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My Brother’s Sweatshirt, a story of HG

This short story is a part of my ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the life threatening pregnancy illness that I suffered in three pregnancies, Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  You can read more about my HG experiences in the HG Awareness portion of TLT.  For more information and support please visit the Hyperemesis and Education Research Foundation (HER Foundation).

Somewhere along the line, I ended up living in Ohio and in possession of my brother’s high school sweatshirt. I wear it everyday to keep my brother close to me (I love and miss him). Plus, it is super comfy.

Years ago, when I lived close to my family, I got to spend a lot of time with my brother. We talked. We hung out. And yes, occasionally we fought. My journey to Ohio was not supposed to last this long. I was young, engaged, and in love. Life circumstances just worked out that it was best for us to go to Ohio for college. Here I am, 18 years later. I have a husband, two amazing kids and a longing in my heart to be with my family that no sweatshirt can satisfy.

In 2006, I found myself pregnant with my second child and seriously, life threateningly ill. I would spend days laying on the bathroom floor with HG (hyperemesis gravidarum). By the end of it, the sweatshirt barely hung off of my frame (I had lost 30 pounds quickly). I had lost so much weight it looked like it was just hanging there on a hanger. I was wearing my brother’s sweatshirt after I was released from the hospital for the second time in 1 week, barely able to lift my head off of my pillow. I was wearing my brother’s sweatshirt when I looked at my 3-year-old child and tried to teach her how to call 911: I had begun passing out and events seemed to suggest I might die. I was so worried what would happen to her if the two of us were alone and it happened. I was wearing my brother’s sweatshirt when our pastor came over and prayed with us about terminating the pregnancy. And yes, I was wearing my brother’s sweatshirt when we learned that our baby was no longer living because he (or she) could not survive the pregnancy that I was barely surviving.

2 years later I wore the sweatshirt again, everyday, through another serious bought of HG.  This time there was home iv therapy, more hospital visits, bed rest, and bleeding complications as my excessive vomiting caused my placenta to begin ripping away from the uterine wall. But in the end, this time, there was joy – our baby Scout.

At 6 weeks old, Scout stopped breathing and turned blue. I was sitting there, wearing my brother’s sweatshirt and pajama bottoms, playing with Kicky on the computer. I looked up and there she was, slowly dying. I grabbed Scout and raced to the hospital, wearing nothing but that sweatshirt and pjs. I rode in the ambulance to children’s in my brother’s sweatshirt. And then I spent night after night, lounging in my brother’s sweatshirt, watching the apnea monitor as I held my baby and I hoped that she would just continue to breathe through one more night.

My brother has hugged my children more times than he will never know through that sweatshirt. He has been with me, in spirit, through some of the best and truly worst moments of my life. He helped me through HG.  The letters on my sweatshirt are all cracking. The front pocket is ripping off. There is a hole in the right sleeve where I once burned it – what, I never said I was an awesome cook.

Every day my brother is with me, in spirit, in this sweatshirt. I told my husband that I wanted to be buried in my brother’s sweatshirt – I think he may wonder if I am serious or not. But I am. My brother and I don’t talk a lot – it is easy to get caught up in life and children and those day to day details that bog you down and suck the wonder and joy out of life. But then every night I get ready for bed, put on my sweatshirt and say my prayers – and I always pray for my brother, his wife, my beautiful nieces. I hope one day my prayers will be answered and some day I will get to move back home, closer to my family. I just hope when I get there, he doesn’t ask for his sweatshirt back 😉

For more of my story, please read The ABCs of HG: an unconventional picture book.

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