Birth story: ‘I was throwing up 30 times a day’

hyperemisis gravidarum in pregnancy

Kylie Mexsom and her husband already had a busy life juggling their three kids, when they unexpectedly fell pregnant with their fourth. It was 17 months after the birth of their second daughter, but they were thrilled. Until Kylie began throwing up, and didn’t stop for the next nine months.

The exhausted mum was throwing up at least 30 times a day, unable to keep anything down as she battled with hyperemesis gravidarum – a serious form of morning sickness. It was just the beginning of a rough journey.

A surprise pregnancy

Battling HG in pregnancy

Kylie and her husband had a 12-year-old-son and nine-year-old daughter before they decided they wanted just one more, and along came their second little girl. Now the family of five was convinced they were complete, but 17 months later, Kylie began feeling nauseous and joked that maybe she was pregnant. “I was quite sick with all of my pregnancies, especially my first,” Kylie told Mum’s Grapevine. “I took a pregnancy test a week before my period was due and it was positive!

“About two weeks later I was completely bedridden from the constant vomiting which was happening at least 30 times a day. I wasn’t able to keep anything down, including water. I developed a chest infection and ended up being sent by my GP to emergency where they gave me fluids, antibiotics, a sick note for hubby to have a few days off for me to rest and a diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarum.

“This diagnosis came from not being able to keep anything down, the amount of vomiting and nausea and also the fact that I had already lost six kilos, I only weighed 57kg before pregnancy.”

Kylie's battle with hyperemisis gravidarum

By the middle of her pregnancy, Kylie was referred to a medical disorders specialist for weekly visits.

“I was on eight different medications including large doses of steroids daily. They were the last resort and still only reduced my vomiting to 15-20 times a day but none of the medication managed to reduce the constant unending feeling of being seasick. If I could describe it I would say hyperemesis gravidarum is like having food poisoning 24 hours a day for the whole pregnancy.

hyperemisis gravidarum in pregnancy story

“I was missing food, just smelling it would make me throw up. The sound of running water would do the same.

My poor husband would have to come home from an already stressful day and cook and clean and look after us all. At 30 weeks I became too ill to go to the hospital as often as they wanted me to (3-4 times a week) for fluids so I began in-home treatment by the amazing silver chain nurses. They’d come twice a day for fluids and meds via a PICC line because I was now impossible to canulate. I was down to 50kgs and counting the days until my induction at 37 weeks.

An early labour, and quick birth

Mum's battle with hyperemisis gravidarum in pregnancy

At 32 weeks Kylie was told she needed a growth scan, which found her fluid levels were low. It meant even more monitoring.

“At my 33-week scan I was told my amniotic fluid levels were so low that I must have had a leak. I assured the doctors that I had felt nothing but they tested anyway. It came back negative so I was told I would need to see a doctor in a little over a week to discuss what should be done if there was still low levels.

“We didn’t make it to that appointment. Five days after my last scan I woke up and headed to the bathroom at 8am for my 10th vomit of the day. I felt a strange sensation as I stood up and realised it wasn’t normal. I rang my hospital, who knew me over the phone now and I was told to come in to get checked. At this point I was getting the final things in to my bag thinking I would actually need it.

“I drove myself to hospital, an hour later they confirmed it was amniotic fluid and asked me how I wanted to proceed after reading my file. They knew how sick I was and that bub was probably better off outside than she was in and knew that I definitely would be better off with her out. We decided to see if things would progress on their own. All my labours had been around the two-hour mark, the last being two hours on the dot so we were expecting a quick labour.

“I was contracting on and off for hours. So painful that I ended up asking for pethidine but that just stopped the contractions. We then tried morphine which did the same. I was already exhausted from just having to get up and get dressed, let alone birthing a baby! I began to think I’d never get there. I just wanted it to be over. I’d been contracting on and off since lunchtime but my cervix was still long and closed. They said they would move me to the ward overnight and continue with my IV antibiotics and see what tomorrow brings.”

What it brought was more on-again, off-again labour signs.

“Everything started up again around 5pm so they cancelled my move to the ward and about an hour later it all stopped again. They called the ward again for a room and told hubby to go grab some dinner and he could come back once I was settled. He came back about an hour later after seeing our other children and about half an hour after he arrived things picked up again! The nurses checked for dilation but there was no change.

“I felt so defeated. All this pain and energy I didn’t have to begin with was being wasted. It was 10pm and I just wanted to sleep. I thought I couldn’t handle any more of this when the contractions started again a few minutes later. My nurse, who was absolutely amazing and a rock the whole time checked for me again after about half an hour of constant but very operatic contractions.

“Some were three or four together with no break. I cried with relief when she told me I was seven centimetres! Because bubba was so small she said I could start pushing whenever I felt a contraction. The next one came and everything went rushing through my head! Every vomit, every time I felt like I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore, every tablet, every psychologist appointment because of the depression it caused not being able to leave the house for months at a time.

Severe morning sickness HG in pregnancy

“I remembered it all and pushed as if I was pushing it all away. The contraction ended but I wanted my poor baby out! She was out with that one push. From the first proper contraction to the afterbirth was 45 minutes.  The specialist NICU doctor checked her over and she was perfect. I got to hold her, wrapped in several warm towels, for a few minutes before she headed to the NICU where she only spent six days because she fed so well and had no issues breathing on her own thanks to all the steroids I had to take to get us through the pregnancy!

“My midwife sat with me for a long time after the birth so elated. We talked about how that how she would want to labour when she has a baby. Focused, calm and just breathing through it without a single swear word which was the complete opposite to my other three labours which were full of screaming and cursing!

Kylie's birth story battling HG

“I was so low on fluids that I had barely any fluid or blood loss and actually ended up feeling normal and so much better by the time I got out of the shower. I’d gone from not being able to walk to my bathroom without almost passing out to walking the halls every hour like I’d never been sick.”

Now that’s a wild ride, welcome to the world little Ella. What an incredibly tough pregnancy, Kylie, you’re a rockstar!

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