Friday, April 26, 2013

Week Thirteen: Welcome to the Second Trimester!

Today marks the first day of my second trimester, the supposedly easiest and most enjoyable stretch of pregnancy! Hooray!

I've still got an IV in my wrist for fluids as needed, but I'm feeling better. AND I performed in opera workshop this evening with it in there, so that's pretty epic, if I do say so myself. I'll stop talking about how awesome I am now. :p Just kidding about the awesome part.

I am so excited to be out of the first trimester. Things are supposed to get easier from now until I actually am a beached whale, as opposed to just feeling like one, in the final weeks of the third trimester. Hopefully my body will start chilling out now that the hormone levels will start to even out.

Baby has all of his/her major systems formed, so now it's main job is to get bigger (and cuter). And kick me. Baby will also be ready to show us the goods between 18 and 20 weeks, so we will soon find out if we have a little guy or girl growing in my grapefruit-sized uterus.

Please pray for us as we near the end of the spring semester and prepare to head home to Iowa!


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hello Again, HG...

I'm typing this with a catheter in my wrist, and I am not at all happy about it.

I have been off of Promethazine for almost a month now, and haven't had to use Zofran for two days. Then, today around noon, the vomiting came back full force. I threw up 6 times in 2 hours...until my stomach was empty and all that came up was bile and burning acid.

Kaiser sent a home health nurse out to stick me, and miraculously, she got the needle in on the first try, in the painful soft spot on the inner-side of the wrist I lovingly refer to as the Nicaraguan IV Site of Death (where my IV was placed for my appendectomy in Nicaragua). It usually takes three sticks from the nurse, then twelve lidocaine numbed sticks from an anesthesiologist before they can get a useable IV in me, so this was kind of awesome.

Sweet Justin, bless his heart, got off work early, and is out getting me some medicine before resuming IV flushing and medication pushing duty for the night.

Please say a prayer for me, as I have a test, and opera workshop performance tomorrow, and finals next week. I also need to be in reasonably good condition to make the long trip back to Iowa, so this is not good.

Gotta go empty my stomach again.


Week Twelve: The Home Stretch

It's dead week. Which means all the professors think it's a brilliant idea to have conversations with their students that go like this:

Professor: HEY! You have final exams coming up, and you're gonna be crazy stressed, right?
Students: Right.
Professor: Wouldn't just be awesome if during the week before finals I assigned a huge project or presentation, and then as a reward for working so hard, I gave you a test on Friday, in addition to the one you'll take the following week?
Students: No...
Professor: Awesome! Then it's settled.

You've got to be freaking kidding me.

So far this week I've taken two tests, done two presentations, one voice jury (final exams for people who study music privately in college...another brilliant idea to instill fear and freak outs in students everywhere), and still have another test to go. Then three finals next week, with, SURPRISE! A paper and a 10 page research proposal due.

I'm dealing with it alright, I suppose. Though, I may or may not still be in the typical "denial" stage of procrastination. We shall see.

Baby is doing well. I still feel little flutters and jabs occasionally, could be baby, could be gas, but I'm pretty sure it's the Jellie Bean. You usually don't have gas by your pubic bone. :)

My tummy gets a little more prominent every day, and I will soon be taking advantage of the loop-the-ponytail-holder-through-the-button-hole trick so I can wear my pants a little longer. I've also already started outgrowing clothing for other body parts located, ahem, a bit further North.

Another thing that's starting to grow like crazy are my fingernails! And not all gross and brittle like your typical anemic chick (*cough* me), but long and strong, and manicure worthy. I might even get them done. <--- Huge deal. I didn't so much as paint my nails for my wedding. They were all bitten off. :) Yay guitar players.

I will probably wait on that manicure until after I get home to Iowa for the summer, though. Dear old dad and my nephew Zachy are flying out the weekend after finals week ends, and we'll be driving a vintage Winnebago through some great national parks and other sites on our way back to the Midwest. I'll make a post about that as it gets closer, and will definitely do a picture-filled re-cap once we get back to Iowa.

That's all for now - got a tummy ache to deal with.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Weeks Ten and Eleven: Chipotle and Ninja Baby!

I am feeling so much better. I am still plagued by exhaustion, nausea, vomiting, and migraines from decreased food intake, but I am BETTER! And I am getting stronger every day! The first trimester is almost over, and I have faith that I will soon be back to my healthy, normal (whatever that means) self.

I have gained back five of the ten pounds I lost from hyperemesis gravidarum, but I am still under my pre-pregnancy weight. Finding food that is both appetizing and digestible is the hardest thing right now. For whatever reason, the only thing that tastes good, stays down, and doesn't give me enough heartburn to challenge the lava flow of a volcano is Chipotle and other various Mexican fast food chains. I've eaten Chipotle at least three times in the past week. Along with some delicious Del Taco. It makes no sense, but I like it, and the baby apparently likes it, so I am not about to complain! Hopefully this new "diet" will help me gain the weight I need.

In other good news, Baby Popeney made quite an appearance on the ultrasound yesterday! I had been neurotic all morning, with typical first time mom fears of "OMGIDIDN'TPUTMYSEATBELTCOMPLETELYUNDERMYBARLEYEXISISTANTBABYBUMPINTHECARYESTERDAYSOIPROBABLYSQUASHEDMYCHILDANDITSALLMYFAULT!!!!" and other such nonsense.

We got to the doctor's office early for once, and Justin even had time to check out a book in the waiting room:

Yeah, I laughed, too.
When my name was called, with the usual surprised look on the nurse's face when someone as young as me responds to the name "Eleanor", I got my vitals checked, peed in the cup, and waited for my doctor. Who took forever by the way, causing my nervous first time mom thoughts to go into overdrive.


Everything was fine, and he came in, asked a few questions, and started the ultrasound.

At first the baby was hard to see (it was my first external ultrasound), and I was freaking out because I couldn't see the little flicker of his or her heartbeat. My fears were relieved, however, when the jelly bean did a full-fledged pike jump that would make any cheerleader proud (including his or her former cheerleader mommy). Baby Popeney then continued to amuse us, and my doctor, by waving it's little arms and legs, "jumping", and even turning it's little face right to us so we could see it's eyes, moving mouth, and very clearly (yes, even this early) Hemmingson forehead. My little ninja baby done good.

The healthy ultrasound now means that my miscarriage risk is less than 2%, and that thankfully, baby is not being affected by my morning sickness from hell.

Now to move on to dead week and finals weeks. Pray that Justin and I both can finish strong and overcome our severe lack of motivation.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Home Health Care: Waiting for the Next Cycle

I have to start going to class again. Two weeks ago, I was doing well, last week, not so much, but I've made the decision that whether I'm throwing up or not, I'm going. Most of my professors are amazing, understanding people, so they'll either have to get used to me yacking in a plastic sack during class, or let me complete all of my work from home. In all honesty, I'd rather just throw up in class. Being at home makes it so much easier to slack off and not do your work. I've already lost a year in transferring, plus a semester because of being so sick both my sophomore and junior years of college (post-Nicaragua surgery complications see my previous post), so not only am I stuck in school an extra year, but I'll need to take classes this summer to make sure I don't add on an additional semester (thank God the community college near my hometown in Iowa is dirt cheap and has the courses I need!). If CUI cooperates...we shall see. I have faith that this will all work out in the end. I'm just glad that I've become quite skilled at getting good grades despite being a trainwreck healthwise.

In other news, I haven't thrown up for two days, and I am so grateful, but around noon today, I began to get nauseated again. The nausea has progressed and gotten worse by the hour. It's like a cycle. I get treated with IV fluids and medication, am okay for a day or two with a new medicinal combo and the hydration, and then it starts all over again. I'm expecting the vomiting to resume in about two hours. Pessimistic as that sounds, it's more than likely the case, so I'm trying to hydrate myself with Powerade as much as I can right now, though drinking is starting to make me feel sicker.

I've been on a full liquid diet (praising Jesus that it's not a clear liquid diet) since coming out of the hospital Friday morning. I was doing really well with various kinds of soups and applesauce before this afternoon. It's been nice to be able to keep food down and stay hydrated, even though it's not going to last much longer.

The best news is that my veins are starting to pop back up. I've been so dehydrated that they were just impossible to get an IV into. Hopefully they stay that way once I start throwing up again so home health care (HHC) can get an IV in. They won't have the luxury of calling an anesthesiologist in.

All of my HHC stuff arrived on Friday night. Three huge boxes with IV fluids, medications, Ketostix, a sharps container...basically a little hospital in a box.

Lots of things to poke me with.
The nurse came on Saturday afternoon. I still had some ketones in my urine, but there were only trace amounts, plus I hadn't thrown up, so I didn't need to get an IV (HOORAY!). They are currently waiting for my call for when that changes. My vitals were iffy on the blood pressure and pulse, but that's to be expected with HG.

I am so grateful to be on HHC, and to be treated in a place more comfortable to me. Plus, not having to be confined to a hospital bed while receiving IV fluids will definitely make it easier to go to class - with a fancy IV backpack! Woo! Hoping I can make it through tonight and at least my morning classes without needing an IV. I have a big break in the afternoon that I usually spend at home, so if I need something, that would be the time to get it without it interfering too much with my schedule (as if HG gives a you-know-what about my schedule).

That's about all I have to say for now. I'll do a ten week update when I have the patience to have Justin photograph me. Speaking of Justin, say some prayers for the sweet guy. He's had to deal with blood, vomit, and all sorts of gross stuff for too long, and is being such a trouper. Don't know what I'd do without him!

Until next time,

Friday, April 5, 2013


Warning: 45% of this post is TMI, 45% of this post is venting. The remaining 10%...yeah, I don't even know what it is.


I'm a pretty independent person. I don't like to ask for help, and even when offered, I don't like to receive it. I've had to swallow my pride recently as I continue to suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum, and it continues to get worse.

However for me, having HG has become so much more than just "having HG", and the daily frustration, anxiety, and feelings of helplessness get stronger every minute. I feel like a failure.

Long before being pregnant, long before college, way back in high school, I was a very healthy person. The worst things that happened to me were the occasional sinus infection, and just getting too exhausted from being in too many extra-curricular activities. Until my sophomore year in college, I had only gone to the emergency room twice (once when I was seven because my eye got hit in a game at church, and once in high school for croup), and both times were only because it was too late to go to a doctors office.

The summer after my freshman year at Concordia University in Saint Paul, I went to Nicaragua for half of the summer. I had been there in January with a group from my school, and decided I wanted to come back and work with the amazing people there. Unfortunately, the trip did not go well. Right before I left, I was diagnosed with malaria. I had somehow contracted it on the January trip, and I had just started showing symptoms in July. I should have cancelled my trip, but I was stubborn, and insisted I was fine. I went anyway.

While there, I found it very hard to get much of anything done because of the parasites in my body, and debilitating effects of the medication I was on. I also felt that I was being attacked spiritually the entire time I was there, and that was terrifying enough on it's own. To make matters worse, I ended up contracting dengue fever, another tropical disease (this wasn't discovered until I came back to the United States). Then, just a few days before I was about to leave, I became violently ill with nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fever, etc. It turned out I had appendicitis, and had to have my appendix removed there with open surgery.

I really had to swallow my pride during that time. Linda and Lisa, two of the most amazing women I ever met who worked with the mission I was working with cared for me for over a week. They stayed by my bedside, helped me shower, go to the bathroom, held my IV bag on their heads when I needed to walk...

I can never express enough gratitude to them for how much they helped me. I would not have made it through the worst of the recovery without them.

In the hospital with my appendix!
When I got back home, it was never ending medical problems. My scar from the operation would ooze blood and green slime, I got multiple abscesses, I had chronic, unexplained pain in both my abdomen and pelvic cavity. I had fevers, migraines, vomiting blood, brown and orange urine, ovarian cysts...whatever it was, I probably had it. I had an upper endoscopy to check my stomach. I had a colonoscopy that found benign (thank goodness) polyps. My gallbladder failed and I had to have that removed as well.

This continued through my whole sophomore year, and into my junior year after I transferred to Concordia University Irvine. My pelvic pain was unbearable. I had large numbers of cysts on each ovary that would rupture, making me double over, I had gastrointestinal issues that made it impossible to eat, and chronic fatigue that would never let up.

After lots of visits and procedures (including three different kinds of birth control, another colonoscopy and a laparoscopic surgery in my pelvic cavity), my OBGYN told me that there wasn't much she could do. I would live with chronic pain for the rest of my life. I was signed up for pelvic physical therapy that might help a little, but I wasn't optimistic. One thing that she did mention, though, gave me hope.

She mentioned that some women, for whatever reason, while pregnant, get better. Their pelvic pain just goes away, and many times, it doesn't come back. However, because of having ovarian cysts (not to mention a tilted uterus, a still weakened  immune system, and so many other health problems), she reminded me that I would probably have a very difficult time conceiving.

The last shot of the depo-provera she had me on finally wore off in January, and I had my first cycle. I had very heavy bleeding, and horrible cramping (the depo had eased a little bit of the pain). I didn't expect anything to happen baby-wise. Depo can really mess with women's cycles. With that fact, and my supposed infertility issues, I didn't think conception would happen any time soon.

I found out I was pregnant with miracle baby on February 18th, my 22nd birthday. And lo and behold, two weeks later, all of my pelvic pain disappeared. The happiness didn't last long though.

I started showing signs of hyperemesis gravidarum at 6 weeks, 5 days. My doctor prescribed my Zofran, which stopped working a few days later, and I ended up in the hospital on IV fluids. Then I was prescribed Reglan and vitamin B6. A few days later that stopped working as well. My second hospital visit I spent over 12 hours laying in a bed. Two of those hours were spent trying to get an IV in me. It was so bad that eventually an anesthesiologist had to come and numb my hand. My veins were so small and shrunken from dehydration that the pain was unbearable. I was sent home with Promethazine suppositories (gross, right?), and Vistaril to take along with the B6 vitamin and Zofran. I try to stay away from the Reglan because it causes anxiety.

I had been doing so well with my combination of medicines. I was able to keep down meals, I was able to go to class again, I was still pelvic pain free. It was great, until Wednesday. My nausea was worse than usual. My medicines seemed to not be as effective, and I was exhausted. I had some applesauce and pasta that night, and it seemed to help my stomach.

The next morning (yesterday), however, was a different story. I couldn't keep down even a sip of water. There was nothing in my stomach, so I was throwing up bile all day. I threw up at least ten times. My throat was burning. My stomach was cramping. My mouth tasted horrible, but the mere thought of trying to brush my teeth made me gag. I was so dehydrated that I only went to the bathroom once that day, and my urine was brown.

Justin took me to the hospital last night, and I had another 12 hour stay, and another visit from the anesthesiologist to get my IV in. They gave me the usual IV fluids and nausea medicine, but this time, because I was so dehydrated, I got a banana bag full of vitamins as well.

It really didn't help.
Finally, after little progress, the doctor discharged me. I am on a liquid diet (luckily not just clear liquids...that would be torture), but I can't eat much anyway. I also have to be on home health care. A nurse is coming tomorrow with all the fun supplies so I can be hooked up to an IV 24-7. That will be fun to have at school. I'm pretty nervous about her being able to get the needle in me, too.

I am so frustrated with this. I was so happy when I found out I was pregnant. Not only did I have a little one on the way, but I was pain free for the first time since 2010. Then, when I found out I had HG, I was discouraged, but I was ready to fight...but I had no idea what it would do to me. I have lost ten pounds, my eyes have dark circles around them and look sunken in. My abdomen is a little bit distended. I am so weak I can barely walk. The mere thought of food usually makes me throw up. I can't do anything except lay down and try not to lose the sip of water I just drank.

And what's worse, is so many people don't understand what HG is. They think it's just regular old, run-of-the-mill morning sickness. It's NOT. If one more person tells me to put crackers on my nightstand and eat them before getting out of bed, I'm going to scream. Do you really think I haven't tried that yet? If that worked, do you really think I would be hospitalized? Then I have people tell me that I need to "get it under control for the baby's sake". Yes, because I'm totally throwing up bile on purpose. Yes, because I totally can control how my body reacts to the new hormones it's producing. HG is so bad that some women end up terminating their pregnancies because of it, usually because trying to carry to term will result in their death. This is not "throw up a couple of times and go on with your day".

I feel so isolated and alone. I feel angry because I thought that I was on the road to being healthy again. I feel guilty that I'm not strong enough to have a normal pregnancy. I feel worthless because I can't help my husband with housework,I feel like a failure because I can't go to class and rehearsals a lot of the time. I feel horrible because I can't "take care of my child", even when I know deep down that this isn't my fault.

I just feel helpless.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ten "Fun" Things They Don't Tell You About Being Pregnant

I've watched my sister, Becky, go through two pregnancies (and now a third: congrats!). I took a class on childhood development and psychology for my major at school. I've heard stories, read books, and watched movies and TV shows about pregnancy and birth because the subject has always fascinated me. When I found out I was pregnant, I thought I was prepared for all of the coming changes. Morning sickness? Crackers by the bed for before I even get out from under the covers. Healthy diet? No caffeine, I didn't drink it anyway! Fatigue? I'll go to bed earlier.

I may have been off to a good start, maybe even a better start than a few others, but I had NO. IDEA. what was coming for the next nine months. So in hopes of helping some of you to not be too shocked when strange and unexpected things occur in your future pregnancies, I've come up with a list of "fun" things they don't tell you about being pregnant. However, all of these things don't necessarily happen to everyone, as every pregnancy is different. That being said, read on! And just a fair warning: Some of this may be TMI.

1. A positive is a positive.

This one may seem like a no brainer, and I actually did know this, but not everyone does! When you pee on that stick, if there is a second line, no matter how faint, the test is positive. You are pregnant (there are a few instances where this may not the case, but false positives are extremely rare). This doesn't mean you need to shine a bright flashlight behind the test just to "make sure" there isn't a line (guilty) or go dig an old test out of the garbage to double check (bad idea, you could confuse an evaporation line, a colorless line left over after urine evaporates, for a positive line). Test in a few days and the line should be darker. Your HCG levels, the hormone home pregnancy tests detect, double every two or three days, causing a darker line when you test a bit later.
These were my first two tests - super faint, but they were positive!

2. Morning sickness is not restricted to the morning.

It can come at any time, day or night. My morning sickness (or HG in my case) comes in waves about every two hours, but is at it's worse around 10:00 A.M and 6:00 P.M.

3. Your first ultrasound will probably be transvaginal (meaning your doc is going to need to put a magic wand in your cave of wonders in order to see your jelly bean).

Baby is usually too small to be seen from above early on. Because I have been so sick, I have already had six ultrasounds to check on baby (ridiculous I know, but every time you're hospitalized for HG, they have to do an ultrasound). My most recent one was done when I was eight weeks and three days, and I still needed to have it done transvaginally.

4. You may not just crave food, you may not just crave strange food may crave food you hate. You may also start to hate food that you love.

I started my pregnancy as a vegetarian. My first few weeks of pregnancy, all I wanted was a t-bone steak slathered in mayonnaise. Not only strange and disgusting, but something I would have gagged at pre-pregnancy.

5. More than just the smell of food can make you sick.

If you're already nauseated, stay away from foul smells, no matter how strong of a stomach you had pre-pregnancy. For me, I have to try to steer clear of people notorious for bad breath (horrible, I know). I have had to run out of a conversation to throw up a couple of times, and it's not fun, nor easy to come up with an excuse for what set you off in that situation!

6. You will produce more snot and boogers than a two-year-old with a runny nose.

I am not kidding. The amount of kleenex I go through in a day is absurd.

7. Those boogers will more than likely be accompanied by blood.

I am also not kidding. Women have increased blood volume during pregnancy, so apparently, it's normal.

8. Your vision may change.

Ophthalmologists advise that you don't get vision correction surgery or change your prescription during pregnancy, or for a few months after delivery because more often than not, the change isn't that great, and your vision goes back to normal. However, some vision changes (especially double vision, blurry vision, seeing spots, temporary vision loss, etc.) can be signs of preeclampsia, a rare but dangerous condition. If you have any vision changes, call your doctor. It's better to be safe than sorry. Find out more here.

9. You will bloat. And bloat. And bloat.

I was prepared to have a nice, big baby bump later on in my pregnancy. I was not prepared to have a permanent "food baby bump" starting at about five weeks. Blame the hormone progesterone for this one. It relaxes smooth muscle tissue, slowing down your digestive tract so that baby can absorb more of the nutrients from the foods you eat. Progesterone is also responsible for all that burping and gas passing you've been experiencing lately. You can find more good information about bloating and gas during pregnancy here.

10. You might have more hot flashes than a woman in menopause.

My mother is practically famous for her hot flashes, but I could definitely give her a run for her money right now! Dress in layers to help combat perceived drastic temperature changes, and blame it all on the hormones.

These are just a few of the strange things that I've been experiencing since finding out about the little jelly bean in my tummy. Did I miss any big ones? What strange things have happened to you or someone you know?

Have a happy and healthy pregnancy!


Week Nine: Update and Easter Re-Cap!

I am nine weeks and five days today! Hooray for progress! No hooray for continuously getting sicker and sicker with hyperemesis gravidarum! Unfortunately I've had to cancel my upcoming recital that was to be performed on April 14th, but I know it's for the best. My voice is not in the best shape, and the added stress is just too much. Hopefully I'll get the chance to perform it sometime next year.

Getting chunkier!
I do have to count my blessings, though. I've been able keep down small meals on occasion, and I've been able to stay on top of all my school work by going to class when I can, and getting homework done on time. Luckily most things can be turned in online. I'm trying not to get stressed out as the end of the semester gets closer and I have lots of meetings with advisors to figure out what I need to do in order to be able to graduate on time next year, but it's hard not to worry. I don't want to spend another year in school when I'm trying to take care of baby. Moral of the story: Don't transfer colleges. Ever. It's a nightmare.

On another note, I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! Justin and I spent the morning in church, as we both sang in the choir. I also performed "I Know that My Redeemer Liveth" from Handel's Messiah. Great piece, but written for a soprano, so my mezzo-soprano self had an interesting time learning it! I made it through the service without getting sick, which I swear was due to the Hardee's (Carl's Jr.) sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit I randomly had a craving for and wolfed down that morning.

After the service, we loaded up the car with Sadie Lou and her favorite squeaky toy, and headed to Justin's parent's house for an Easter celebration. It was a lot of fun. There was GREAT food (his mom made pasta with this delicious alfredo sauce that hubby and I are obsessed with) and I got to learn how to play the game Pit (explained here). There was also much playing of Apples to Apples, and watching of hilarious home movies starring a pre-pubescent Justin. I did start feeling sick towards the end of the night, however, so we ended up staying over to avoid me getting sick in the car on the way home.

A few of the Easter Extravaganza attendees.
I am both looking forward to, and dreading the beginning of week ten on Friday. My HG will probably get worse, but it also means I'm getting closer to the end of the first trimester, which hopefully means that soon I will start feeling better.

My next OB appointment is the 16th of April. At that point, I will be eleven and a half weeks. I'm looking forward to the ultrasound and seeing baby again. This time he/she will look even more baby-like! I will also have the usual urine test at this appointment, in addition to starting prenatal screening with blood work. Justin and I have opted out of any invasive prenatal testing, however. Because of our young age and health (well, at least on Justin's part) we are at very low risk for any physical or mental "abnormalities", and have faith that God has designed this child according to His will. He or she will be perfect in His sight, and ours. :)

Until next time!