Whole Parenting Family

What Hyperemesis Feels Like


Things that smell weird:

crayons * packaging tape * pens * money, especially coins * fridge * water

Things you think before you eat:

how will this feel coming back up? * did I throw up the last time I tried it? * does it have way too much taste like those salty saltines I just had and lost? * if I try it, and lose it, can I try it ever again–aka do I want to ruin this food for me for life? * how far away is my throw-up bucket or the toilet?

Things you think before you fall asleep:

should I take some vitamin 6 + unisom or will that wake me throwing up? * maybe the morning will not come and I get to sleep for two days * will tomorrow smell like today? * I probably have to cancel with that thing for tomorrow–why did I schedule anything?

As I lay on the ground, watching my kids play and make fun big messes, I think how long will I feel like this? and how can I make it through the morning? But usually by lunchtime I’m okay for a few hours and I rally and change poopy diapers, and drive people to lessons and school and make dinner. Once dinner rolls around, I’m down for the night, marveling at how upright I was just hours before.

My husband shoulders a lot. My family helps tremendously. And the older kids are old enough this round to get it, to an extent. They’re nurturing and loving and don’t complain when I ask them to watch their brother while I need to go to the bathroom.

You may be thinking why is this woman having more kids? Isn’t this destructive to the kids she has? If I had to work outside the home, or do much more than love up my kids in the morning and make sure they’re safe, I probably couldn’t. Given we expected another pregnancy to go this way, we carved out expectations that are reasonable, activities that are doable for the kids, and the other adults knowing and offering to help more.

It’s a weird thing, being pregnant. You feel a little guilty that you are lucky enough to be pregnant, and hopeful that your baby will go full-term (or close). You welcome the news of other friend’s babies on the way with joy. You cry extra hard when your friends still face infertility after so much trying.

If you’re like 70% of women, you’re probably feeling nauseated, tired, and sick your first trimester. If you’re like a much smaller slice of the pregnant woman population, you suffer from extreme nausea, loss of fluids, dehydration, and it can last the whole time. My first three pregnancies fell into the latter category and this fourth one is tracking right along. I know it will pass, come December. And until then, I’m just lowered my low expectations. Wink. Wink. Nod. Yes.


  1. Emily on May 4, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    Wow! That is a mother’s love right there. That sacrifice of your time, your body and your willingness to endure it all and suffer for your child. That is beautiful! My mom always got really bad morning sickness, we always watched a lot of tv when she was pregnant and it never hurt any of us so I am all about those lowered expectations.

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 4, 2016 at 6:16 pm

      I know that the hardship is worth it and really have cleared the decks so that there is little pressure on me to do much beyond gestate! Your poor mom!

  2. Denise on May 4, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    It’s so true what you said about feeling blessed and happy, but guilty and sick. And I never had Hyperemesis which sounds horribly, horribly hard. When I couldn’t get pregnant, I would hear women complain and think, “But you get a BABY at the end,” and then when I was pregnant I thought, “You know, this is really hard.” Will say a prayer for you and your support team!

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 4, 2016 at 6:16 pm

      What wisdom you have experienced and earned, being on both sides. Thank you so much for your prayers!

  3. Colleen on May 4, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    I am envious of your afternoon normalcy! During my first pregnancy, HG was (comparatively) no big deal — I had to take too much time off from work, which ate into what was available for maternity leave, but I work from home (what a difference it makes being able to lose everything you eat into your own toilet!) and mostly it was no problem for me to be a total bum all the time. The second pregnancy was extremely hard on us with a toddler and my unrelenting vomiting for nine months at all hours of the day and night. It has definitely made us delay a third pregnancy, because my family is a couple of states away and my in-laws are local, but not very hands-on. Prayers for the rest of your pregnancy to be easier on you (and if you wouldn’t mind praying that should I get to have a third one — because even with the misery, I hope for another sweet baby or two — that HG skips me altogether, I’d appreciate it!).

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 4, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      I’m so lucky for that little break–and given my husband has long hours, if I had to endure them throwing up the whole time, I just don’t know what I’d do–how did you survive??? I’m praying for you for a third, and one sans HG!!

  4. Kaitlyn Facista on May 4, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Oh I will be praying for you!

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 4, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      You’re so kind. Thank you!!

  5. Jennifer Brink on May 4, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    My 4 month old son’s entry into this world was quite traumatic and he had a short stint in the NICU. You would think that this would be the thing that weighed most heavily on my mind when I think about getting pregnant again. While it is in the back of my mind, what worries me most is how I feel physically and emotionally. While it is definitely worth the suffering to have children…it is rough on the whole family!

    We will keep you and your family in our prayers!

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 4, 2016 at 6:19 pm

      It’s real to have trauma related to birth, like it sounds you had! And pregnancy related trauma is real in its own right, too. We definitely waited longer for this pregnancy out of partial paralyzing fear on my part, but also consideration of how the other kids would handle me being so out of commission. Thank you so much for your prayers. They mean the world! I hope you’re finding healing from your trauma, and have a good support network to be able to talk about it. My friend Anna Coyne at the Heart’s Overflow has a whole NICU series if reading others’ experiences helps!

  6. Rachel @ Efficient Momma on May 4, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    That’s exactly how pregnancy is for me. So awful. I tend to get resentful of people when I’m pregnant who rave about how much they love being pregnant. I came to terms with it the second time around that I just don’t like the process, and that’s okay. Prayers for you! I offered up all the puking for my kids vocations (future spouses, etc…) and that kind of helped.

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 4, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      Oh, sister. So hard. I do try to offer up days for specific people suffering from infertility or loss, or my kids. Sometimes I just can’t really get outside the pain of it, though, and I know that that is okay too. XXOO thank you for the prayers!

  7. Anne on May 4, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    I am just so grateful that you blog it. It gives me a feeling of solidarity and helps me with my own discernment. It is just such a relief to know that other HG people exist. It is depressing and scary and so lonely when you are in it!!! For so many reasons and in all your apostolates you are like a bright light! I am praying!!!

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 4, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      Anne, so kind of you. It is depressing and scary! It helps so much for me to hear how other women discerned more children for their family despite it, and how we all navigate it. It’s really a hard thing to muddle through!

      • Anne on May 5, 2016 at 8:57 pm

        So so hard. You are so right that some days you just can’t see beyond it, but Our Lady is close and carrying your intentions to the foot of the Cross whether you verbalize them or not! Hang in there mama.

  8. Melissa Morris on May 4, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Oh Nell! I feel you. I just had my 3rd at the end of April. I too get so so sick. Fortunately it doesn’t last the whole time, but it usually lasts about 13-17 weeks. My second was only 13 weeks, but the other two were 17 ish weeks. There are foods that I threw up my first pregnancy (5 years ago) that I still can’t eat. EVERYTHING you wrote has gone through my head. So rough, so worth it. Prayers coming your way.

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 4, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      That’s a super long time! I know–food really has a way of messing with us. Cream of Wheat? never, ever again. hahahaha. EVER. Applesauce, pretzels, soft-serve ice cream, the list goes on and on. And why the heck do crayons smell so badly?

  9. Amy A. on May 4, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Praying for you and your family!

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 16, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      It means so much to me! Thank you, thank you.

  10. Erin on May 4, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    You captured it perfectly. I call 10am-4pm the golden hours. The sleepiness of the unisom has worn off and the nausea let up enough to get down lunch. My husband found me laughing/sobbing one night because I threw up the unisom. The irony!!! I’m 10 weeks tomorrow and in my first pregnancy it eased up at 13 weeks, praying it is the same! Praying for you!

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 16, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      It’s the worst! I’ve switched to a suppository TMI?? Because at least you can’t throw it up!! Praying for you that you’re getting close to the end of the worst of it!!

  11. Sarah Marie on May 4, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Hang in there Nell, you know I know, really know, how hard it is. I am so amazed that you are keeping three littles alive and growing a new life! You are incredible. Sleep as much as you can; I’m glad you have some help from family!! Potatoes were my safe food in my second pregnancy and I don’t even hate them now. 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 16, 2016 at 1:56 pm

      Ooooh now I want potatoes. Do french fries count 🙂 You’ve been here, sister, you know how this goes. Love & hugs!

  12. Laura on May 4, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    You go, Nell! I really admire you amazing moms who endure HG for your babies. What an awesome witness to life. Thank you for sharing with us what it’s like – hopefully that will help other moms through it. Will be praying for you!

  13. Nancy on May 5, 2016 at 12:14 am

    Oh Nell, this is intense. Thanks for putting up with my hounding about the book. Sending much love and prayers!

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 16, 2016 at 1:56 pm

      You were in the midst of your own end-of-pregnancy sufferings, sister!! XXO

  14. Nicky Rothmann on May 6, 2016 at 4:41 am

    Wow Nell! I think yours is a beautiful story. I’m sorry that you don’t feel well, but I want you to know somewhere in South Africa there’s an expectant mamma offering up her loose ligament pain for you❤️

  15. mon on May 10, 2016 at 3:30 am

    Never again shall I drink watermelon smoothies, pineapple pizza or blackcurrant juice hyperemesis has ruined them for life. I spend part of my hg pregnancies in hospital getting preventative and reactive fluids. It’s a pretty long 9 months!!!
    You are incredible going through it numerous times, but the post labour meal is honestly the best meal I’ve ever eaten! Hang in there!

  16. Ana on May 16, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    Oh Nell,, you are amazing, simply amazing. I will be praying for you!!

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 17, 2016 at 7:48 pm

      I AM NOT AMAZING but I will take every single prayer!!!

  17. Alexandra on May 16, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    You totally nailed it with the SMELLS! What is up with the horrible smell of coins?!? And water?!? Building you a prayer blanket!

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 17, 2016 at 6:37 am

      Coins??? Hugs, sister.

  18. Mary on May 17, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Oh man. And add the people telling you what you should do to “get over it” when you know there is simply nothing you haven’t tried. Though the b6 and unison usually keeps my vomiting down a bit (like once a day or twice a day).

    This last pregnancy I was hospitalized twice at the end for extreme dehydration. so hard