I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum like Amy Schumer and Kate Middleton — this is what it's really like

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As told to Gail Johnson

Maya Spence is a mother of three living in North Vancouver, B.C. Her kids are now 11, nine, and six years old. She has experienced hyperemesis gravidarum. She tells Yahoo Canada what it was like.


I had it with all three kids, and it seemed to get progressively worse with each pregnancy. With the third, I was in the hospital for 10 days, because I couldn’t even keep down water. They had to feed me intravenously. Then you’re still dry-heaving every half hour with nothing in your system. It’s pretty harsh.

The worst was always around 10 weeks; I think your hormones are really strong. That’s what [the doctors] told me. It eases off, but you still feel sick for the whole pregnancy. It doesn’t completely ease off until after you’ve given birth. Once you’ve given birth, you’re totally fine.

Sometimes, you have people telling you, “Don’t worry, it only lasts three months.”

At that point you’re ready to kill someone.

ALSO SEE: Hyperemesis gravidarum isn’t ‘merely’ morning sickness – here’s why it’s much more serious than that

I’d be driving to work then I’d be pulling over to throw up on the side of the road.

I did work through the first pregnancy, but by the second one I knew I would be so incapacitated, I couldn’t do it.

You’re throwing up, but you’re also feeling nauseous. My sense of smell was super heightened, too. Even opening the fridge, everything did not smell good, and no food was really that appealing. It was hard to eat anything. 

I lost weight during my pregnancies. At the height of my third pregnancy, I was 140 pounds, and I started the pregnancy probably close to 140 pounds.

With each kid I never gained that much weight. Each baby was fine; they were all healthy, seven-pound babies. But I would just lose weight.

You’re just so exhausted. I couldn’t get up. It was hard. You’re so tired and so sick, you just don’t know how you’re going to function.

I thought your body would adapt to it. But it doesn’t.

The first time I ever heard of it was when Kate Middleton had it. And I was like, “That’s what I have!” I thought it was morning sickness like everyone else. But no, it was severe.

ALSO SEE: Amy Schumer has the same severe morning sickness as Princess Kate — here’s what to know

I kept going back to the doctor. At first, they gave me Diclectin. That didn’t do much. I kept saying, “I’m still really sick.” They’d say, “No, no, that’s normal.” By the third one, they were giving me Ondansetron, which is a drug they give to cancer patients. It helped a little bit, but it was still bad.

Andrew [my husband] did a lot during those times. You do need a lot of help. It was hard to get out of bed. It was hard to do anything, really. The worst part is you’re small the whole time, so you don’t look super pregnant. So, you don’t get the sympathy.

Even in the hospital, you don’t feel much better because you can’t do anything. There’s just dry heaving and lying there and feeling like you’re going to die.

I didn’t even have the energy to see the kids or look like mom.

The more people know about it, the better. I had no idea. 

I wish there was more doctors could do for you or to diagnose you more quickly. 

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