Charity Ambassador Michelle Owen Blogs for HGAD2020
Friday 15th May 2020
This time last year I’d just announced I was pregnant, it had been the longest 13 weeks of my life already. From week 4 I’d been sick, from week 6 in and out of hospital on drips because I couldn’t even rinse my mouth out. Suddenly I was completely isolated. I couldn’t see friends or family, I couldn’t face them even coming in my bedroom. My husband moved into the spare room and crept in only to try and force me to try to take medication. My only company was our dog and cat either side laying still and quietly, quite incredible how they knew.
It’s been a weird few weeks as the lockdown in the UK for Covid-19 started when I started being really sick last year. The times have matched up exactly. I’d felt a little anxious in February going into March this year as the change of seasons and smells brought with the triggers and feelings surrounding my pregnancy As we walked up our road pushing our son Zac, my husband assured me this spring would be much happier. We all know how it’s turned out, and I miss my family and friends so much- but actually this isolation hasn’t been as bad as this time last year. This time I can thankfully walk, talk, get washed, use my phone, eat, drink and sit outside. I couldn’t do any of that up to the 20 week point late last June. Of course it’s heartbreaking right now for us all, I can’t hug my newborn nephew and only see them from a distance. My parents are in Wales and we haven’t seen them for months now, but I didn’t see them for longer last year. The end of my maternity and return to work has been scuppered but what’s so important is our health. Just as people are fighting for their lives against Covid, truthfully I was fighting for two of us last spring.
I took part in The Sick Film with the wonderful Charlotte Howden. She explained as a HG sufferer you have cachexia in your body which explains why you feel like you’re dying and your levels of sickness are 100 times that of someone going through chemotherapy.
Doctors didn’t understand, they told me to try ginger, there were loud whispers several times on my many admissions questioning why was I in for morning sickness, when someone else just minutes earlier was so alarmed at my bladder being enlarged and my general state of ill health. My husband used to drag me through the doors after he fought to get me seen, he was my voice in a time I could barely speak.
A few weeks in I stumbled across PSS when wondering why I felt so bad. I was partnered with my WhatsApp buddy Lucy who made me feel like I wasn’t so abnormal, that this happens to women but it’s rare, which is why can be why you are judged and people misunderstand the severity.
An estimated 1500 women have terminations because of HG, I suspect it’s many more. In hospital a nurse told me about a lady who couldn’t even lift her head as it was so bad. She couldn’t go on and tragically had an abortion. That same nurse didn’t understand when I explained the smell of the food in the next bed was too much, HG is so misunderstood and judged it makes it even tougher. It’s as a serious life threatening medical disease.
The happy ending is our son Zac, born a month premature which is apparently common for HG sufferers. People already ask when are we having a second and say not to get rid of all our newborn items, they don’t mean to but it’s hard because we just don’t see how we could ever go through all that again. I have my little HG hero, I’m so lucky.