• amyobrien

HG Part 1: It begins in an instant

Updated: May 14, 2020

Warning: this post contains details of hard days with HG. It’s terribly confronting. Possibly triggering. And I have battled with what parts to share. I have made a conscious decision to delve as deeply as I can. To reflect its unfolding as honestly and entirely as I can.

The full unadulterated expression of my experience is the best way I can extend a hand to anyone huddled in the same boat. As they crash through the waves of intensity, to show that despite the roughness, there is a way forward.

Most importantly, if you’re not up for a tough read today, exercise self care and move onto the next post.

Otherwise, let's sink in.


I don’t feel strong enough to open up to this yet.

But it’s all I can think about.

Stepping back into these moments washes me with a particular sense of dread.

And I find fear.

HG is the only time in my life I have looked into the mirror and not recognised who was standing there. The simple frame of me unrecognizable.

HG has been my biggest battle, my deepest scar.

The darkest shadow.

For quite some time it robbed me of the person I have always known myself to be. Filled me with the relentless feeling of not wanting to be alive for this.



It begins in an instant.

I’m shoveling stones on our driveway, and then it’s done.

In the ten weeks that follow I leave the house exactly 4 times.

Once to attempt to work. Once to go to the doctors. To go back to the doctors. And to hospital.

The suddenness of the onset feels important. Brutal. There was no preparing for this. No warning. No time for a breath. To look around and enjoy the feel of sun on my skin one last time.

From that moment, my memory becomes hazey snippets and I feel myself ducking in and out of reality.

Hazy Snippets from those months

I spin the shape-o toy for my son. The simple movement has me curled in a ball on the floor retching for hours.

I am using nail scissors to cut my bleeding lips. They're so hard and thick from dehydration. They feel just like nails.

My mum walks past me lying on the couch and I ask her how long she’s been in Perth. Days already. I had no idea.

I’m standing in front of the bathroom mirror. Scissors in one hand. 20cm of my pony tail in the other. I cannot fathom another moment with the nausea that long wet hair brings. Cannot leave the house to get someone to cut it for me. I cut my hair off. My mum comes into the bathroom. Fixes it up.

I roll onto my back in bed and feel my ribs jutting through my back. I roll only my side and feel my hip dig in. I lie on my stomach and feel my hips and my ribs. My frame slipping away. Skin and bones.

I aim for half a piece of toast each day. Sometimes I get there.

I aim to move from my bed to the couch. Some days I get there.

When I do manage to fall asleep, I wake to rolling waves of nausea and a feeling of terror every 30 minutes. The beast that never leaves.

I look in the full length mirror and don’t recognise myself. I look like a too-skinny-to-be-alive runway model. I consider taking a picture, but I stop myself. I don't want to acknowledge or glorify what this moment is.

I see my partner eating outside through the window. I am lying on the floor in our bedroom. The thought that the smell could pass under the outside door and under our bedroom door to penetrate this safe space... I panic.

I am lying on the couch and staring at the glass of water in front of me. Willing myself to somehow be able to swallow one mouthful. I am still staring at it an hour later. Still willing it to be.

I stop my mum from doing 'this little piggy' with my sons tiny little toes. My mind instantly going to the third little piggy who ate roast beef and I am a mess inside.

I lie on the doctors bed. Cry hollow tears. I am out of sleep, out of food, out of hydration and out of sanity. I confess to her that I only have a few days of this left in me. Her face showing me that I am one very sick lady. She sends me straight to hospital.

That same appointment, I get on the scales. 58kgs. Ten kilos brutally stripped.

I lie in bed and continually beg myself to lean on grit to find a way to stay pregnant for just one more day. Sometimes one more hour. On the worst days, one minute at a time.

The waft of someones reheated lunch in the hallway as I enter the ultrasonographers room for our 8 week scan. The smell is overpowering, all of me wants to leave, but I cannot face getting back in the car again.

At that scan, finding out that there is a tiny human, with a glorious heart beat, growing to perfection inside of me. Somehow. I am in shock. So beautifully surprised. And it gives me the determination to continue, knowing that this is all for something.

Saying things like 'if we have a baby...' all the way up to our 20 week scan. Feeling on such shakey ground. So unsure. Preparing for life both ways. Really not being able to understand how something could grow and thrive in these conditions.

Being a full body of nerves the morning of our 20 week scan. Travelling further than we needed to get the most accurate scan done. Spending the night prior wondering what all this hell had been for. Being honestly prepared to hear that this babe is missing vital organs. That this babe has been somehow damaged by all this.

We have the scan. And that is not what she says. She says this babe is looking beautiful. That all things are developing as they should. That bub is, in fact, already tracking on the larger side. That there is no cause for concern. That she is happy with every single thing she sees. That all is well. It's a relief so sweet my eyes spring tears. What a god damn real life miracle.

And other moments of the softest joy too...

The sweet sweet relief of lying on the floor of the shower, warm water gently beating over me. Distracting me.

The feeling of the IV drip rehydrating my body. Restoring life. I feel for the first time in weeks that there is a human inside the skin I am walking around in.

The 330ml bottle of black current juice I am able to drink while I'm in hospital.

Lying in bed doing a beautiful guided meditation for pregnancy nausea. Releasing the fact that pregnancy should unfold any certain way. Settling more deeply into myself and my situation. Allowing it to be. Eyebrow furrow releasing just a little.

The way my mum and my partner send my son into see me each afternoon. 'Mummmmy' he says with pure joy of seeing me. I am living hell, I look like hell, and, where every adult can see my pain, all he can see in me is joy and love. These moments keep my spirit intact.

My dear friend comes over when I'm around 13 weeks. I am standing up, so it's a very good day. We pop our kiddos in the trampoline together (it's the first time I've assumed any form of parenting responsibility) and we watch them play and laugh together. I feel a smile come across my face. And realise it has been more than two months since I last lifted from of the intense frown that has set my face.

I'm lying in hospital, my partner sitting beside me. There is a tiny new baby in a crib just outside my cubical. And we remember what this is all for.

Continue onto HG Part 2 : It peaks in an instant

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