Freaking out a little about childbirth

But not in the way you would expect.

I’m good at childbirth.  I may suck at pregnancy, but I’m good at childbirth.

That said, I am not loving my hospital options here.  Dr. Awesome only delivers at two hospitals, both of which are part of the public county hospital system.  I will say that both are classed as Baby Friendly hospitals which is a huge deal and really great.  But I have major concerns about both.  Here are the concerns I have with both places:

Hospital A

This is where I went for my HG hospitalizations.  Anyone remember how awesome my experiences were there?  No one?  That’s right.  Because it sucked.

  • This is an old hospital.  It’s gritty.  It feels very… what’s the word… institutional.  I’m sure it’s very clean, but it just looks really grimy from being old.
  • They have you labor in one room and deliver in another room.  That’s right ladies.  When you hit transition, they make you move.  I cannot imagine the chaos of changing rooms during transition.  This just seems like a terrible idea and a terrible policy.  Dr. Awesome said they might be able to make an exception for me since we have no need for things like warming tables and the like, but I’m not sure how comfortable I am with a “might be able to.”  This is a major deal-breaker.
  • Fathers aren’t allowed to spend the night.  Juan might not be able to do this anyway because of Gabi, but the idea of being stuck in there for 3 days by myself just makes me feel edgy and trapped.
  • I had pretty bad experiences at this hospital.  Just walking in to it is enough to send my stress levels up.  The woman I shared a room with leaving blood all over the toilet seats, and the possibly crazy man walking outside my door and talking loudly all night and freaking me out that he would come into my room, and the L&D nurse who left me in the wheelchair and repeatedly told me and anyone she ran into that I shouldn’t be in L&D despite what my doctor had said, and the OBGYN not bothering to see me at all, and the evil vital signs lady who kept making my IV sticks bleed, and the OBGYN who smiled and said that if I feel persistant nausea and vomiting to come back in (idiot), etc, etc, etc…
  • Very restrictive for visitors under the age of 13.  Gabi could come visit us but only for certain hours.  3 days separated from my family.  Cut off from them when I want to be with them the most.

Hospital B

  • No showers in the rooms.  You have to walk down the hall to the shower behind the nurses station.  That means if I want to sit under the hot water while I’m in labor and labor in the shower, I wouldn’t be able to do it.
  • Only two rooms.  What if they’re full?
  • No visitors under the age of 13 allowed.  That bothers me in a major, major way.  I would be completely cut off from my family during one of the most important times for us all.
  • It’s in the next town over.  It’s not a long drive, but it is a drive.

General Concerns

  • I’m not a fan of several of her partners.  I only actively dislike one of them, but I think having him walk into the room to catch the baby would send me over the edge.
  • Dr. Awesome isn’t always on call.  I’m not sure what percentage of her babies she delivers, but if she’s not on call, it would be a major, major stressor.  The last thing I want to deal with is more stress.  That week when all hell was breaking loose with the HG, she was not reachable.  At all.
  • They don’t let you eat in labor.  I need to eat all the time!  If I can’t eat I have to get hooked up to an IV with a glucose solution.  I am really, really averse to IVs and needle sticks at this point.  Like heart racing, hands shaking averse to it.
  • No tubs.  Anywhere.
  • General nervousness about the whole thing.

This is my last baby.  Of course, it goes without saying that the ultimate goal is a healthy baby and a healthy mommy.  That’s a major no brainer if you ask me.  So why can’t birth be a pleasurable experience for me?  It was a good experience last time, but like I said in my hypnobirthing post, I want to be an active participant here.  I have absolutely no regrets about Gabi’s birth.  I just want something different this time around.  I want a water birth.  I want to do this on my own.  I want this last time to be a positive and gentle experience.  I’ve had such a crappy pregnancy.  I just want to have a positive, respectful birth.

Home birth is absolutely not an option here, but there are some lovely-looking birth centers here in town.  Juan is dismissing the idea out of hand.  It’s just so far outside his concept of normal.  I just want to find a way to help him understand why I might view that as a viable option.  The hospitals here aren’t like the awesome one we delivered at in St. Louis.  Would switching to midwife care after the HG be like a huge “Eff You” to Dr. Awesome?  “Hi there.  You get to do all the awful stuff without the little bonus prize at the end.”

I hope I can find a way to make peace with all of this.

Retrospective on the First Trimester

Well, folks, I’m happy to report that I have made it to the second trimester!  I feel like I’ve run a marathon or something.  I want to just sit down, sip my water, snuggle in my foil blanket for a bit, and admire my medal.  Unfortunately, I’m only part way through, so still a ways to go.

I’d like to take a quick look back on my first trimester.  In a lot of ways, it wasn’t as bad as my pregnancy with Gabi.  In some ways it was worse.  I didn’t throw up nearly as much, but I was unbelievably nauseated.  I suspect without Dr. Awesome’s seriously aggressive treatment, this pregnancy would have been much worse than last time.

Here’s a quick look at what worked and what didn’t.  I get a little cranky about some things so you may need to pardon some colorful language.

What Worked/What Didn’t

  • Ginger – ummm…. do I even need to grace this with a reply?  No.  Ginger didn’t work.  It usually doesn’t.
  • Unisom/B6 (homemade bendectin) – Not particularly.
  • Prima Bella Wristband – This thing is such horseshit.  It didn’t work for crap.  It just made my hands twitch in freakish ways.  I’m pissed that I shelled out the money for it.  Maybe it’s great for morning sickness, but for HG, it’s just a load of malarkey.
  • Small snack before getting up – This is a necessary part of my daily routine.  If I don’t do this, the day is bad.  Bad kinds of bad.  So, yes, this definitely works for me now.  When I was deep in doodoo that one week, it would not have worked, though.
  • ODT Zofran – Nope.  I couldn’t handle the drug roller coaster.
  • Zofran through the pump – Hell, yes!  When I finally got hydrated, that is.
  • IV fluids – A necessary evil.  They were great when my veins weren’t blowing out.

Ultimately, what’s keeping me going now are very high dosed of Zofran through the pump, and a careful balance of meds in my cocktails.  As long as I eat constantly I do okay.  If I take a break to stop eating, things start getting dicey again.  Here’s a quick look at my current cocktail.  I keep this updated as it changes on my Protocol page.

  • 24 hour zofran subcutaneous pump @ 0.820 ml/hour
  • 8 AM – 25 mg meclazine
  • 12 AM – 25 mg meclazine
  • 4 PM – 25 mg meclazine
  • 8: 30 PM - 25 mg meclazine, 20 mg Nexium, 25 mg benadryl

Impact on My Family

This trimester has had a huge impact on my family.  Aside from my mother having to come out for an entire month, Juan and Gabi have had a lot to deal with as well.

Prior to me becoming pregnant, Gabi was very much focused on Mommy as the primary caregiver.  Once I got taken out of commission, that changed drastically.  It’s been really cool to see her strengthening her bond with her Papa.  I think that’s one positive that has come out of all of this:  She and Juan have really deepened and strengthened their relationship.

That’s not to say it’s been easy for her.  She’s shown her frustration with the situation by acting out in a variety of ways, which is hard for everyone.  She has essentially stopped nursing, which I think is for the best.  She’ll still sometimes ask, but she doesn’t even latch.  She just kisses my boobs and tells me she’s done.  She actually hasn’t even done that in a few days, so we may have reached the end at last.

It’s been tough for Juan because rather than a gradual change like we expected, everything got dumped into his lap at once.  He’s hung in there, though, which is pretty awesome.  He has to do everything right now, and I mean everything.  Cooking, cleaning, getting Gabi ready for school, bathing her, etc, etc, etc.  He’s been really supportive, and even though I can tell the strain of it all gets to him sometimes, he sticks it out.  I think we’re both very much looking forward to this being over.

Impact on Me

Obviously, this has had an incredible impact on me, most of which you all have had a front row seat to witness.

One of the biggest things this has impacted are my thoughts on the future of our family.  This pregnancy has made it really clear that two children are enough.  There is no way that I can make it through another pregnancy.  If I became pregnant again, and HG hit, I would terminate that pregnancy.  I know that with a certainty.  I also know with a certainty that doing so would completely devastate me.

I have discussed permanent birth control solutions with my doctor.  I will be signing paperwork authorizing them to tie my tubes if I require a cesarean section.  Thing is, while I suck at pregnancy, I’m pretty good at childbirth, so the likelihood of a c-section is pretty darn slim.

I like the idea of the Essure procedure.  It seems a lot less invasive than a regular tubal ligation, which I dig.  I also dig the idea of Juan getting a vasectomy, but he’s not completely comfortable with that idea, which is understandable.  We’ll see. It’s something we’ll both need to decide together.

Another way this has impacted me is in taking me out of work.  I’ve been on disability leave for almost six weeks, I think.  I’m slated to start back to work April 4th, which has me pretty nervous.  It’s going to be tough getting used to being a part of the workforce again.  I’ve been trying to get my strength back by taking little outings each day.  Hopefully that will turn out to have been helpful.

I’ll still have to carry around my pump, which will be a little embarrassing.  I’m sure I’ll have people ask about it.  I’m glad to explain about it because it give me a chance to help share about HG, but I’m feeling a little self-conscious.  When I was pregnant with Gabi, my boss saw my pump and said, “Oh, man, I don’t even want to know where that is hooked up!”  That was so much more awkward than if he had just kept his mouth shut or even asked.  The thought of him imagining it hooked up to embarrassing places, was much worse than if I could have just said that it connects to a little port on the outside of my leg.  I’d much rather explain than have people use their imaginations!

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, I’m just glad that I made it this far.  There were so many days that I lay in bed and thought about the Planned Parenthood up the road.  I’m so thankful for the support I received here.

I’d like to take a moment and give a shout out to some of the people here who have helped me through this toughest part of the pregnancy.  Juliana of Island of Grief, Mountain of Joy.  Kat who is sort of a real-life person that I don’t quite know and is blogging about her adoption journey on Love Makes a Family.  Of course, Ashli and Lyle from the book Beyond Morning Sickness.  My snopes friends, especially Auntie Witch, Zorro, Starla, Purple Iguana (who let me know years ago that it’s okay to hate being pregnant), Nonny, and the other snopesters and snopestresses whose RL names I have trouble connecting to the screen names.  (Where’s the fish thwacker when you need it?)  My fellow HG sisters who comment and let me know that they understand, and my HG sisters from helpher.org.  You are an incredible community of people.  The Bliss family who have emailed me throughout despite me not responding hardly at all!  I get so much strength just knowing you are thinking of me!  Gabi’s teacher and my friend who has given Gabi the extra love and attention to help fill the gaps from the attention she’s not been able to get at home.  My sister-in-law Carmen for calling me out of the blue and IMing me just to check in.

Most of all, I need to thank my family: Juan and Gabi, and of course, my mom for coming up and waiting on me hand and foot. Watch your mailbox Mom.  Just sayin’.

And now I feel like I should be getting an Oscar or something.  I think they’re playing the music to get me off the stage.  I just wanted to let you all know that I really appreciate everything.  My cup truly is overflowing.

Caffeine and Pregnancy

Everyone knows you’re not supposed to have caffeine when you’re pregnant.  Caffeine and sushi.  Those are the two biggies, right?

Just how much caffeine is truly harmful though?  According to the March of Dimes, pregnant women should have no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day or not more than the equivalent of one 12 oz cup of coffee.  That’s a Tall for you Starbucks fans out there, although Starbucks’ coffee does seem to have a wee bit more caffeine than the competitors, which may partially explain the popularity.

At any rate, caffeine is bad you naughty pregnant ladies.  Bad.  Caffeine can raise your miscarriage risk, reduce fertility and contribute to small-sizes in newborns.  I’m sure it will also make you bleed from your eyeballs and shoot flames from your vagina.  It’s terrible stuff.  It shall never cross my lips.

Yeah.

I lied.

Here’s the deal with the “bad” stuff in pregnancy.  Generally, a little won’t hurt anyone.  All things in moderation.  This even holds true for alcohol.  I recall in my last pregnancy, at the very end when I was stressed and Gabi would NOT COME OUT NO MATTER WHAT I DID that my doctor actually said, “Molly.  Relax.  Go home.  Take a nice long bath.  Have a glass of wine.  Make love to your husband.  Just relax.”

For the record, I didn’t drink the wine.  I have a very strong aversion to anything with alcohol in it since my first round with HG, so I don’t touch the stuff.  But my point with the story is this.  A little bit of the bad stuff probably isn’t that big of a deal.

Which leads me to this confession: Caffeine is getting me through this stage of my pregnancy.

I have found that if I drink one glass of restaurant-brewed iced tea around lunch time I do significantly better through the rest of the day.  Just one cup.  One 30 oz cup of iced tea, which ends up equaling about 75 mg of caffeine (scroll down to Lipton Iced Tea).

For the remainder of my fluid, I drink Lipton decaf iced tea.  And not only is it decaf, I further decaffeinate it by brewing the bags once, dumping that off, then re-brewing a second time.  For those who don’t know, tea can be brewed more than once, but the first brew will brew off the caffeine.  Any subsequent brews will be caffeine-free.  Thanks to the good folks at Teavana for letting me in on this, and extra thanks to my friend Mary for reminding me about it.

I’m not sure what it is about the caffeinated iced tea in the middle of the day that helps.  I don’t know if it’s the boost of energy or something about the caffeine itself.  Whatever it is, it really seems to help.

I mentioned this to my doctor today, and she was also stumped.  To her knowledge, caffeine is never really used to help with nausea.  To further that, a quick google search (and I mean really quick) showed lots of links to dealing with nausea caused by caffeine, but no links talking about caffeine helping to eliminate nausea.

Dr. Awesome said, “It’s another one of those risk/benefits things.  Right now, it’s helping you eat and get through the day.  Let’s just go with it.”

So, yes.  I am partaking of the forbidden caffeine-fruit during this pregnancy.  It’s helping me, so I’m not going to worry too much about it.

On a last note, if you get the chance, check out today’s weight on my weight chart!

Hurtful Things and Helpful Things

This is going to be one of those cathartic posts.  Love it or leave it.

HG can bring out the best and the worst in our friends and family.  Heck, even the most well-meaning comment can be… shall we say, ill-timed.

I want to take a moment to highlight a few of the low- and high-points of comments I’ve personally heard over these one and a third pregnancies.  This post is intended to be eye-rolling and funny.  If you find yourself on the guilty list, don’t get your undies in a bunch.  Laugh, shake your head, and go forward a little wiser.

I’ll start with the Hurtful things people have said to me and the witty and snarky responses I wish I could have come up with at the time:

  1. “Have you tried ginger?” “Seriously?  Ginger?  That never occurred to me!  And here I am shelling out $40 a day for this Zofran pump!  Wow!  Thank you so much for that priceless piece of advice!”  See also, Ginger is a bad idea for HGers.
  2. “Have you tried eating [insert food item here]?”  Bonus points if the speaker begins waxing poetic about said food item. “Really?  And all this time I thought starvation was good for my baby!”  The absolute worst example of this came from a woman working in the Panera Cafe when I was pregnant with Gabi.  She began describing in detail how her mother could only eat liver and onions.  No I am not making that up.  Can you imagine?  I was feeling proud of myself for being able to get down the damn broccoli and cheddar soup and she’s over there describing freakin’ liver and onions!  It was jaw-droppingly stupid on her part.  As I recall, I had to just walk away from her mid-sentence because she would not shut up about it.
  3. “I feel sorry for your baby.” “I feel sorry for your face.”  There really is no good comeback to that kind of comment that doesn’t involve physical violence.  The one time this was said to me, it was said in reference to the meds I was taking and with such a tone of disgust and disdain.  I never really spoke to that person again.
  4. “But is that safe for the baby?” “What about me?”  This is the gentler cousin of the #3 comment.  It’s a nasty, guilt inducing comment.  The implication being that I may not be clever enough or careful enough to do my research to understand the risks and benefits of what I am taking to deal with the HG.  It’s my doctor’s job to keep both myself and the baby safe.  Let’s let her do that.  And you know what?  At some point, when you’re as sick as HGers get, you reach a point where you just want the sickness to go away.  Let’s ask ourselves what is more dangerous to a baby: meds that have not been shown to have ill-effects on a fetus or a mother who is so sick and so desperate for relief that she will begin contemplating terminating a pregnancy.  This innocent-sounding question automatically gets a knee-jerk rage reaction from me.
  5. “Should you really be eating that?” “Honey, if it stays down, I’m going to eat it.”  Yeah, I eat a whole lot of fast food when I’m pregnant.  McDonald’s and Taco Bell are my favorites right now.  I would love to be able to eat an organic, free-range diet, but that just ain’t happenin’.  If it hasn’t been processed to within an inch of being actual food, my tummy rejects it.  Sorry.  You can live on fast food.  It ain’t pretty but it’s better than starvation and malnutrition which absolutely will kill a fetus.
  6. “You look good!  Have you lost weight?”  Or really any other comment about weight. “Ah, yes.  It’s this new diet I’m on called starvation.  You should totally try it!”  I think the thing about this comment that sets me off is the value US society puts on being thin at all cost.  Trust me, when this was said to me, I did not look healthy-thin.  I looked really and truly ill.  That thinness, despite the very obvious ill-health, seemed to be the be-all, end all, it just was deeply disturbing to me.  Let’s be happy with our bodies folks!  Let’s strive for health, not some number on the scale!
  7. “I totally understand what you are going through.” “No.  You don’t.”  Not to put too fine a point on it, but unless you’ve actually lived through HG, you don’t understand.  You can’t understand.  Trust me, you don’t want to understand.

Phew!  I feel better!  Got a lot off my chest there!

Now, I’d like to mention a few of the really awesome things people have said to me that have helped me make it through.

  1. “I don’t know what you’re going through, but I think of you often.” I had a lot of friends in real-life and online make similar comments to this one.  Just knowing that someone is thinking of me is huge.  It means so much.  There is a certain family whose name starts with a B and rhymes with “miss” that were a huge rock of support.  I got regular emails from several members of the family, and getting those surprise emails periodically really got me through some rough patches.  You know who you are.  Thank you.
  2. “I’m going to cook ____ for your family for dinner tonight.” Mom, bless you.  Feeding my family was a huge stressor.  Having some meals ready for them in the evenings was awesome.
  3. “You CAN do this.”
  4. “This will end.” In the thick of things, time stands still.  Being reminded that there will be an end is really valuable.
  5. “Don’t let the redeemer’s fire burn you up.” Said to me by the man who does my yard.  I got so much strength from this simple statement.  It’s one that I repeat to myself often.  I don’t know him too awfully well, so I hope some day I get the courage to tell him what strength he gave me when he said that.
  6. “You will never have to experience this week again.” Said to me by Dr. Awesome.  I loved her for that.  It was a good reminder that what had passed was over.  Progress was moving forward.
  7. “You’ve made it to week _____!” My mom took the time to remind me often how far I’d come.  When time is standing still, being reminded that it’s not and there is a light that you are getting closer and closer to at the end of the tunnel is awesome.

What about you?  What hurtful and helpful things have people said to you?  I just have one request.  If you post a hurtful thing, please do your best to include a helpful thing, too.  Venting is wonderful and cathartic, and even better when you can get out the negative and replace it with a positive.

Love to you all!

Hypnosis and Childbirth

I’m strongly considering doing a form of hypnosis for the birth of this child.  Specifically, I’ve been looking at Hypnobabies.

I’m attracted to this method for a couple of reasons:

  • I would really like to birth this child without the use of medications. Last time, I opted for an epidural, and what followed was a predictable series of events: stalled labor, pitocin, breaking my water etc.  I believe the epi necessitated the pitocin, and based on my research, the pitocin is probably a large part of what caused my milk to come in late.  I just plain don’t want those interventions again.  Personal choice.
  • I want breastfeeding to start as easily as possible. See above.  Getting started nursing Gabi was terribly difficult.  I know that I am perfectly capable of nursing another child, and I want to make the start of it as easy as possible.
  • I want to be an active participant in this birth. That’s not to say I wasn’t an active participant last time, but I really was tied to that bed.  The epidural essentially paralyzed me from the waist down.  I want to be able to move, sit up, change positions, and do various other things.  I don’t want to have to fight gravity and labor on my back.
  • I am open to and intrigued by the idea of meditation and hypnosis in general. I used to meditate a whole lot.  I loved it.  It helped me feel really good mentally.  I still meditate during yoga practice.  Or I would if I could do yoga right now.  The HG gets in the way of that.

Those are a couple of reasons for me being interested in hypnosis in childbirth.  I haven’t completely gathered my thoughts on why I’m so drawn to this method.  I just feel a pull toward it.

I like the idea that this particular method has a self-study course, which I think will work better for me.  I also love the idea that this particular method teaches an “eyes open” form of hypnosis meaning you can move around open your eyes and do various other things while you’re under the hypnosis.  I think that will really help me feel like a much more active participant in this process.

Have any of you used a form of hypnosis for childbirth?  I would love to hear about your experiences!

A New Blogger in Town

I wanted to take a few moments to let you all know about a brand new blog that one of my HG sisters has started.

I feel an extra-special connection to this particular blogger because she just happens to be the Sister-in-Law to my very best friend.

MommyPonders experienced severe HG.  Severe enough to decide for her that one biological child is enough.  She and her husband have huge hearts, though, and are starting down the adoption road.  I am eager to follow her journey, and I hope you will, too.

Love Makes A Family

Where did my sense of smell go?

Not that I miss it.

Tuesday morning it was there.  I was upstairs and my mom was downstairs changing the water filter in the refrigerator.  I had to put a rag over my nose.

Then we went out to get some lunch.  I was feeling okay and wanted a change of scenery.  I wanted to take my mom to lunch to Panera.  It didn’t work out quite that way.  Standing in line, the lights got brighter and brighter and I realized that I was about to pass out.  The good news is, I did not hit the floor.  I managed to make it to a chair.  The bad news was, as soon as the dizziness passed I had to run to the bathroom to heave a little.  I did not end up puking.  Just got rid of a little of that extra-foamy saliva I’ve been having lately.

I did not enjoy my lunch very much.

I did, however, enjoy my mom’s iced tea.  Very much.  So much that I went back and got my own extra-large tea.

I drank over 70 oz of iced tea.  That is more that three times as much fluid as I’ve been getting on a normal day!

That afternoon, I was able to sit outside and watch my mom re-plant some of my patio pots with succulents.  Succulents because they’ll be hard for me to neglect to death.  It was when I opened the refrigerator to get my mom some ice water that I realized it.

I couldn’t smell the refrigerator.

I couldn’t do it.  I stuck my head right inside.  I still couldn’t smell it.  I opened the freezer.  I still couldn’t smell it.

It was like a switch.  In the morning it was switched on.  In the afternoon, it switched off.

I felt great!  Full of energy!  Turns out, I was actually just really high on caffeine.  I discovered that when I tried and failed all night to go to sleep.

But you know what?  My nose is still switched off.

I have started eating dinner at the table with my family.

I have been getting out more.

I got chewed out by my Alere nurse for overdoing it. I deserved it.

I have been feeling so good that I was genuinely afraid that my baby had died.  For HG patients, you read over and over about that happening.  Suddenly the mother feels great and she thinks she’s out of the woods.  Except then she starts bleeding.

Yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment, thankfully, and I expressed my worry.  She immediately got out the doppler and took a listen.  Whish-whish-whish-whish.  There was that tiny heartbeat.  Then she found mine to prove that it was the baby we were listening too.  Whooosh-whooosh-whooosh.  Back to the baby.  Whish-whish-whish-whish.  Then we started hearing it kick and roll.  And you know what else?  I could feel it!  I can feel the baby wiggling and rolling around now.

I am still attached to my pump.  And I will be for a good long time.  I will still have bad days.  I have to remind myself of that because I don’t want to be devastated when they come.  But this will pass.  I can finally believe that now.  I wonder if I was finally able to get hydrated enough for the Zofran to start working.

I wonder if I’m going to be lucky and hit that magic 2nd trimester period of feeling good.  I hope so.  I’ve put my time in.

For now, I want to do some regular pregnant lady stuff.  I want to go get some maternity jeans.  I want to get a pretty new bra since my old ones are not cutting the mustard anymore.

Most of all, I want to feel this joyful, hopeful feeling as much as possible.

Little things that help with HG survival

I just wanted to do a quick little post with a few HG survival tips.  Some things I’ve gotten into the habit of doing that are helping me get by.

Dental Hygiene – This is a biggie for me.  I haven’t been able to brush my teeth in ages, but at the same time, the horrifying taste and smell emanating from my filthy mouth exacerbate the nausea.  Here are a few things I’ve done that help:

  • Switch to a toddler-sized toothbrush.  I picked one with a brush head sized for a 2 year old.  It makes a huge difference.  The smaller head reduces the gag factor significantly.  It also has a picture of Eeyore on it which often suits my mood.
  • Rinse with baking soda and water. I actually do this periodically throughout the day.  It seems to cut right through that horrible layer that builds up in my mouth.  This is probably my favorite survival method.  I love this.  Many thanks to Ashli for this one!  My mom got it out of her book.
  • Ditch the toothpaste. Forget the toothpaste.  The strong flavor was killer for me.  Instead I wet my tiny toothbrush and then shake a little baking soda on it.  Much easier on the gag reflex.

Personal Hygiene –  I hate being dirty.  But keeping up with personal hygiene with HG is so difficult.  Here are a couple of things I do to make it easier:

  • Put a cheapo kid’s step-stool in the shower. This would only work well if you’ve got a hand-held shower-head.  If you don’t have one, get one.  Then you can sit on the cheap, plastic step-stool and shower seated.  Bonus: If you have to puke, you can just lean forward and not worry about sitting in it!  The step-stool (I got mine at Walmart a couple years ago) is like a $3 version of the expensive shower chair.
  • Switch deodorant and soap. I use Dove unscented for sensitive skin and Aveeno unscented bar soap now.  Way better than the Secret Cucumber scent.  Just because it’s unscented doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a smell.  What works for me might not work for you.  But if the soap makes you puke (and ours did), switch it out and get it the hell out of the house.

Dealing with Smells – Every HGer knows that the smells are one of the biggest parts of the HG hell.  Here are a couple of things that I found that slice through the smells and temporarily deaden the nose:

  • Alcohol wipes. Please don’t go around huffing rubbing alcohol.  But if you do happen to need a wipe to change out your pump site or whatever medical activity you happen to be doing, take a whiff of that alcohol wipe!  Sweet relief!
  • Apple Cider Vinegar.  I got this tip yesterday from you guys!  This is the bomb.  If I put a little on a paper towel, and breathe through that, I can open the fridge!  How awesome is that  Like the alcohol, it seems to deaden my nose and neutralize odors.  Probably safer than huffing alcohol, too.

I would love to hear from you guys!  What little things helped you survive HG?

An attempt to explain the smell thing

I think I am a weird HGer.  For the most part food smells and thinking of foods are not triggers.  That doesn’t mean I can eat any old thing, but it does make life easier in that I don’t have to make my family cook in the garage.

It’s things like certain soaps, my husband’s deoderant, and the air itself.

I tried to explain this air thing to a friend of mine yesterday, and I think it’s worth explaining here.  Maybe this will give you all an insight into what I’m experiencing.  Maybe y’all will just think I’m nuts.

Let me start on something only tangentially related.  Raise your hands please if you are familiar with what a halocline is.  That’s okay.  I didn’t expect everyone to know this.  I know because I watch way too many Nat Geo documentaries.  Also, randomly, plate tectonics make me jump up and down with excitement.

At any rate, let me try to explain my understanding of haloclines.  Areas of water with different salinity have different densities.  Salt water is more dense than fresh water.  If you have still water (like in a cave), and the lower part is, say ocean water, and the upper, lighter portion is fresh water, the water will stratify.  It will remain separated with the fresh water floating on top of the sea water.  Like oil and vinegar.

In between those two layers you would see a blurry portion where the waters meet.  That’s the halocline.  Hold that image in your mind.

Okay, stay with me.  The air in my house does the same thing.  Instead of being stratified by salinity, the air is stratified by temperature.  The upstairs air is warmer and rests on the cooler downstairs air.

As I walk down the stairs, there is a point where I pass through that oil/vinegar/halocline barrier.  It is the smell that creates, the smell of the air mixing as my movement stirs it, that smells so horrifying.  I can’t describe the odor it creates, but it’s a very specific and awful smell.

Opening the doors and windows does the same thing.  The outside air doesn’t stink, and neither does the inside air.  However, as they mix they produce that awful and specific smell.

It is magnified by the refrigerator.  The temperature difference is so powerful that the smell of that mixing air rolls over me like a steam-roller.  I hate the refrigerator with the white hot passion of a hundred burning suns.

Am I crazy?  I can assure you that this smell is not something I am making up.  There’s no power of suggestion at play here.  I don’t see the refrigerator doors open and imagine the smell.  I can tell if someone opens the refrigerator even if I am upstairs in bed.  I can smell the air mixing.  I can smell the cooler air diffusing through the house.

It’s like I have a freakish super power.  I can smell the movement of the atoms.  Can I please trade this crappy super power in for something cooler like flight or invisibility or something?

Other fun things from the past couple of days?  More nausea, ptyalism, etc.  This sucks.  Stop the world.  I wanna get off.

Something is working!

I had such a great day yesterday.

It started out pretty rough.  I had an early AM appointment with Dr. Awesome, and I ended up crying during a good bit of the appointment.  I told her about how down I’ve been emotionally and how depressed and defeated I feel.  We ended up swapping war stories for a while.

I told her about how desperately I want to eat, and how a few weeks ago Juan got an order of buffalo wings and I had him put it on my plate so I could just smell it’s delicious deliciousness.  It smelled so good that I tried to lick it, which turned out to be a mistake.  She told me that she remembered dreaming about food.  She would be in a giant buffet filling up her plate, piling up the tray, but she would run out of room and get upset about it.

I talked to her about the refrigerator and how it is the bane of my existence with its horrifying smell.  She laughed and said she remembered thinking the refrigerator doors were like the gates of hell.  Exactly how I feel!

It just felt really good to talk to someone face-to-face about how hard this is.

She was very encouraging.  She did say that she preferred not to Rx any anti-depressants.  She said that the feelings of sadness and defeat are pretty normal considering the very special kind of hell I am dealing with.  Having her acknowledge the kind of suffering I feel was just…  hard to describe.  It feels like she took some of the weight from me somehow.  It’s amazing the power of validation can be.

Physically, she said that I am doing great.  I even gained a pound!  (Which I promptly lost after I pooped later that afternoon.)  She reminded me that I am deep in the thick of things.  Tomorrow I will be 11 weeks.  With that in mind, she had me up my Meclazine to 4x/day.  Home health had increased my Zofran dose on Tuesday.  I asked them to do that to help me stay ahead of the curve.  I think I’m approaching the max of what they are willing to let you have.

I felt well enough yesterday to go to Gabi’s first baseball practice in the afternoon.  And that evening, I sat at the table with my family and ate some of the dinner Juan made!

I’m not going to fool myself into thinking I’ve beaten HG.  I won’t start hoping for that until I am about 16 weeks or so.  But I have gotten a respite and I am enjoying it while I can!