Pregnancy is not something I connect with my children. I know that sounds odd but pregnancy is disease to me. 35 weeks of severe nausea, vomit, medication, needles, IV bags, hospital visits, bed rest, and daydreaming about food when I couldn't keep down a prenatal vitamin.
I was a reluctant parent, having never intended to have children. So to become pregnant with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) and start sticking myself with needles and hanging IV bags only made the experience more surreal and shocking. But that is what I did. He survived. I survived. We survivied.
He's 17 now, and I had HG two more times. Do the math and see the burden HG has visited on my family. It also brought long term health damage from the long months of malnutrition and ongoing battle with dehydration. This illness destroyed relationships, made completing my Phd impossible, not once but twice. For someone who is as driven as most of you know me to be that has been one of my biggest losses from HG. Daughter. Phd. Health.
Last week in the group I admin for the HER Foundation, four babies were born Three healthy full term sons and one silent daughter. Sweet little Emily Irene reminds me of why I go back to the trauma day after day, helping moms, listening to their struggles, making them laugh when they haven't left the house in four weeks. People ask why, and I think of the silent babies and grieving moms. No one should ever feel so alone, lose so much to disease.
Your donation can and WILL save lives, reduce suffering, and lead to answers. We need funding for research. We need funding for educational materials and a site rebuild to continue to provide excellent information to famiies in a more user friendly environment. We need funding to attend conferences where our leadership can teach providers about the latest in evidence based medical care. We need salaries for our founders who have worked for free from day 1. In fact, they fund many of our activities and needs. This is not a sustainable model.
We need funding to save lives. Seriously. We do that. While we could not save little Emily or my sweet Hope, or Maria and her twins in 2005, we do save lives. I know babies by name who lived because of HER Foundations work and its volunteers.
Our fundraising has been a struggle for several reasons.
1. We are a small group of women, only 2% of pregnancies -- that is about the same as the number of women who develop breast cancer each year.
2. There is nothing "sexy" about vomit. We vomit a lot. Until the blood vessels burst in our eyes and our throats bleed.
3. Moms can't stay to fight for the cause. They just can't. After the daily risk analysis of taking medication versus risking the damage of HG to our offspring and the trauma, many moms leave our community and cannot ever look back. I could list quiet a few famous HG moms who never speak of HG in public. Same thing for non famous moms. Our own community is so deeply traumatized that we can't always help ourselves.
4. HG is seen as a "temporary" disease that resolves with delivery whether full term live birth, miscarriage, still birth, or termination, this disease is dismissed as a "pregnancy problem." It is. But it's so much more in terms of long term issues and the costs to families and society.
FACTS: HG is the second leading cause of hospitalization in pregnancy, a leading cause of prematurity, babies die more often, and moms develop postpartum mood and anxiety disorders more often. We get PTSD. The cost to women, families, and society is huge.
You can help! #HGstrong #HGaware #nonprofit
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