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In Her Shoes @InHerIrishShoes
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“In 2013 I was absolutely thrilled to discover I was pregnant. I already had a child and desperately wanted to expand our little family...
Having suffered with a very rare and extremely debilitating illness called hyperemesis gravidarum during my first pregnancy, I was excited but terrified of falling victim to the condition again.
The chances are high that it will return on subsequent pregnancies.
I consoled myself with the fact that after 4 or 5 months of living hell during my first pregnancy, I was finally prescribed a medication that was very effective.
So I thought, well if things get that bad again, at least I know this drug will work and I can avoid months of horrific nausea and malnutrition and complications.
But unfortunately, just two days after a positive pregnancy test, i was in the throes of this horrible illness once more.
I promptly went to my gp and asked for the medication I had been prescribed in my first pregnancy. This is where my battle began. I was shot down by three different gps who told me that they would not medicate me at all during pregnancy.
Despite me furnishing them with print outs of online literature which proved that this drug was safe during pregnancy, they turned me away and told me nothing except paracetamol was safe for the baby.
I argued that in the USA and many other countries, this drug was widely prescribed in pregnancy for this condition and that malnutrition and dehydration was more risky for the baby. And also, my first born was living proof that it was not harmful to the fetus.
Eventually I found a doctor who was recommended by a fellow sufferer who happily prescribed the medication. And I thought my battle was over. But it was really just beginning.
As often happens with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) this drug did not work second time round. The illness took over my body in ways I didn’t think were possible. I didn’t think it could possibly be any worse than on my first pregnancy. But boy was I wrong.
I became so ill that even swallowing my own saliva made me wretch. I am not talking about regular morning sickness here, a complaint that is often confused with hg.
I‘m talking full on horrific nausea & vomiting so bad that I couldn’t even sleep because waves of sickness kept me awake even though I was exhausted. It was like a form of torture you’d hear about in Guantanamo bay. I couldn’t even walk 2 bathroom to vomit without collapsing.
Eventually I ended up being brought to a maternity hospital by ambulance. At this point I had lost a significant amount of weight. I was now 8 weeks pregnant and I was dangerously underweight and dehydrated.
There was nothing in my stomach to throw up and the retching had caused a tear in my insides and I was now vomiting blood.
I was becoming severely depressed due to the lack of treatment and was being constantly told that it was just a “normal” part of pregnancy and basically to just get over it and get on with things.
But I couldn’t. I could not even lift my head off the pillow let alone care for my other child. I have a fairly high threshold for suffering and pain, but this was like horrific nightmare and I felt so trapped and helpless.
Inevitably, my organs began to suffer under the strain of it all. Not only had I not eaten in weeks, but I hadn’t slept either. I began to hallucinate and then my vision went. I opened my eyes and everything was white.
I was an inpatient at this point but all they would do for me was hydrate me and gave me the same medicine which was clearly not working at all.
I do remember one senior midwife who was in her 50’s. She was alone with me in my room (I had been isolated due to the noise of my constant retching and crying for mercy disturbing the other women).
She told me she feared for my life and advised me to go to the uk and terminate the pregnancy. She said something was going to give and she feared it would be my life.
She told me if I were her daughter, she would have me on the first flight to the uk the next day. She said I was on the brink of organ failure. I later found out she was right.
My kidneys were under a huge strain and my liver wasn’t dealing too well either. I looked on my phone at a photo of my first born child. He needed his mammy. My husband needed me. My parents needed me. I was not willing to risk my son becoming motherless.
After serious thought about it, and with a heavy heart. I decided a termination was my best option. The next day I was visited by a consultant and a team of medical students who stood at the end of my bed and discussed me as though I were not in the room.
I told the consultant that I was becoming very depressed and that I wanted an abortion. He looked at me in disgust & said, you know that is not legal in this country! I begged him to do something for me but he refused and told me I was not the only woman to ever suffer like this.
I told him if he could not perform an abortion that I would be discharging myself and procuring one in the uk and added that I was having suicidal thoughts.
To which he said, and I quote: “this ain’t the hotel California, you can check out any time you like!” To which his junior colleagues tried to stifle their giggles. I was horrified and hurt and shocked.
I phoned my husband who had to be in work and informed him of the events of the previous 24 hours. He was relieved and agreed that it was our only option.
While I was waiting for him to come and collect me, a porter arrived in my room and took me in a wheelchair to a different floor. I was ushered into a room where I was met by a consultant psychologist.
Who did her very best to talk me out of my decision. She gave me two Valium tablets and continued to lecture me on the reasons why abortion was not a good option.
Ironic how once I was considering termination, they had no problem medicating me with sedatives yet they were refusing me any real treatment for my hyperemesis gravidarum! Once my husband arrived we left.
He and my mother then went about organizing the trip to the uk. It was not an easy task, with clinics looking for medical information that I did not have available to me. We borrowed the money from family and set off on what was to be the most difficult journey of my life.
My condition meant I could barely walk let alone make the ten minute walk to the boarding gate. When I got to the gate I panicked when I realized i knew two of the people on our flight. What excuse would I give them?
On board the plane I was trying my best to look normal to the cabin crew who were trying to sell me drinks and duty free.
When I arrived at the clinic in Manchester, I was treated with kindness and understanding and empathy for the first time since I’d become pregnant. They made a very unpleasant experience as comfortable as possible for me.
It sickened me that I had to fly to another country to be treated like a human being with rights.
I have absolutely no regrets about my abortion. I was left with no choice. It was the toughest decision of my life and one I did not make lightly. Abortion is never going to be pleasant but it is sometimes a necessity. My country failed me at the most difficult time of my life.
What if it were your daughters life at risk. None of us know what lies ahead for us or our family’s and I hope none of you reading this ever have to find out xxxx…

#writingherstoryintohistory #Repealedthe8th
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