Is Pregnancy Normally This Bad?
March 5, 2011 10:19 AM   Subscribe

I'm 29 weeks pregnant and have never felt this awful in my life. I can't tell if it's actually worse than normal, or if I'm just bad at handling it.

I've felt sick and weak since the sixth week of pregnancy, and it hasn't let up -- after months of this, I'm at the end of my rope. And judging from the pregnant women I know, and from other women's stories, I'm afraid that I might not be normal. I need to find out if that abnormality is my body or in my mind.

To explain why I'm not sure, I need to give some background. It's not a glamorous adjective, but I've always been... sturdy. For thirty-one years, I've enjoyed excellent health. I'm used to having a body that can keep up with the demands that I put on it. Here's what I'm like when I'm not pregnant:

I don't get sick. (well, I got the flu once as a kid and had mono in high school.) I get a cold once every couple years, but the symptoms are mild -- more of a nuisance than a real hassle.

I can move my own furniture, change my own tire, and do physical labor all day long without a hitch. I've been called butch and I love it. I was reckless as a kid and got plenty of stitches, so I'm not that inexperienced with pain. Teachers and friends' parents would comment on how I wouldn't cry when I got hurt, even after sledding face-first into a thorn bush or wrecking my bike into a gravel pit, so I thought I was tough (not anymore!).

I don't get allergies. Being hungry or tired doesn't make me shut down. (My husband gets a migraine if he doesn't eat lunch, and my best friend will throw up if she gets too tired and hungry -- that's the kind of thing I mean here.) Sleep is no problem, and I wake up at seven every day feeling great because I'm a morning person. I don't get migraines, or back pain, or any of the problems that almost everyone else has to deal with.

So in other words, I'm spoiled. Thanks to good genes or whatever, I don't know what it's like to have to put aside pain in order to get through the day.

All of that has changed since I got pregnant. I'm exhausted and in some kind of pain all day long, and I'm useless because of it -- I'm missing tons of work and all of my regular responsibilities are being neglected, and I'm ashamed of myself but I still can't make my body work.

Morning sickness started in the sixth week and has not stopped. I'm able to keep down enough water and nourishment that my doctor isn't concerned. But for four months, I threw up all day every day, and I've lost forty pounds. It's let up enough that the weight loss has stopped, but I'm still repulsed by most food and I dry-heave at least twice a day.

When my doctor saw the weight loss, she scolded me for "dieting" and seemed to doubt that I was telling the truth about the nausea since "that's not normal."

As for exhaustion, I feel like one of those tragic girls in old books who are so delicate and sickly, like Beth in Little Women -- right down to the swooning. If I go out and am on my feet for more than an hour or so, I get shaky and light-headed. I sleep ALL THE TIME. Entire weekends are wasted while I sleep through them. I'm always having to cut things short and ruin other people's fun because I have to go home to lie down. On days when I can drag myself to work, I hardly get anything done and I often have to sneak off to rest, lest I start throwing up or feeling faint.

And there's a bunch of other pregnancy symptoms that are kicking my ass: the constant heartburn, the pain from varicose veins on my uterus that keeps me from standing or sitting, the headaches, and the burning/freezing/agitated feelings that I assume are due to hormones.

Meanwhile, the women in my birthing class are going to work every day and only complaining about having to pee a lot. They enjoyed mild second trimesters and are busily preparing their lives and homes for their new babies. My house is a disaster area and my job is in jeopardy because I'm using all my FMLA time before the baby is even born.

So I don't get it. Is this what all the other women are dealing with, and I'm just a big wimp who can't cope? My doctor seems to think I'm a drama queen; she acts impatient and dismissive of my complaints. My boss has also started acted coldly to me, so I'm worried that she also thinks I'm being over-dramatic. (I don't talk about my problems when I'm at work, but my attendance record is raising eyebrows. People seem confused about why I'm missing work when I'm only pregnant.)

This makes me think that I really am just making a big deal out of nothing -- that my lack of physical suffering in the past has left me with an abnormally low threshold for discomfort. I am willing to believe this and to try harder to accept this struggle as normal. I already know that I can be high-strung and excitable, and I try to be aware of how that colors my perceptions.

But then maybe I really am having more pain than most women, and I'm not being unreasonable by staying in bed and getting nothing done.

So do I need to suck it up, because hello, all pregnant women feel like this? Or am I really dealing with more than most?

I think I should clarify about my mental state, since it's the first thing I would wonder about if I were you: I'm on Zoloft and I don't feel depressed. I do feel humiliated by my uselessness, just because I've always based my self-worth on getting things done -- I'm used to being reliable, capable, and self-sufficient. So that is stressing me out and may be why I'm not coping well.

I'm thrilled about becoming a mother though. I comfort myself by thinking that my problems are worth it, because it means my body is spending all its resources on making my daughter healthy and safe. She's totally fine, by the way. Every test is normal, she's growing like a champ, and I feel her squirming happily all day long. It's just me who's a wreck.
posted by Toothless Willy to Health & Fitness (50 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh also: I just got tested for gestational diabetes and it was negative.
posted by Toothless Willy at 10:23 AM on March 5, 2011

Please talk to your doctor. My cousin had to take chemotherapy level anti-nausea meds through her pregnancy. Even if you are rarely sick, pregnancy can do a number on your body, and its important that you understand that the normal rules don't apply.
posted by Sara Anne at 10:26 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

My mom was sick like that the entire time she was pregnant with all three kids. So, it could be normal. But if it feels wrong, get a second or third or fourth opinion. It's your body and your baby. Nothing is more important than that.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:28 AM on March 5, 2011

It sounds like your doctor is not helpful in the least! I also suggest getting a second opinion. I'm so sorry you're going through this. I hope you find a way to feel better very soon!
posted by sucre at 10:30 AM on March 5, 2011 [14 favorites]

Best answer: Uh wow on your doctor's reaction. I had a horrible first trimester and lost 15 lbs. My doctor gently tsked me for not letting her know about it because she would have prescribed me anti-nausea meds (I didn't see my OB until I was 10 weeks along and by then the nausea was abating). I've only had the one pregnancy but I'm going to vote for no, what you are experiencing is not normal. There is a condition called hyperemis gravidium and it is basically morning sickness that lasts throughout pregnancy - but it is often treatable.

If it were me I'd find a new, more sympathetic OB.
posted by sutel at 10:31 AM on March 5, 2011 [29 favorites]

I think you are definitely having a bad pregnancy, but probably not unusually bad. Pregnancy is crazy. It changes your body in all sorts of bizarre ways and there's no predicting what will happen (it's like you're an ongoing science experiment!). I'd definitely get a second medical opinion though--there ought to be something they can do about the horrific nausea at least.

Best of luck to you, and remember that you're in the home stretch.
posted by Go Banana at 10:31 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Get checked for hyperemesis gravidarum. If your obgyn doesn't believe it exists, find another doctor pronto.
posted by brujita at 10:33 AM on March 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

I am 25 weeks pregnant. I in no way have your symptoms, and nothing I've read has described pregnancy symptoms as bad as yours. Sure, I have heartburn, but tums deals with that. And I was a bit tired during the first trimester, but I just went to bed at 9pm.

So, sure, every pregnancy is different, and you could be within the realm of normality. And I totally understand worrying about every little thing. But it definitely sound to me like you're at the extreme end of symptoms. I don't think your "sturdiness" in the past could have that much of an effect.

And definitely, I'm so sorry your coworkers and doctor have been dismissive, especially your doctor. I second getting a second opinion. It doesn't matter what weight you start at, losing 40 lbs during a pregnancy should get more than a "tsk tsk" reaction.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 10:33 AM on March 5, 2011 [6 favorites]

You must speak to another doctor and get another opinion on the 40-pound weight loss. I'm sorry you're feeling awful. Hopefully another doc will have some suggestions for feeling better.
posted by Ollie at 10:38 AM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

It sounds like most of your issues would be sorted out by (1) allowing yourself all the naps you need, and (2) a better practitioner. Fire the current OB, find somebody supportive. Forty pounds...! Yikes. You want somebody who will offer useful advice (or at least sympathy), not misogynist fantasies about dieting.

But you might have a small case of teh dramaz going on, as this is a great deal of text to explain "rough time with the pregnancy, feeling drained," and if your boss (or others) are getting the same flavour of complaint as this post, you may indeed find yourself being...avoided. Stick to the facts, avoid the back story stuff. Possibly some of the depression is finding its way into the accounting of the pregnancy difficulties? Why are you missing work when you're "only pregnant"? I would frame it as "vomiting" or "exhaustion" rather than "pregnant" if you need to explain absences; don't even mention "pregnant" as that doesn't explain a lot to most people. You weren't there because you were puking? Say puking.

You're not "wasting" weekends sleeping -- you're getting needed, and pleasant, rest. One thing that most new parents really miss is the whole lounging around and sleeping in racket; do try to enjoy it. Motherhood is great fun, though, so stay the course with the idea that it will all be worth it.

On re-reading, I really do think most of this would be sorted out by ditching the doctor. I mean, why see anybody if they're not even helpful? And this person sounds rather the opposite of helpful; you would probably feel better overall, and be better able to contextualize your physical struggles, if you had a good sounding board who had useful advice. There are good little fiddles out there (constipated? Eat goat cheese!, etc) and you should be made aware of them instead of being "scolded." Which is probably making you feel even worse, which is probably contributing to the depression, which is probably contributing to the exhaustion... Yes. New physician or midwife, immediately.
posted by kmennie at 10:38 AM on March 5, 2011

Get thee some Zofran! Pronto! I'm also sick through my entire pregnancy(ies) and I could not live without it. If your doctor won't give you any, then switch doctors. Seriously. I did switch doctors at 34 weeks with my second kid, and I'm so glad I did. Now that I'm pregnant again and am seeing the new doc from the beginning, I can really tell how much better her standard of care is compared to my previous OB.

I'm also tired ALL THE TIME. My husband is like, maybe you're getting too MUCH sleep? Um, no. I can go to sleep at 7:30 p.m. and sleep for 12 hours, and still want to take a nap the next day.

Luckily I can still get stuff done simply because of the Zofran making it so I don't want to hurl every 10 minutes. (Although doing anything strenuous is out, because the exertion makes me nauseous even WITH Zofran.) Believe me, my productivity is in the toilet compared to before, but the dishes are getting done and the rugs are vacuumed, so I'm happy :)

As you get further along, you'll start getting even more body aches and pains. That's usually due to your ligaments stretching out in prep for childbirth. Nothing to do for that but Tylenol and rest.

Just know that there is no such thing as "normal" when it comes to pregnancy, really. Switch docs and tell the new one everything that doesn't feel right to you so that he/she can address the issues.
posted by wwartorff at 10:41 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

A lot of the symptoms you describe here are similar to my pregnancy, which I considered fairly rough compared to many of my friends' experiences. I'm a teacher and really struggled with fainting, but my OB took that very seriously - I had to go through a battery of tests at the cardiologist. I mean, I dragged myself to work and taught sitting down, but it wasn't easy. I think women sometimes downplay their symptoms to each other, though, or gloss over their memory of what pregnancy was like; in other words, I wouldn't necessarily believe that the women in your birthing class are sailing through the work day and going home to paint murals on their nursery walls and then sew fabulous little baby outfits into the wee hours! Likewise, I think doctors sometimes brush off these symptoms as a way of reassuring you that you're normal - and in fact, I think you are. I mean, I suppose there is a bell curve of "easy" to "challenging" pregnancies, and you're closer to the challenging side of the curve but that doesn't mean you're abnormal, if that makes any sense.

At any rate, it doesn't sound like your doctor is giving you the care you need and deserve. Scolding you for losing that much weight when, in fact, you've been miserably sick seems especially cruel and unnecessary to me. There are treatments for that! As hard as it might be to switch practices at 29 weeks, that may be your best option. And rest rest rest! Go easy on yourself.
posted by katie at 10:42 AM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I totally understand. I rarely get sick and almost never take medications, but there were some parts of my pregnancy that kicked my ass. However, I learned after months of trying to "suck it up and deal" with some of the most miserable aspects that many of them were treatable. The issue was that I had to admit to another human being that I was having a real problem and it was interfering with my life. For example, once I got across how bad my acid reflux was affecting me my doctor took me off of antacids and moved me up to Zantac, and my quality of life instantly changed.

At other points I ended up taking matters into my own hands. After my doctor seemed unconcerned with my substantial case of split abs and back spasms, I asked around my yoga class and got a recommendation for a physical therapist who specializes in pregnant ladies. I made an appointment with the PT, and then asked my doctor for a referral. This is one of the best things I did during my pregnancy. Overnight I was able to walk and sit up without horrible pain.

So, my points are these:
- Much of the misery of pregnancy is treatable. You don't necessarily have to suffer.
- Stop worrying about whether you are overreacting and make it clear to your doctor that you are in pain and it is interfering with your life.
- You can take charge of your treatment and ask for things specifically. If your doctor won't help you, then consider changing practices. It is not too late.
posted by Alison at 10:45 AM on March 5, 2011 [6 favorites]

I'm sorry you're having such a rough time! My first pregnancy was horrible (9 months of vomiting and exhaustion that made me nap on the floor under my desk at lunchtime), but I just suffered through it. With the second, I took unisom & B6, which helped immensely, even though Zofran did nothing to stop my nausea. I felt a lot better and had more energy once I was able to keep most of my food down.

If your current doctor isn't being helpful, please look for one who will listen to you.
posted by belladonna at 10:48 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sounds like hyperemesis; my mom had it, and she was a former high-school jock, so it really can hit anyone. You need a doc who's going to ensure your comfort and not chide you about the fact that, yeah, you're still having morning sickness.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:48 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you haven't already, you might want to join a pregnancy discussion forum. Plenty of places have due date clubs where you can talk to other women at approximately the same stage of pregnancy as you are and get some perspective on what's normal, what other women are going through, and what options your doctor is neglecting to mention. I like the forums, but you can find due date clubs on lots of sites.

Your level of discomfort doesn't sound normal to me, and your doctor sounds ineffective.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:50 AM on March 5, 2011

I am what would have been known as 'sickly' a hundred years ago and even I never had such a bad pregnancy.

If your doctor saw 40lbs. weight loss and wasn't concerned then I think you need to find a different doctor. My OB/GYN saved my life when I delivered my youngest, I believe in having absolute faith in the person who is going to help bring a new life into the world. If you are being chastised for being ill then IMO you have the wrong doctor.

There are pills you can take while you're pregnant that will help with nausea. Find a doctor who will get you some.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:05 AM on March 5, 2011

There is no normal in pregnancy or childbirth. What you're describing is within the realm of a healthy pregnancy, but it's not typical. I lost 30 pounds in my whole pregnancy, AND I started it incredibly overweight, and my midwives were still . . . not concerned, but definitely on top of the situation. This:

When my doctor saw the weight loss, she scolded me for "dieting" and seemed to doubt that I was telling the truth about the nausea since "that's not normal."

It's not normal, it's hyperemesis gravidarium. It's a real thing, it has treatments available, and it can land women in the hospital being rehydrated via IV. If your doctor doubts the existence of such a thing -- such a well-established, well-known thing -- I would strongly recommend changing doctors, because her information isn't up to snuff.

I've known more than one woman who felt like you do during pregnancy, but it's not usual. It may be that this is what you have to do to birth this baby, or there might be something that can be done to help you feel better, but either way, you have to go to a care provider who actually believes the evidence of his or her own eyes.
posted by KathrynT at 11:09 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

You have described all three of my pregnancy experiences. What you're going through is uncommon, but not unheard of, I promise. It is miserable, especially if you are used to being self-sufficient and capable, and I'm sorry you are going through it - makes it hard to get excited about having a baby, if nothing else, when you feel like absolute crap all the time.

Your doc sucks. With my second, I was prescribed both Reglan and Zofran, the two chemo-level meds mentioned above. I had to quit taking them because I ended up having some of the rare side effects that made piling all the time a more pleasant option. But they do work very well for many women, and if your doctor won't work with you to find some solutions, find a new doctor. I know that is easier said than done at 25 weeks, but if you're getting this little care and sympathy at this point, I can't imagine it will get better.

Meanwhile, do not let anyone make you feel bad for, well, feeling bad. Every woman has a different pregnancy experience, and yours is just as legitimate as every other one. I had people try to tell me it was all in my head, especially with my first pregnancy. That got a little better after I had to have IV fluids because I was so dehydrated, and had "proof" that I really was ill. Take care of yourself any way you need to, and don't compare your experience to everyone else, as that way lies madness.

To give you some hope, I have always felt 1000x better within hours of giving birth. I had three unmedicated vaginal deliveries and was sitting up, nursing a baby, and eating a full meal (for the first time in months) within two hours of each. My youngest is 7 weeks old, I weigh 30 pounds less than I did when I got pregnant (still fat, but that's ok too) and I feel amazing. Sleep-deprived, but amazing.

Anyway, if you want a shoulder from someone who has SO been there, message me anytime. Meanwhile, do what you need to do to take care of yourself - eat what you can, do your best to stay hydrated, and rest as much as possible. Luckily, no one is pregnant forever. Hang in there!
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 11:09 AM on March 5, 2011

For the record. . . I hate being pregnant. I felt awful for all three of my pregnancies. I was completely useless for 9 months/per pregnancy. I literally could not move without pain or without throwing up.

Please please please either get a new doctor or really emphasize to your current doctor how miserable you are and that you're throwing up/dry heaving all. the. time. Demand medication. There is medication for this. You should not have to live like this. I put it off my first pregnancy and was so miserable. Once I finally told my doctor how awful things were he was surprised that I hadn't mentioned anything earlier as there was medication to help me. No big deal.

Tell your doctor that you are not able to function. Find a new doctor if your current one will not help you. You do not need to live like this.
posted by Sassyfras at 11:17 AM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Yes, at 40 lbs. weight loss, you need a doctor who takes this seriously. None of it actually sounds outside the range of normal, but with vomiting that constant you should have options. Like Zofran.

I went through my first pregnancy throwing up the whole nine months (lost weight at first, started gaining by the midpoint of the pregnancy), without any treatment really except "home remedies" like peppermint (ugh, still can't stand it) and lemon and ginger. I'm halfway through my second pregnancy and this time I got some Zofran after I barfed myself into the hospital with dehydration and OH MY GOD IT IS THE BEST DRUG EVER CREATED.

I sympathize with you. Just about every possible rotten thing that can happen, while still having the pregnancy in the realm of normal, DOES happen to me pregnant. I get hot flashes. I freeze. My joints swell up and hurt ALLLLLLL the time, no matter what I do. The fetus hangs out ON MY FUCKING SPINE and periodically punches nerves. It's awesome. Sometimes I can't even move my muscles ache so bad. And then I just barf constantly, and all the extra fluid volume makes me a snotty mess. The peeing every 20 minutes. Digestive problems. Oh! The creepy eyeball thing where your prescription glasses no longer work. I'm completely exhausted no matter how much I sleep ... when I can even sleep because mom's sleep time is baby's dance party time! I mean, SRSLY, BABY.

And yet it IS worth it, I can say for sure, because I'm doing it on purpose a second time! (I also routinely count my blessings that I'm within the realm of normal, even if it's totally miserable normal.)

Try to let go of your pre-pregnancy expectations for yourself. This is a new ballgame, and you are no longer the boss. Get a second opinion from another doctor who takes the barfing seriously. And at work, let people KNOW that you're having "epic morning sickness" (or hyperemesis gravardium) and people will be sympathetic and understanding! Even men are pretty understanding, since a lot of them have kids, or have sisters who have kids, but in any case, have watching someone close to them go through pregnancy and know how trying it can be.

Pregnancy is wonderful for some people and miserable for some people. Congrats on joining me over here in the miserable corner. I ended up with the world's best-natured baby, though ... I insist it's because the pregnancy was so miserable, he knew he had to be easy once he was born.

PS -- you are "getting things done" -- you're CREATING LIFE. Whenever someone (i.e., my husband) is like, "I did X and Y and Z and A and B and C and boy it was the busiest day!" I'm like, "Well, I sat on my ass on the couch CREATING LIFE all day. Did YOU create life today?"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:18 AM on March 5, 2011 [15 favorites]

I've never been pregnant, but I would absolutely find a new OBGYN. Yours sounds awful. Losing 40 lbs is pretty significant and a good doctor would not harsh you out on that, but take it and your symptoms seriously.
posted by elpea at 11:23 AM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody. You've given me the resolve to be more assertive with my doctor. I had been assuming that since she has so much more experience than me, I should trust her attitude, but now I think she isn't getting it and I need to insist.

But you might have a small case of teh dramaz going on, as this is a great deal of text to explain "rough time with the pregnancy, feeling drained," and if your boss (or others) are getting the same flavour of complaint as this post, you may indeed find yourself being...avoided. Stick to the facts, avoid the back story stuff. Possibly some of the depression is finding its way into the accounting of the pregnancy difficulties? Why are you missing work when you're "only pregnant"? I would frame it as "vomiting" or "exhaustion" rather than "pregnant" if you need to explain absences; don't even mention "pregnant" as that doesn't explain a lot to most people. You weren't there because you were puking? Say puking.

Heh, I was leery of my wall of text as well, but I wanted to be as clear and descriptive as possible -- since my problem is that I don't know if my "rough time with the pregnancy, feeling drained" is really like what other people mean when they say that. This is the first time I've told these details to anyone besides my doctor, my mom, and my husband. When anyone else asks, I just say, "I'm having some rough symptoms, but it's nothing dangerous." When I call in sick, I simply tell them that I'm having too much trouble and I can't come in, and they don't press for more. I prefer not to talk about my problems to anyone because it feels whiny and self-centered, and you're right that it's definitely not appropriate for work.
posted by Toothless Willy at 11:30 AM on March 5, 2011

Here is a little chart from a Hyperemesis Gravidarum support website about distinguishing between morning sicksness and HG. Lost 40 pounds and unable to work because you feel so ill definitely puts you on the HG side of the chart. Apparently, doctors just not believing women with this severe morning sickness is a really big problem.

You should get a new doctor. One who believes you when you say how bad your morning sickness has been.
posted by mandanza at 11:34 AM on March 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

So do I need to suck it up...

No. You need to spit it out. Your boss has no idea how badly you're feeling; if she knew, she could feel more confident that when you're not feeling this terrible. You're not giving her the information she needs.

It sounds like you're used to handling things by yourself. There's a reason that child-rearing has historically been a pairs occupation, rather than a single strong woman occupation; another person takes care of the pregnant person. You are in a position to pay people (i.e., your doctor, a doula, others) to take care of you during this difficult time so that you, in turn, can take care of your child. You must ask for help, demand help, without shame or sheepishness, and stop holding yourself to some kind of non-pregnant-sturdy-girl standard.
posted by amtho at 12:01 PM on March 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

Get a new OB. Stat. Absolutely. You need some serious help to control your nausea and you're not getting it.

Yes, absolutely women get this sick during pregnancy. You're totally not the first. What you need is a doctor who is willing to work with you to manage your symptoms and keep YOU healthy in addition to making sure the baby is healthy.
posted by sonika at 12:08 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

My sister lost a significant amount of weight in her first trimester of pregnancy and had morning sickness throughout her entire pregnancy. Yup. 9 months of throwing nearly everything up every day.

She ended up finally in her seven month going into the L&D triage and getting some IV fluids. She stayed for about three hours, and she felt sooooo much better. The morning sickness and fatigue didn't go away, but she had more energy and felt more "normal."

Also, the OB you have sounds like an ass. I recommend finding a good midwife to help you manage this both emotionally and physically. OBs are trained in the medical aspect of pregnancy. Midwives are trained in a more holistic approach (holistic here meaning medical, emotional, mental, etc.) and may be better able than OB to work with you compassionately on your feelings.
posted by zizzle at 12:20 PM on March 5, 2011

your experience is nothing like my personal experience while pregnant. i slept for pretty much my entire first trimester, and no food sounded pleasant, but the second trimester was fine, and i did not lose forty pounds - i gained ten. (and i started out slightly overweight.)

bottom line? if you're miserable, your doctor should be finding a way to fix it. your life doesn't need to be intolerable because you're pregnant.

i would say that your general "toughness" should be a point in your favor, not against - i am a huge baby about pain and sickness and i wouldn't describe my personal level of misery on anywhere near the terms you did. please get a new OB stat. or maybe consider a midwife, as zizzle suggested.
posted by woodvine at 12:32 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

You've received a lot of great advice already -- I'm just coming in to say that you may be interested to listen to the most recent episode of the BBC medical program "Case Notes" called "Morning Sickness". Here's their summary:

"Many women experience Morning Sickness during pregnancy, but doctors still do not fully understand why. Dr Mark Porter investigates the latest research into causes and treatments. He hears firsthand of the psychological and physical effects it can have on women and that for 1 in 150 women, sickness is so severe they are admitted to hospital."
posted by monkeymonkey at 12:39 PM on March 5, 2011

Zofran. Zofran. Zofran. I cannot say it enough. And do you have something for the heartburn? Zantac 150 couldn't solve it completely for me but it took the edge off enough to make me functional.

My doctors were happy to give me meds when I asked, but didn't volunteer them until I asked specifically. I went through a month of fire in my chest until a friend told me about the Zantac, which my doctor was fine with me taking; and ditto re the Zofran -- they didn't understand how bad it was until I came and asked for it by name; a friend had recommended it.

My pregnancies were still extremely uncomfortable, but without those two medicines I don't know how I would have made it.

And my kids are perfect by the way (nobody likes taking meds during pregnancy, but really, these are fine.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:39 PM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Please, please look for another doctor. You shouldn't have to be "assertive" when you lost 40lbs from morning sickness. Find someone who is a better fit for your personality. When you are busy giving birth, you do not want have time to run things through the mental translator of "how do I say this so my doctor takes me seriously". You can find someone better.
posted by Joh at 1:14 PM on March 5, 2011 [7 favorites]

Ugh, I meant "she could feel more confident that when you're not feeling this terrible you'll be able to be more productive".
posted by amtho at 1:20 PM on March 5, 2011

just chiming in to say that your doctor sucks! change ASAP to someone who doesn't chastise and dismiss. you are not alone - visit forums to see other people dealing with your same issues and seeing what relieves them might spark ideas, as well as give you strength to find a better doctor!
posted by citystalk at 1:59 PM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh, yeah, on the discomfort/pain: I'm not totally clear on what KIND of pain you're having, but I got send to physical therapy in a warm-water therapy pool (water around 95*) while pregnant with my first one and this was the BEST THING EVER. Floating got the baby off my spine for a while, which let the muscles relax since they didn't have to old his whole weight, and the heat helped everything relax and unbind. They gave me some simple exercises to do in the pool, which helped, but mostly it was the floating and the warmth. While hot tubs are dangerous, warm-water pools at an appropriate temperature are perfectly safe.

(And I wouldn't worry too much about whether you see an OB or a midwife: My practice has both, and I mostly prefer the OBs, whom I find easier to talk to and connect with while some of the midwives are a bit more "miracle of pregnancy! so natural! what for are you wanting Zofran, it's just barfing!" But some of my friends at the same practice vastly prefer the midwives and find the OBs more dismissive. The key is really finding a medical caregiver YOU can connect with who takes you seriously and with whom you feel comfortable ... my favorite doctor at my practice is someone one of my best friends cannot STAND. You just have to find the right match, no doctor suits everyone!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:08 PM on March 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

As another data point, I'm much the same as you-usually robustly healthy, now 28 weeks pregnant, and sick quite a lot of the time. Until about week 20 I was vomiting 5x a day, now finally I'm only vomiting every day or so, and frankly if I can stay awake until 8:30 I pat myself on the back for staying up so late. I lost weight through the first part of my pregnancy, and have only now started gaining some. That said, even though my ob is probably the most brusque person I've ever met, he has been tremendously more sympathetic than your ob; I was hesitant to take the prescription nausea medicine because of side effects, but every month he has a new list of suggestions to help me get past the nausea (pepcid ac, zantac, mucinex), so I definitely echo the suggestions to find a new ob. Also, in terms of the aches and pains, swimming (sloooooooowwwwwly) and yoga have both helped ease the pain as well as settle my neurotic brain; maybe they might help you too?
posted by girl scientist at 2:41 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Losing 40 lbs suddenly, pregnant or not, should probably be cause for concern. If possible I'd see another doctor. As for normal pregnancies, as far as I can tell they are all crazy in their own way.
posted by chunking express at 2:55 PM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Ask your OB to check your iron, too. You could be severely anemic, especially with the limited amount of food you're keeping down.
posted by peep at 3:16 PM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

In addition to getting checked for anemia, you might want to have them check your thyroid levels. Pregnancy can push you over the edge into hypo- or hyperthyroid levels, which affects all sorts of things including energy level, weight gain/loss, etc.
posted by belladonna at 4:20 PM on March 5, 2011

A quick side note regarding the "morning" sickness (I had it all day long and it was a billion times worse in the afternoon and evening): if you are prescribed something for the nausea/puking and it doesn't work, let your doctor know so that he/she can prescribe something else until you find something that works.

The only thing that worked for me was phenergan. I tried Zofran. It worked instantaneously for me but wore off after 5 minutes. The phenergan was the only medication that helped me for longer periods of time. Don't give up if one thing doesn't work for you.
posted by Sassyfras at 4:44 PM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Looks like you got some good advice but I just want to add my support and let you know that if you are thinking of switching doctors, you might need to do it asap. And maybe consider a midwife, if you have one in your area (some deliver at hospitals - mine did).

Of course you feel horrible, you are not getting the nourishment you need to do anything besides grow that baby. Give yourself a break, rest as much as you can, and have a stern talk with your doctor. If she doesn't show you some compassion and treat your problems then please consider another doctor.
posted by dawkins_7 at 4:50 PM on March 5, 2011

So, it looks like you've gotten some fantastic advice here, and I've also never been pregnant on top of it. So I'll just offer the data point that my best friend was similarly miserable the whole way through her pregnancy. Her doctor did keep an eye on things to make sure that she didn't lose too much weight due to nausea and make sure that nothing really bad happened, but...she was still low-level queasy every morning, tired, drained achy...all her symptoms were just low-level enough to be non-worrying, but present enough to bug the total snot out of her.

Backing up the folks urging you to get a second opinion from a doctor to make sure that nothing serious is going on. But once you get that addressed...yeah, pregnancy just really kicks your ass sometimes. Hang in there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:43 PM on March 5, 2011

Came in with advice, but it looks like you have already gotten great feedback - definitely seconding Zantac (plus laying off orange juice, if you haven't already) for the heartburn - it's not a perfect solution but it's safe and it works.

If this anecdote helps: I had a miserable pregnancy (not morning sickness -related but many other issues including a fibroid that degenerated in month 4 that didn't stop hurting until month 8). The capper was the night when I woke up for my regularly scheduled 4 a.m. pee and found that I could not move my legs at all. I could feel them, I could feel sensations in them, but I couldn't lift them. And my immediate first thought wasn't "Holy shit, I'm paralyzed!" and it wasn't "I need to get help," it was simply "What fresh hell is this?!" - I was utterly, absolutely convinced that oh great, apparently leg paralysis is another 3rd-trimester surprise that no one tells you about and I lucked out and got that too. I was so beaten up by every other pain that it never occurred to me that maybe it wasn't actually a pregnancy thing at all and I should maybe be panicking.

Fortunately, two seconds later as I was trying to figure out the best way to break this one to my sleeping husband, the dog shifted her weight off my ankles and I could move again, sparing me at least that humiliation.

But yeah, pregnancy sucking and causing massive amounts of pain and suffering is normal. But that doesn't mean that you can't treat it, or that there aren't ways to make it more bearable. Get a new OB if you can't get this one to listen to you and prescribe you something for the nausea. And finding a way to laugh at it definitely helps.
posted by Mchelly at 6:10 PM on March 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

Just one quick addition to all the great advice above: maternal stress is NOT GOOD for a baby! I'm not saying you've harmed your baby or anything like that (it sounds like she's doing great), but you have plenty good reason for obtaining better care and getting treatment for your symptoms. There's a reason that certain antidepressants and other medications that are not generally recommended during pregnancy are prescribed for some pregnant women... because the risk to the baby is less with the meds than the risk of letting the mother go out of her mind (or get too stressed or lose too much weight or whatever). Good luck.
posted by torticat at 8:27 PM on March 5, 2011

I am so sorry your doctor was like that. That shouldn't have happened. If you feel up to getting a new doctor, please do so, because if s/he doesn't take you seriously now, you actually have the gift of knowing that and you can change. You don't want your doctor to be dismissive of you when you are making important decisions or during labour or delivery, let alone for follow-up care.

I had horrendous pregnancies, in terms of how I felt. Just awful. But awful for me. I don't look at that in view of how anyone else did. Because it doesn't matter! It only matters that I was really sick (and also dealing with awful whiplash the second time).

And so it doesn't matter if someone else thinks you should suck it up, stop being a drama queen or whatever else. It's you! It's your body! It's your baby! And that's the only thing that matters. You deserve to feel well and to be in a position to care for yourself and the baby - now and after the birth. So, please, seek out someone else who will care about your feelings and advocate for you.

I was really fortunate that my doctor absolutely respected how I was feeling and respected my decisions about not taking medication in my first pregnancy. The second time around, we had more data to go on and she was *so* kind about looking at my entire profile and helping me to come to a decision that met the my needs, the needs of my baby and the needs of my toddler.

So, please, listen to your body. As a mom, you're going to need to listen to your gut a lot. You're going to need to occasionally go up against doctors, nurses, childcare workers, teachers, speech therapists, dentists, principals and all sorts of other experts. If you start listening to your gut now, you're going to be okay (and well practiced!). And this doesn't mean you always have to dump the professionals. You may just need to practice getting heard. But if you're trying your darnedest and they aren't listening, by all means, dump them.
posted by acoutu at 8:53 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Two points: (1) it sounds like this pregnancy is really zapping your sense of self. You sound like me - you're strong, robust and proud of being physically capable, and now you just aren't that person any more. I have arthritis, and I go through similar things when I'm sick (this isn't me! I feel like a malingerer! Why is no one else going through this crap! etc etc). Pregnancy and parenthood are huge life transitions; you need and deserve support during this time. Quit telling yourself you're 'making a big deal out of nothing.' A few, focused sessions with a therapist could really help you tease out just why you're having such a hard time right now, aside from the significant physical strain of pregnancy.

(2) I'm not a parent and haven't been pregnant, but I've worked at a university department that trained midwives, and saw a midwife for all of my ladypart maintenence needs when I was in Australia. I'm nthing what everyone else said - your OB sounds like a fucking idiot for disregarding your illness. Perhaps you might consider seeking out a midwife or doula to add to your support team? Midwives know their shit, medically speaking, and are also much more attentive to the psychological aspects of pregnancy. The more support you get now, the better the outcomes for you and your baby. Don't put on a brave face, and don't tolerate dismissive caregivers.
posted by nerdfish at 3:12 AM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Midwives know their shit, medically speaking"

In the US, this depends on what state you're in and then on what sort of midwife you have. My state only allows licensed nurses with specialized advanced training to call themselves midwives, but some states have little regulation and you can get some random person with almost NO training at all who can legally call herself a midwife.

(so, you know, do what you should always do with a professional of any sort, and check credentials!)

A midwife isn't a magical solution; finding a professional that the OP likes and trusts is the key point, whether that professional is an OB, a midwife, or even a family doctor who delivers babies, which are apparently still out there!

I'm in a practice with both doctors and midwives and I find the midwives as a group are slightly more likely to tell me to "tough it out" because it's "natural," which many people assert as a positive bias in midwife training -- less medical intervention -- but which, when I have a MEDICAL problem, like constant barfing or debilitating migraines, I would like a MEDICAL solution. The doctors are more willing to intervene for my comfort. But, again, it depends on the individual practitioner.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:30 AM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Eyebrows McGee - good point. In Australia midwives are all nurse practitioners, so I'm accustomed to that system.
posted by nerdfish at 7:43 AM on March 6, 2011

Response by poster: I thought I should follow up, for the sake of closing out the question and for anyone who found this thread because they're having similar problems.

You all gave me the confidence to be more assertive with my doctor, and I talked to her about all of the problems. I think she realized that we had not developed the best relationship, because she definitely listened to me more and took more time to discuss every question I had. She diagnosed me with hyperemesis gravidarum, as many of you suggested. She also called me personally when further test results came in, and has been checking on me more. I'm much happier with her and I'm glad I spoke up and do not have to find another doctor.

She explained that my insurance requires that I try all of the cheap medications before they will pay for the more effective treatments, which is why it was taking so long to find something that worked. Zofran turned out to be pretty expensive, so we decided to focus on the heartburn. Prevacid is what finally, FINALLY worked. I still get nauseous, but now that the constant heartburn is gone, I don't really mind the dry-heaves. (So my suggestion to anyone with bad morning sickness but very little money/insurance coverage is: first see if heartburn meds help, since they're cheaper than the nausea meds.)

This thread also helped me to accept that my symptoms really are unusually severe, so I soon stopped feeling so weak and unsure of myself. It still sucks that I can't get things done, but I'm just making the best of it now since I now know my problems aren't stemming from a character deficiency. Since I posted this, I also developed pelvic girdle pain, so I can't walk much, but by now I just have to laugh. It will all go away soon since the baby is due in a few weeks and I'm tired of fretting, honestly.

As for work, I'm on long-term leave. We're struggling to make it on one salary, but at least I'll still have my job when I can go back to work.

With the misery of the heartburn gone, I've even been able to slowly get things ready around the house. I can do a little work before I have to lay down again, but it's added up: the crib is ready, the car seat is correctly installed, the pantry is full, the house is clean and organized, and I have a stash of diapers and onesies on hand. It's week 37 and we are finally ready for this baby.

I'm so much happier than I was when I posted this question and I can't thank you all enough. I've bookmarked this thread for when I'm pregnant with the second kid and need reminding. Metafilter, you rock.
posted by Toothless Willy at 1:24 PM on May 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: *LIE down. geez
posted by Toothless Willy at 1:37 PM on May 2, 2011

I had that pelvic girdle pain too and gentle chiropracty helped a little. Mostly I think it was effective massage of the back (as opposed to the other sort of punchy thing he did, but the ligaments did feel a bit better for a day or so after the visits.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:28 PM on May 8, 2011

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