I think the entire world is now aware that there will soon be a new heir to the British throne. The royals announced earlier this week that Kate (Duchess of Cambridge, wife to Prince William) was in the hospital being treated for hyperemesis gravidarum, aka severe morning sickness.
I’m sure that’s not how they had hoped to announce the pregnancy to the world.
I feel for Kate. While I never had the severe nausea that leads to dehydration and medical care, with both of my pregnancies I experienced nausea for the first 14 weeks that I described as “24/7 sickness.” Morning sickness didn’t seem to fully describe it.
The nausea wasn’t limited to the morning. Instead, I had a constant fatigue and ill feeling that lasted every minute of the day. Food was revolting to look at, but I knew I needed to eat. When I ate small amounts of food, I felt worse, but then felt a little better afterward. But if I ate too much, I felt worse. I never vomited, even though I wished for it every day in the hopes that I might feel a little better.
I lost over 15 pounds during the first trimester of my first pregnancy from eating such a small amount. Thankfully the nausea passed around week 15 and I went on to gain back all of it plus five pounds. With Mira I lost slightly more weight and never gained beyond my starting weight. I’d call pregnancy the best diet I ever tried, but at the same time I wouldn’t wish that nausea on anyone.
When I was pregnant with Mira, my nausea forced me to tell others sooner than I had planned. I had only been at my current job for a year and didn’t want to tell them I was pregnant until the second trimester. But the morning sickness hit even faster this time. (I was so miserable I even wrote a blog post reminding me not to do this again.)
One day at work, after fighting through two weeks of nausea, I realized I couldn’t use the excuse of getting over a stomach bug forever. Our employer had brought in doughnuts for us that night, presented at the front desk right as I was standing there. The scent hit my nose and I immediately turned green and walked back to my office as fast as I could while my coworkers just stared at me.
I composed myself, realizing I was going to have to tell someone soon. As I walked back into the hallway, I saw the office manager standing there with her eyes closed breathing in and out slowly. “Are you OK?” I asked.
She opened her eyes in shock, unaware that I was there. At that point, she confessed that the smell of the doughnuts made her sick because she was pregnant. She didn’t want to tell anyone yet, but couldn’t take it anymore. I laughed at that point and shared that I was pregnant, too. With that secret out of the bag, we shared our hard candies and ginger ale and were miserable together.
I guess the one positive of morning sickness is that mothers can bond and sympathize together over the shared experience of toughing it out, whether you just felt a little queasy now and then or needed IV fluids and Zofran. Many are lucky to not experience the severe effects of hyperemesis gravidarum, but we understand the nausea, even if it’s not as serious for us. It’s a wretched and agonizing feeling, but we get through it and think about the reward at the end.
I hope this new royal baby gives Kate a little relief soon so she can enjoy the remainder of her pregnancy. Because beyond the nausea (and later back pain), there are some fun moments to enjoy before the baby arrives.