Ashli McCall’s HG Books and Why You Should Read Them

Over Christmas break, I contacted Ashli McCall, the author of Beyond Morning Sickness, which is The Book on HG, and Mama Has Hyperemesis Gravidarum (But Only For A While), a children’s book.  Her friend and webmaster was kind enough to send me copies of these books for free.   He also included a printed copy of the journal she kept during her fourth pregnancy with her daughter, Elise.

Ashli McCall's books: Beyond Morning Sickness and Mama has Hyperemesis Gravidarum (but only for a while)

I started with Ashli’s journal.  I wanted to learn more about Ashli.  I wanted to know what she’d been through, and I wanted to find out what prompted her to write her books.

 This journal was absolutely riveting.  And terrifying.  Ashli went through absolute hell to bring her daughter into the world.  This was a brutal read.  Her loss, her pain, her grief, and ultimately her joy just made me ache.  Ultimately, though, it was inspiring.  Her strength is incredible.  It’s easy to call her a hero.

Here is a link to the online version of her journal.  Like most blogs, you’ll have to go way back to get to the beginning.  Again, let me say this:  Her diary is a raw and difficult read.  This may act as pretty effective birth control if you’re considering another HG pregnancy.  Pick your timing on this one.  There are several things she discusses that might be triggers for some people, so please be aware that she discusses loss of a pregnancy, termination, severe HG, and severe, severe illness.  She talks in-depth about her faith, which sustained her throughout the pregnancy.

This Saturday, I also read Gabi Mama Has Hyperemesis Gravidarum (But Only For A While).  I hadn’t planned to read it to her yet, but after much pleading (it has bunnies on it), I agreed.  It was pretty tough for me to get through.  Ashli wrote it in a very gentle and sensitive way, but like any painful subject, it’s difficult to read.  Especially aloud.  I made it about halfway through before I lost it.  Of course, my crying made Gabi cry, so we both had a little cry together.  We managed to get to the end, which was very happy.  After all, HG is only for a little while. 

Then Gabi wanted me to re-read it.  Second time through was easier.  I kept it together, and we both clapped together at the end.  Since then, she’s wanted me to read it at naptimes and bedtimes.  I asked her about the story.  Does it make her feel happy or sad?  She told me that this is a happy story.  We talk about how Little Bunny and Mama Bunny feel.  Gabi lets me know that both feel sad and Little Bunny feels scared, but in the end, everything turns out okay.  I make sure to emphasize how much Mama Bunny loves Little Bunny.  Really, though, despite how sad or scared the bunnies feel, Gabi always tells me that this is a happy story.  I think that’s a huge win right there.

Overall, this is a great book.  It really validates the feelings a child might feel when Mama is sick: worry, anger, sadness, fear, feelings of rejection, etc.  It validates those feelings, but it reassures that her Mama will get better and that her Mama loves her very, very much no matter what happens.  If you’ve got a child and are facing another HG pregnancy, please do pick up a copy of this book.

I am working my way through Beyond Morning Sickness now.  After reading Ashli’s journal, I was afraid to read this book.  Instead of finding it frightening, I’m finding it to be empowering.  I’ll write more once I get through it, but it’s a very interesting read.  Even for someone like me who hates reading non-fiction.

If you’re facing HG or if someone in your family is dealing with HG, I really reccomend getting Ashli’s books.  In addition to being available through Amazon and Ashli’s website, you can purchase a copy through HelpHer.org with the proceeds going to help support HER Foundation research and education efforts.

Do you have any books or journals that you found really helped you get ready for this?  If so, please share.  I’d love to add that info to my blog.

P.S.  I’m trying to put take some advice I learned from a blogging blog to help my posts scan better, using bold, headers, short paragraphs, etc to make it easier to read.  Feel free to let me know if I’m successful or not!  There’s no point in writing this if it’s too much of a pain in the neck for folks to read.

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17 thoughts on “Ashli McCall’s HG Books and Why You Should Read Them

  1. Thank you, Pal, for your detailed, honest reviews. It is such a privilege to know that your precious family has found something beneficial in these books. The best review I’ve ever gotten is from your little one: It is a happy story! :-) This made my year! Thank you again.

    Hang in there. You are not alone.

    • Thank you so much, thank you for the books, thank you for the support, thank you for everything. You inspire and empower me and thousands of other women. You are my hero!

      And yeah, every time Gabi tells me that the story is happy I have to fight back tears. Even with all the pain, all the sorrow, and all the fear, she is right. It is a happy story.

  2. Ashli was a lifesaver to me. My doctor wouldn’t recognize what I had as anything more than morning sickness, even when I passed out and ended up in an emergency room while on a trip to San Antonio. Right before blacking out, I called the nurse to tell her I couldn’t keep the blasted Phenergran down and she literally laughed at me. She said, “Well, honey, just take it with some food. Sometimes that makes it rest more easily on your tummy.” So condescending. They told me at the hospital that I was in the first stage of renal failure.

    So I returned home and was devastated that someone still couldn’t explain what was wrong to me. One afternoon my mom was over taking care of me and got online to do some research. She searched for “extreme morning sickness” and somehow found Ashli’s website. We sat there together and in a matter of hours had read every blog entry she had written regarding her HG pregnancy, and I cried knowing I’d found what was wrong with me.

    I wrote her an email, and we became pen pals. She was so encouraging to me, and anytime I felt my family or friends didn’t understand or were being too judgmental, I reached out to Ashli and she always responded with uplifting words. I had someone out there who understood my loneliness, sickness and depression. I honestly don’t know what would’ve happened if my mother hadn’t found her for me. Through Ashli, I had the courage to seek out a different doctor. My new doctor was very familiar with HG and readily proscribed Zofran and admitted me to the hospital for fluids (or just rest) anytime I needed it.

    Ashli even sent a copy of her book to my former doctor for me for free! She said that she didn’t mind at all sending copies of her book to doctors who refuse to see HG for what it is. I particularly appreciated that.

    I’m so glad you wrote a post about this, Molly. Something every HG mom needs to see!

    • Oh, Kat. I had no idea it was so bad for you. I knew you had it bad, and I had a pretty strong sense that you were being hideously undertreated, but wow. I’m so sorry I couldn’t do more. I am so glad you found Ashli. Honestly, I was actually going to send you this book in the hopes that it might give you some peace, but it looks like you’re covered.

      My old doctor back in my hometown will be receiving a copy of this book, likely hand delivered by my mother. He didn’t treat me while I was pregnant. I had moved by that point. But my mom ran into him at a restaurant (or event or something) and mentioned that I had “HG”. He looked puzzled so she said, “Hyperemesis Gravidarum.” He said, “Yeah, she does tend to be a worrier doesn’t she.” Mom said, at that moment, that she was never so glad that I had moved to St. Louis as at that moment. He will be receiving a copy of this book with a handwritten letter from myself tucked inside. Don’t worry. I won’t eviscerate him. You win more flies with honey than vinegar. But he is the “top” OBGYN in my home town. He needs to know.

      Your comment also tells me something really important. I need to change the tags on my posts. A lot of women who need to know aren’t going to know what HG is. I’m tagging stuff as “Hyperemesis Gravidarum” and “Morning Sickness” already, but I should add “Extreme morning sickness” to that list.

  3. Ashli is wonderful, her book is wonderful, and her blog is wonderful. I’ve read her book and her blog, and emailed with her a few years ago. I can’t even begin to describe how helpful her book is. EVERY HG MOTHER should have at least five copies to hand around freely to family, friends, and caregivers. I’m linking to this article! :)

  4. I had the same above-and-beyond response when I requested this book for my suffering friend. I had buried the hell of HG so deep. I wanted to leave it behind after the birth of my fourth child almost 17 years ago. There was no one to speak of who had taken on the task and mission that Ashli has taken on in finding answers or offering hope.

    Like you, I devoured “Hyperemesis Gravidarm: A Diary”. It brought to surface all the past misery. Like Ashli, I had HG while I grew all four of my kids. I then read “Beyond Morning Sickness” and found myself pulling for all those moms, all the while wishing there was something more to do to ease the suffering of my co-worker. But there wasn’t/isn’t. All you can offer is hope. That is the beauty of all that Ashli has done. It took a mom to share her strenght & courage and offer hope to the suffering. While the medical community has offered science without warmth, Ashli has offered flesh and blood and incredible heart.

    When I read “Mama Has Hyeperemesis Gravidarum (But Only For A While)”, I knew that I needed to read it to my son. He is 25 years old. He is the one who has the most traumatic memories of my pregnancies. He’s also a great guy (the one in the metal photos) so sat with me and let me read it. He finally understands that not every pregnant woman is so scary.

    I look forward to keeping up with your journal. You girls inspire me and I’m grateful beyond words that my daughter will have your personal experiences to keep her going for another day if she someday suffers the same fate.

    • Did you have a hard time getting through the diary? I found at several points that I had to just put it down and walk away for a minute. My HG experience was only in 2007, but I buried a lot of it pretty deep also. I find that after finishing the journal I’m remembering a lot more. That’s both good and bad. Like I said, it could potentially be pretty good birth control! :)

      I’m so glad that you’ve been able to share the children’s book with your son. I worry about Gabi going through this. We’re so deeply attached (hello! still nursing! ha!) that I worry about the impact this will have. Has it brought him some healing do you think?

      • When I started reading the diary, I couldn’t put it down. As difficult as it was to walk through that ungodly suffering with Ashli as I read page after page, it was validating. I had no computer, no search engines, no incredible women to see me through…I had God and Gatorade…and the knowing that I was born to be a mom. I didn’t know another soul in the world had gone though “extreme morning sickness”. Medical personnel treated me as though I were a pathetic freak of nature.

        That said, the journal and the books have been life-changing for me. They have encouraged me to tell my complete story someday which has many similarities to Ashli’s. It actually empowered me to not sit back anymore and let HG sufferers continue to be invalidated like Ashli, Kathleen, and so many others (myself included until I chose to use midwives with my last two pregnancies). I would really like to drop-kick all those who condescend. But that wouldn’t be as helpful as offering support to women dying the slow, miserable death of HG.

        I’m so thankful for the children’s book. Gabi will be fine because you are wise enough to get her mentally prepared. Little people are brilliant. And she will probably be a huge source of help in her own little way. I never knew until a couple of years ago how traumatized my second son was when I was so sick. He was 7 years old. He’s ready to have his own family and I think he’s relieved to know that when he has a pregnant wife someday, she won’t growl in a demonic voice….”GET OUT!” ….if he walks in on her in the middle of a puke…..because it’s highly likely she won’t have HG. (Clarification: I’ve never spoken in a demonic voice. I wouldn’t have had the energy to growl. This is his scary memory of a dying mom). He picks up the book everytime he sees it at my house.

        I nursed my third baby while I was expecting my fourth baby (my most difficult HG pregnancy)–and when she was born, I nursed them both. You and Gabi will remain deely attached and then your next one will be deeply attached to the both of you.

  5. Molly, I think varying the tags on your blog is a great idea. I think my mom was searching for “extreme morning sickness” when she found Ashli’s site. (I may have already said that in my previous comment…) Anyway, this blog is already a big source of encouragement for me. Although we’ve decided I can never do this again (we’ve been researching adoption!), it’s sooooo good to read everything you say and think back on my own experience and realize that although I felt alone, I wasn’t. And, don’t feel bad that you didn’t know. I’m not sure anyone was aware of how bad it was. I think Kerri tried telling family that what I was experiencing was bad (because she knew you had it bad too), but still, without her advocating for me, I think everyone would’ve assumed I was being dramatic.

  6. Wow, you guys! I don’t know what to say. I’m all teary like a chick or somethin’. But seriously, who is this “Ashli” character who so heroic and has contributed so much? I sure would like to meet her. We share the same name, but that’s as far as it goes. I myself am just a gal who got the snot kicked out of her by HG, crummy doctors, co-workers, friends and family. I made grave mistakes. I found some answers. I was horrified. And then I tattled on HG and crummy doctors, co-workers, friends and family, because I was too impotent to time-travel and repair the damage that had been done in my own life. But I still had rearviews, and in them I could see myself: I was alone. I didn’t want anyone to be alone. I didn’t want anyone to end up like me. Me and my child. So I tattled. I told all. Everything I knew, which wasn’t everything but was all I had, all I could do. I stayed up 72 hours sometimes writing that thing. I laughed, I cried. I did it for myself. I did it for you. Ultimately, I was compelled. I couldn’t NOT have done it. And do you know the kids’ book came to me in a flash as I turned the light out to go to bed one night? I turned the light back on and wrote it down in an hour. The words were just there. Not like it’s a masterpiece or anything, but it’s honest; maybe it touches something. Will you look at me with an odd eyeball if I suggest that God hears, God cares, and He made the books possible? Credit where it’s due: It’s all His. There are no delusions here; I serve my King, and it is my great joy and privilege to serve others via the tasks that He has given me. Why He lets me do it I don’t know. I am so fallible and selfish, stubborn and impatient. I don’t even have any particularly great faith. I’m kinda just a devastated schmuck trying to make some sense out of a very jacked up reality. So hero, no. Tattletale servant, absolutely! But thank you, wonderful ladies, for the great big computer hug this morning! You are all dazzling points of light in my night sky.

  7. Pish! You so crazy. And anyway, my web master is the heart (and wallet) behind the whole thing. Plus, he puts up with all my demands and other malarkey, which no one should have to endure. There came a time when I had to stop answering my emails, and he just took right on over and handles EVERYTHING now. I can die knowing this thing will keep truckin as long as he’s around. He never gets any props, you know, cuz no one knows who he is really or how much he contributes. But he’s pretty much a miracle. Another part of the Body. Jesus is the Heart, but my buddy is a an artery! ;-)

    As they say in Korea, “FIGHTING! FIGHTING!”
    (I.e., keep fighting the good fight.)

  8. Pingback: Nurturing my daughter through an HG pregnancy « Knocked Up – Knocked Over

  9. Hi – do you know where in Australia I might be able to buy Mama Has Hyperemesis?

    I am going through my second HG pregnancy and my daughter gets very upset that I have to go to hospital and I can’t interact with her.

    I am hoping the book will help her understand.

    Regards
    Lyanne

    Ps. It’s out of stock with bookdepository and amazon charges $12 to post to Aus.

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