Friday, September 23, 2011

Time to Play HG Detective: Unraveling the Mystery of Weeks 4-6

Okay ladies, here goes!

First of all, you HG mamas out there will understand that writing about this is a distinctly unpleasant (i.e. panic-inducing) activity. So I am going to get through it as quickly as possible! (Though it will be long anyway, and I will be writing in parts.)

Secondly, I am hoping that ALL of my readers, HG-mamas and others, will chime in with their opinions. Though I don't think it's possible to truly solve this mystery, I'd love to see everyone chip in her two cents.

So here goes.

One technical note. I have not been doing official NFP (Natural Family Planning), that is, charting basal body temperature, cervical fluid, and cervical position, since the conception of our second child. Thus, while our dates with our second child (occasionally mentioned) are accurate to the second, our dates with this pregnancy aren't quite as exact. However, as using NFP does give one a good feel for one's cycle, I am fairly positive that my dates are accurate to within 24-48 hours.

And now on to "The Mysterious Affair of What on EARTH Happened During This Pregnancy???".....

Saturday, 3w4d

This week, DH and I were heavily involved in helping with a friend's wedding - I was doing the music, he was doing the MC work for the reception, and a good friend of ours was doing the coordinating. So we were doing round-the-clock wedding prep. I was not paying too much attention to my cycle. However, I knew from my mental charting that if my cycle was going to start, it should start sometime between this day (Saturday) and Monday at the latest. My friend tells me later that she knew I was pregnant that Friday (3w3d). What can I say? She's amazing. :)

Monday, 3w6d

By this time, the wedding is over and I am seriously contemplating the fact that I might be pregnant. However, I'm not too nervous because I'm feeling okay. Last time the nausea started at 3w5d, so this is good news.

HOWEVER. That night, I go into our son's room to read him a book. When I sit down to read, I am feeling fine. When I get up, I am not. At some point in between, I felt the first definite onset of nausea. I am beyond freaked out. The nausea does not leave. When I go to bed, I am praying that I will wake up puking in the wee hours - i.e. that it is JUST food poisoning. No such luck. I wake up in the morning still nauseated.

Tuesday, 4w0d

By mid-day, I break down and take a Unisom. By early evening, I need to take a Zofran. "Freaking out" is a mild description - I am being pulled into the nightmare, faster than I ever have been before. All you HG mamas out there know what I'm talking about. This is sliding into the pit faster than I ever have been before. I am panicking.

That evening, we go out and buy a pregnancy test. Positive. However, it's a weak positive. Not as weak as our blighted ovum pregnancy, which was of the "is it really positive?" ilk, but definitely much weaker than our other two, which were of the "HERE I AM!" type of positives.

We immediately go out and spend the rest of our evening at Sprouts and Whole Foods picking up supplements. B-complex, zinc, magnesium, ginger, you name it.

By bedtime, I am panicking. I am feeling awful, and it's only getting worse. And I've already started taking meds at 4w0d.

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that (1) I am really in trouble, and (2) if this continues, I am going to be in the hospital by the end of the week. No question about it.

Two hours after I go to sleep, I wake up at midnight and have to run to the bathroom, dry heaving. No actual vomiting, but this is scary enough.

I think that that moment was one of the most frightening times of my life. #1 - I am only at 4w0d. #2 - I'm already taking the strongest meds in the world, and I'm STILL throwing up? #3 - Even when I had true HG, I was usually able to sleep through the night. Though I know it's common for most of you, I had never woken up out of a dead sleep to have to run for the bathroom.

At that point, I come out here and write an extremely panicky blog post announcing the pregnancy and asking for prayer. After wandering about a bit, I am finally able to fall asleep again.


The nausea starts again as soon as I get up. I start up on the meds again, and make a shaky call to my OB to get an appointment for a Zofran prescription for that afternoon. I also place a call to MotheRisk, who returns my call an hour later. They review the Unisom protocol with me, and also tell me to make sure I'm eating protein. I let the kids sleep in as long as I can, as I don't know what I'll do with them when they get up.

I begin to set a timer for 20 minutes. When it goes off, I eat something. When it goes off again, I drink something. Repeat. Determined to get on top of this. However, and many HG mamas know this feeling, I am quickly losing the ability to get food down. Chewing and swallowing are going out the window. It was frightening. I have never, never, NEVER gotten so sick so quickly.

However, late that morning - sometime just before lunch time - I notice that I am feeling ever-so-slightly better. Just a wee bit. Very encouraging. The trend continues. I am able to get both kids over to my OB appointment and back without too much grief, and in the evening I continue to feel ever so slightly better. Very puzzling.


On Thursday, I still feel yucky but am ever-so-slowly feeling better, inch by inch. I don't know what on earth is going on, but I'm very thankful for it. I do contemplate the possibility of impending miscarriage, due to feeling better and the light pregnancy test. (By the by, I had asked my OB about the light test, and she told my that while many such pregnancies are headed for miscarriage, she's also seen healthy full-term babes result from such pregnancies. Only time would tell.)

Thursday evening, I go to use the bathroom and see - pink-tinged cervical fluid. I am spotting. This can be okay, but it's often another sign of an impending miscarriage. Within ten minutes of that, I feel the onset of menstrual-type cramps. At that point, I realize that a miscarriage is on its way. I have been down this road before, so I know what to expect.

Except that nothing more happens. No more spotting, though the cramps do continue at a low level. I continue to feel better and better.


I continue to feel better and better. By this day or the next, I begin to discontinue all meds. By the weekend, I'm back to normal activity levels.

Menstrual cramps continue. At least 3-4 times they escalate to a level of intensity which makes me sure that a miscarriage is beginning, but that never happens.

Life continues on. I am not completely nausea-free; I have occasional twinges, especially at night. I also have a lot of night-time fear to deal with - getting up in the middle of the night and wandering about the house while dealing with overwhelming waves of HG-fear. I think you all know what I'm talking about!

During this time, I am pretty much a stress-case. And that's an understatement. I am walking around waiting either for a miscarriage or the return of HG. I am a mess. At some point, DH says "Why are you so stressed out?" He, being the happy-go-lucky type, has just concluded that I'm going to have an easier pregnancy and that everything is just great - he doesn't think another thing about it. I immediately give him a half-hour lecture on the subject. 


Up till now, I have been conscientiously doing the very-low-carb/high-protein diet as an HG-avoidance strategy. At this point, I start cheating. A lot. I figure that it didn't help anyhow, and since I'm just waiting for a miscarriage, there's no point in continuing to observe it.


In the late afternoon, I begin - quite suddenly - to feel simply awful. After a gap of about 10 days, the NVP is back.

I immediately go back on the diet, and things improve a lot by the end of the week. Also right back on the meds.

HG never develops, nor does the nausea go as deep and as fast as it did at that initial point. I deal with some really yucky pregnancy nausea, but it stays away from true HG - due to the diet, the meds, or divine mercy - or some combination of the three.

And now the question:

What on EARTH happened back there? What was that all about? Here are a few theories that we have worked up:

(1) DH's favorite theory - the Initial Reaction Theory - that the diet (to prevent HG) really was working, and those couple of scary days were just my body's initial reaction to the initial surge of pregnancy hormones, after which it adjusted and went on just fine till I started cheating.

(2) My favorite theory - the Disappearing Twin Theory - Does everyone know what disappearing twins are? It is a phenomenon in which a pregnancy begins as a twin pregnancy, but one twin dies early in the pregnancy and is reabsorbed, so that the pregnancy ends naturally as a singleton birth. It's much more common than was previously realized - we are now seeing this more often due to the use of early ultrasound. This would account for the fact that I had miscarriage symptoms but no actual miscarriage. Theoretically, the lessening of the hormones with the passing of one babe would have lowered my nausea levels.

(3) One I think is dead wrong - the Stomach Flu/Food Poisoning Theory - That those two awful days were not NVP, but food poisoning or stomach flu. Lots of reasons why this is NOT a good theory: (1) It felt like NVP, not stomach flu. (2) It appeared at precisely the right time for NVP. (3) The nausea developed for something like 28 hours before I started dry heaving - gastroenteritis usually leads to vomiting much faster than that. (4) There were no lower-intestinal symptoms, as there inevitably are with gastroenteritis. (5) The nausea went away in the early hours of the morning and returned upon rising, which is classic NVP and not at all symptomatic of gastroenteritis.

(4) A possibility - the My Body Is Weird Theory - During my last pregnancy, I experienced a brief drop in pregnancy symptoms. I looked it up, and the dates were as follows: NVP commenced at 3w5d; at approximately 5 1/2 weeks I experienced a deep decrease in symptoms that lasted for about 2 1/2 days, during which time I was able to stop taking meds. Apparently this happens to more than just me, as "Knocked Up Knocked Over" experienced the same thing with her pregnancy (anyone else?). However, this was at a different time in the pregnancy, and for a considerably different length of time (2 days as opposed to 10).

(5) The most likely - the It's Forever a Mystery Theory - That we'll never know, and it's going to remain a frustrating mystery. 

And now, dear readers - I'd love you to chime in. Do you favor any of these theories? Do you have any of your own? Please write in and let me know what you think.

Thanks for your patience!


  1. Here's my guess: I think that your sickness came on quickly and that because you are very in tune with your body (both from research but also from previous experience) you were aware of it immediately. Because you knew how you could get very sick very fast you had lots of stress hormones on top of pregnancy ones and that all added up into one big sicky avalanche. On the spotting front, I know two women who spotted all through their otherwise normal pregnancies to the point that they didn't think they were pregnant until much later on. Maybe the hormones that were telling the body not to lose the womb lining weren't totally effective or perhaps so early on there weren't enough to completely stop the period hormones (it was just over when it would have happened if you weren't pregnant). Perhaps the hormone levels were just a bit crazy resulting in HG but also in spotting. You know how complex all the hormone systems are. Just guessing though. I find cramping when first pregnant goes on a while and it takes ages to stop feeling as if period is coming.

  2. Could be that when the initial nausea came on, the thought of HG made it much worse (I have actually had to run to the bathroom on occasion when not pregnant because reminders of it have made me feel so sick) and then once you had the spotting and thought the pregnancy was ending, you no longer had the added nausea caused by the thought of HG?

    Well done for writing about it though - I'm sure it is a good thing for you to have done that.

  3. Before I even read the entire post, I suspected disappearing twin.

    But I also think it's possible that you're just so keenly aware of your body, and of what happens in your pregnancies, that you immediately felt it and your body and mind went to "worst case scenario" whereas a person in their first pregnancy might not notice it so strongly or immediately.

  4. Hi, ladies! Thanks so much for your input! I think this thing will always remain a mystery, but it's fun to ponder it just for kicks.

    I honestly do not think there was any mental component (i.e. hypersensitivity elevating symptoms) to whatever happened. For two reasons - (1) The symptoms were just too definite and well-marked. They weren't "am I nauseated?", etc. - they were "HERE I AM" type of symptoms. Not the psychosomatic type. (2) My increase and decrease in symptoms happened way before I suspected causative factors. For example, I started to feel nauseated before I thought for sure that I was pregnant. I started to feel better a day and a half before I experienced the miscarriage symptoms which led me to suspect pregnancy loss. And I started to feel worse before I suspected that we had not lost the pregnancy. Any sort of psychosomatic symptoms should have occurred after mental realization (i.e. I think I'm pregnant so I feel nauseated, I think I'm miscarrying so I feel better, I think the baby is still here so I feel worse). Sound sensible?

    As I said, this will likely just be a mystery forever! Thanks for taking the time to contribute your thoughts! Love to all!

  5. No, I don't think psychosomatic influences were part of it either. You probably were stressed at knowing you were getting ill but not at being pregnant and not in a causative way but stress hormones wouldn't have caused it, just been there in addition to hg. Sorry if you thought I was implying that, I tried to be careful to say stress hormones would have been on top of hg, not causing it.

  6. Oh no, not at all! I just wanted to clarify just in case I'd presented the wrong aspect of what happened. No apologies needed! :)


I love to hear from you! All kind and thoughtful comments will be published; all inconsiderate or hurtful comments will be deleted quietly without comment. Thanks for visiting!