I had one of those moments the other day…one of those mommy melt-down moments where everything seems completely and utterly overwhelming with no respite in sight. It had been raining for seven consecutive days, which meant that my students had been cooped up inside the classroom with me for countless hours and were hell-bent on redefining the meaning of cabin fever. Following a hectic day, I had the privilege of coming home to the sight of my own rambunctious, mud-covered tribe who were just as eager to escape the house as I was. The only problem was, we couldn’t. It was raining so hard we couldn’t see past the porch. I totally would have thrown in the towel – had I been able to find one. See, the other problem was that the laundry was piled a mile high and there wasn’t a clean wash cloth in sight. As dinner was simmering and the boys were busying themselves with their homework assignments, I decided to lay down on the couch for a quick minute. Big mistake; for the second I succumbed to the soft, inviting cushions, I realized just how exhausted I was. Any seasoned parent knows that lying down for a quick rest when you are tired is as disastrous as going famished into a buffet and limiting yourself to a side salad. It’s a complete tease. DON’T do it.
Well anyway, I went against my better judgment and did it anyway. And as I was lying there wishing I could forego the remaining mommy duties for the night, my thoughts turned to Kate Middleton. Yes, Kate. The beautiful royal Duchess of Cambridge who recently announced her first pregnancy much to the delight of the entire Western world. At times, when I’m on the parenting pity pot, I sometimes find myself wondering how my life would be different if I had unlimited income at my disposal. The first thing I’d do is line up a solid support staff for the home. I’d hire a full-time maid, a part-time cook and sometimes story-reader to cover those nights when it literally pains me to bumble through yet another forced rendition of Goodnight Moon. But alas, I am not of royal blood and therefore I will most likely never enjoy the plush luxuries that Kate Middleton is sure to enjoy as she enters the world of motherhood. The perks I envision are healthy organic meals on demand, a wet nurse who will gracefully waltz into the room at 4 a.m. when poor Kate is too exhausted to get up for yet another night feeding and a nanny who is always on hand to take the cranky infant when Mommy Kate wants to something indulgent like send a coherent email to a friend, eat a hot meal, or use the restroom uninterrupted. Ah, the royal life. Must be nice.
Or perhaps not. Because as I was fantasizing about the ways that celebrity status would make my parenting life easier, I begin to think of the recent reports that Kate also happens to be suffering from Hyperemesis gravidarum, which is THE most horrendous, debilitating form of morning sickness there is. I know; because I had it.
When I first found out I was pregnant with my son at the undesirable age of 16, it was not a good feeling. The funny thing was, despite all the circumstantial drama that was circulating around me, I felt physically fine. Radiant, even. It was that wondrous feeling that a women first experiences as she comes to the realization that her body is capable of something much bigger than she can comprehend…the creation of new life. And that’s what I felt, that is, until the hyperemesis gravidarum set in.
It came on suddenly. From one week to the next, I would careen from feeling completely normal (as normal as first-trimester can be) to losing complete control of my health and well-being. Imagine morning sickness a thousand times worse. I was literally dry-heaving until my eyes were bloodshot. My veins bulged as a result of severe dehydration and my energy was completely depleted. While my normal functioning peers were out in the world enjoying the summer months, I was continuously hooked to IVs in an attempt to re-hydrate my body with fluid and nutrients. The effects of the nausea were so intense that I could not bear to be in a full lit room for more than a few minutes. Instead, I withered away, pale and malnourished in my darkened room while begging God for relief from this awful condition. Keep in mind that this was pre-Twilight craze. The ghastly, paled look had yet to reach cult-popularity. I felt wretched . This all sounds very dramatic, but I assure you, the condition is as terrible as it sounds. Like Kate, I was hospitalized as a result of hyperemesis gravidarum and I remained in the hospital for nearly a week and a half until my condition was stabilized. To this day, I cannot stomach the taste of Gatorade or Jello (the only two substances that I was allowed to ingest) without getting the urge to vomit. Little by little I began to get my appetite back, and the nausea under control. By the second trimester, I was feasting like a normal pregnant woman, and in the end gave birth to a healthy, 7 pound, 11 ounce baby boy. But you could not pay me to relive those days of crippling morning sickness. I swear by everything dear to me that there is seldom a time when I take for granted a long cold drink of water, because the memory of that parched, liquid deprived summer remains with me.
And as the memory of that time sunk in, I suddenly got the surge of energy needed to hop off the couch and swiftly execute the reminder of my domestic duties without wavering. Because as plush as Kate’s life may be once that little heir is in her arms, I would not trade places with her right now if my life depended on it. Hyperemisis gravidarum is a royal pain in the ass and it doesn’t discriminate. It afflicts both the common teen peasant and the Duchess of Cambridge with equal ferocity. Poor Kate. I wish her a speedy recovery. And in the meantime, I will be happily enjoying a plentiful serving of post kid-bedtime Ben & Jerry’s on my cozy little couch…