Friday, April 20, 2012

And Now.... We Wait

This afternoon I emailed the final completed summary letter (of this past pregnancy and my use of the VLC diet) to Dr. Fox, so now.... we wait. I have no formal relationship with Dr. Fox, and am not a paying client, so I have no right to ask for him to evaluate the results of this past pregnancy. I can only hope that he will be willing to send any information or thoughts that he has, and I will let you know! I have spent this week praying that this would be a beneficial exchange, and hopefully that some mysteries would be solved. I'll let you all know when - and if - I hear back!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Going Crazy, Bit By Bit

Over the last couple of days, I have wondered - why are DH and I such stress-cases? And then I thought about it - wow, we have a lot of stuff going on in our life! And most of it is stressful! So here's a wee snippet of what's going on around here....

- Changes at work for DH. Not good ones.

- A car accident for DH involving a cyclist. Thankfully no one was hurt and DH was not at fault, but dealing with the shock of it (plus financial and insurance issues) has taken its toll.

- Family members acting oddly. Major source of worry for the whole family! I won't elaborate (because this is the internet!).

- The family cat coming down with what looks to be a serious condition. Should know more in a month or so, but it doesn't look particularly hopeful.

- Yesterday: "Gosh, why is there water all over the floor?" Today: New water heater!

- Medical decisions to be made with our middle son.

- Preparing for a visit from family this weekend, who will be staying with us. Ever tried to clean a house with three children in it? I might as well not even try, because it looks worse tonight than when I started this morning!

- All of the usual stresses of raising three children, learning a new baby, and life in general!

So there you have it! Hopefully things will calm down, but I'm not hopeful. Maybe in another twenty years or so.

I'll try to check in soon! Love to all!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Doing My Research!

I have been starting to gather my thoughts on answering the big question - "Did the Very-Low-Carb diet work to prevent hyperemesis gravidarum?", and I realized that I needed to report in to the doctor who gave me the information in the first place!

With that in mind, I have written the letter below, detailing (in brief) my pregnancy experience on the VLC diet. I am posting it here in hopes that my fellow-HGers will read it and let me know if there is anything I ought to add or change. I don't want to waste the doctor's time, and I have no guarantees that he will be able (or willing) to provide any more information or opinion, so I want to write the best and briefest letter I can.

Thanks, all! I'll send this in soon, and then I'll post when I hear back.


Dear Dr. Fox,

Last year I communicated with you regarding using your VLC diet for the prevention of hyperemesis gravidarum, and you were so kind as to send me your diet sheets. I wanted to write to you to let you know how it turned out!

Unfortunately, my results are mixed – mostly due to my own error, as you will see. This was an extremely confusing pregnancy, with a lot of unknowns! If you are able to shine any light on the mysteries of this pregnancy, I would love any input.

I kept quite detailed notes throughout this pregnancy, and I will condense them into the main points:

- I began the diet in April 2011.

- I found out that I was pregnant on Day 40 of being on the diet (during which time I lost 20 pounds). I did Stage 2 the entire time.

Here is how the pregnancy progressed (and you’ll see why it turned so confusing):

- 3w6d – I started to feel nauseated during the evening.

- 4w0d – I continued to feel more and more nauseated, and started Unisom/B6 and Zofran. That night I woke up at midnight dry heaving. I also got a weak positive pregnancy test.

- 4w1d – I woke up nauseated and was getting very, very sick – losing the ability to swallow. However, during the late morning I mysteriously started to feel better. Over the next hours and days, I continued to feel better and better.

- 4w2d – Felt better and better. That evening, I started to experience menstrual-type cramping and blood-tinged cervical fluid, so with that and the weak test and resolving symptoms, I concluded that a miscarriage was on the way.

- 4w3d – Felt well enough to discontinue medications. By the next day I was feeling mostly fine, with just occasional twinges of nausea.

- 5w2d – Still felt fine. And this is where I have to confess – I started cheating on the diet, figuring that I was just waiting for a miscarriage to complete. (I’m sorry!)

- 5w5d – In the evening, I very suddenly started to feel awful again. I immediately repented and reformed (i.e. went back on the diet), as well as starting Unisom and Zofran again, and started slowly to feel better over the next week. However, the pregnancy nausea did give me a bad four months.

- I stayed strictly on the diet through about week 11, and then gradually tapered off. I kept a strict eye on how carbohydrates made me feel, and I noticed that they always made me feel worse – that is, better for a short time and then worse. You are absolutely right about the low-carb diet being helpful for pregnancy nausea.

Here’s the summary: This was the easiest pregnancy that I have ever experienced. My first pregnancy was uncontrolled hyperemesis. My second was controlled with drugs, and was much better. This, my third, was controlled with drugs and the VLC diet, and was much better even than the last. The nausea did put me out of commission for 3-4 months, but nothing like either of the previous times. Had I stayed faithfully on the diet, who knows what could have happened for the better? The main unsolved mysteries are what happened during the beginning weeks, and would I have had an even better experience had I stayed on the diet? Could I have avoided having to use medication?

I would love to hear any thoughts that you have on my experience.

I send you many, many, MANY thanks for your communications last year, and for all of the help. I have shared this experience with many HG mothers, and I hope that the information can get out there to help other women.

Many thanks!

Diana J.

Friday, April 13, 2012

What Worked, What Didn't: The Post-Pregnancy Evaluation

I'm sorry this entry has taken so long, ladies! I should have written this months and months ago when the information was fresh in my memory. But I need to get on with it before I forget it entirely, so here goes.

You can see the plan and protocol I worked on here.

You know, I haven't really looked at that plan/protocol in almost a year - I'd forgotten a lot of things on it! Some things got done, some didn't. But it helped. Ladies, if you are planning an HG pregnancy, I highly recommend having your own personal plan and protocol. It might help, but for me the main help has been (1) gaining the extra knowledge while researching for it, and (2) feeling prepared - it helps so much mentally and emotionally, even if it doesn't help physically. I really recommend the process as a therapeutic help.

You can read my "what worked, what didn't" for my previous pregnancy here.

As always, sorting out what helped and what didn't is a bit of an exercise in futility, just because of the conglomeration of remedies tried results in confounding variables - throw in normal pregnancy variation, and it's a puzzle. We can only try.

This pregnancy has been my easiest so far. Barring the mysterious beginning, which was hideously sudden and severe, the nausea stayed.... minor, comparatively. It put me out of commission for four months, and it was miserable, but it did not reach HG levels, nor even the levels reached with my last pregnancy. Of course, I was on massive amounts of pharmaceuticals (Zofran and Unisom), and I do think that it would have proceeded into straight HG without that - but otherwise it was my best pregnancy yet. Miserable, but good comparatively.

* Note the caveats mentioned in my last "what worked" entry.

Continuing the format on my last entry, here goes!


I never got around to trying these things, or trying them seriously:

* Acupuncture/Acupressure - I did try to try this, but unsuccessfully. I visited a (very unfriendly) acupuncturist who took my paperwork and then announced, "Your insurance doesn't cover NVP, so I can't see you. Good-bye." I didn't try again. Thankfully I have the name of a great acupuncturist now, so I can try her next time (assuming a next time happens).

* Chiropractic Care - I love my chiropractor, and I did notice minimal improvement with chiropractic care last time. However, I barter cooking for adjustments... not happening while NVP is in full swing! Kind of a Catch-22.

* MorningWell CD - Forgot about it again.

* Primabella Wristbands - Didn't want to go to the trouble to get a prescription, or pay the price... and have heard that they don't work that well for HG. If you want to try it, though, it's worth a go!

* Homeopathy - I have heard great things about homeopathy... but I've never gotten it to work for me. So this time I just didn't bother.

* Herbs - I had absolutely ZERO luck with all of the herbs that I tried last time (and I tried a bunch!). Not to mention that the smell of the herbs made me sick! So this time I just didn't bother, and stuck with ginger alone. (I would have done milk thistle if I'd remembered it - this is one herb with a great track record - but I forgot about it.)

These Were Really Helpful

* Zofran (Ondansetron) - 24 mg per day in 4 mg doses

* Bendectin replica (Unisom {doxylamine succinate} plus B-complex/B6) - A lot of this.

* The Very Low Carbohydrate (VLC) Diet. More on this later (it merits its own entry, coming soon).

Other Things I Did

Remember... this was my easiest pregnancy. Unless it was normal pregnancy variation (very possible), something helped. It could have been any of the below:

* Herbal Detox - This was one of those boxed 10-day herbal detox programs that we did on a complete spur-of-the-moment. Oddly enough, I see that we started it two or three days before getting pregnant - completely unintentionally! That was definitely a God-thing! (What isn't?) Don't know if it helped at all, but it's definitely gone on our yearly to-do list! (We actually bought this year's tonight!) And considering that liver support is one of the things recommended to help HG, I'm definitely going to keep that on my mental list of helps.

* Magnesium - Magnesium is SUCH an important nutrient! Read up! Definitely a keeper.

* Epsom salts in bath - For more magnesium. Didn't do it as much as I should have, but I tried. (Does anyone know where to buy epsom salts in bulk? They go so quickly!)

* Zinc - Read about this in one of the articles mentioned in my protocol. Another keeper.

* B-complex - This is a no-brainer.

* B-complex/folate/magnesium shots - Got this done at the naturopathic college weekly for about six weeks. After the first visit it wasn't too expensive. Would definitely do again!

* Multivitamin - Let's face it, these don't help. Just did it to keep up with nutrients otherwise missing.

* Morning Sickness Magic - A vitamin B and ginger supplement. Recommended by a friend.


Did I miss anything? Let me know your thoughts! I need to work on updating my protocol, so I'll get on that soon. But first, my article on the VLC diet! I will try to get to that in the next week or two. Remind me if I forget!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

It's All in Your Head!!

This week we have watched an interesting situation unfold. Our neighbors' teen daughter, an otherwise healthy and active girl, suddenly came down with an attack of severe, intense abdominal pain. She was taken to the hospital and ended up on constant morphine because the pain was so severe. But after six or so days of testing, the doctors could come up with no diagnosis.

And their solution to this situation?

(Wait for it... wait for it... wait for it...)

They wanted to diagnose her with "anxiety" and send her home with a prescription for pain meds.

Yes, seriously. I'm not making this up.

Thankfully, her parents put up a huge fight over this and insisted on further testing, which revealed a real diagnosis. She will be having surgery today and hopefully coming home soon, and should be fine in the longterm.

But goodness knows what would have happened if Plan A had been instituted.

I'm sure I don't need to point too hard to the analogy between this situation and hyperemesis gravid arum. The "stop fussing, it's all in your head" diagnosis is so common for hyperemesis mothers that it is really a standing joke. It even has a name - being "crackered." But it's not so funny when caregiver neglect of this type results in a 1 in 7 abortion rate for the sweet babies of hyperemetic mothers who are so desperate for help - and are ignored and ridiculed for that - that they turn to abortion as the only solution for hellish suffering when they can't get the help that they need.

Lessons learned:

(1) If you are suffering from hyperemesis (or any other health concern) and are getting the "you need a psychologist because there's nothing wrong with you and it's all in your head," don't take that answer. Get a better caregiver.

(I should say that there was one time in my life when I wholeheartedly agreed with someone who told me that "morning sickness is 90% in women's heads." Oddly enough, that was approximately one week before I developed hyperemesis. I learned my lesson.)

(2) Caregivers - Don't write off severe morning sickness, or any other complaint. Help women get the care that they need. Babies' lives can ride on it.

And (3) I have made sure that my DH knows for SURE not to take me to this hospital should I ever need emergency care! (Especially since this is where a good friend of mine had a rotten birth experience a couple of years ago - I would much rather travel a bit!)

Thoughts, all?