Thursday, 19 December 2013

The after effects of HG

This isn't really the right place to post this but I know many of you have read my HG story in the past and so I thought I'd write a post about how I am now, 7 months on, and this naturally led me to thinking about the lasting after effects of HG. You can read my HG and birth stories here. 

Firstly physically HG still affects me, I am much more sensitive to nausea now and the smallest thing can set me off. To start with this was the memory of Vicks Vaporub, I used this for a cold at some point in the pregnancy and for some reason this has stuck with me and so now when I smell it I feel sick. I get motion sickness much more easily so find travelling on buses much harder, along with trains and tubes. I also feel sick at certain times of the month. 

Of course emotionally I'm very affected by the nausea and it brings back awful memories. If anyone else tells me they feel sick, then so do I, but with this comes all the associations. It's difficult to describe how this affects me but let's just say it isn't positive. Since Amelia's birth I have been referred to "birth stories" who are a team of midwifes who go through your notes and discuss events with you. I found these meetings helpful in establishing some of the facts about labour and why certain situations occurred. They have admitted they made many mistakes on their treatment of me during the pregnancy and could understand what brought me to the point I got to. I should have been listened to when asking for help and should have received much more support. These meetings also helped me explore a little of how I felt about everything, which has now led to a referral for counselling. I have a lot more to discuss and still a lot of feelings I need to work through. It's so difficult to describe, for those that haven't been through it, what I mean by all this. I feel guilt for my desperation for everything to be over, I feel failure for giving in and I feel like every part of it was such hard work. I don't feel like any step of the pregnancy and labour came easily to me, when apparently it's natural. That's just the tip of the iceberg. 

Like a lot of women I've spoken to, HG women, I feel robbed of my pregnancy and the joyful time it should be. I also feel like it's robbing me of the joy I should be feeling about a current pregnancy. Someone I know (I don't want to say who) is pregnant at present and, whilst I'm delighted for them, it is especially difficult that it's the same timescale as I followed. I'm already struggling this year because it's the first year post HG. At the anniversary of finding out we were pregnant it was a bitter sweet day. As the days past I remembered the first time I was in hospital, the second time, when I realised I wasn't going to be working for a while, when I gave up my license. the months of struggling to get the money we needed because I was off sick, the numerous hours of isolation, the months of fighting for medication and then the weekend I gave up and said enough was enough. My pregnancy was an extremely difficult time for us and I don't really remember any positives about it. I remember the scans and the happiness they brought but by the time she kicked that had faded and I even resented them by the end as extra pain. So to think of anyone else being pregnant my first feeling is sympathy for them and then when I see their happiness I feel so sad because we didn't have that. Not only this but I get flashbacks of that time and so others pregnancy sparks this and haunts me. I feel sick, shaky, sad and a little angry about everything. 

It is helpful to know that I'm not alone in any of these emotions but it doesn't make it any better that we have to go through this. I think the worst thing about all of this is, not only do these poor women have to go through it but we also have to fight every step of the way with the medical professionals for help. When a women is pregnant it isn't just about her unborn baby but the women herself is also really important, it shouldn't be OK that a women is having to spend all day every day in bed just because her baby is healthy. Both are important. 

Anyway I've gone off track a little so let me return... So mentally HG women have a lot to cope with. During the pregnancy I was depressed, mainly because of the isolation and I was told this would be closely monitored after birth. It wasn't, except by my mother!! Anyway, I have now been diagnosed with depression again and started anti depressants. I struggle with going out, partly because physically it's such a mission at the moment but also mentally I find it incredibly difficult. I'm VERY sensitive to criticism and take the smallest comment as something I'm doing wrong, when it's not necessarily meant that way. I feel like everyone is watching me and I feel very judged. I have been told that if I go out to groups I won't feel so isolated and it'll help, I know that this is probably true, however, new mothers too frequently talk about their labour, pregnancy or early days. How do I avoid this? Anyway a week after starting my meds I forced myself to go out to a Sing and Sign class, which Amelia throughly loved, and have now enrolled to start the course in January. The fact that I've paid the money will make me go out and it'll all get much easier once we move house and I can get out without any of the physical barriers (like the stairs). 

So when I say I'm fine, I'm working through all of the above. I don't want to talk about it when people ask but it's always there. I should think time is the biggest healer but the other bits and pieces will help. If I manage to get through a day looking after Amelia and getting the housework done I feel like it's a big achievement. If I manage to go out then that'll be it for the week and I'll be exhausted for the rest of the day. (feels a bit like HG all over again!!). 

So HG is not just a physically illness that strikes just during pregnancy, the affects are also mental and these are much more long lasting. So many ladies I've spoken to with HG are feeling all the same things as me and for a HG lady to have another child, well we're all in awe of those brave ladies!! I'm very lucky that facebook has been invented for my time and I've been able to find a fantastic support group on there. So much so that I'm now a volunteer supporter for PSS to help some other ladies out there not feel so isolated. I will always be grateful for those people that reached out to me and continue to reach out helping me through this time, you know who you are.