And the truth is my mind has not been right for many months now. A brief reminder for those who might be in the dark, Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is severe, out-of-control, life-threatening (if untreated) condition less than 3% of pregnant women suffer from. The vomiting and debilitating nausea do not stop - not even for an hour - for weeks and weeks and often months and months on end.
Friends, it is a very, very difficult thing to live through. This is my second time getting to the other side of HG. The vomiting has stopped, the nausea is almost entirely gone. Other symptoms persist - ashy-taste of many foods, sensitivity to smells … but all in all, the worst is gone.
And yet, I can't seem to leave it behind. I find it difficult talking to people whose lives have been normal over the past few months. I've used the analogy of being a soldier who has returned from the war traumatized while everyone else has continued living their mostly peaceful lives.
I wish I could explain it to people and yet I'm grateful they don't understand. To you few girlfriends who have suffered through this, sometimes it's hard to think about you because it makes me hurt and vulnerable in places that are still so broken. I wish none of us understood it, feared its return, were scarred from the dark place it takes us.
The facts this time around:
- 8 days in hospital
- 4 weeks and counting of homebound, couch bound care from home health nurses
- 3-4 weeks of Feeding Tube (Total Parentral Nutrition (TPN)) via a PIC line threaded from my arm to my heart
- Hydration in arm for longer than TPN
- Incalculable volume of Zofran, Phenergan, Reglan, Visterol pumped into my system every two hours night and days for months
- Husband, mother, and mother-in-law exhausted, overburdened, helpless up every two hours to administer meds for months
- Frightened four-year-old son asking every morning how I'm feeling
- Trillion-billion = weight in fear pressing down on me that it will return any given second
Being this sick twice has made me more religious even while it has made me question the shape of God. I will probably never forgive the juxtaposition of suffering and purpose and people who say "God is not doing this to you" and "He is trying to teach you something" in the same breadth. It's one or the other. He either is responsible or He's not. And I can be mad about that, but what I also know more fundamentally than the me who had not suffered that much is that I need Him to be real. I need the comfort in the darkest moments that even it was Him putting me through that, I was not alone. And because of that knowledge and need, since Atticus, I have found it more difficult to really engage with friends who don't have God in their lives.
People have said to me that it's all worth it once you hold that baby in your arms. And implicitly, I must believe that or I wouldn't have done this again, but I still want people to stop saying it. It exposes a horrible ignorance and insensitivity to the hell of HG. HG can take more than it gives. This one might have taken more. Or I might still be too close to it to have a positive comment. Probably the latter. Nothing is worth going through it. You can only just hope as me and my husband did that it will be different next time.
But I am through it now. Even as the war rages in my head, I am aware that I am sitting upright at my computer writing and drinking. I ate breakfast this morning. I folded laundry. (Rather, I watched my husband fold laundry because I was out of breadth after carrying the basket to the bedroom.) Still, life is moving forward. Tomorrow, the PIC line will be removed from my arm. No more tubes sticking out me. No more fridge full of IV meds. I pray that my body catches up with this decision quickly and that tomorrow the act of folding laundry will be more within my reach.
That there's a baby coming - one we worked really hard to get - isn't joyful just yet. But I know it will be in time. And I have Atticus to remind me of the why. And now when he asks how I'm doing in the morning, I can tell him I'm fine which is more than I could have hoped for weeks ago. So we have that going for us, which is nice.