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'I lost myself': Women share heartbreaking pregnancy stories

The Project logoThe Project 13/08/2019 The Project

This article discusses mental illness.

The Project guest host Jacquie Brown was reduced to tears as several women shared their heartbreaking struggles with pregnancy on Friday night.

Christina Dellar and Melanie Gielen both dreamed of having families, but being pregnant, for them was a total nightmare.

"Imagine sea sickness at its very worst," Dellar told The Project. "That feeling - for nine months, non-stop.

"I was throwing up maybe 15 to 20 times a day. I fractured a rib because I was throwing up so much."

Dellar told The Project she was throwing up blood, and had to carry a container everywhere she went.

"Name a place in Auckland - I've thrown up there," she said.

This was more than morning sickness - Dellar and Gielen were dangerously ill.

"I lost 10 kilos in the first 12 weeks," Dellar said.

Gielen said she couldn't hold down lunch and dinner, and lost 15 kg.

Dellar and Gielen both have a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). It strikes one in 100 pregnant women.

"It's completely overwhelming," Dellar said. "It's like this feeling of being so trapped in your own body."

a close up of a person: Being pregnant for these two women was their worst nightmare. © Video - The Project; Image - Getty Being pregnant for these two women was their worst nightmare. If you've heard of HG, it's probably because of celebrities like Kate Middleton and Amy Schumer. The condition causes severe nausea and vomiting, often until the moment the baby arrives.

For mum, it's horrible and scary. It puts their baby at risk of being born prematurely, or at low weight.

"I just kept on losing weight when the baby should have been in a growth phase," Gielen said.

Doctors don't know what causes HG, but new research says it could be too much of a particular protein in the blood.

There's no cure, and the only treatments are an IV drip for dehydration, and anti-nausea tablets that don't always work.

"It got to the point where the only medicine left to try was what they give cancer patients who are going through chemo," Dellar said.

The mental toll

HG can lead to depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. One study found that some women even terminated their pregnancies because they were too sick to care for themselves and their families, or even afraid that their baby might die.

"At around 35 weeks, I hit an emotional roadblock and I fell into a type of depression," Dellar said.

"You feel so alone - no-one really gets it.

"I was just so sick and tired."

For Dellar and Gielen, when their little ones arrived, their symptoms finally went away.

"He was here, he was healthy. I was free," Dellar said. "And it was great."

Gielen said sometimes she forgets how sick she was.

"I feel really good now," she said.

The pair finally have the families they dreamed of, but they haven't forgotten the battle they fought to get there.

Guest-host Jaquie Brown also shared her experience during her pregnancies. 

"It's really emotional for me to watch the story of these women talking about what happened to them.

"Every morning I'd wake up, and I'd have about three minutes before my body realised I was awake."

Brown said she would vomit continuously.

"I was depressed - I felt like the lovely ladies said; trapped in your body, and you cannot escape.

"But you're so grateful to be pregnant, but every day is a trauma.

"Nobody understands what it's like."

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention and mental health:

Lifeline's 24-hour telephone counseling service on 0800 543 354

Need to talk? 1737 – free call or text any time to talk to a trained counselor

Depression Helpline (8am to 12 midnight) - 0800 111 757

Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email

Healthline – 0800 611 116

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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