A Husband’s Guide to Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a debilitating condition that affects a small number of pregnancies. Words cannot express the impact it has on the lives of those who suffer from it, however Tiffany – a friend and Hyperemesis survivor – has done an amazing job at sharing her experience with readers. Another amazing mum Kate, shared her husbands experience of Hyperemesis on her blog and it offers a great insight into what it’s like for our husbands to see us go through such a horrible condition.
My husband Steve and I were talking a while back about our Hyperemesis experience and how as a husband, he felt helpless. Steve is a paramedic as well and when it comes to treating his patients he is cool, calm and collected – he is incredibly intelligent and knows what is needed to be done. When I was suffering with HG he said he had never felt so unsure of what to do… He was amazing, supportive and I don’t know what I would have done without him. We talked about how there should be a ‘How to Survive HG’ guide and he commented that there should be one for husbands too… then he decided to write it. This is Steve’s perspective on what you can do, as a husband, to support your wife through her HG.
Some time ago Krystal and I lived through an experience which was one of the most painful, emotional and terrifying things I’ve ever been through. Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) has made a palpable impact on our lives and our relationship, but I’m happy to say I believe it has made us stronger. Seeing the one you love so suddenly and intensely ill is the stuff made of nightmares. I’m not going to go through the technical aspects of the condition, I’m not even going to explain exactly what our experience was (Krystal has done that here), but what I am going to do is put down some thoughts from a man’s perspective.
You do not know what your wife is going through.
You cannot forget this one statement. HG is not just morning sickness. It’s not intermittent nausea that can be kept at bay with peppermint tea and neither is it ‘all in their head’. Understand this and understand it well. This condition is something that you, as a guy, will never ever have to experience. There is so much at play here, obviously the massive hormonal changes in your partner’s body, but along with that comes the emotional changes. The emotional stuff is pretty intense even in a normal pregnancy, but add HG to the mix and it reaches a whole new level. You need to try your best to empathise, at the same time understanding you’ll never ever know really how she feels. Give the woman you love the respect and support she deserves and needs.
Repress that gag reflex.
I don’t mean for this to sound flippant and jokey. But really, if you have an aversion to vomit or you are a sympathetic vomiter, you need to deal with it. I strongly believe the role of the man when a couple is pregnant is to be there to support his partner in every way he can. And if that way means cleaning any mess, holding her hair for her, or simply just being next to her at 2am when she’s slumped next to the toilet bowl unable to move, then that’s what you need to do. As distasteful as you think it might be for you, refer to point 1!
She is the centre of your universe.
Remember, this woman is carrying your child. Her body is going through enormous changes (especially if it’s her first), her hormones are crazy, emotions all over the place. She needs you to be there, to be present for her. Not just around, not just in the background, but she has to have that reassurance you’re there by her side holding her hand. Having a child is a partnership, humans were designed to be raised by two parents, your partner does not deserve to have to do this on her own. You need for her to know that she is what matters to you!
You cannot trivialise.
I think it’s very important to acknowledge what your partner is going through. As stated above, you cannot ever know exactly how she is feeling, so you’d better be darn (damn?) sure you give her the respect she deserves. This means you do not downplay her condition to your mates, you try to understand what she’s going through whether that be through internet research or whatever it takes, and you certainly don’t imply to her that what she’s feeling is simple morning sickness or something that is natural or normal for a pregnant woman. In short, don’t be an arse.
Man up – assume responsibility.
Having a pregnant partner, having children, will change you as a man. Whether it’s your first or fourth or fourteenth, your life will not be the same as it was. Obviously, with HG your partner won’t be able to do as much as she used to, if anything at all. You need to take up the slack. I mean this in a practical sense. We men are practical creatures (generally) so here’s your chance to step up. Maybe you have to do the groceries, perhaps you need to start preparing meals, maybe it’s organising the kids for school or doing the house cleaning. Even if it means you have to give up your regular Saturday afternoon at a mate’s, or perhaps you have to put a temporary hiatus on your Wednesday night game of touch footy. Whatever. Do it. No complaints.
Get your priorities straight.
Your number one focus here on in is your partner! I reckon this is true even of a straightforward pregnancy, but even more so when HG is involved. If you have to rearrange your own schedule, so be it. If it means taking the odd sickie from work to stay home and care for her for a day, just do it. You’ll have many years in the future to play golf/fish/finish Call of Duty. Right now she is your number one and you need to do everything you can to support her.
So that’s it, that’s my advice (for what it’s worth) when the woman you love has HG. It’s a fairly long post I suppose, but really it condenses down to one thing. Be there for her. Emotionally, physically and practically. She will never need you more than she needs you now and it is your absolute responsibility to see her through this time the best that you can. Be the man your woman, and your baby, needs.
We are incredibly passionate about spreading the word that Hyperemesis is not just morning sickness. Please share this post and hopefully we can start to make a change in the way people view those of us suffering with HG.