Sunday Reflections: The Teen, Me, Genetics and HG (Hyperemesis Gravidarum World Awareness Day)
As I look over at the teen who is sitting on the couch reading a book, she is the spitting image of me in many ways. I could not be prouder to have passed my genetic material onto this glorious child and get to call myself her mom. I love her and her sister more than I could ever have imagined you could love someone.
Nature? Nurture? A little of both? I’m not sure why she is a reader, I’m just glad that she is because I love talking and sharing book life with her. But there is one thing I hope we don’t share, and that is HG.
HG is short for Hyperemesis Gravidarum and it is a pregnancy disease. When you read in the news about Kate Middleton and Kelly Clarkson being so sick during pregnancy that they had to cancel events and be re-hydrated in the hospital – that’s HG. HG is a debilitating, potentially life threatening pregnancy disease and last year the results of a genetic study confirmed what many had feared: it has some genetic components which mean that my daughters are more likely to have HG when they are pregnant. As a mother who fought for her life during pregnancy, this terrifies me.
Last week The Teen came home with the paperwork for me to sign giving my child permission to take sex education, but the truth is sex education is something we have been talking about for a while in my house. I have two main concerns when it comes to talking with my teen about sex. The first is consent and healthy relationships. The second is abstinence and birth control. Teen pregnancy is complicated enough on its own, but imagine trying to finish high school while you’re throwing up 100s of times a day and having to go to the clinic to be infused with fluids and vitamins because your body can’t sustain one life, let alone two. I know what it’s like to stand on the brink of death and I don’t want that for this child that I stood on that brink for. I fear teen pregnancy in ways that you can’t even imagine.
Actually, The Teen was my easiest out of three pregnancies, and that’s saying something. The Teen very vividly recalls my pregnancy with her sister. She saw me hooked up to an IV pole day and night. She remembers how we spent the days and nights just lying in bed just hoping that somehow the baby and I would survive. She remembers that someone else had to take her trick or treating that year because her dad was at work and I was too sick to even sit up. She remembers going to the ER and being told that the force of my vomiting was causing the placenta to separate and they were sorry, the baby wouldn’t make it through the weekend. She remembers friends from church coming over to pray with us. She remembers it all.
Today is World HG Awareness Day. I’m always torn on this day. I want to raise awareness and help get donations to the Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation (www.helpher.org) because I want to know that one day my daughters may have better doctors and better pregnancy care options. But I also want to forget and just put the trauma of HG behind me. I want there to be a day when I throw up because of food poisoning or whatever and don’t flashback to the days of HG where I threw up 100s of times a day and laid in the hospital while my body ate itself to try and survive (metabolic acidosis, not a good time).
I will never be pregnant again. The chances that I would survive another pregnancy are astronomically not good so we went to great lengths to make sure it would never happen again. I want to be free of HG for ever, but I can’t be. I have daughters. HG may be genetic. So I raise awareness. I don’t do it for me anymore, I do it for them.
To learn more about HG, please visit www.helpher.org.
The ABCs of HG: an unconventional picture book (Karen’s story)
Teen Pregnancy and Complications, HG and pregnancy termination (An anonymous story)
Please share with others to help us raise awareness. The key to a successful HG pregnancy is early and aggressive treatment. Get more information at the Hyperemesis and Education Research Foundation (HER) at www.helpher.org
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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