Kierstin has two daughters and dealt with hyperemesis gravidarum in all of her pregnancies.
Been Googling around trying to figure out if you're pregnant based on your early pregnancy signs? There's a boatload of lists and info out there but what's less common to find are signs that you're pregnant with a hyperemesis gravidarum pregnancy and what's nearly nonexistent is a list by women who've actually experienced HG in all of it's vomit-y, dizzying glory.
Welp, look no further. In 2013 and then again in 2014 I was pregnant with my daughters and gravely freaking ill. What I didn't know until my second pregnancy is that I had a "disease of pregnancy" with a nauseating Latin name and what I didn't find out until just this past year is that science can now (sort of) confirm that us lucky ones who are plagued by the condition aren't just making shit up like our male OBs and perfectly pregnant peers think we are—it's likely that our genes are responsible for hyperemesis gravidarum. Specifically, the GDF15 protein and IGFBP7 gene, both of which have been determined to play a role in appetite and the development of the placenta. What does all of this mean? I honestly have no clue, I'm not a scientist.
Here's what I do know: HG is real and it sucks and if you've experienced it once, you're almost certain to experience it in every pregnancy henceforth. Yay! So what's an HG burdened woman to do?
Obsess about whether she's pregnant or not in a flurry of terror and hope, of course!
Here were my earliest signs that I was pregnant and how my symptoms progressed into full-blown HG by six weeks.
The one single symptom that really stuck out for me before I'd taken a test in both of my hyperemesis pregnancies is that I was experiencing vertigo. I don't mean a little dizzy, hot flash episode or needing to sit down and drink a little water, both things that happen to me when I'm dealing with my regular hormones. I mean, the world would begin to spin and didn't stop even when I was in bed.
I'm sure this happens early on in non-HG pregnancies, but as my pregnancy progressed, this is a symptom that snowballed and contributed to my vomiting and nausea.
Along with feeling rollercoaster dizzy, I started feeling weak and faint pretty early on. I know this isn't an uncommon symptom for any pregnancy, however, instead of getting better as the early weeks of the first-trimester pass by, if you have HG this symptom will just get more powerful as your baby develops. A combination of dehydration, sleep-deprivation, and malnutrition can almost for sure be blamed.
Unable to Look at or Imagine Food
When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I found out around four days before my period was even due to start. That evening I ate a sub (I know, listeria. We're fine) and noted how especially normal I felt.
A week later, as my mom cooked up a Thanksgiving storm downstairs, I hid upstairs in my brother's old bedroom with the door shut, trying to escape the aroma of sage and the sight of sweet potatoes bubbling in the oven below. At a point where some women are just tearing open the good tests, holding their breath while they watch their pee travel across the plastic window, the effects of hyperemesis gravidarum were already starting to take over.
A month later at Christmas, I was about ten pounds lighter, lying down in that same bedroom with all of the lights turned off and trying not to think about all of the horrifyingly delicious food being consumed by my family downstairs.
Easily Overwhelmed by Socializing
This is a weird one, and maybe it's not specific to HG at all, but for science, I'm going to tell you that everything from being around other people even for short periods of time 100% overwhelmed me early on in my pregnancies. In my first pregnancy, days before I bothered to take a test, I got together with one of my lifelong best friends who I hadn't seen in six months. All we were planning to was sit on a couch and eat chips and salsa while we caught up on life and I remember telling my husband that I didn't feel like I could even make it out the door that evening, let alone form a sentence. Whether that was typical pregnancy exhaustion or an early sign that something was amiss, I don't know, considering I was only technically like 3.5 weeks pregnant.
In my second pregnancy, at five weeks I hosted my first daughter's birthday party and questioned whether or not I'd even be able to make it. I don't know how exactly to explain what was so overwhelming about socializing in those early stages of my pregnancies since I wasn't vomiting yet. I think it was a combination of the building nausea and that I was already eating and drinking much less than I was used to. Nursing a bottle of club soda and consuming absolutely nothing else, I somehow made it through that birthday party and that was the last social event I was able to participate in until Easter four or five months later.
Tons of Spit and a Weird Taste in My Mouth
Two more symptoms that I had almost immediately after becoming pregnant both times was an excessive amount of saliva in my mouth (it felt like there was a cotton ball stuffed under my tongue all of the time!) and a strange, bitter taste (called dysgeusia) that persisted from shortly after implantation until the second trimester.
Feeling Super Thirsty and Then Sick After Hydrating
It's normal to be pretty thirsty in early pregnancy. That's because your body is creating a lot of extra blood (among other things) and extra hydration is required to achieve this. However, after drinking water I didn't feel better, I felt worse. This would snowball as my pregnancy progressed and contribute to dehydration.
Speaking of dehydration, another early sign of HG is dark urine since consuming fluids has just become infinitely difficult.
Craving Sour Things
The final early symptom that I had in both hyperemesis pregnancies? Craving sour things. Again, this might be a completely normal first sign for many women although I haven't heard that from any of my friends. While I could stand the thought of almost any foods, I was chowing down on Sweet Tarts before I found out I was pregnant with my second baby. The only other time I remembered feeling so desperate for sour candy was in my first pregnancy. Looking back, I think that the sourness was covering up the bitter taste in my mouth that was already contributing to my nausea.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum Pregnancy Test Poll
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Kierstin Gunsberg