My Pregnancy with Undiagnosed Chronic Illnesses

My daughter will be 5 in January, so it has been quite a while since I was pregnant. Still, even with this much time removed from the experience, reflecting on it is admittedly difficult. I might be missing a fact here or there, but I am trying my best to recall hard moments from the past that I mostly blocked out. I wouldn’t even be attempting to share them, except that I feel passionate about being a voice for the chronically ill community, especially chronically ill mothers. My pregnancy story is an essential first part of my chronically ill parenting journey.

Pregnancy was a very hard time for me physically. I was not yet diagnosed with Generalized Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder, Postural Tachycardia, or a number of my other conditions, and was unaware of my childhood Chiari malformation diagnosis. So I thought I would have a normal, healthy pregnancy. My mom LOVED being pregnant, with both me and my younger sister.

I decided to take a pregnancy test because I was so sick. I vomited for an entire week straight, which was super fun when you’re trying to move into your first apartment with your brand new husband. After moving in, we went to the store for some groceries. After bee-lining for the bathroom to vomit once again (I am way too familiar with toilets in too many different bathrooms), I decided to buy a pregnancy test, just to be safe. Both my husband and I were sure it would be negative.

I took one.  It immediately turned positive. I took the other one. Same result. My eggo was preggo (Juno reference).

We took it in stride, and were excited to be new parents, despite it being a surprise. We announced to our families, who were super excited too (first grandbaby/niece or nephew!). We decided on a girl name that we had actually decided on when we were just dating, and after much deliberation a boy name, which was much harder. We started buying tiny, gender neutral clothes. I even had a very part-time job at a children’s consignment store during that time between grad school classes, so it was all very tempting!

But despite all that joy, I continued to be so, so sick my entire pregnancy.

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Layered Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Bars

These beautiful bars are fun to make and great for any of the big holidays coming up! I made them for a New Year’s Eve party a few years back and they were such a hit. Cut them into smaller squares for serving a crowd at a dessert buffet or bigger rectangles for a more intimate after dinner treat! These do take a bit of time and effort to get all of the layers made, so make sure to start them the day before your event.

cheesecake bars

Ingredients for 12-36 bars (varies depending on size)

Layer 1:

  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 16 crushed graham crackers, or about 2 cups of crumbs

Layers 2 and 3:

  • 32 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (dairy free works as well!)
  • 1.25 cups sugar (any kind will do, I use coconut sugar)
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 15oz can pumpkin puree

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Printable Thanksgiving Medallion Craft

Give Thanks Medallion Printable Kid Craft

Keep little ones engaged at Thanksgiving with this simple printable craft! It’s a fun way for kids to decorate for the holiday or make a little project at the kids’ table on turkey day. All you need is a printer and a few basic supplies!

A happy acorn at the center of the medallion reminds kids to “give thanks.” Then, some simple leaves surround the circle. If the weather is nice, you can also let the kids head outside to find some real leaves for their craft!

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What it’s like to have hyperemesis gravidarum — and throw up for almost 38 weeks straight.

When my family first arrived in Austin, Texas, by way of camper adventure, our newfound friends would often ask us, “Where did you move from?”

“We moved from Kauai in Hawaii,” I’d tell them. Then, the next question would inevitably come: “Wait, what? Why the hell would you move from Hawaii to Texas?”

It boggled anyone’s mind that we would choose to leave Kauai’s lush jungles and beautiful beaches – ultimately quintessential paradise – to arrive in the flatlands of Texas.

What I didn’t often talk about was the fact that I suffered from hypermesis gravidarum so severe that it completely changed my association with the entire island. Rather than feeling like Kauai was a magical place I had dreamed of living all my life, it became a place where I could no longer stand to be. Given that I was perpetually nauseous for 38 weeks straight, even after I gave birth, the smell of a hibiscus flower or the feel of the sun on my skin would make me want to vomit all over again.

That’s how intense hypermesis gravidarum can be — it can make you want to move away from paradise.

While many women suffer from “morning sickness” in the first trimester, hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is an intense pregnancy complication characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and possibly dehydration. Other symptoms may include vomiting many times a day and feeling faint.

For me, my first trimester officially ended on my birthday. I woke up that morning with all the hope in the world that what so many other mothers shared with me would prove right, “It’ll get better after your first trimester is over!” Much to my dismay, it didn’t.

In fact, it got much worse.

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Introducing Mrs. Snowflake!

Hello! I am very excited to be joining Hellobee as the newest blogger. I have never really seen myself as a parenting blogger before; I write primarily as a frequent contributor on The Mighty, where I write about my multiple chronic illnesses. But as I have gotten deeper into the world of parenting and disabled parenting–my daughter is almost 5!–I have realized there are few voices on mainstream parenting blogs, outside of the chronic illness blogs I have cocooned myself in, for chronically ill and disabled parents. I have come to Hellobee because I want to be that voice and to add a new parenting perspective.

Most of my posts will center around chronic illness parenting and its many different dimensions. This is because I know many wonderful parenting bloggers who write about a whole lot of different parenting issues, but chronic illness parenting is my specific experience, and the one that tends to be under-represented amoung parenting blogs.

So a little more about me, my family, and my context to blogging.

My husband and I are both 27, and have been married a little over five years, together for eight. We got married right after we graduated college, and right before starting graduate school. We wanted kids someday for sure, but we had a five year plan before we would talk about kids: we wanted to finish grad school, get established in our careers, and maybe buy a house first.

Well, that five year plan didn’t even last five weeks. Less than a month after our honeymoon, the day we moved into our first apartment together, I found out I was pregnant.

My daughter, S, is now 4 and a half (she’ll turn 5 in January and is already planning her dinosaurs and dolls birthday party). She has been the greatest source of joy and adventure in our lives. She is a total fearless ball of energy and passion. Her current obsessions are art projects, dinosaurs, her dollhouse, and her garage sale American Girl Doll. Her overabundance of energy and inability to calm her body are the #1 thing that get her in trouble these days. She is also very smart and inquisitive, and we truly have great conversations.

However, despite S being our greatest blessing and never wanting to change our lives’ trajectory for the world, pregnancy came with some unique challenges centered around my health that never let up.

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Link Roundup – November 16, 2018

My friend Judy took all the kids to El Nido while I stayed home so I could get some work done and embark upon cleanfest 2018 for my mom’s visit on Monday. I can’t believe it’s already been 5 months since we moved to the island capital! During that time I’ve been with the kids 24/7 (literally since Olive sleeps with me and Charlie is homeschooled), and this introvert has been in desperate need of alone time, even if it means I’ll be running errands and cleaning most of the time! 3 days kid-free. Hoping to squeeze in a viewing of Bohemian Rhapsody. Adult movies are one of the biggest guiltiest pleasures for me!


Tons of parenting links this week!


WARNING: My Child Was Sleep Deprived & It Disguised Itself as ADHD via For Every Mom

The Significance of Michelle Obama’s Fertility Story via The Atlantic

A mother is sharing the story of her 17-month-old’s death to warn parents about the potential dangers of car seats via Insider

If Only Everyone Had a Postpartum Doula via New York Times

11 things parents need to know about RSV via Motherly

How RSV changed the way I parent via Motherly

For a Child’s Cough, the Best Medicine Is No Medicine via New York Times

10 little things you’re doing that are negatively affecting your fertility via The Insider


There’s a very good reason why children like to read the same story over and over again via World Economic Forum

Silicon Valley’s tech-free Waldorf School is a hit via The Times

The Backlash Against Screen Time at School via The Atlantic

‘School is very oppressive’: why home-schooling is on the rise via The Guardian

Can Diverse Books Save Us? In a divided world, librarians are on a mission via School Library Journal

Teach Your Kids Empathy With These Old-School Chapter Books  via Lifehacker


Spanking Is Still Really Common and Still Really Bad for Kids via The Atlantic

Detailed New National Maps Show How Neighborhoods Shape Children for Life via New York Times

A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley via New York Times

Why timeouts make tantrums + power struggles worse via Motherly

The Play Deficit via Aeon

American Meritocracy Is Killing Youth Sports via The Atlantic

Excerpt: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the power of ‘difficult women’ via National Geographic

Adoptions fall by 62% as IVF success rises via BBC

20 phrases to use when your child isn’t listening via Motherly

We quit screen time completely—and it saved our kids via Motherly

Should Childhood Trauma Be Treated As A Public Health Crisis? via NPR

6 Waldorf-inspired principles every family should adopt via Motherly

Why Every Parent or Student Should Read This Book via Inc.

Talk to your baby like you talk to your dog via CNN

Watch Dialogue-Free Animated Shows With Your Kids via Lifehacker

Every City Should Have a Toy Library via The Atlantic

My husband and I disagree about what is safe for our toddler. How can we find common ground? via Washington Post

Does being a doctor make me a better parent? via The Guardian

More mothers breastfeeding in states with paid leave laws, says study via Motherly

Why Mini-Me Dressing Is Big Business via Business of Fashion

Netflix Christmas Movie Guide via Sunshine Momma

Free Kindle Book: No Child Left Unwrapped: Understanding and Honoring the Gifts Every Child is Born With

The owner of Olive’s school shared this tip with me today: No Child Left Unwrapped: Understanding and Honoring the Gifts Every Child is Born With by Shelley Francis is available for free on Kindle this week. I haven’t read it yet, but she recommended it and you don’t have to tell me free twice! Even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the app for free!


Here is a recent review:

I had the opportunity to read this book…and wow! It’s a much needed book for parents, teachers , therapists, and anyone who interacts with kids of today. As a therapist, one very prominent theme of this book stood out to me; The fact that your child is not broken, and they do not need to be fixed. I loved this quote from the book: “They are perfect exactly the way they are. The life journey that they are on is the perfect storm. It is not your job to fix them. Just love them, and accept them for who they are and for the gifts they bring to this world.” This book helps us to shift perspective to unwrap a child’s uniques gifts so they can truly thrive in the home, school, and society while we as parents, educators, and advocates discover how awesome the beautiful kids of today truly are. Recommend this book as a resource for any parent, educator, therapist!

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