If you have a sensitive stomach, then please move forward. In my opinion, there are many great things to read on this website, but this may not be it for you.
I’m gonna be real with you about what morning sickness and PKU looked like for me during my pregnancy.
But, before we start… I’m just gonna say a quick little prayer over every PKU woman who may be reading this. Jesus, we just pray that this incredible woman will NEVER know what morning sickness is (and how truly dumb the words “morning sickness” are…more, like EVERY MOMENT sickness). While we’re at it…Jesus, please have someone rename it.
I don’t say these things to scare you; I say them to be truthful. I say them so that maybe someone dealing with it now will have a little giggle as they lay sobbing on the floor (or is the sobbing part just me?). I say it so that you can have your significant other read this and they’ll realize what they knew all along… how flipping strong you are for going through it and coming out the other side. And keep in mind that every body, every pregnancy is different. Just because it’s my story, doesn’t mean it will be yours. But, here’s what morning sickness looked like for me.
At first, I researched about pregnancies and how sometimes, that queasy feeling can be good because it means you have a lot of that pregnancy hormone surging through your veins. Therefore, when I didn’t feel it at first, I was convinced I was going to lose the pregnancy and cried. My husband lovingly told me I was being silly and needed to be careful what I wished for. Boy, was he right.
It started with a queasy feeling around week six. The feeling came every morning and would sometimes wear off later as long as I kept food in my tummy (key word is sometimes). My students watched me nibble crackers all day long and were jealous. I wished that I could just make myself throw up to have some relief. (I tried. Couldn’t do it).
And then, one day, it took a drastic turn and the puking started.
I gagged at even the mere thought of formula, so ingesting it for my growing human inside became the most miserable chore that I dreaded. Mr. Hines very creatively tried to make me my formula in a variety of ways. And, sometimes it worked! He would make me my formula in a smoothie and I would be able to keep it down and that system would work for about a week. Then, we’d have to find some other creative way to get it down….that would last for about another week before that avenue was also exhausted. There were countless times I got the courage up to take my formula, only to keep it down for 5 minutes and then, would feel so defeated (and be very late for work). Unfortunately, I couldn’t take Mr. Hines with me to Kindergarten to make my formula while I was there….and my students surely thought I was dying, as I got up running for the trash can multiple times a day or gagging while mid-lesson about the Solar System. Indoor recess and getting bombarded by Cheeto smells? Just forget it. The hardest part is that often, no one knows you’re pregnant at this part of your journey…but, when you puke like that, it’s a pretty clear indicator of what’s going on.
Formula was ROUGH.
But, I think food may have been more difficult. At this point of my pregnancy, I had been weighing out EVERY SINGLE morsel of food I had ingested for months, so that I knew exactly how much protein I was ingesting, and I was able to keep my levels steady because of it. Well, add in some morning sickness and all the sudden, the perfectly measured out potato tacos I just ingested….left my body and could no longer be measured. Therefore, I have no CLUE how much protein I just ingested. This lead to many meltdowns. Worse-case scenarios immediately popped into my mind and I began worrying about getting enough calories or protein for the ba. I’m able to take my blood once a week, but I wanted to know what my phe level was every other moment of every day!!
This may just be me, but I also had NO control over when I was going to be sick. Driving to the airport? Why not! On my hands and knees in my parent’s front yard with neighbors onlooking? Sure! In the middle of the throw pillow section in Target? Been there!
Sweet Mr. Hines didn’t understand the whole getting sick randomly and I explained it like this: I feel like I’m going to puke 24/7. So, when it comes time to actually puke…it just happens!
I know what you may be thinking: Laura, there’s nausea meds for this kind of thing! OF COURSE! How could I forget to mention that. I puked those up, too! I was so happy for this little life inside me…but, it truly was the best of times, and the pukiest of times.
Now, almost every medical professional in my life whether it be my OBGYN or PKU dietician/doctor/whoever…told me multiple times, to just hang in there. It should be over around week 13. I did hang in there. When week 13 came and went, I didn’t think I was going to live to tell this tale. Okay, you’re almost over the worst of it, it will be over around week 15. Week 16. Week 17…. and it kept on going. The morning sickness for me lasted through my whole 2nd trimester. The day I woke up feeling okay again, I cried tears of joy and told myself I would never take eating for granted again.
So with that all being said, here would be my advice for anyone struggling with morning sickness on top of PKU:
Try to focus on that little life inside you and do whatever you can to get that formula down.
Be creative. If something didn’t work last week, try it again next week. For 3 weeks of my pregnancy, the only way I could take my formula was by chugging it and chasing it immediately with a pickle (although, I hated pickles prior to pregnancy).
Try to relax.
The more stressed out I got over my phe levels during this time, the harder it was to cope with like everything and to actually keep those phe levels down. There came a point where I told myself I need to try the best I can, and put the rest in God’s hands. If not, I would have gone insane.
If people at work find out you’re pregnant because you’ve gotta keep crackers or gluten free pretzels on your desk all day long and your coworker heating up her meal in the microwave sends you running to the restroom, then so be it. Of course, my 5 year olds were with me more than adults were during this time…but, I’ll never forget when one of my darling students came over to rub my back like their mommy does when they feel icky and asked me if I was going to have a baby. ADORABLE. It’s hard to hide when you feel that awful.
Yes, it will be over eventually.
I’m not going to tell you what week of your pregnancy it will be over because nobody knows that and everybody hears the tales of those incredible pregnant women who are sick the whole pregnancy. But, I can say with certainty that one day the baby will come out, meaning that the hormones making you feel that way will decrease, too.
Make a Puke Kit.
I was literally made a “puke kit” by a close friend/ mom of a student in my class who figured out what was going on with me after the “Cheeto” incident.
I highly suggest having one handy if you’re having trouble not puking on yourself in public.
Here’s my recipe for a perfect puke kit:
Gallon ziploc bags, puke bags (I know that sounds so strange, but they were actual bags used for puking in hospitals), peppermint essential oils (I would dab it on a rag and stick it over my nose when one of my little loves would pull out their Cheetos at snack time), B6 (I sucked on these when I knew I was going to puke until I could get to the nearest trash can).
And of course there’s the things that other’s say that didn’t help me at all: wake up slowly, leave crackers or some other snack by your bed for first thing in the morning, take your prenatal at night, etc.