Morning sickness is a misnomer, in more ways than one.
For starters, it doesn’t just happen in the morning. It happens in the afternoon. It happens in the evening. It happens all through the night as well. And secondly it’s not as simple as “sickness” which sort of implies that you throw up a few times, feel better and then move on. The worst part of morning sickness isn’t the actual throwing up part, it’s the constant, unrelenting feeling of nausea and the complete inability to face eating food even when your stomach is empty and protesting by attempting to digest itself.
For the first twelve weeks of my pregnancy, this was how I felt. From the moment I awoke to the moment I went to bed, I felt a bit like I was at sea in a small boat in a rough storm. I had peaks of nausea as soon as I got up (which led to some very icky moments, like throwing up in the shower) and also at around 5pm, but the feeling of sickness never really went away. I got used to figuring out where the nearest toilet was and never going anywhere without a stash of plastic bags and tissues in my handbag. (Have I mentioned yet about what a classy girl I am?) I got pretty adept at planning my work day so I could seize appropriate opportunities to relieve my stomach and I was either very good at being quiet, or blessed with spectacularly unobservant work colleagues as I got away with it without arousing suspicion long before I’d announced my pregnancy at work!
I tried every remedy under the sun. I tried ginger biscuits. Eating before I got out of bed (it ended up back down the toilet). I tried sucking ice. I attempted to eat often, keeping food in my stomach as much as possible and I tried drinking lots of water. I tried sucking on mints. I tried getting plenty of fresh air. Nothing really made that much difference. I hated to do it, but eventually had to resort to medication, which did work. I felt like I had little choice in the end, because the nausea was affecting my food intake to such a degree that it was beginning to interfere with my blood glucose control.
During this time, my appetite basically packed up and moved out of the building for several weeks. For a while the only things I could stomach were yogurt, jelly, mini Mars bars, Hula Hoops and Special K or Cheerios. Oh, and macaroni cheese, which would be fine other than it’s a diabetic’s nightmare food at the best of times, nevermind when you’re aiming for super tight control and post prandial readings of less than 7.5 at one hour. I had to send up another prayer of thanks for my unobservant colleagues, as I managed to explain away my sudden diet of nothing but yogurt for lunch without any of them asking if I was pregnant. Which was pretty surprising.
Once the medication kicked in and the nausea settled, my appetite improved. It was still a bit limited, but finding healthy options to eat was much easier. I figured that much as I wanted to avoid medication, I was being kinder to my developing baby by being able to provide proper nutrition and better blood glucose control. The risks are very tiny anyway, and seemed outweighed by the risks of carrying on as I was.
The only thing that medication could not help with was the unrelenting tiredness that seems to come as part and parcel of the first trimester too. This isn’t like the kind of tired you get when you haven’t had enough sleep. Or even the kind of tired you get after running a half marathon. It’s a all consuming, bone crushing kind of tiredness, that’s leaves you feeling like a soggy blanket, as of your brain is filled with glue and your feet are firmly embedded in a muddy bog. It’s almost impossible to relieve. Even sleeping doesn’t really help, but I often tipped the dental chair back at lunch time for a quick 30 minute nap, just to try and take the edge off.
Actually, I’m starting to think my colleagues can’t have been that unobservant. I was practically wearing a six foot neon sign screaming “I’M PREGNANT”. I think I’m actually blessed with the world’s most sensitive and discreet work colleagues instead!