Heather Hendrix’s morning sickness in 2004 was so bad she finally wound up wearing a medication pump, like cancer patients use for pain management.
Hendrix knows what Britain’s Duchess of Cambridge was going through when the now-famous pregnancy’s side effect put the beautiful and stylish Kate Middleton into a London hospital and the headlines last week.
“I never understood it and the doctors still don’t,” reflected the Fulton resident, who suffered mightily during four pregnancies with what’s medically referred to as hyperemesis gravidarum (“hyper” means excessive, “emesis” means vomiting, and “gravid” means pregnant).
“It seemed like a lifetime before the misery was over,” said Hendrix, 37, the mother of three daughters, ages 20, 15 and 8.
Amy Wade, a 33-year-old Tupelo Schools teacher, is suffering much the same and trying to work while she awaits the arrival of her third child due March 30.
“This pregnancy has been horrible,” notes Wade, who’s already used three of her 12 family-leave weeks trying to recover from profound morning sickness.
“I asked God for her and he has blessed us,” she said. “All I can hope for is a healthy baby and a momma who can be ‘normal’ again.”
Malinda Ingram, a longtime Tupelo certified nurse practitioner, has taken care of pregnant women throughout her career.
She explains morning sickness as the physical reaction of a woman’s body to the boost of pregnancy hormones early in the pregnancy.
It usually begins about the sixth week of pregnancy and generally clears up by the end of the first trimester, but Ingram says it can persist through the whole process.
“Each pregnancy is so different, such an individual thing, it’s impossible to predict,” she said. “Some women never experience symptoms.”
Between 70 percent and 80 percent of pregnant women experience morning sickness, according to the American Pregnancy Association. The name is poorly chosen, as the nausea can come on at any time of day.
Hendrix and Wade’s experiences are not common but certainly not unusual, Ingram notes.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss and sometimes electrolyte disturbance. Mild cases often are treated with dietary measures, rest and antacids. Severe cases often require a stay in the hospital so that the mother can receive fluid and nutrition through an intravenous line.
For managing regular morning sickness, Ingram advises avoiding large meals, drinking and eating small amounts throughout the day, and avoiding cooking or other smelly activities that trigger nausea. The smell of lemon or ginger can sooth nausea, as can the taste of watermelon or salty chips, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Mayoclinic.com notes that morning sickness can affect anyone who’s pregnant, especially if:
• You experienced nausea or vomiting from motion sickness, migraines, certain smells or tastes, or exposure to estrogen (in birth control pills, for example) before pregnancy
• You experienced morning sickness during a previous pregnancy
• You’re pregnant with twins or other multiples
Ingram adds that if morning sickness is so severe that you are constantly throwing up and not keeping anything down, immediately get in touch with your health care provider about the possibility of hyperemesis gravidarum.
“A pregnancy can get into trouble very quickly without intervention,” she said.
Even expectant dads can experience the symptoms of morning sickness
Babycenter.com notes that more than a few dads-to-be go through what’s commonly called “sympathetic pregnancy” or couvade syndrome (the word comes from the French word couver, which means “to incubate”). The symptoms tend to appear in men during the third month of their partner’s pregnancy, as well as toward the final weeks before birth.
Some men whose partners are pregnant may develop their own pregnancy symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness, hormonal fluctuations, back pain, cramps, irritability and even cravings.
There’s no clear explanation for the symptoms of couvade syndrome, and it isn’t even formally recognized as a medical condition.
Teacher Amy Wade said she’s likely to share her own difficulties to her impending arrival, daughter Avy Jane.
“I will tell her just how miserable she has made me!” Wade said.
Area women tell terrible tales of mega-morning sickness
By Patsy R. Brumfield
TUPELO – Last week, we asked our readers to tell us their experiences with morning sickness via emails to me.
Here are their responses, some used in a Sunday Page 1A story about a severe form of morning sickness recently in the headlines because it put Prince William of England’s wife, Kate Middleton, in the hospital for treatment.
Take a look at accounts from our local folks:
• Heather Hendrix
My name is Heather Hendrix and I am from Fulton, MS. I have a history of this horrible disorder often called morning sickness.
Mine was much more than a case of morning sickness. My first pregnancy I weighed only 95 lbs at 5 months pregnant with a weight of only 119 at delivery and my daughter weighed 7lbs 1 oz. My second pregnancy was just as bad as the first. Constantly in and out of the hospital.
I was pregnant with twins later which I ended up losing. I had such severe nausea and vomiting at that time that I had to have a port put under my collar bone in order to take fluids due to severe dehydration that my veins had collapsed. They tried getting veins in my feet, my neck, nothing would work so the port was put in.
My last pregnancy in 2004 would be the worse I have ever experienced. I ended up in and out of the hospital as normal and placed on Home Health Care where I could get fluids at home instead of having to go to the hospital so much. As the pregnancy progressed I got much worse. I ended having to have a feeding tube put in place (through my nose). This was a horrible experience and on top of being sick.
They sent me home with this feeding tube and Home Health would come and keep the tube flushed and make sure all was going well with it. I pretty much was confined to home and if I went out I felt like a freak because I had this big long tube dangling and wrapped around my ear.
My sickness got worse and the feeding tube started coming up as I would violently vomit. I would vomit so extreme that there was really nothing I was vomiting up, so I just kept a bowl beside my bed and it was almost always just blood. Later found out that this was the lining of my stomach.
They kept having to go back and replace the tube where it was supposed to be down in my stomach. This became such a routine they finally remove the feeding tube and decide to send me to the University Hospital in Jackson, MS. I was there for several weeks. I was actually there on Easter Sunday that year. I had two other children at home, so being away from them and being so severely sick was definitely taking its toll on me.
I know my doctors in Amory did not know what else to do for me. They had never had a sick patient as bad as I. Till this day when I go for my yearly appointments, Dr. Chaney tells me he has not had anybody as sick as me. They do have pretty sick ones, but he said never seen any to the extreme I was.
My stay in Jackson was about 3-4 weeks. I suffered major depression along with the sickness. They kept me pumped with fluids and nausea medicine constantly. They finally sent me home with a pump. This pump I would wear around my waist and as I felt sick I would press the button on the machine and it would bolus the medication into my thigh area. This is what cancer patients wear to get their pain medication as they need it. I wore this up until I almost delivered.
I got sick one more time before I gave birth and it was actually while I was giving birth. I ended up weighing 130 lbs at delivery and my daughter weighed 7 lbs 6 oz, I was 29 yrs old.
Once the delivery was over, the sickness disappeared and never came back. It was like a cancer had left my body. I felt completely healed and could actually eat and drink again.
My doctor of course had no trouble agreeing to a tubal ligation right after delivery, lol. He insisted on it. He told me later that if my body had to go through that again, I would probably not make it.
If you do research on Hyperemesis Gravidarum it tells you how women back centuries ago actually died from this. They did not have what we have today to survive it. I know during my first pregnancy in 1992, people were actually telling me it was all in my head and that I was crazy. The doctors didn't so much, it was just people. Nobody could understand how someone could be so sick by just being pregnant. I never understood it either and doctors still don't, but it happened to me.
This is a hereditary disease and skips a generation. I hope and pray my children or their children never experience this horrific disorder. Mine lasted for the full 9 months and it seemed like a lifetime before the misery was over.
I was very surprised to see the article on Kate Middleton. You never hear of a story of Hyperemesis shared in the newspaper. This is a good thing. More people need to know about it.
I know exactly what she is going through and I only hope hers goes away soon and not stay with her the entire 9 months. This is a real disorder and I appreciate you sharing this story.
I am 37 yrs old now. I have all girls; 20, 15, and 8.
• Amy Wade
I am 24 weeks pregnant with my 3rd child and This pregnancy has been horrible!!!
Much like Kate I have had morning sickness all day, evening and night.
Although I have not been hospitalized, I have now had 9 IVs due to dehydration administered by the hospital ! It has its days where it comes and goes!
I am a teacher at Milam and I was off for 3 weeks due to FMLA leave only being 12 weeks I had to return to work and make the best of my pregnancy so that I will have a job and enough time for maternity leave!
My baby girl, Avy Jane Wade, is due March 30! I will tell her just how miserable she has made me!
I asked God for her and he has blessed us and all I can hope for is a healthy baby and a momma who can be "normal" again.
I have never written to the djournal not sure how this works but fellow employees have compared Kate and I today so when I saw this article I just felt I had to write in!
• Laura Summerford
Hello, I saw your post and just wanted to tell you of my experience.
I am 53 now...I was 32 at the time. My daughter is 20. She was born on July 4, 1992 at Baptist East in Memphis. I was a Senior Product Designer at Wang's International at the time. I now live in Fulton.
I had hyperemesis so terrible that I was taken off work for 7 months and I LOST 35 lbs.
I spent most of my time in the hospital and was given all sorts of medicine to try to help. But, it really did not help...mine was around the clock. My daughter weighed 4 lbs. and 7 oz. when she was born a month early. I had a really rough time!