Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The scars of HG...

I don't want my brother-in-law to get married.  I know it sounds strange, but it's true.  Once he gets married his new wife will, B"H become pregnant.  And truth be told, I don't think I can handle it.

You can't handle it, you ask me?  What is there for you to handle?  She's the one who will be pregnant.

We need to backtrack 22 months to my own marriage and the start of my own family in order to understand this.  We were one of those blessed couples who conceived on our first cycle.  It was overwhelming at first, just because we hadn't really been expecting it to happen so soon.  But of course we were happy.  There was a little neshama growing inside of me! 

Within a week of finding out the good news, the sickness hit.  At first I thought it was just normal morning sickness, but it was so terrible and unrelenting.  As time went on it just got worse and worse.  In a matter of a month I dropped 10 kilo and I was going to the emergency room frequently to be rehydrated.  My days were spent alone in bed, too weak to get up or do anything.  My legs were like twigs and my ribs and spine were sticking out.  When I laid down, my tummy sunk in and looked like a hollow cave.  No one would have believed there was a baby inside.

I eventually got a name for this terrible illness, and the name was Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  At first I had no clue what I was dealing with, but then I did research and found the most wonderful and helpful website full of women who understood (  I had no one in real life who really 'got' what I was going through, so it was such a relief to discover this site.  It was also during this time that I discovered who my true friends were - the ones who stuck around even though I was walking death and couldn't even talk to them for more than two minutes at a time, let alone see any of them.

I spent a lot of time asking Hashem why this was happening to me.  I just couldn't understand what I had done to merit this suffering.  Did I not daven enough?  Was I lacking in emunah?  Was I forgetting some important mitzvah?  But more than that, I spent so many hours crying (dry tears, my body had no liquid to spare) and praying that my baby was okay.  I was so sick that I was positive it would have a negative effect on the baby.  If I wasn't eating, then how could the baby grow and thrive?  I lived from ultrasound to ultrasound, waiting to see those tiny little legs kick, the miniscule heart beating so fast, the healthy flow of blood between mother and baby.

For nine months I suffered, not understanding why this was happening, not knowing what the impact would be on the baby.  In the end my baby girl was born skinnier than any full-term baby I've ever seen and perfectly healthy.  She took one breath and immediately started searching for food - which I could finally give her!

My healing process has been much longer and is nowhere near complete.  I find that I avoid pregnant women and don't want to hear about other people's pregnancies - partially because it brings back very painful memories of my own, and partially because deep down inside I am jealous and I wonder why I couldn't have had 'that' pregnancy.  Which is why I don't want my brother-in-law to get married.  It is easy to avoid pregnancy topics with other people, but when it's family - that's a whole different story.

As difficult as this whole experience has been, I have still managed to pull some good from it.  How amazing is Hashem and how amazing are these bodies that He created for us, that a woman can be malnourished for her entire pregnancy and suffer from many dangerous side-effects related to that, and still give birth to the most perfect, healthy child?  Every single baby is a pure miracle; with some it is more obvious than with others.

The other good that has come out of this (and I'm still working on this one) is bitachon.  During the pregnancy I was so helpless and there was so little I could do.  My life and the life of my unborn child were completely in G-d's hands in a way that I hadn't felt before.  Of course our lives are always in Hashem's hands, but I hadn't really felt that way before hand.

More than that, I have to have tremendous bitachon for the future.  Since I have had hyperemesis already in one pregnancy, I am likely to have it again - and in some women it gets worse each time.  Only Hashem can control if this will happen or not, and only my bitachon in Hashem can control how I come out of it.  I have to trust in Hashem that everything will go well and that the whole family survives the ordeal in one piece.  I have to trust in Hashem that we can still have the large family we wanted, even though we got off to such a rough start.  And I have to trust in Hashem that one day, I will be the one with 'that' pregnancy that everyone is jealous of.

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