When Pregnancy is Hard – Hyperemesis Gravidarum

I try to keep most of my posts positive, but love to also share resources for moms who are having challenging experiences as well.

So be aware this post and podcast episode is geared towards moms having extreme nausea and sickness during their pregnancy. If this isn’t you, feel free to skip it. If it is you, here is some support!

Sheridan: I am so excited to welcome Jayne to our podcast today.

She reached out to me because she has had some unique experiences with her pregnancy and also has a book and a workbook that I think will be super helpful for some of you that are listening. So I’m super excited to have you here today,

Jane, will you go ahead and introduce yourself?

Meet Jayne – Mother and Author

Jayne: Yes. Thank you so much for having me on.

so I am a stay at home mother of four, plus an angel baby. I have a bachelor’s degree in communication, with an emphasis on marriage and family communication. And, like you said, I am a four time survivor of hyperemesis, gravidarum which is a pregnancy disorder and the author and illustrator of When Mommies Get Sick, which is a children’s guide about what to expect and how to help when mothers get sick.

I’ve also published a workbook or journal called Hyperemesis Gravidarum, My HG journal, and I helped publish Watching Over Angels, which is a treasury of experiences about the creation of, and many families participation in the angel watch perinatal hospice program. so I just, I love to dabble in publishing and writing and illustrating and

Jayne: I actually stumbled upon the podcast when I did a Google search of maternal health podcasts, because I love learning about maternal health and maternal mental health, and your podcast popped up on the list.

And as I started listening to it, I thought this is a great fit. I just, I love you. You’ve got a great voice and I love that they’re digestible small, podcast episodes and. And , I love hearing so many positive aspects of pregnancy and birth.

When Pregnancy Doesn’t Go as You Imagined

Sheridan: Great. Thank you. I love that you reached out to me because I do, I love having people come on and share their experiences.

And I think your experience is gonna be especially meaningful because as we know, pregnancy does not always go how we imagine it. It’s not always like the fairy tale image of how we think it’s going to be and just being able to handle that can be challenging sometimes. So I would just. If you’re, if you wanna just jump into sharing your experience and what you’ve learned from it.

Jayne: Yeah. So in a nutshell,I always wanted to be a mom all growing up whenever anybody asked me. What I wanted to do with my life. I said, I want to be a mom. And have, when I was five years old, I said, I wanna have 20 babies. And I was so excited for that season of my life. And so fast forward to when I got married and we started, trying to have children, it was very shocking to me that

when I got pregnant, we were both so excited. I’d been wanting this my whole life and it was not what I expected. so hyperemesis gravidarum is a pregnancy disorder that is characterized in a nutshell by, severe nausea and vomiting all throughout pregnancy. So it’s not morning sickness. but a lot of people mistake it for morning sickness.

So when I say severe nausea and vomiting, there’s a range of mild, moderate and severe cases. And so in my first pregnancy, I had a moderate case where I was throwing up eight to 12 times a day and I had unrelenting nausea and there are a lot of other side effects that come with that. the pain of

throwing up so many times that you’re throwing up blood, cuz your throat is so raw and the pain of starvation and the discomfort and worry that comes along with that. And there are lots of other gross side effects, like hyper salivation. when you get the mouth sweats, when you’re about to throw up, it’s that a hundred percent of the time.

Her Doctor Dismissed Her Concerns!

and Anyway, when I began this pregnancy and I began experiencing all these symptoms, I reached out to my doctor and said, I am so sick. I am so sick. I am throwing up all day and all night long and I am sick all the time. And I kept repeatedly being told, oh, that’s normal. Oh, it’s to be expected to have a little nausea and vomiting.

Jayne: You’ll be okay. and dismissed over and over again by my healthcare provider. And, and it took until the fourth pregnancy to finally find a healthcare provider that took me seriously and said, oh, honey. You are not making this up and you have this thing called hyperemesis gravidarum and I sobbed to finally be taken seriously and to be told this wasn’t in my head was huge for me.


Sheridan: Wait, I just have to stop you. It took until your fourth pregnancy for a doctor to acknowledge what was really going.

Jayne: Yeah, actually, technically it was my fifth pregnancy. It was my rainbow pregnancy.

Sheridan: Okay. Got it. After your wow.

Jayne: Isn’t that crazy?

Sheridan: Yeah, it really is that. in some ways, not surprising, but also super sad.

Jayne: wow. So sad. And that’s another, one of the reasons why I reached out is because this is so underdiagnosed and, you experience such a high level of suffering for so long and to be told that it’s in your head, or, , you’re making it up. You’re being overdramatic, all of these different things and to be dismissed by the people who were supposed to be part of your care team was devestating.

To put it, frankly, like it was so hard. So I was hoping to come on here and be a voice for women who are going through this and just to let them know you’re not making this up. Yeah.

Sheridan: Yeah, no, that’s wonderful. I had an experience with my third pregnancy where I got. It’s called PUPPS

it’s a pregnancy rash. And I remember I was, I called my doctor and they’re like, oh yeah, no, it’s fine. And then I finally went in and they saw my stomach and they’re like, whoa, this is not okay. And, but I had a visual thing they could see. And so I can see with what you were suffering with. They, unless you like videotaped yourself throwing up all day long.

It’s not maybe as obvious, but still it’s always Demeaning when your care providers, aren’t listening to what you’re saying. So I’m really glad that you are sharing your story so that if anyone else is suffering with this situation, they can know how to speak up and have, reassurance that it’s not in their head.

Learning to Track Symptoms and Speaking Up For Herself

Jayne: Absolutely. And I think that was something that I really struggled with was learning to speak up for myself. And this is probably why it took so long for me to finally find somebody who could help me. And what I did differently this time around, was I started taking meticulous notes on what I was experiencing.

I was writing down what time of day I was throwing up and how many times, and was I vomiting blood and what I hadn’t eaten and how long

I would go between being

able to keep anything down, which by the way was between 24 and 72 hours. I’d go without any food or drink. and it’s really scary because you’re trying to support another life and not only another life, but your own life and you start worrying am I gonna make it through this?

 and so having all those notes and being able to give evidence and. Like I am advocating for myself. I need you to listen. Here’s X, Y, and Z. Can you please help me? Made a huge difference.

Challenges Don’t Have to Bring You to a Dark Place

Sheridan: That’s awesome. I would love to hear how this experience helped you ?

Jayne: Oh, to be honest, I. I had so many experiences that still just take my breath away. I mean, when you’re at such a level of suffering for so long, and regardless of whether people have this or not, I really believe that everybody’s gonna experience seasons of suffering at some time or another.

And when you hit that place of rock bottom, I found it didn’t have to be a dark place if I was looking upward, and like reaching out to heaven and saying, What does this experience have to offer me? What is here for me to learn? and those prayers were answered so many times and in so many unique ways, it was really amazing.

Sheridan: And that helped you to be able to make it through this experience or these experiences with that point of view, which then gave you courage and strength.

Having the Courage and Strength to Have More Babies

Sheridan: And I’m curious how it was that you even had the courage and strength to have more babies after you had pregnancies like this?

Jayne: That is still a mystery to me. No, I, so when we started out with our marriage, my husband and I, we wanted to have between four and six children. That was just the goal.

But the main goal was I just wanted to keep having children until I stopped feeling like somebody was missing all the time.

So after the first one,

it was so shocking to me. I suffered so much in that pregnancy, but the second my son was born and I looked into his eyes, I looked at my husband and I said, we gotta do that again. We have got to have more babies and it was like this immediate amnesia, but it was also just that depth of love of I love this child so much.

That was so worth it. And. That’s not the case for everybody. And that doesn’t mean that they don’t love their children deeply. but I needed that in order to have more children. And I know it was the right path for our family to have more children. And I don’t think I could have done it again without that immediate, overwhelming feeling of okay, we’re doing this again.

Let’s go. And so a couple years later we had another one. All, all along the way people had kept saying, oh, your first pregnancy was a fluke. You’ll be fine in the other ones, what are the chances of it happening again? So I thought, great. The first one was bad. They’re gonna get better and better from here now that my body knows what to do.

We got pregnant with the second one and I was really sick again. I would run to the bathroom and my toddler would chase behind me and just hang onto my legs while I’d vomited into the toilet. And he would mimic me and go in the toilet and it was so adorable and so awful. But we got through it.

He napped, religiously. He had a morning and an afternoon nap for a couple hours and that’s when I was able to get the rest that I needed. And anyway that pregnancy did end up being less severe. And I don’t know why. but I was throwing up multiple times a day up until 24 weeks. And then from 24 weeks onward, I would throw up a couple times a week.

So I had the constant nausea, but not the, constant vomiting, which was fantastic. and so after she was born, I thought, okay, if it’s gonna get better and better, I can do that. so we got pregnant with number three and that one was horrendous. I was just on and off IV fluids and couldn’t get out of bed and I had two toddlers to care for, and it was horrible.

Yeah, after that third one, I was a little traumatized, I was just a little outta sorts after that one. And it took a long time to wrap my head around potentially doing it again. but I still had that feeling of somebody’s missing. And I had experiences in between pregnancies between the third and fourth, where I just felt like I knew this next child.

Jayne: She was so excited to come to our family. So it took a lot of therapy and, everything to get to a mental space to where I could just do it one more time. and that, unfortunately, that pregnancy was great, but, it didn’t last. And so after we lost that one, again, it took a long time to wrap my head around trying again, and.

Divine Help was Needed to Make it Through Last Pregnancy

Jayne: Fast forward today. We finally have our fourth, but my fourth pregnancy was off the charts horrendous. There were so many times in that pregnancy where I wasn’t sure I was gonna make it. and

I, I am so glad that we did it. and I honestly could not have survived that without divine help and divine guidance to find, little pockets of comfort in experiences and then, people randomly showing up at my house with food and we had just such an outpouring of love that kept us going for the entire nine months.

During that pregnancy, it was so severe that I lost 10% of my body weight in three weeks. And like I said, I was going 24 to 72 hours without any kind of food or water. And so I was living on IV fluids. and then eventually this, new doctor, she was able to sign me up for home health. And so then I had daily IVs and so I would have IV fluids once to twice a day with multivitamins to keep us going.

And I was on that for two months and then was able. just survive the daily vomiting after that, but I was able to keep more down and just looking back on the whole journey, I can’t believe how much a human being can endure. and. Just how much strength and support is available to us.

If we will continually look heavenward and then also look to other people, listening to people’s stories about having hyperemesis. I joined a bunch of Facebook support groups. That dealt with hyperemesis. And so hearing their stories and everything gave me strength.

Writing the Books

Sheridan: So I’m curious when you wrote the books you have, it looks like you have two books, the children’s book and then the journal. So can you tell me about them and like where in your journey did you create those?

Jayne: So it was July of last year.

I was. In my bed, unable to move. I was so sick Sheridan that I could not watch TV. I could not listen to podcasts. I could not listen to audio books without vomiting. there was something about any outside stimulation that just aggravated the vomiting. And so I would literally just spend day and night lying in my bed, trying to survive.

And I tried to be proactive about,just focusing my mind on something positive and, trying to think of things because I was just trapped in my own mind for so long. and then one day I was just watching other people taking care of my kids and just pondering on, What does it mean to be a mother right now?

Who am I and what do I have to offer to my children in this state?

How are we connecting and how are we surviving as a family in this position?

And all of a sudden this little poem came into my head and that evolved into When Mommies Get Sick, which is my children’s book. and so at first it was just a little poem that I formulated in my mind.

And then I started to daydream about, if I were to ever illustrate this, what would that look like? And if I were to ever publish this, how would I go about that? And. Became so sanity saving for me because like I could do nothing else, but like to have something that I could think about and ponder on and create in my mind was so helpful.

and then eventually as I was able to start sitting up, I still couldn’t go chase after my kids, but I could sit up and I could hold a paintbrush and I began to paint the illustrations. Cause I thought, what else can I do? What else do I have to lose?

Jayne: Then by the end of the pregnancy, I had all of the illustrations done.

And, shortly after our daughter was born, I was able to self-publish that through Amazon and now we have the book and then the journal came a little bit later. The hyperemesis gravidarum HG journal workbook that came about, a couple months later because I had found so much resilience in

writing and, writing is cheap therapy and being able to, take what’s going on in your mind and put it on paper where nobody can tell you’re crazy and nobody can tell you that you’re making it up and nobody can tell you like, oh, just go eat ginger. That was very therapeutic to me.

And I wanted to find a way to offer that to other women that might be going Through this. And so I created this journal that. Affirmations that I used to tell myself and also affirmations from the online community. I asked the women in my support groups. I said, what are some of the affirmations that, that you repeat to yourself during the worst times?

And so I put those in the book and also put. Prompt questions in there of,what does your life look like right now? And, what’s the most annoying bit of advice you’ve gotten over and over again, or like what’s the most helpful bit of advice, just little writing prompts to help other people tell their stories.

Because I really believe that when we find ways to tell our stories, then we find meaning in the suffering that we’re experiencing. And then when we find meaning we can find resilience and. so that’s been available for, about a month

Sheridan: There’s a few things that

really stand out in what you’ve shared and one is.

 How you took this challenging experience.

And while you were not able to. Do anything, but lay in your bed, you created something powerful that then can help other families in this situation. And you took something challenging and made a gift out of it. And that’s really beautiful that you were

Jayne: able to do that. Thank you.

Have the Courage to Be Imperfect

Sheridan: Well, I always like to end with this question and I’m curious what you’re going to say, but if you could give advice to a young woman just starting out her mothering journey, what would it be?

Jayne: I, think some of the best advice that I ever got and I’ve been able to apply it on such a wide variety of situations is something that Patricia Holland said.

So she said,

Have the courage to be imperfect.

And I know when you’re starting out on your motherhood journey, like the stakes just feel so high and they are, and the love that you feel for your children is so deep and the future is so unknown.

Like it can just weigh so heavily on you, but if you can have the courage to be imperfect, then it just relieves so much of that mental and emotional burden . Because you are the right mother for the children that you were given. and what you have to offer is enough. And just because it’s hard and just because it’s messy does not mean that you’re doing it wrong. just because you’re imperfect. And just because, you may be stuck in bed for months on end.

Like you’re not doing it wrong because it’s hard and you’re not doing it wrong because it’s messy. and I would just say the more you can hold onto that thought. the more you’ll have the freedom to, like I said, be yourself and give the best that you have to give. And that will always be enough.

Sheridan: Nice.

I like that. I like that so much. I would love you to share how our listeners can connect with you, where they can find your books and all of that. Good.

Where to find Jayne and her books!

Jayne: Yeah. we can connect on my blog, which is life-onpurpose.com. And I have a lot of writings on there about hyperemesis and also about mothering. And I have a contact form there. If anybody wants to contact me directly.

I also have an Instagram, which is @mommingonpurpose, M O M M I N G on purpose.

Jayne: And you can find my books on Amazon.

My name is Jayne Ann Osborne.

The children’s book is When Mommies Get Sick

and the journal is My HG Journal

and both of those should pop up.

And anybody who wants to, look into the other book that I helped publish,

that one is Watching Over Angels by Carolyn Casteller.

 My inbox is always open to anybody that wants to talk about parenting motherhood or hyperemesis. I just love to connect.

Sheridan: Awesome.

thank you so much.

Sheridan: And thank you so much for reaching out to me and then being willing to be on the podcast.

Jayne: Yes. Thank you so much. I appreciate the opportunity.

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