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“After Years of Infertility, I Finally Fell Pregnant. I was hospitalised at 7 Weeks”

Writing by Haylee Penfold


When I finally got pregnant after years of battling infertility, I thought the hard part was over. I longed for the cute bump and that pregnancy glow you see in the movies. My pregnancy has been far from that dream.

I was 19 when I first knew my fertility would be an issue. Being diagnosed with stage four endometriosis at such a young age, the pressure to start a family while barely being an adult myself was immense. So when I met my partner, he knew from the beginning if children were on the cards for us, it would need to happen sooner rather than later. By 21 we had tried to conceive naturally for years all while I’d undergone eight surgeries for endometriosis.

We started IVF in October 2023 and by some miracle, our first round was successful.

I was pregnant, finally! I had found out I was pregnant at five weeks, by seven  weeks, I was being hospitalized.

Maybe I was naive, but I had pictured my pregnancy to be –  simple, and easy compared to the pain I had experienced with endometriosis. My two best friends had recently had babies both experiencing healthy and somewhat smooth pregnancies – was it too much to expect that for myself too? In the two weeks I’d been pregnant, I lost eight kilos from the consistent throwing up. At first I brushed it off as morning sickness, because that was the first symptom I expected. I was almost excited for the nausea, though it quickly became unmanageable.

Not only was I unable to stomach any food – I was unable to tolerate water. By the time I went to hospital and stepped on the scales I’d lost eight kilos in those first two weeks.. After swallowing the bile in my throat, I asked the nurse with tears in my eyes “is my baby going to be okay?”

I passed out in hospital, after not having kept any food down in three days. I was given IV medication for the nausea and fluids to help with my dramatic dehydration.. A male doctor came in and told me this could be hyperemesis, I’d never heard of it – so he explained it to me as “morning sickness on steroids” and when I asked “will it go away?” he said, “it could, or it could stick around”.

It stuck around.

I started to grieve what I thought my pregnancy would be. No natural glow, instead, sunken cheeks and tired eyes. Every three days I am in hospital, unable to eat or drink. Bub is fine, a strong and healthy weight but I couldn’t say the same for myself. By 12 weeks, I was underweight, even after trying ten different medications. My family and friends supported me as best they could, “it will all be worth it, you’ll see” they’d text me and I’d cry reading it from my bed that I hadn’t left in weeks.

I have wanted this. For years. And I feel guilty that I hate every minute of it. I miss the friends I haven’t seen since being pregnant because leaving the house only occurs when I’m going to hospital. To physically feel yourself fading away makes it hard to remind myself it will be worth it. Some days the thought of having my baby after all of this felt almost too far away. Those are the days my partner would take that little extra care, to wash my hair or hold me that little bit tighter to remind me I’m not in this alone.

We just found out we’re having a boy. I’m 19 weeks pregnant now, I’m still in bed and living off vegemite toast and soda water in tiny sips. What has changed is when I sit in my hospital bed – that I’ve become all too familiar with – I take in the women around me. Most further along in their pregnancy than me, some going through the same thing I am. I see their tiredness, but I also see their strength. We’ve all been dealt a tough hand of being that 1% of pregnancies that suffer with hyperemesis. Yet here we are showing up and doing what we can to get through it. These women have seen me in my most vulnerable moments, tears streaming down my face at the thought of a sandwich and assured me it’s going to be okay.

What I also see is the women at the other end of this hell, holding their baby in their arms and smiling at me. They tell me without words that, even when you feel like you can’t do it anymore, you can… and I will.

Haylee Penfold

Haylee Penfold, she/her, is a twenty something, chronic illness advocate who is passionate about all things sex education and pleasure positivity. Will also bring up Harry Styles in any context she can.

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