Here at biglittlethings we donate 5% of our profits to HG Australia, a charity that provides support & raises awareness surrounding Hyperemesis Gravidarum an illness suffered by 2% of pregnant women.
To shine light on the mama's that are going through it & the one's who have survived it - we put out a call for HG mama's to contact us to tell their story. The response was overwhelming. We chose 7 stories to count us down to today; HG Awareness Day & we hope they bring some hope, love, awareness, & that you don't feel alone.
To all the HG mama's, we see you, we believe you & we are here for you.
Our last mama to finish HG Awareness Day, & our series of hg mama stories is Chloe, co-founder of Ina Swim & mama to two babes both of which she suffered from HG with both. This is her story...
B | tell us a bit about yourself & who you’re a mama to.
C | Hi lovely Yanika! Thank you for having me on board for such a beautiful awareness campaign! I’m Chloe, I'm a wife, mother, midwife and designer, I live on the Gold Coast in Queensland with my husband, Jase and our two beautiful babies – Sunny boy (3) and Maya (4 months).
B | tell us either about your journey to or through motherhood. And tell us about your HG pregnancies & how they differed from each other.
C | Oh gosh, where to begin, it took us over 2.5 years to conceive our little boy Sunny, including 2 miscarriages. It was an incredibly draining experience both emotionally and physically and although, from a clinical perspective that time frame is considered quite normal. I remember feeling exceptionally disconnected..almost angry at my body throughout those long months. Thankfully, my husband was beautifully empathetic towards our situation, he would cry alongside me every month I got my period.. He longed for a baby as much as I did.
We eventually went through a fertility specialist but ended up falling pregnant naturally once we ‘stopped trying’ (Murphy's Law!), that particular month I had begun regular acupuncture and got back into Yoga ..and started doing small things for ‘me’ like meditation. I believe it was the combination of holistic wellbeing that helped us fall pregnant that month.
In regards to my pregnancies, both my mum and cousin experienced extreme HG for all of their pregnancies so I was quite aware that the chances of me having it would be elevated. It kicked in big time around 7 weeks with our boy Sunny and my gosh I was so so incredibly sick. I was lucky to have my mum who knew exactly what I needed, she would come over to our house when my husband left for work so I wasn’t alone and she would literally hand feed me spoons of sweet potato, oranges ..basically anything that I could tolerate. I would inevitably bring it all back up but at least then if I retained some form of nutrients, it would be better than nothing.
Most days, my husband had to shower me, it was a struggle to even sit up in bed.. Hospital admissions were regular in the early days as I constantly became dehydrated, I lost around 7-8kg before I began to gain weight which wasn’t well into the 2nd trimester.
2nd time around was similar but definitely nowhere near as severe, interestingly we had a girl the second time around yet my HG was much much worse with our little boy.
B | what are some things you wish you knew before you went through a HG pregnancy?
C | I was one of the lucky ones that not only knew and understood HG but I had close people in my life that had personally experienced it, so they knew what I needed better than I knew myself.
I think it must be an exceptionally isolating journey for women who experience it with limited support networks. I remember an acquaintance saying once after I had our son that she had morning sickness once (as in, ONE MORNING) around week 7 and she referred to it as torture, she genuinely couldn’t fathom what it must be like to be profusely sick 24/7. Having lifelines close by.. as in loved ones who are able to empathise with you and support you both emotionally and physically was singlehandedly the reason I was able to get through it (and then go on to have another baby knowing full well I would likely get it again!).
B | where did you find support? Being a midwife do feel you knew much about HG before you suffered it yourself?
C | This is an excellent question, so, personally in regards to support, I had my close knit circle around me as much as possible. However, there were still some extremely isolating days. So much so and I am ashamed to admit it but there were 3 or 4 occasions where I genuinely questioned whether I could continue being pregnant. Imagine..trying for over 2 and half years to fall pregnant, wanting to be a mother more than anything I have ever dreamed of in my life but the sickness was taking such a toll on my emotional and physical health that I questioned if I could go on.
On reflection, I know I never would have pursued that particularly as it doesn’t align with my personal beliefs but the fact those thoughts crossed my mind shows what state of mind I was in at the time. I’ve since read how common that is for women experiencing severe HG... I really wish I had of known this at the time as I felt huge shame and guilt for even thinking it.
I also often used online forums through the likes of FB to connect with other women experiencing HG all over the world. It made me feel less alone. Although most days I could hardly hold my phone or even look at the screen, I did seek out those support groups on my better days to connect with others. There really is nothing quite like speaking to someone who has walked ( or walking..) in your shoes.
I think having experienced HG will only make me a better midwife. I strive to be kind, caring and empathetic to all the women I care for.
B | how did you handle going through a HG pregnancy with another babe to take care of? How did you explain HG to them or how did you manage being so sick whilst also being a mama & running your own business; Ina Swim?
C | Oh goodness, I sudder at the thought of this! Sunny was 2 and a half when I was going through the worst of it.. We explained to him that the baby in mummy’s tummy was making her sick. I was worried this would cause him to have a somewhat negative association to this growing babe but he completely shone through and was incredibly caring and understanding.
He would bring me crackers to the bed each morning or sit with me in the toilet as I was being sick. He even used to hold my hairback (*insert crying face emoji!). Between my HG, running a small business and I was still working as a midwife, it certainly wasn’t an easy journey, the days felt long, I missed him a lot. I experienced a lot of guilt because I couldn’t give him the time or support he needed some days. But he was beautiful.. And it was like he just grew up over night. It’s incredible how they just totally ‘get it’ sometimes, even at such a young age.
I also relied heavily on family to spoil him with their attention because I couldn’t. The worst of my HG with Maya was over around 22 weeks so it was survival mode for roughly 3 months and then I started to feel a lot more like myself.
B | We are passionate about support during Postpartum for all mama’s. I wish someone had told me about the effects you feel Postpartum after going through HG - how has your PP journey been? What is some advice for other HG mama’s for PP?
C | This is a powerful statement and one I totally totally agree with! With Sunny I experienced HG right up into the 3rd trimester. I was absolutely spent. But once I started to feel better though, roughly around 32 weeks onwards, I absolutely flourished! I was gaining weight, eating normal etc...seeing friends and family again. I started to see my HG for what it was...MY JOURNEY.. Although I needed some reminding some days.. It was up to me as to whether I viewed it negatively or positively.. naturally, I chose the latter..ummm, I grew and nourished a baby!
In saying this, for a lot of women who have also suffered from HG, it is the ‘loss of control (of your body), the disconnection to your baby and/or the extreme isolation of HG that carries with them through to the PP period.
My suggestion is talk, talk about it every chance you get. Be around people who support you and UNDERSTAND. It’s incredible how many women silently suffer from HG alone or perhaps don’t even know there is a medical name for what they experienced. Surround yourself with like-minded women, spend time with family and distance yourself from those who don’t understand. It can incredibly disheartening when someone plays down what you experienced. Speak your truth and advocate for yourself and your experiences! Your mental health will thank you.
B | what would you say to a mama currently suffering from HG?
C| Know that you are never alone. Even if you’re suffering alone (perhaps your partner is fifo or none of your family/friends understand).. Seek support online, speak to your midwife or care provider. Its so important you care for your mental health during this time as you do your physical. I see you, I empathise with you... oh and TRY ACUPUNCTURE.. It was my life saver.
B | what have been the biglittle moments for you as a mama?
C | When isnt there a biglittle moment right??! Im a shamelessly proud mama!
From those first little kicks in-utero, to seeing them roll over or sit up for the first time. Hearing my big boy use his manners with strangers (unprovoked of courseee...) or catching him give his sister a kiss on the head when I’m not meant to be looking.. I am literally proud every minute of every day.. Its kinda insane haha
B | what/who inspires you as a mama?
C | Singlehandedly MOTHERS. That includes my own powerhouse of a mother who raised 4 children on her own. Everything I know and feel as a mother is because of her.. My mother-in law who is strong and determined and always always gives good advice. My incredible sisters who are mothers themselves and raising confident and capable children and of course my chosen sisters (aka my besties). I go to them for EVERYTHING and would be completely and utterly lost without them.
B | And lastly, a very important questions, what are your Top 3 favourite biglittlethings?