I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) again, in April 2018, a complication in pregnancy that is characterised by uncontrollable nausea, vomiting, dehydration and weight loss.
Since my body was rejecting any food or water I took, I survived mainly on Intravenous (IV) fluids, it was a very scary period for me and I knew what was happening and how worst it could get because that was not my first time of experiencing it, it was my third time and fifth pregnancy, I lost all four pregnancies along the line.
Going through such horrifying experiences and losing the pregnancies was very traumatising and heartbreaking.
HG is totally different from the normal morning sickness, only those who have experienced it will understand it.
In fact, comparing HG to morning sickness is like comparing a minor bruise on a finger to getting one’s leg cut off completely.
It doesn’t only happen in the mornings but throughout the day and night, I was even vomiting blood.
Except you physically live through this horror, you will just not understand it.
This violent vomiting made it impossible for me to do anything by myself even to take my routine folic acid, which are very essential especially during the beginning of of pregnancy was impossible because nothing stayed in my stomach.
Several researches have described folic acid as a pregnancy superhero after proving that it plays a vital role in preventing birth defect of baby’s brain and spinal cord.
When contacted, Senior Obstetrician and Gynecologist at the KBTH, Dr N.B Armah said severe HG has the tendency of causing ruptured esophagus from forceful vomiting, dehydration collapsed lungs, liver disease, brain swelling from malnutrition and kidney failure, among others.
She advised family members to help reduce the stress women with the condition go through by supporting them in whatever way possible, adding that HG though has no cure, is better managed in the hospital so persons suffering from it should not remain home, they should seek medical attention to avert any fatality.
So, if I say I don’t want any more biological children, it is because I cannot even imagine myself going through this heart-rending condition again.
At a point, I had to beg doctors who were attending to me to get rid of the pregnancy and save my life because I actually thought I was going to die but thanks to God almighty and the doctors and nurses at the Finney Hospital and Fertility Centre, Rabenrich Clinic, Cocoa Clinic, Saint Gregory Catholic Hospital and Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), I made it alive with my baby.
After 16 weeks, the symptoms of HG started reducing, I started eating and feeling a bit stronger than before but just when I thought everything was gradually returning to normal, I experienced a threatened miscarriage, after certain medications were administered, I was diagnosed with cervical incompetence.
Also known as cervical insufficiency, cervical incompetence, according to Dr Armah is a cervix that is too weak to stay closed during pregnancy, therefore resulting in premature birth and possibly, the loss of the baby.
I was on the verge of losing my fifth pregnancy, I said to myself “after all the suffering, I’m I going to lose this one too?”
I felt uneasy until the result of the scan came and showed that the baby was doing well and that nothing had happened to it, so I was taken to the theatre for a cervical cerclage procedure.
Cervical cerclage is an intervention that is widely used to prevent miscarriage or delivery in the second trimester of pregnancy.
After the procedure, doctors advised I have bedrest throughout the pregnancy to avoid any complications.
The vomiting continued throughout the pregnancy, but its severity kept reducing gradually as the weeks went by.
Finally, after all the suffering, I gave birth to a bouncy baby girl via Caesarean Section.
Even while the operation was going on, I vomited four times!
Despite everything I went through, I thank God for blessing me with baby Jerrylyn Ebu, she is worth everything I went through.
We both survived HG.
Indeed, there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Getting pregnant is not easy, neither is sustaining one or giving birth easy, so society must understand women with fertility issues, it is never easy, especially in our part of the world to be married for more than a year, let alone years, without having a child and no one pointing fingers at you or calling you names.
People will just not stop asking you when you will give birth because to them, marriage can never be successful without children, but I thank God for my husband who never gave up on me all these years.
I describe people who constantly ask others why they do not have children as insensitive.
They do not realise that these same people they call childless might have miscarried their babies or had still births or are spending huge sums of money trying to conceive and sustain a pregnancy with no success.
Multiple award-winning actress and author, Kafui Danku’s book titled “Silence is not Golden” was also very helpful, I learnt a lot and drew some strength from it.
And to those who are fond of saying unkind words to childless individuals, please desist from the practice because some women go through a lot before getting pregnant, carrying the pregnancy to full term and giving birth.
There are even people who do not have their own biological children but are taking care of several kids, such people deserve to be honoured instead of being ridiculed.
I don’t have the right words to describe how happy I was when I first set my eyes on my baby, it’s an unexplainable feeling.
I am a happy mother and will forever be.
By Raissa Sambou