When I was 13 weeks pregnant back in early March, my morning sickness suddenly stole away like a restless lover and, in effect, I became an animate human woman again. I started doing things I'd done before the nausea, like exercising and smiling.
I stopped taking the half dose of anti-nausea medication every night that kept me from dehydrating but left me groggy, dry-mouthed, and, abysmally, still puking. Like childbirth or planning a toddler's birthday party, as soon as the nausea nightmare ended, I blocked out every hideous detail.
But I've been thinking back on that time and realizing how vital that experience could be to other women in the midst of it now. There was absolutely nothing I did with more fervor while sick than scrape the depths of Google for solace and answers and camaraderie. In fact, the following phrases ranked among my most searched:
“morning sickness over at 8 weeks?"
“morning sickness over at 9 weeks?"
“morning sickness over at 10 weeks?"
“morning sickness forever?"
“morning sickness [insert name of any actress with children]"
If that sounds depressing to you, you're right. It was. But if it sounds familiar, well, HI, HELLO, NICE TO MEET YOU! WE ARE SIMPATICO FOREVER BECAUSE OF THIS.
All I wanted during those hazy two months was to read stories of women—preferably real ones and not message board myths —who had gone through what I was going through and lived to tell the tale.
What's strange and perhaps embarrassing about this is that I'd been through it all before. I threw up every morning when I was pregnant with my first child, and sometimes again before bed.
I remember one afternoon vividly. My husband had been out of town for a week. It was July, and I was both hungry and revolted by the idea of eating. I'd wandered out of my apartment into an unexpected street fair and bumbled past the fried dough, bobble-headed and zombie-eyed, on a quest for tacos, which I ate and was hardly able to keep down.
But, as second mothers like me now know, that was nothing. That was a cold, not the flu. For I was younger then, unencumbered by a kid who wakes up at least once in the night to pee (and wakes me up, too). Also, like any reasonable parent, I'D BLOCKED IT ALL OUT in order to forge ahead with the whole having-multiple-kids thing.
So, dear reader, I offer you, these short yet desperate notes taken in the midst of my most nauseous times. May my discontent ease your own. And may you be as lucky as I have been to trade the nausea from trimester one for some good old heartburn in trimester two….
Every time I eat or drink something that makes me feel good, I am exultant, quietly exultant. I have won. I have beaten this monstrousness.
Then I wake up sick, first when my son gets up to pee at 3:30 a.m., then again at 6:30 when he's up for the day, then again at 8, after I've slept off the day's first vomiting.
I stumble toward the kitchen, my face wan, like an ill robot. I locate the yogurt and the Cheerios and make myself a bowl. I eat it slowly, staring straight ahead of me as though focus can beat this. I drink water or lemonade. I sniff some of the peppermint oil my mother-in-law gave me, and for three seconds, the nausea passes.
I put a Sour Patch Kid in my mouth because my sister swears by them, and even though I don't like Sour Patch Kids, it isn't that bad, and maybe it will fix everything.
I am nauseous 20 minutes later.
I spray myself with the magnesium spray my mother sent me that will supposedly make me feel better. I take a bath filled with eucalyptus scented Epsom salts, which also have magnesium. I feel relaxed and hot and irritated all at once.
I try carrots; I try broth, chicken; spoonfuls of nut butters; toast; potatoes; beets. It doesn't matter.
Every morning, I dry heave or throw up. There is only one cure: the end of this trimester.
I'll do a drug-free 24-hour labor again if it means I can get myself through the next six weeks.
Have I ever been fun?
Was I ever able to walk around like a normal person and laugh at things and breathe deep breaths?
Why did I want to have another child?
I'm about five months along now, and I laugh at things! I take deep breaths! I am fun (particularly between the hours of 8 and 11 a.m. and after a real good nap…because, of course, I'm taking those all the time). Meanwhile, pregnant friends of mine are soldiering through hyperemesis gravidarum, gestational diabetes and bed rest.
However rough or easy your pregnancy, you are not alone in it. We are with you. I am with you. Various famous pregnant or once-pregnant actresses are with you, even if their impossibly expensive maternity jumpsuits suggest otherwise.
Soldier on! And if you can take nap, what are you reading this for? Go lie down!