Sunday, August 24, 2014

Habibtis, we need to talk about "morning" sickness

For those of you I haven't told yet, and those among my acquaintances who haven't guessed what the hell's been wrong with me for the past nine weeks and three days, I've been puking my guts up with "morning" sickness.***

First of all, can I just say "morning" sickness. A ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Whoever came up with that misnomer for it needs a good sound slap round the chops. It should really be called "24/7 overwhelming feeling of nauseous dread that you are about to blow chunks across the room, no matter what you do, eat, or smell, punctuated by frequent episodes of violent retching and projectile vomiting".

I may have been somewhat naive but I really did not expect this. I expected to feel some nausea from time to time and throw up from time to time, but, that I would largely be able to go about my work and my usual day-to-day activities as normal. Those among you who have also suffered badly with this charming affliction are probably laughing hollowly at this, but I can honestly say that none of the people I know who have had kids have mentioned to me that it could be this bad, but a tiny Google of the phrase "help I am dying of morning sickness" will show you just how many people suffer hideously for several long months.

Perhaps it's one of those secrets that mothers keep, along with the true horrors of what childbirth is really like - only once you're safely through it is it admitted to you the full extent of just how sick you can be in the first months of pregnancy.

In case you're wondering, no, it's not very much fun experiencing this when the temperature is between 40 and 50 degrees, in fact that's probably one of the reasons I've felt so horrendous - I can't go outside at all for fresh air because heat makes me feel sick. Not to mention the fact that any smells or odours lingering are worsened by heat, and are, of course, heightened by my hormonally enhanced super-charged sense of smell.

In the past couple of weeks, I have had reasonably OK days of only a small amount of chucking up and an hour or a two at a time when I don't feel sick, but that will retreat back into impressions of the child in The Exorcist fairly shortly if I try to do anything like eat anything with any flavour or go outside in the heat. I'm now 15 weeks, three days up the spout, and I'm still pretty much a useless ornament if required to do anything but sit, type on the computer, or consume plain food. Luckily today is a positive day though so I do see light at the end of the tunnel. On not-so-positive days, I assume I will be puking solidly until Sand Baby makes an appearance in February 2015.

In some ways, I feel incredibly foolish for not anticipating the fact that having morning sickness in the Dubai summer heat would be a hellish form of torture, but, on the other hand, I have a very understanding boss who let me work from home for a few of the worst weeks because summer is an incredibly quiet time in most offices in this city. I think, had I been this sick during the busy winter period, particularly on the back of my long leave of absence to be in the UK with my Mum, there was a strong possibility that I would have ended up getting fired.

In case, for some bizarre reason, you're interested, there's a list below of things that have made me puke, followed by things that have been suggested as cures and how effective they were. It's largely useless if you're suffering the same thing as everyone is different - one pregnant lady's cure is another's barf trigger, but, you never know, you might be entertained, or find a handy tip.

Things that have made me sick

1. Standing up or any kind of physical exercise, no matter how gentle, including walking round the flat.
2. The smell of cooking.
3. The smell produced by the oven when switched on.
4. The thought of the smell produced by the oven when switched on.
5. Assorted cooking smells coming in through air vents from neighbouring flats.
6. The thought of said cooking smells, including a particularly noxious stale oily garlicky smell.
7. Cleaning my teeth.
8. Hot showers.
9. Warm showers.
10. Cold showers.
11. Heat.
12. Any food with flavour, exempting nursery food such as plain pasta, tinned soup, baked beans, yoghurts designed for children, and jacket potatoes.
13. Sudden loud noises.
14. The sound of a colleague doing that horrible snorting sniffing thing so beloved of men from the sub-continent.
15. The smell of a garlicky lunch being eaten by a colleague sitting 10ft away.
16. Being in a car.
17. Being in a taxi.
18. A taxi driver's body odour.
19. The thought of a taxi driver's body odour.
20. The scent of one of those horrible pine tree air fresheners that hang in taxis.
21. Ice cream.
22. The thought of puking again.
23. The smell of brewed coffee.
24. Drinking water that isn't ice cold.
25. Tea *weeps*.
26. The lingering after taste of cucumber.
27. The smell of eco-friendly cleaning fluid.
28. The smell of aftershave or perfume.
29. The smell of assorted personal hygiene products including shampoo, face wash and shower gel.
30. Bananas.

Things suggested as morning sickness cures and their efficacy

1. Eating every two hours. Sounds fun but when your diet is restricted to that of a nutritionally challenged five year old, gets old pretty quickly. Efficacy level - 6/10.

2. Eating dry crackers. For anyone suggesting this, go away, eat some dry crackers, decide how enjoyable that is, then report back to me. Efficacy, 1/10.

3. Ginger, in its many curs-ed forms. Tried eating raw ginger? Thought not. It's a bit sharp and will probably trigger vomiting. Real ginger beer? Ditto raw ginger. Schweppes ginger ale - probably contains no natural ginger but has a subtle sour flavour which is less barf-inducing than some sweeter fizzy drinks. Ginger tea - it's a strong flavour and will therefore make me barf. OK, WILL YOU JUST GET LOST WITH THE GINGER???!!! Efficacy - 2/10.

4. Wearing sea sickness bands. Fecked if I know if they make any  difference. It doesn't involve stuffing something down my throat and bringing it up again so I may as well persist. Efficacy - hard to say as I've barfed with and without them. 4/10.

5. Plain cheese sandwiches. Reassuringly plain, though avoid mature cheddar or any strong cheese, the smell may make you hurl. Efficacy - 7/10.

6. Plain bread. Interesting one, the difficulty of forcing this down may have the effect of making you hurl, useful if you've been feeling awful for a while and just want a big healthy vomit to give you an hour or so before you start feeling like death again. Efficacy - 6/10.

7. Drink plenty of water. See plain bread. It might be OK if ice cold.

8. Assorted caffeine free or herbal teas - Lipton make a lemon tea called Lemon Melissa. I don't know who this Melissa was and why she puts up with being ground up and made into tea, but this does make me feel better so I don't care. Efficacy - 9/10.

9. Getting plenty of rest by taking naps. Fine if you can wake yourself up in time to eat every two hours, if not, you wake up feeling worse than ever for a big messy vomiting session. Efficacy 4/10.

10. Go to the doctor. I was prescribed Navidoxine which made me feel slightly worse, then horribly drowsy and I would then wake up with what felt like a hideous hangover with the inability to work or function in any useful way. Apparently it works for some people, but for me, 3/10. My doctor then suggested Pregnaplan MS, a specialist vitamin for morning sickness, containing, you guessed it, effing ginger. What happened? Well, when I threw up, it was just really lovely and gingery. At that point, I changed doctor and was put on something called Premosan which helped get me through the worst of it. Efficacy, 6/10, because I stopped taking the new drug because it also made me somewhat zombified and I realised I would have no idea if I was actually getting better or not.

11. Plain crisps - pretty depressing after a while because they're so bland. Salt and vinegar have always been a favourite with me, and for some reason, they seem to help, possibly because they're comforting as a favourite, and possibly because this particular sharp flavour helps cut through the weird taste that one gets in one's mouth, which is caused by over-active hormones. Efficacy - 7/10.

12. Eat before you get up and late at night before you sleep. You need a pretty patient partner if you've been as immobilised by sickness as I have to do this. I've found a glass of milk and a slice of milk before bed helps, and the one thing that doesn't routinely bring about barfing first thing is plain oats with sultanas soaked in milk like a breakfast cereal. The hard oats have been best for me, the soft ones develop a texture which is like slime and brings about chunk blowing. You need to eat it 20 minutes before getting out of bed, so you're best beloved has to prepare it and bring it to you. Then before you actually get up, sit on the bed for five minutes to prepare your system for the shock of the day's first standing up while full of baby-growing hormones. If you still feel ill while getting ready for work, stop and sit still for two minutes when you need to, this can put off vomiting until, oooh I don't know, at least 10am to allow you time to get to work without soaking yourself, fellow public transport passengers, your car or a taxi driver, in puke. Efficacy - 7/10.

***I am actually happy about being pregnant, but, I have had to put that on hold until a later date when I'm not spending most of my time feeling sick or conversing on the great, white telephone.

The next fascinating installment will most likely be my adventures with maternity cover on health insurance. I bet you're waiting with bated breath.

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