‘Hyperemesis gravidarum has made my pregnancy a living hell’

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a complication of pregnancy that up to 2% of women experience, and causes extreme nausea and vomiting.

Today, 15 May, is Hyperemesis Gravidarum International Awareness Day.

Michelle Owen, a broadcaster and presenter with Sky Sports News, is 13 weeks pregnant and has suffered with the condition throughout her term.

She has spoken to Sky News about her experience with the illness.

My husband and I have been together for eight years and have always wanted children. On New Years Eve, we decided this would be the year we’d try.

We knew nothing was promised, having been very close to a couple who suffered the heartbreak of four miscarriages without any answers. We have friends who have had fertility problems and know those who have tragically lost their babies at the end of pregnancy.

We went in with our eyes open, but actually had no clue about what was going to happen.

I am so reluctant to moan because of those reasons. We know we are lucky to be 13 weeks pregnant.

We had our scan and the baby was fine. I know my husband Adam will be the most amazing dad, so on the outside it all looked amazing.

But since the start of March, my pregnancy has been a living hell.

Before I go any further, I want to apologise to those who have suffered heartache – please know that I am not ungrateful and that we know we are so fortunate. I cannot stress this enough, and I pray our baby will be born healthy in six months time.

It began with me feeling sick, being sick, and assuming morning sickness. I threw up one Friday morning in the Vale Hotel toilets then somehow stood for a live before a Cardiff City presser on Sky Sports News.

That weekend I drove to Mansfield, which is three hours away, and reported for Soccer Saturday.

I felt rubbish. But this was just morning sickness, right?


I got through a week or so like that by coping and eating as I thought I should, and managed to get some anti-nausea medication prescribed.

Then I had some bleeding. We went for an early scan, and after a two-hour wait we were reassured all was fine as we saw that tiny heartbeat.

But when we got home, I carried on being sick, and for the first time I had to phone into Sky Sports and say I couldn’t work to cover an upcoming Swansea game.

That day continued downhill to the that point water couldn’t even touch my lips.

In the evening, the NHS 111 service referred us to the out-of-hours GP. He prescribed some different anti-sickness medication, but the pharmacy didn’t have it.

My husband pleaded with the staff as I sat outside on the stone cold pavement, enjoying how the freezing slabs distracted me from the sickness.

That was until two minutes later, when I was on my hands and knees and throwing up in the darkness. Since then it has only got worse.

A week later we got a GP referral to an early pregnancy unit, but I still found myself throwing up on the motorway as we drove at 70 mph.

I stayed overnight on drips and that weekend covered Aston Villa versus Bristol City. My producer told me I looked green!

That was the last time I worked. I had not called in sick in my five years on Soccer Saturday, but now I can barely send my boss a text to say I can’t make a game.

I was housebound for the next two weeks in bed or on the sofa.

The second time I tried to get into the early pregnancy unit, they were reluctant to do so via a phone referral from the GP, even though they had done so before.

I felt awful being there, but the nurses were lovely. I was also told that the unit doesn’t get money for certain types of referrals, which is why there had been a problem.

My second stay was longer, but I was taken off the drip before I was discharged. I lay there barely able to move, sweating in a hot ward with pungent smells, and was desperate to go home.

My husband collected me the next day, but that extra night in hospital had made me feel worse. I got home and began being sick again. When you’re bedridden, everyday feels the same.

For a few days, I made it to the sofa and managed to read a bit. As the football season came to its climax, I watched on helplessly – I was normally in the thick of it.

Some days I didn’t even know what the scores were as I lay in bed unable to face the television because it made the nausea worse. I spent the time during an amazing Ajax versus Tottenham game between trying to watch and being sick.

Once again, I spiralled. My husband called the doctor and we managed to get into a hospital where they put me in a bed by a window for air.

I had an intravenous line in with anti-sickness medication. After eight weeks, I felt they understood. I hate hospitals – I watched my mum fight cancer when I was a child. Needles and drips: it all makes me squeamish!

I came home last Saturday evening and managed to shower, but then felt dreadful. Since then it’s been really hard. I’ve been sick every day, and, as I write this, we have just called the doctor as I haven’t urinated for over 24 hours.

Eating and drinking makes me so violently sick, so the alternative is just to lay here and hope it passes. It doesn’t.

I’m 13 weeks pregnant now. I’ve read horror stories that tell of it lasting the whole way through the pregnancy. Then the baby is born and that takes it away, and you instantly feel better.

I also know of people who have had it improve around 20 weeks. That’s what I’m aiming for, and I’m counting down each day. This should be a wonderful time to be enjoyed, not endured.

My husband has become my carer, and I feel so guilty. He’s exhausted from trying to work and look after me, walk the dog, feed the cat, and remain sane.

I’ve been off Sky Sports for so long and I miss it so much, but there is nothing I can do. The most I’ve managed is a few home recorded podcasts and a bit of writing. After the podcasts I have felt dreadful and have had to sleep for hours. Climbing the stairs is like climbing Everest.

I hope reading this sheds some light on HG. We are assured that the baby is doing fine, but I honestly have no idea how. I have lost a stone in weight.

The truth is I don’t really feel that pregnant, just sick, weak and pathetic. I have never had issues with mental health but the pure isolation of HG has left me low. I cherish any moment I don’t feel sick.

No one deserves to go through this – we need more help, awareness and less red tape.

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