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Acute pregnancy sickness: My story

By Kara Devlin, CNN
updated 9:18 AM EST, Thu December 6, 2012
Kara Devlin and her son when he was 7 months old. She suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum during her pregnancy.
Kara Devlin and her son when he was 7 months old. She suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum during her pregnancy.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN's Kara Devlin was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum
  • Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was hospitalized with the condition
  • Devlin was put on intravenous medication and nearly hospitalized
  • She says her illness disappeared when she was 30 weeks pregnant

Editor's note: Kara Devlin is in her seventh year as a news editor for CNN Domestic.

(CNN) -- In September 2005, I found out I was eight weeks pregnant with my first child.

Everything was fine -- better than fine. I was working full time, working out with a personal trainer, and in the gym on my own every day -- sometimes for two hours. All this was cleared by my doctor, as this had been my normal routine for almost two years.

In my 12th week, I started to feel a little queasy in the morning. My doctor advised me that I should probably try eating a little more, but that it would pass eventually. I never would have dreamed that it would be 18 weeks and a lot of heartache later before it subsided.

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I went from feeling queasy to not being able to hold down water and struggling just to brush my teeth. I started to plan my life around when and where I was going to feel sick.

Kara Devlin and her son at Christmas 2007.
Kara Devlin and her son at Christmas 2007.

I learned not to go to the meat department in the grocery store, and to travel with grocery bags lined with napkins in my car. When I woke up, I figured out that I could not open my eyes too quickly or my head would begin spinning, making me dizzy -- and eventually making me sick.

I lost my voice because my throat was burned from acid. I even started making a pallet on my bathroom floor to sleep on because I didn't have the energy to keep getting up and going to the bathroom.

Concerned, I went back to the doctor. As my primary doctor was on leave, I saw another doctor. She told me that a lot of women come in with these symptoms and sometimes they just have to "suck it up," and that since I had heard about morning sickness, it was probably in my head all the time anyway. She made me feel like I was crazy.

But when my primary doctor returned, I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum -- the same condition that put Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in the hospital.

Then came the parade of medicines. I started with Zofran, an anti-nausea medication commonly given to cancer patients, but I couldn't keep the pill down long enough for it to work.

Kara Devlin\'s son, now 6, on Halloween.
Kara Devlin's son, now 6, on Halloween.

Next was a drug called Reglan, compounded and applied topically on my wrists. The side effects made me feel as if I had a constant hangover, and I couldn't stay awake -- then, it stopped working altogether.

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By this time, I was 20 weeks pregnant and I had lost 20 pounds. I found out my child was a boy and he was healthy, but I worried neither one of us would make it.

A feeding tube and hospitalization entered the discussion -- my doctor said there was no choice unless I was able to gain 5 pounds in a month. I had already been to the ER so many times for dehydration, I knew most of the nurses by first name and they knew me.

The last resort before hospitalization was a subcutaneous IV delivering anti-nausea medication 24 hours a day under my skin.

By this time, I was out of work on bed rest. I was drowning in my illness. Life as I had known it was over. I had a home nurse who came to once a week to give me IV fluids in my home. I had a full IV stand that I could wheel around my house.

My nurse taught me how to insert the IV into my thigh and change the medicine every two days. It took a week, but slowly I began to feel a change for the better. The medicine decreased to every three days and finally, when I was 30 weeks pregnant, I was taken off.

Then one day, it was over. I woke up without medication, without dizziness and without being sick. I was almost scared, but it was over.

I stopped feeling nauseous and I was able to gain all the weight I lost and what I should have gained in the last eight weeks of my pregnancy.

My son was born in May of 2006, -- 6 pounds, 11 ounces and in perfect health. For him, I would do it all again.

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