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My Agonizing Decision To Take Prescription Medications For Severe Morning Sickness

Guest post by author and blogger, Christina Simon.

medication hyperemesis gravidarum Handing me two prescription bottles, in a stern, somber voice, the pharmacist, an older man with graying hair, looked at me and said, “take these medications only if you absolutely must.”

At about 8 weeks pregnant with my second child, I was desperate. The morning sickness began promptly at 6 weeks and immediately became unbearable. Extreme nausea and vomiting plagued me all day and night. When I stood up, I got dizzy and threw up, even if I hadn’t eaten. I was exhausted from the lack of sleep and was subsisting on bread and juice.

Dragging myself to my OB/GYN, I practically crawled into her office with my husband, Barry, holding me up for support. I need some relief, fast.

I’d had similar symptoms with my first pregnancy 2 ½ years earlier, but I’d managed to keep working full time and quell the symptoms with the Relief Band, a pulsing wristband that looks like a watch. At exactly 12 weeks, my symptoms disappeared.

This pregnancy, however, the vomiting was so severe I couldn’t move without throwing up. I took a leave of absence from work and stayed in bed, unable to do anything, including care for my 2 year-old daughter.

My OB/GYN took one look at me and said, “you need help or I’ll have to check you into the hospital.”

“What are my options?” I asked.

My doctor explained there were prescription medications, Zofran and Phenergan, which would take away most—but not all – of my symptoms of morning sickness. She told me that while she felt the medications were safe, they were only prescribed in the most severe cases, like mine.

Of course, my first question was about the health of my unborn baby. Barry wanted to know if there could be any harm to the baby, including birth defects. My doctor responded that studies had shown these drugs, which had been on the market for some time, to be safe in animal studies, but nothing could ever be ruled out because no studies had been done on pregnant women. No researcher would ever risk the health of a pregnant woman or her unborn baby, she told us.

“I’ll take the prescription,” I said.

Worried sick and filled with anxiety, I walked slowly to the pharmacy located on a lower floor of the medical building. My head was spinning with scary thoughts about the baby’s health. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I hoped relief was on the way.

As the pharmacist handed me the two bottles of pills with the stern warning, I almost collapsed. It felt like the choice between two seemingly unbearable options. Take the medications and feel better, but create a small risk to the baby. Or, continue on as I had been and risk my own health and sanity. Not a Hobson’s Choice, but pretty close.

I decided to take the medication. As I recall, within about a day or two, I began to feel a bit better. I was still nauseated, but I stopped throwing up. I started doing things around the house. My head cleared and I felt somewhat normal again. I didn’t return to work right away, but I was able to function again. I felt like I was going to make it. Of course, I worried constantly about the baby’s health.

I was never diagnosed with the condition, hyperemesis gravidarum (an extremely severe form of morning sickness than can require hospitalization) because I may not have fit all the criteria, but I’m sure I had some of the symptoms.

As with my first pregnancy, at 12 weeks, my morning sickness symptoms went away. I immediately went off the medications.

I’m extremely grateful that my son was born healthy and happy at 8 ½ pounds. He’s now almost 8 years old and he’s just fine.

If I had to make the same decision again, I’d do it all over again. I tried to function with severe morning sickness, but my downhill slide was frightening to both my husband and me. I needed the help of the medications and they did what they were intended to do.

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Special Thanks to:

Christina Simon is the co-author of “Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles.” She also writes the blog, about applying to private elementary schools in Los Angeles and the ups and downs as life as a private school mom.

Christina is a former vice president at Fleishman-Hillard, a global public relations firm. She has a 7-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter. Christina lives in Los Angeles with her husband and kids. She has a B.A. from UC Berkeley and an M.A. from UCLA. Christina has written recent guest blog pieces for Mamapedia, BlogHer Syndication,Open Salon (Edior’s Pick Front Page), The Mother Company, The Well Mom, Reading Kingdom, Girls Lunch Out, Front Page of Divine Caroline, The Twin Coach, A Child Grows In Brooklyn, ecomom, Power of Moms, The Culture Mom, Diary Of A Mixed (Up) Kid, Sane Moms and Macaroni Kids.

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You May Also Enjoy Reading:

Medicine in Pregnancy: An Overview

10 Tips for Dealing and Surviving Morning Sickness

Morning Sickness: Causes, Treatments and Remedies

About the author: This blog post was written by a guest contributor. If you’d like to guest post for Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies, please read my Guest Writing Policy for a guideline of what I am looking for. All guest posts need to be at least 500 words and be original to this site only.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • July 28, 2011, 8:02 am

    This post comes at such a perfect time for me… I am 8 weeks and the morning sickness is UNBEARABLE (morning sickness?? Try morning, noon, and night)! My doctor did prescribe Phenergan, and I was debating whether or not to even fill it. I’m still not sure if I will or not, but it’s nice to have read this and gotten another mom’s perspective! 🙂

  • June 26, 2011, 11:45 am

    Hi Everyone, thanks for your comments. I wrote this guest post here on Hip Chicks because my experience was very stressful, but it worked out. I hope this piece helps any mom-to-be going through this. I know doctors consider morning sickness part of being pregnant, but sometimes it’s unbearable and you have to take action to get it under control.

  • June 26, 2011, 10:34 am

    Morning Sickness is a serious issue and people don’t take it seriously enough. When I was pregnant with my first, I was sick every single day from 6 weeks until the time he was born, 3 weeks early. My doctor never suggested anything other than “power through it”. It was awful. So awful that I truly debated ever being pregnant again. With my second, I had a different dr who knew my history and gave me a prescription for Zofran. It seriously saved my life. I started out taking two/day and then reduced it to 1, but was taking it until about 25 weeks. Because of limitations from my insurance company, it was a huge project to get it approved (had to appeal and repeal twice) and because of those, it was a constant struggle to make sure I had the pills, refilled the perscription, etc. But I have to say that it made my 2nd pregnancy MUCH better than the first. Being sick all day every day is an awful feeling…

  • June 17, 2011, 11:11 pm

    I too had severe morning sickness especially with my first. The first time around I was the worst at 25 weeks and the nausea stayed for the whole pregnancy. With number two the vomiting finished around 16 weeks but the nausea stayed the whole time. It is a bit factor in deciding if we will have another baby or not. I actually became depressed with the first pregnancy and I think it was due to the ms. I can understand when you say the your head cleared once the sickness got better. I am very envious of people who don’t get sick when pregnant as I would love to enjoy a pregnancy however I know I could have been much worse.

  • June 17, 2011, 5:49 pm

    I too had to take both of those meds, and they saved my bacon!! Although, my doctor never warned me of any possible negative consequences from them. Luckily, everything worked out fine.

  • Jenny June 17, 2011, 11:51 am

    Morning sickness is bad enough when it’s just the standard variety. What you experienced is beyond the pale. You made the absolute right decision to take the medication. I’m glad it worked.

  • Wendy June 17, 2011, 11:23 am

    This is a great post, thank you for sharing. A friend of mine was in the same situation, and a lot of people didn’t understand that moms take these truly as a last resort.

  • June 17, 2011, 9:35 am

    I can’t even think about that time, I was sick 9 months 10 days. I can imagine how hard it could be. And I would say, what Taylor said above, that I am glad you had a positive experience otherwise it’s absolutely not fun.

  • June 17, 2011, 8:08 am

    Morning sickness is the worst! I had all day nausea, but that was as bad as it got. I’m so glad to hear you had a positive experience. 🙂

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