I have an incredibly exciting and enlightening post for you all today. I want to introduce you to one of my clients, Tessa! Not only is she a sweet and beautiful lady, but she is a survivor of Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or HG. If you’ve never heard of such a condition, don’t beat yourself up about it. It effects roughly 2% of pregnant women (which is still a lot!) and is often overlooked due it mimicking symptoms of standard morning sickness…at first. In Tessa’s case though, well, she has a different story tell.
HG is a medical condition that often appears around the 4th-6th weeks of pregnancy. It often begins as simple morning sickness or nausea. However, HG quickly progresses to a more life-threatening condition, especially when it is not treated properly. With Hyperemesis Gravidarum, women will experience nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, weight loss, nutrient deficiency, damage to the liver/kidney, depression, and anxiety. All of these symptoms not only affect mom, but also baby. This is why it is so important that we talk about our experiences and why I wanted to collaborate with Tessa and help her tell her story.
Upon learning about Tessa’s condition, I of course wanted to know all I could. She was so open, honest, and real, stating “I’m extremely open about this especially since I have the most severe and rare form so I’m pretty much an open book.” Tessa was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum in her 5th and 6th weeks of pregnancy, but her symptoms started a few weeks prior. At first, she was experiencing more common, expected, morning sickness. The usual nausea, sensitivity to certain smells, some vomiting, etc. However, around 6 weeks of pregnancy, everything shifted.
Tessa started throwing up anywhere from 7 to 30 times per day. This is when it became clear to her and her doctors that this was no normal onset of morning sickness. From weeks 6-10, she struggled to keep food down and was consistently throwing up what little she was able to eat and drink. She was in a constant state of nausea and discomfort, and of course, concerned about the health of her baby since she was unable to maintain nutrients. Tessa said she was “unable to keep down any food or liquids from about 10 weeks on”. Vomiting up to 30x per day takes a significant tole on the physical body. It can lead to pain, tearing of the esophagus, irritated stomach liming, sore throats, and nutrient deficiency. For some women, Hyperemesis Gravidarum will alleviate around the 2nd or 3rd trimester. It may not completely go away, but it will get easier. For Tessa, that wasn’t the case.
Tessa’s HG did not subside, it actually got worse. At week 11, Tessa had a procedure done to place a PICC line to administer “4 different medications, 3 different vitamins, and 3-4 daily bags of fluids”. Unable to keep down any food or drink, this was her best option. By 17 weeks Tessa had lost more than 70 pounds and the doctors added TPN, which is a form of nutrition, through the PICC line as well. Something she specifically noted in our discussion was that “anything for morning sickness (if it’s in fact HG instead) will make you worse and worse”. She specifically mentioned Zofran, small meals, ginger, even Gatorade and water, as hard no’s from her experience.
Tessa has recently given birth to her adorable little newborn (pictured below)! She had a successful delivery and Baby Indy healthy as a horse! She made sure to tell me before the delivery that, “the baby takes what they need. It’s honestly the most wild thing out there. I have lost 91lbs this time around and am reliant on the PICC line, but my baby is 100% normal and healthy!”. Now, she is officially a mama to healthy, happy, and goofy little bundle of joy!
I was so honored to get to capture Tessa’s journey on camera from maternity through her newborn session with me. She is such a strong, resilient, and positive mama and I can’t wait to watch her baby grow up!
If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of HG, make sure you contact your doctor immediately!
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