Before Nicole even had a chance to take a pregnancy test, her body was reacting strongly to the baby that had just begun to develop. She had a severe case of pregnancy sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum—which is definitely NOT morning sickness—that left her feeling like a shell of a person for virtually her entire pregnancy. Actually, both of her pregnancies.
Why some women get so severely sick during pregnancy is a mystery. Another mystery: why our society is so slow to recognize that someone as sick as Nicole was—no matter the cause—needs help and support. Nicole says she felt that because her sickness was caused by pregnancy, people were less sympathetic than they would have been for other types of incapacitating illness.
In fact, in some ways it seems important to separate the illness from the pregnancy, and the pregnancy from the motherhood, because hyperemesis definitely messes with society’s ideals and expectations of what pregnancy should be. And those, like Nicole, who fall on the outside of those ideals are left out in the cold when it comes to talking about the joys of becoming a mom. Not only that, they are often unfairly asked to compare the hell of their sickness with the joy of having a child: “Wasn’t it worth it?” is a common question that really doesn’t have an answer.
Although Nicole felt isolated and unsure of what was happening to her throughout her pregnancy, she did find helpful information through the website pregnancysicknesssupport.org.uk. She urges anyone who experiences severe illness while pregnant to check it out to find resources and support.