women have it only in the morning, and tick it off in their How To be Pregnant book.
Others don’t have it at all. We tend to ignore these people, on the grounds of excessive irritation and unfairness.
2. There is no sickness involved. Again, this isn’t the case for everyone (an amazing thing about pregnancy is that not everyone’s experience is absolutely identical, and Just As It Says In The Book. I KNOW! What are we LIKE? Human or something??); some women throw up constantly, as if they’re falling out of a night club every three minutes. Others are never sick at all. Some are sick once, consider the job done, and efficiently move on to stretch marks and haemorrhoids, presto pronto.
Given the above, it’s a teeny tiny wonder they decided to call it ‘morning sickness’ at all, really. I’d like to have been there on that meeting, and set things straight.
The Most Hellish Three Months Of Your Life, might be one suggestion.
Or, Give Me Sympathy NOW, would be another.
The sympathy thing is a big deal.
There’s a woeful lack of it, because morning sickness provides nothing dramatic for us to show anyone and thus elicit any Sympathy Nods or gifts of nice-smelling creams or four-hour foot massages.
It’s not a broken leg or a bleeding head or a catastrophic lack of style.
And ‘feeling sick’ is not exactly very high up the International Sympathy Scale.
It’s down there with ‘I’m a bit tired’, (who isn’t), ‘Oh God, the wifi has gone down again’ and ‘what, no SOYA MILK for my latte??’
I think I dealt with it stoically.
Most days I would sit in a corner puffing tiny breaths from between my pursed lips, before wailing “I think I’m going to diiiiieeee!!!!!” at the top of my voice and then spitting the gallons of saliva that were constantly accumulating in my mouth into coffee cups that I carried around for the purpose, until, hours later, I finally succumbed to the blissful, sickness-free hours of sleep.
In subsequent pregnancies this was probably quite embarrassing for my older children, if such puffing and wailing and spitting occurred in the Wendy house of our local toddler group.
But frankly, I didn’t care.
I didn’t care about anything except NOT FEELING SICK.
One last thing to note is this; HG is not morning sickness.
Morning sickness is not even morning sickness, as we’ve just learned.
HG is a very very bad version of morning sickness. Really, superbad. Mothers can become ill very quickly if they don’t consume any liquids for a few days, and they really do need to seek help immediately.
And maybe now that Her Royal Highness has kindly shed some green-tinged light on a serious condition that affects 1% of expectant mothers, they will now all get the attention and help and sympathy they deserve.
And so should all the millions of you out there who are only having Normal Morning Sickness. It’s awful. I feel for you. I would feel sick with you, but I’ve done my time there so I’ll just do the Sympathy Nodding, if that’s OK.
Good luck. Keep breathing. (This is key, in most things…) Keep not going near foods that make you retch. Keep demanding those foot massages.
You are a HERO! And you will stop feeling sick eventually. Usually just in time to go into the long, dark tunnel of chronic sleep-deprivation that follows the birth.
Ahhh, it’s all fun. And one day they might even thank you for it.
Liz Fraser is the author of three best-selling books about parenting. Her new book,Lifeshambles, will be published in the Autumn of 2014, or as soon as she has finished it.