Parenting

Kate, Hyperemesis Sucks Worse the Second Time

Like every mama with HG, she'll blame herself for this. No matter how much she wants this baby, she'll feel guilty. George's life will change, and Kate will miss precious time with him. And that's perhaps worse than the sickness: being stuck in bed when your child needs you.
09/09/2014 03:40pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attending The Epsom Derby Meeting at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey. 4th June 2011. 05/06/2011 Picture by: Simon Burchell / Featureflash

Hyperemesis gravidarum sucks. The only thing that sucks more? Having hyperemesis gravidarum for the second time.

HG works like this. Some time, usually right after that cute lil zygote implants in your womb, you start feeling slightly nauseated. Then a little more nauseated. Then you rapidly progress to not eating, not drinking, and throwing up everything, including water, and then throwing up even more. You throw up so hard, you pee yourself. I used to drop my pants before barfing -- if I didn't, I went through a dozen pairs of underwear a day.

Sometimes HG can be treated with oral medication, which can cause bitchiness, depression, and migraines (Zofran), or induce a state of modified hibernation (Phenergen). In other cases, mothers end up tethered to IV medication, hydration, and nutrition. It's sort of like undergoing chemo of varying severity, but you get a baby at the end.

Sounds hellish? It is. Now think about parenting with it.

Clarence House just announced that Duchess Kate is pregnant with royal bebe number two (aka "the spare"). Yet again, they've broken the news early: the Duchess had to pull out of previous engagements, because she's suffering from hyperemesis for the second time. Her pregnancy is less than 12 weeks along, possibly as early as five weeks and probably somewhere between seven and eight. And suddenly, Prince George is on the sidelines.

Not only is Kate unable to attend tea parties and christen hockey fields and survey her adoring masses from atop high balconies, if she has HG, she also can't parent. Picking up George probably makes her vomit, and it's hard to walk baby in the garden when you're barfing like a frat boy on pledge night. If her experience is anything like mine, she cuddles her son for a few precious moments, while she lies in bed, before someone else takes him away again.

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No longer does she see George attempt an ice cream cone, or hear his new words, or push him on the swings. She's too sick. Maybe she manages to watch Yo Gabba Gabba with him. Or, if she's lucky, reading a short book won't trigger the barfs (though it does for many of us HG mamas). She sits, and other people make decisions about his life.

In the second round of HG, there are always parenting compromises. My best friend, a diehard hippie homeschooler, had to put her son in daycare. When I was pregnant with my third baby, my sons sometimes watched three movies a day, one after another, all of us lying in my bed. People fed them things I didn't want them to have, and turned on shows I didn't want them to watch, and I had to say thank you because I couldn't take care of them myself.

Obviously, with Kate's enormous staff, her parenting compromises will be fewer. But she'll make some nonetheless: maybe George will watch more TV, or spend more time with the nanny, or take an extended visit to relatives. These will gut her far out of proportion, because this will feel like her fault.

Like every mama with HG, she'll blame herself for this. No matter how much she wants this baby, she'll feel guilty. George's life will change, and Kate will miss precious time with him. And that's perhaps worse than the sickness: being stuck in bed when your child needs you. She'll miss him horribly, lying there, looking over the stretch of a whole nine months and hoping it gets better.

HG sucked before, Kate. And it's going to suck again. My advice? Punch anyone who tells you to eat some saltines. Be gentle with yourself. And remember: It'll be a long-ass nine months. But it will end. When you kneel over the toilet, your paid staff might hold your perfect tresses. But you're one of us, Kate. Welcome back, and remember: no matter how awful it is, you get a baby out of it. That's worth all the barfing, the misery, and the compromises. George will be glad for a sibling one day. You bump Harry down one notch in the line of succession. And if all else fails - take it from Victoria, another HG mama. Just close your eyes and think of England.

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