Having eaten out at a friend’s birthday the night before, I felt instant guilt for not sticking to the diet that day. Thankfully, my husband reassured me everything would be ok, and my dietitian and doctor confirmed it would be too. Relief! There may have been a few tears of joy shed (can you blame me?).
It’s Mother’s Day, 2015. I woke feeling a little off and disheartened it still hadn’t happened. Mother’s Day made me feel like I just may be waiting forever. But since it was that occasion, I decided I would take one last pregnancy test before I stopped trying and finished my final teaching experience at university. I was not overly optimistic, but I was still hoping. Those THREE LONG MINUTES I waited to see something and this time I did! Time froze. Pure joy, excitement and fear crept over me as I realised that I was pregnant. It was all too real. Having eaten out at a friend’s birthday the night before, I felt instant guilt for not sticking to the diet that day. Thankfully, my husband reassured me everything would be ok, and my dietitian and doctor confirmed it would be too. Relief! There may have been a few tears of joy shed (can you blame me?)
After doing a blood test to confirm pregnancy, I found out I was 5 weeks. Fantastic! I could work with that and I knew I could keep eating what I’d been eating and my levels would stay stable. I was sticking to low protein bread, low protein pasta and some lollies for the extra calories. It was great, I felt so happy and I was working every day in my final assessment to become a teacher and loving it.
Everything was going great, I loved teaching, I was pregnant, and life seemed perfect, until… morning sickness kicked in at around 7 weeks. The smell of coffee… the one thing I really loved to smell, was all of a sudden revolting for me. My husband could not even have one in the house. He’d have to brush his teeth when he had one elsewhere and the office at school, suddenly did not make me feel so good. This was sad but I could deal with it. What I was unprepared for, was that every low protein product I had been eating now made me vomit. I could not stand the smell and I could not get passed that and try to eat it. How on earth was I going to keep my levels in the safe range for pregnancy when I could not stomach the food without the protein? Thankfully, my dietitian provided me with suggestions such as stir fry’s and lollies to keep calories up. I switched, almost instantly, to eating a stir fry every single day. It may have had a different sauce, but I ate vegetables every night. I drank Lemonade and ate Roll – Ups to keep calories up to made sure my levels did not spike.
Do you know what is so amazing? Seeing, at 8 weeks, the tiny little blob inside your belly with a little beating heart. That’s the moment everything seems real. That’s the moment everything seems worth it. No matter how sick I felt, what food I had to eat or what medicine (protein supplement) I had to drink, I would do that, for the tiny little one growing inside.
Every week I was doing a blood test and every week I received a phone call from my dietitian to give me advice on how much protein to eat and see how we would tweak my diet to make it safest for the baby and for my ever growing morning sickness. My dietitian was my first point of call for this and she always answered with tips, a sympathetic shoulder when I struggled and working with the local hospital’s maternity unit to ensure everything would be alright.
Working with morning sickness and PKU, whilst trying to prove I was capable to be an English teacher was quite difficult at first. I almost vomited on a student one day who was being silly with rotten food (gosh it was awkward!). My nausea was bad, and I was allergic to the nausea medication that most pregnant women get prescribed in Australia. I finally relented to having the other option which had some aspartame in it, to be able to function. Thankfully, I only needed one hospital admission for my morning sickness. I went to the hospital a few times to get fluids but not overnight stays. True love is having someone who cleans up all your sickness, wherever it may land. That honour went to my husband, without complaint. Despite the fears I had about being so ill whilst pregnant, I was still feeling so very excited about having a baby. I always had my PKU doctor, my dietitian and I often thanked the lady I was working under at the school as she was such a wonderful support to me. I feel like I managed so much better once she knew I was pregnant and had morning sickness. She made sure I was eating regularly (something that often doesn’t happen when teaching) and understood when I needed to be a few minutes late to work.
Between 10 – 12 weeks pregnant, my tolerance had increased to 8 grams a day, after 6 grams for 4 months straight. It was wonderful. I added in some of my old favourites, hot chips! This was a HUGE blessing. I love hot chips and they were full of calories! I remember reaching the end of my protein allowance for the day and crying because I could not eat what I wanted. I thankfully craved frozen cokes and my husband went and bought one just to help me. Crushed frozen ice with some flavour was amazing. I also really loved the smell of bacon and would make my husband cook and eat some just so I could smell it and watch him eat it (yes, I know that’s creepy).
At 13 weeks, I had one massive sickness episode that meant I went to hospital, this time for a night. I had lots of fluids and IV anti – nausea meds. That was when I got diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a complication of pregnancy in which women experience extreme levels of nausea and vomiting. Unlike regular ‘morning sickness’, which is considered a normal or even welcome sign of early pregnancy, HG is not at all normal. Guess what, that nausea and vomiting was not going anywhere! (Sucky thing was, this was much more intense in my second pregnancy). It sucked experiencing that, but they checked on the baby and once again, I got to see what all this was for. That baby, my baby, was still growing and still measuring correctly.
Tune in next week for the second instalment of this 3-part series- Trimester 2!