Author: Emma Thomas
My husband and I had been trying to conceive for some time, however, I had very irregular periods (I only got a period once every 2-4 months), so it was hard to know if my “missed period” was due to being pregnant, or whether I just hadn’t ovulated as usual. Both my mum and aunty had a condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and Mum had warned me that it can “run in the family” and can cause fertility issues. Women with PCOS often don’t ovulate, so they can go months without periods; this also makes it extremely hard with timing when trying to conceive.
Diagnosed with PCOS
After several months of trying with no success, I went to see my GP. I mentioned the family history to my doctor when I explained our struggle to conceive, and he said that he’d normally tell patients to keep trying for at least a year before he would do any investigations. However, due to my family history of PCOS, our situation was different, so he sent me for an ultrasound. It was found that I had polycystic ovaries and I was referred to a gynaecologist and fertility specialist.
The gynaecologist looked at my scans and agreed that I had polycystic ovaries, however, because I didn’t have the usual symptoms of the “syndrome” (e.g. overweight, acne, excessive body hair), he didn’t think I had PCOS as such. He told us to keep trying for another month, then go back to see him if we still hadn’t had any success.
We were prescribed Clomid
Another month went by, and still no period, but still not pregnant. We went back to see the gynaecologist, and he prescribed a medication called Clomid, to help and try to stimulate my body to ovulate. The first cycle didn’t work: no ovulation, no period, not pregnant. He then told me to triple the dose for the next cycle. I confirmed with him three times that the dose was correct, and he was adamant. So, the next cycle I tripled the dose. I wasn’t very optimist. This was a few weeks before Christmas.
My hubby and I had planned a little getaway to the beach over New Years for a few days to try and distract ourselves. I didn’t want to think about this cycle and get my hopes up again, as I’d been so sure the first cycle would work! We headed off to the beach and had a good couple of days, and then it got to New Years Eve, and I woke up with a migraine. I always get nauseous with my migraines, so didn’t think twice about it. I was just so angry that I’d managed to get one when we were away on holidays (I only get maybe 4 a year).
Usually to treat my migraines I have a couple of aspirin and sleep it off for the rest of the day. What a way to see the new year in, in bed with a bucket and a thumping head, and not a drop of alcohol was in sight! The next day however, I was still super nauseous. It still hadn’t occurred to me that I might actually, finally, be pregnant: unbeknown to me, I was 3 weeks pregnant at this stage.
I started feeling sick even before my period was due
It wasn’t until a few days after we got home, when I was STILL feeling queasy, that I considered that the cycle might have worked. I was supposed to have a blood test to check if I was pregnant a certain number of days after taking the Clomid. This wasn’t due for few more days, however thought, “maybe I’ll just do a home pregnancy test, just to see”. I was so nervous and tried so hard not to get my hopes up this time. “It was just a migraine”, I kept telling myself as I waited for the line/s to show up. It hadn’t even got to the 3 minutes, and there was clearly a second line there! Out of the bathroom I ran, to show my husband! I was ecstatic!
I called the gynaecologist the next day and told him. He said it was great and told us to just go back and see our GP now – he didn’t practice as an obstetrician anymore, and we didn’t have private health insurance so had to go through the public system. A week later I saw my GP. He said I didn’t need a dating scan as we knew our dates due to the Clomid treatment. I explained about the nausea (it hadn’t stopped, and I was now throwing up 1-3 times a day, every day, and struggled to eat anything or get fluids into me). He gave me a script for Maxolon (metoclopramide). Unfortunately it didn’t really help, and just made me tired.
I was already so, so tired, and was struggling to work
I was running out of excuses (e.g. migraine, gastro) for being off sick all the time. We knew I had to tell work, but we had to tell our parents first. Finally, when I was almost 7 weeks pregnant, we had orchestrated a way to catch up with both sets of parents at the same time to tell them. I was really sick on the drive over to meet them, so it was such a relief to finally tell them! That week I told my boss. Work was so understanding, and I just played each day by ear, working what I could, and going home to sleep for a few hours when needed. They tried to give me sit down jobs as much as possible (which was really hard in my job, where I’m on my feet all day).
I was finally diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum
The nausea was BAD. Really, really bad. The only thing I found that worked was Zofran (ondansetron) wafers. But, they were expensive, so I rationed them as much as possible. They also aren’t first line in treatment of nausea in pregnancy, so I was trying to avoid using them if at all possible, as I didn’t want to hurt the baby.
Over the next few weeks I ended up in the emergency department (ED) twice, dehydrated from being unable to keep any fluids down. Both times I was given IV fluids, but no one ever offered to do a scan to check that everything was ok. I was still yet to have a scan. Each doctor I saw in the ED also told me something different – one told me to have Zofran (ondansetron) as much as I needed, one told me to avoid it as much as possible. I was thoroughly confused, and just wanted to able to eat.
Eating and drinking was so hard
I couldn’t stand the taste of tap water, so found the only way to get fluids into me was to drink bottled water – this wasn’t a very cheap or practical solution. Food was so hard too. Everyone always tells you to “eat healthy” when pregnant. That kept going around, and around in my head whenever all I could stomach was something greasy or potato based (e.g. KFC chips or scalloped potatoes).
I lost 7kgs in those first 12 weeks. After that, I told myself it was more important to just get any food into me, even if it was unhealthy. The baby would get the good stuff it needed from that bad food, and hopefully the pregnancy vitamins would give it the rest. I also thought about every meal very carefully, “how would this feel coming up again?” I avoided cornflakes and banana for that reason, and couldn’t eat pizza for the rest of the pregnancy after I threw that up one night.
My daily routine with Hyperemesis Gravidarum
At about 9 weeks I got into a little groove – wake up, hop in the shower, throw up in shower, eat rice bubbles for breakfast (the only thing I found that came up painlessly), have a Zofran, go to work, try and stay as long possible. If I threw up by 10am I was usually right to stay until after lunch, if not, I’d often have to go home and sleep for a few hours then go back after lunch. I’d then go home at the end of the day and try and eat and hope I wasn’t too dehydrated from hardly being able to drink all day – the thought of water made me want to spew.
Finding out it was triplets!
At 12 weeks, we finally had our first scan! I had started to show, despite having lost 7 kgs, and because I’d been so very, very sick, we had considered the fact that we might be having more than one baby. We suspected twins, and had only considered triplets. We rocked up to the scan and they were running an hour behind, despite our 10am appointment. Finally, it was time to go in.
The lady did a very quick scan of my belly and then said to us, “this is the first time I’ve told anyone this. Count with me”. My heart was pounding, I was pretty sure I’d just seen three babies! “Here’s baby number one. Here’s baby number two. And here’s the third!” Triplets!!! I looked over at my hubby – I couldn’t get the grin off my face, and he just looked shocked, but was nervously grinning too.
It was a very quiet drive home after the hour and a half long scan, after the hour long wait. Our poor parents were worried that something was wrong because we’d taken so long and still hadn’t told them how the “baby” was. Those phone calls were very entertaining. It was also fun going back to work to tell everyone, “so…we’re having triplets”. At last I had a reason why I had been so sick. Hyperemesis Gravidarum with triplets (or any multiples) is more likely.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum with triplets
The extreme nausea continued throughout the pregnancy, but at least I had a valid reason for it now – three babies! It settled a little at 16 weeks, and the daily vomiting had finally stopped. I had experienced hyperemesis gravidarum with triplets (HG), and I’d never wish it on anyone!
My advice to anyone else experiencing it:
- Trust your gut: you know what’s best for you and your baby. If someone is telling you something you don’t feel comfortable with, get a second opinion.
- Don’t be scared to try medication: talk to your doctor if you think you might be experiencing HG. Be honest about how much you’re throwing up and how much weight you’ve lost.
- Go to the ED if you think you might be dehydrated! And tell them that you’re pregnant – they tend to try and fast-track pregnant women.
- Work out what foods you can tolerate: this is different for everyone. Lots of people told me to “try a dry biscuit first thing when you wake up in the morning”. This didn’t work for me. I knew I had to vomit before I could stomach anything. It was gross, but it worked for me. I also worked out that I just needed to eat, despite what food it was. I’m not in any way advocating unhealthy, overindulgent eating. Eating for “two” is not right and can lead to issues in losing baby weight later. I am however saying that if today all you can eat is KFC chips, then that’s ok. Tomorrow you might only be able to eat carrots. As long as you’re still getting the nutritious food in there somewhere, and baby/ies is/are growing, then it’s ok.
While Hyperemesis Gravidarum with triplets was horrible, I now have three very healthy, happy almost three year olds!
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