THE agony of extreme morning sickness can drive expectant mothers to terminate because the support they desperately need is still lacking.

Dorset mum Emily Middleton, 36, a physiotherapist from Christchurch, gives her first-hand account of her struggles with hyperemesis gravidarum.

“I am currently 17 weeks into what has been quite honestly the most challenging life experience my little family and I have had to endure. This is my second successful pregnancy so far and I suffered before.

“I was sick repeatedly and lost weight so entering into a second pregnancy was always going to be a risk. People say ‘no two pregnancies are the same’ but when you really suffer, when it’s HG, it only gets worse.

“By week five there was no doubt. As the day progressed, so did the nausea. I had already seen a GP who had suggested Odansetron to prevent dehydration and hospital admission but the medication had side effects and I resolved not to take it and explore other safer options.

“Week seven things got tough. I had a Christmas lunch to get through and small presentation. Alternative meds the GP prescribed weren’t working. The lunch was late. Nausea was winning. So I took the Odansetron, ate the lunch, did the presentation, went home, collapsed and the next morning the vomit comet landed. I didn’t go to work, not realising I wouldn’t be back for eight long weeks.

“Googling HG is the most depressing search imaginable. The forums confirm your worst nightmares; 40 weeks of miserable sickness.

“Week eight was the worst. This coincided rather unhappily with Christmas, New Year and my husband Edward’s 40th birthday, or the worst day of my life.

“I couldn’t get out of bed bar to be sick, could barely sip anything and after attempting to get up before the planned lunch and failing after a few steps, I lay in bed wanting to die as all my family went out for the celebration I’d carefully planned weeks before.

“Things went from bad to worse. Days went by when I couldn’t get up, certainly not dressed or washed. I got used to lying in bed alone while my husband tried to amuse our two-year-old Elise by leaving the house.

“He said he felt like a single dad. He couldn’t wait for the holidays to be over to go back to work, so he could be relieved of the misery that oozed from my side of the bed and all over the house. My vomiting terrified our toddler who ran away to hide whenever I dashed to the toilet.

“Looking back I should have been in hospital, if only I could’ve physically got upright to get in the car to get there. I imagined sitting in the ED for hours, unable to lie down and couldn’t face it. So I gradually got more back pain from lying in one position trying to avoid motion induced vomit. More days went by like this and the depression deepened. I honestly considered if I could have got to a clinic to have a termination I would have. It felt like it or I, only one of us could survive and it was certainly trying to kill me.

“Finally the bank holidays finished and I got to see a junior GP. I was due back at work the next day and knew I wasn’t fit. She did the right thing and signed me off the whole of the month and expedited my booking appointment with the midwife. Two days later the midwife took one look at the ketones in my urine and arranged for my admission into hospital.

“On arrival I saw a registrar who seemed to know about HG but when I asked why I couldn’t manage to drink fluids, suggested it was ‘psychogenic’. If I’d been stronger I might have punched him. This could not be true. I could not be doing this to myself. It occurred to me that this young male doctor should try living a day in my shoes and then see how ‘psychogenic’ it really is.

“I finally got hooked up to two litres of saline with a promise of ‘it’ll make you feel better’.

“On arrival I couldn’t produce any urine to be tested. By this time I could partially fill the pot and was told it was acceptable enough to go home, bloated as a balloon.

“We all hoped this would be a turning point but apart from most likely saving my kidneys from imminent failure, it didn’t ease any of the nausea. I had been told enough times I had to take the Odansetron so I did. By the end of the month I was on three medications. Two of which to counter the side effects but I was repeatedly told the risk of dehydration outweighs any other symptoms and in fairness, I did vomit less while taking it.

“I had the long awaited dating scan and of course the foetus was fine, in fact thriving. It was the only smile I’d had in months but my symptoms continued.

“Now I’m nearly 18 weeks, I haven’t been sick for three days but the nausea is still there looming in the background the moment my stomach empties. I guess I’m now lucky I can eat. I have to or it is worse.

“I’m resigned that this isn’t going anywhere. I’m going to have good and bad days probably until the pregnancy is over.

“HG has changed my life. I will never be pregnant again. I will never get to enjoy the glow of it like others do. I will never take food for granted again having become as close to starvation that a westerner can ever expect to experience.

“Every day I wish for the end when the weight of constant nausea and fear of vomiting will be lifted and I will once again feel post-natal euphoria.”