Birth Story: Chelsi’s journey with Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Posted in Birth Stories, Morning Sickness.

From meeting at sixteen and seventeen, dating long distance for almost four years and moving across the state to be together, Chelsi and Josh knew they’d start a family together.

The couple from Kadina, a rural town in South Australia, were elated when after only six months, they fell pregnant with their first little love.

“I had dreamed of what my pregnancy would look like, with visions of a glowing face and round belly I showed off everywhere I went. The moment I saw those two lines, I was in love. I would talk to my belly, touch the spot my baby would soon fill into and did everything I was supposed to do.”

At five weeks and five days Chelsi lost a great deal of blood and found herself crying in the emergency room.

“I waited for two hours, losing clots of blood before being told they wish there was more they could do outside of testing my HG levels. As the levels weren’t dropping, I was sent home and within 48 hours was back again after not being able to keep anything down for a solid day.”

“I vividly remember the doctor telling me that this may just be my new normal, telling me that she had vomited until 38 weeks. The wishful thinker I am decided to stay hopeful. How wrong I was.”

Challenging Times

“In the ten weeks between six and sixteen weeks pregnant I had seven doctors’ appointments and three emergency room visits for IV fluids. Each time led to a new medication to try, starting with vitamin B6 and moving up in strength. I was the sickest I’ve ever been in my life, whilst my baby, who I now knew was a boy, was growing strong and healthy.”

“I laid on my lounge and couldn’t even bare to turn the television on because the motion made me sick. Turning to lay from one side of my body to the other made me sick. I was able to ingest nothing other than white bread with butter, a prenatal vitamin (which often came up) and water for months.”

On an average day I would vomit around 20 times per day, with my worst day clocking over 30 times throwing up.

“This point in my life I was the most depressed I’ve ever been, struggling with not wanting to wake up because I never wanted to feel this way again. Every day was a constant battle. At 16 weeks in the emergency room after throwing up my own stomach acids, I was told that I wasn’t allowed to be ‘not medicated’, throughout the day I would take anti-nausea medication every four hours without fail.”

Finding Relief

“From this point, things got better, at a little after 30 weeks pregnant, I was able to eat around two meals a day and only vomited once in the evenings.”

“Around this time, I met my midwife, I can’t even begin to describe the love I have for this woman. I remember feeling terrible about my eating, confiding in Christine (my midwife) that all I could stomach was salty foods and soda because of the bubbles. She very clearly explained that if that was all I could keep down, that was what I needed to eat. That my baby would get what he needed from me, and I needed something in my body.”

“At that first meeting when I gave my pre-pregnancy weight I was filled with anxiety as I stood on the scales in her clinic. I looked down to see that as I already guessed, I had lost 15 kilos, over 15% of my pre-pregnancy weight”.

“As the weeks went on, I was able to go 2 to 3 days without throwing up and started finding ways to enjoy my pregnancy, I took maternity photos as a photographer myself, planned a baby shower that my sister and best friend hosted and felt my now named, Harry, kick me all times of the day.”

What now?

In the final 6 weeks another issue came up. Measuring 2-3 weeks ahead from the middle of her pregnancy onwards, the baby started pressing on the Vena Cava, the biggest artery to your heart. As he pressed on this, Chelsi would faint.

“In the last two weeks the vertigo and fainting got so bad that I wasn’t allowed to leave the house unsupervised. At no point in my pregnancy did I feel attractive, throwing up every day doesn’t make the skin feel beautiful. But to make matters even tougher on my self-confidence, my belly began to tear itself apart. My belly button grew what I affectionately called ‘bunny ears’.”

“Despite being convinced from 36 weeks onwards that ‘today is the day!’, it was 2am the morning of 40 weeks and two days pregnant when I realised, I was in labour. I arrived at the hospital at eight in the morning, where I was laid in the delivery room. My beautiful midwife and student midwife (who shares a birthday with my beautiful boy) arrived a few hours later and I spent many hours talking their ears off whilst they worked around me.”

“From the moment my labour started until I gave birth, it was 19 hours. Each hour feeling longer than the one before, between a failed epidural, constant throwing up, nothing in my stomach and a baby who until the last few minutes was flipped causing back labour, I was ready to be done. I pushed for 45 minutes”.

Instant Relief

At 9:22pm on April Fools Day 2022, Harry was born at 9lb 10oz (4.32kg!) with a giant head and long feet.

“The moments of giving birth were the most wonderful blur that can’t be described perfectly enough, I was so incredibly blessed that I was instantly in love with this baby boy, something I worried about so much with how greatly I despised pregnancy. I had two second-degree tears, and whilst my wonderful doctor stitched me up, I got to cuddle my newest joy.”

“I had been really fearing breastfeeding, I had set myself goals, I’d get to two days if it was too painful physically or mentally, and two weeks if I just didn’t like it to give him all the colostrum I could offer and would re-evaluate from there, but as he first latched it was instantly an amazing thing that my body was able to do and I’m so happy to report that at fourteen months, we’re still enjoying a nightly feed.”

“I’ve loved every single second of Harry’s life, getting to learn from every challenge and getting to see my love become the greatest father he ever could be.”

Chelsi and Josh have even talked about baby number two and how they could handle another pregnancy.

“We absolutely want to experience another little love, but it’s up to me to make sure when the time comes, I advocate for what I need and am in the best mental space before embarking on another long journey.”

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