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Imagine you're Princess Kate - it's awful and here's why

Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft, Parenting Perspectives columnist

I just heard another person refer to Princess Kate's "morning sickness."

I am enraged on Kate's behalf for this. This is her third time dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum, a disorder of pregnancy that involves extreme vomiting and nausea. Yet people persist in talking about this illness as if she could cure it with ginger and positive thinking.

People with this disorder lose five percent or more of their body weight — often in a very short span of time. They face severe dehydration and starvation if they can't get adequate treatment. Many become so weak they're unable to function normally or work. Some people even need assistance to perform basic self-care like showering or getting dressed.

This is not "morning sickness," which is a normal, annoying and awful part of pregnancy that is generally manageable (albeit crappy). This is a full-blown medical disorder that can cost people their lives.

During my pregnancy, I, like Kate, had hyperemesis gravidarum. It was more than four years ago, but I still panic at the thought of it. I haven't yet been brave enough to have another baby. (Kudos to Kate for going for a third at this point — she's got my respect.)

While I was pregnant, I made dozens of trips to the emergency room and to the hospital. During the second half of my pregnancy, I had regularly scheduled hospital visits in order to receive IV fluids so I could stay hydrated. (I couldn't keep down liquids on my own.) I lost count of how many days I spent in the hospital - I had to go back through my bills to figure it out.

Imagine being hospitalized so frequently you lose track of it.

I lost more than 60 pounds in the first trimester. Yes, I was not a thin person to begin with, but that was still more than a quarter of my body weight.

Go weigh yourself right now. Now imagine how sick you'd have to be to literally starve out of 25 percent of that weight by Thanksgiving.

My daughter and I would very possibly both be dead right now if it weren't for the miracles of modern medicine. We were literally kept alive for months on nothing but regular IVs and sheer willpower.

Imagine not being able to do something as basic as keep yourself hydrated.

Imagine if water was your enemy.

When Callie was born, I followed up her birth with a Rice Krispie bar. That was at the end of July. It was the first solid food I'd kept down since one of my hospitalizations the first week in April.

As you eat dinner tonight, imagine it is the last thing you'll be able to eat until after Valentine's Day.

Imagine a quarter of a million dollars in medical bills. Imagine worrying you're going to lose your job because you've vomited so much you're too weak to leave your couch to go to work. Imagine thousands of dollars in dental bills to repair what the constant acid did to your teeth.

Imagine the looks on your family members' faces as they worry you're starving to death in front of them. Imagine the hopelessness of wanting to be a parent but knowing that getting there could literally kill you.

Imagine all that — and then imagine hearing someone refer to what you're going through as "morning sickness."

Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft is hub manager for Forum Design Center. She lives in Moorhead with her husband and their daughter, Calliope. She can be reached at Follow her daughter on Twitter @lilmisscalliope.

Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft

Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft is hub manager for Forum Design Center. She lives in Moorhead with her husband and their daughter, Calliope. She can be reached at

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