A Second Hyperemesis Gravidarum Pregnancy {Effects on the Partner}

by Mama Bice on May 15, 2013

Some time ago, I wrote a post about Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). That post – which has reached and helped so many – was written before my current pregnancy. Here I sit, pregnant with our second child, and having gone through (and still going through some days) another HG pregnancy.

This time around I had a child to care for as well. He is a wonderful 2 year old and my little survivor of HG in two ways now (his own pregnancy, and this one). But there is another survivor in our home – my husband.

Partners of HG moms suffer as well. HG affects the entire household – how it runs, what foods can be cooked, what scents people can wear (think cologne or shampoo), the level of quiet needed, and the heavy load on the partner in all aspects.

This journey through HG has been hard on myself and my husband. It is hard on me for many reasons – the physical pain, the mental agony, the stress of knowing my baby is in danger from this illness. But my husband has had much of the same stress. He knows the risks – even more so this second time around – and he sees my pain. He was not able to stop my body from doing this, and he felt powerless.

My husband has this to say:

“I apparently always underestimated you before we dealt with HG together. You worked a full time job before becoming pregnant with our son. You did all the shopping, made our meals, washed our clothes, and took care of the house in general. Then the HG hit. It was like a different woman lived in our home. A lifeless, horribly sick, sad woman.

When you were pregnant the first time and had HG, it was so frustrating. No one had answers, and you kept getting worse. Resentment came up in me because I literally had no idea what was wrong with you. You went from normal and active to unable to work or even shower alone. I didn’t understand.

It was scary watching you literally shrivel up before my eyes, day by day. Still no one had answers. Everyone called it normal. Even after we found out what has happening, I wanted a quick fix. Once we found medication that worked for you, it was still a long recovery. I felt horrible because I wanted you back right now and it just wasn’t happening.

It didn’t really strain our marriage in the long run, but I think in the moment it did. It was hard to watch you that way. It was hard to have the stress on me due to you losing your job and being unable to care for the home or yourself. It was hard to accept that your pregnancy would not be normal. When you finally started to recover, towards the end of the pregnancy, it was so nice to have you back.

I think the second pregnancy [my current pregnancy] was worse than the first. We knew it was coming, but had built up hope that maybe you wouldn’t have HG this time. I was working a full time physical job, and knew I still had to come home and take care of the house and our son. I felt HORRIBLE for resenting you, and yet I couldn’t help it.

You didn’t get as bad this time, which was great. But this time looking at our future was harder. I realized that you and our family might not make it through more pregnancies if they were all going to be HG pregnancies. I realized that our dreams of a big family might not become reality because your body might not handle much more of this.

HG affects the whole family. The partner takes the load from the mother most of the time I think, since mom can’t even handle eating, much less housework or childcare. I felt like there was a good amount of information out there for women, but not for the partners. HG is pretty rare and I don’t think people acknowledge the toll it takes on everyone who is part of it.”

We have had many conversations about his feelings of resentment. Yes, it hurts sometimes to know he feels that. But I understand. No one signs up for HG – partners included. This is an illness that can destroy lives and does its best to do so in every way. I can’t imagine watching him be so sick and knowing I can do *nothing* to stop it. There is no cure, there is no scientific explanation. It is something that just “is.”

As we move into the happy time of this pregnancy with my HG backing off almost totally, we are both less stressed and things feel effortless again.

For those who know women who suffer from HG – remember the partners. Give them a hug when you come over to help. And please – come over to help! Running a load of laundry or doing dishes will be appreciated by not only the mother, but also the partner.

Happier Times

As you can see in this photo (from the end of my first pregnancy), life does regain balance and joy after HG. But the journey through it changes your perspective…and perhaps made us both more thankful for that lovely day at the park we were enjoying when this was taken.

For more information about Hyperemesis please check out HelpHer – a wonderful organization looking for reasons, and a cure.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Johanna May 15, 2013 at 8:34 pm

<3 While us HG Mamas are hit with a whole lot of ignorance and lack of sympathy as well as our illness, our partners in a lot of ways are forgotten.

My partner was amazing – cooking, cleaning, shopping, desperately trying to find something I could keep down, rubbing my back while I puked, wiping my tears, helping me shower, making mercy dashes for medication, trying to be quiet and not to introduce the slightest smell into my environment to set me off, sitting by my side for endless hours in hospital…all while working a full time job and dealing with the fact that he was entirely responsible for me (physically, financially, emotionally) and that he had basically lost his partner.

Walking through the fire like that has made our relationship stronger than ever but we are still dealing with the fallout – my body is damaged (muscles, teeth, liver), I deal with PTSD and we both deal with the fact that we can only justify one more child given the effect on my body, our finances and our lives.

I always advise people to offer the same things – do some washing, clean some dishes, vacuum the floor or just stay with Mum while you let Dad leave to see his friends or watch a movie – just relax. We need to take care of HG dads too!!!

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Kyleen May 15, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Yes, yes, and YES. I know my husband felt just as isolated and alone sometimes because nobody really can understand it who hasn’t been there. We were blessed with a tremendous amount of help from our church family, but it still took it’s toll on our family. We, too, had to put our dreams of a large family aside. I just had my HG baby (baby #3) 7 weeks ago and we’re still recovering from it. God bless all of the mamas and partners out there struggling and surviving.

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Kaylie May 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm

This was awesome. My husband and I limped through my first mild HG pregnancy, but we really suffered with my second one that was much more severe. With both struggled with resentment and misunderstanding. However, this third one (just as severe) he has been a dream. Honestly I wasn’t sure our marriage would survive another HG pregnancy and bawled when I saw that positive test, but I have been amazed at how good we have gotten at this!

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danielle May 16, 2013 at 2:57 pm

I have a couple great photos of myself nursing my daughter that my photographer took during our family photo shoot. Would you be interested in posting any of them? She said it’s okay to release a couple pictures if I give her credit!

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Mrs. BWF May 16, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Just send them to bwfblog (at) gmail.com. Thanks.

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Chelsea May 21, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Thanks for posting this! My first pregnancy was a mild HG pregnancy but my second landed me in the hospital almost weekly and my husband was preparing for an upcoming deployment. I often resented him because I felt like he wasn’t helping or didn’t understand but in reality he just had no clue how to help. HG definitely affected his outlook on having more children as well.

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Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources May 21, 2013 at 5:02 pm

((Hugs)) for you, mama. HG is so, so hard on everyone. I remember feeling so horribly guilty for being a ‘burden’ on everyone in my first couple of pregnancies, then came the guilt for feeling like I was taking away some of my older children’s childhood. Ugh, that mama guilt just doesn’t know when to lay off! But after six children, all from HG pregnancies, and several HG pregnancies that ended in losses, I can tell you that we aren’t burdening our partners or hurting our children. We are, instead, just part of how life shares its lessons about giving and loving and hoping and caring for others sacrificially. Congratulations on your newest blessing, mama!

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Rebecca May 21, 2013 at 5:22 pm

I only have one child, and didn’t have HG, but I have a friend who did. She was on some crazy cocktail of anti-nausea medications that kept her and her husband sane. They’re in the beginnings of pregnancy #2. It was worse in the beginning than the first, but luckily it has tapered off. I’ve never had it, but it helps when you write to let others know that it’s so much more than “severe morning sickness”… I really had no idea how incapacitating and dangerous it can be. I just wish there was more that I could do to help someone other than the usual laundry, cleaning, kid-watching.

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tabitha May 21, 2013 at 6:13 pm

On my fifth HG pregnancy now, though this one is the mildest. I sometimes have days of no vomiting, between days of vomiting 10 or more times a day. Because I am obese, and because I have always used state health care and a midwife I have never had medication. In fact my last pregnancy my medical records indicted that I was “severely restricting” My diet. As though I had an eating disorder. It is so frustrating to have people not understand what it is like to have days go by in which you cannot keep down food or water. Day that are spent in bed because you are literally too week to do more than go pee or grab the throw up bucket. Days spent afraid of even taking a drink of water because it will probably bring about another wave of vomiting till you cry and the humiliation of wetting yourself because the vomiting is so severe you cannot control your body. My husband and children are kind and supportive and for that I am grateful

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Angel May 22, 2013 at 5:59 am

Thank you for sharing your story! I can relate to all of this, and it’s so nice to see the husband’s story recognised too. We had very little support during my HG pregnancy and my husband bore the brunt of it. I know he suffered through the illness with me and is forever scarred by our experience too. Once again, thank you for sharing :-)

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Amandine July 23, 2013 at 10:22 pm

I can’t imagine going through this illness, and I extend my sympathies to all women who go through it.

I was curious though: Has anyone with HG investigated the use of homeopathy &/or acupuncture and chiropractic care for helping withe the symptoms of HG, and did they help? To me, it seems like it should at the very least be helpful.

My very best to all women suffering with this.

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monica July 25, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I had HG with 7 pregnancies and I used acupuncture twice during #3. I couldn’t even keep water down on the way to the appointment and then after, I was so hungry I stopped and had a chicken fried steak. I couldn’t believe it. The symptoms slowly returned during the next week and then I went again. The symptoms returned a little sooner after that. I never did go again because you would need to go regularly and there’s no way we could afford it. But, I can tell you that I’d do it if I had the money.

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Liz May 16, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Thank you for writing. I haven’t seen much out there about HG and its nice to know I’m not alone. We have three boys (all HG babies) and I am in mourning over what to do next. We want a large family but I can’t survive another pregnancy especially while trying to care for 3 little ones. My oldest just turned 4. My husband read the whole thing and can relate; it’s so hard on our family and marriage. He feels helpless it we’re all pretty miserable to say the least.

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