Before I was pregnant, I was concerned about morning sickness. If I was sick all the time, how could I possibly do my job? I’m in court 4-6 times a week and I don’t control my schedule. This week, I’ve had two mornings with 2-3 cases each and contested hearings which took over an hour each. I am at the mercy of the Judge, the opposing party, and my client. But a few friends told me that it wasn’t that bad, that they were way sicker in the evening, that they were nauseated but didn’t throw up.
I was six weeks along when I threw up for the first time. I was heading to the gym and I got off the bus and the next thing I knew, I was vomiting on the sidewalk. It was terribly upsetting and completely unexpected, because I had decided, you know, I was going to be one of those pregnant ladies that simply willed her morning sickness away through sheer willpower. I was going to eat kale and whole grains and only gain the required amount of weight.
The first symptom that I was pregnant was nausea. It was a low-grade sort of nausea, that was annoying but nothing I couldn’t handle with a bit of gingerale and some crackers. Then, it was all morning, every morning. Eating crackers as soon as I woke up helped. Staying hydrated helped. And eventually I’d start feeling better, in the afternoon. Then, I started feeling sick all day.
Then I went on a work conference with a couple of judges. I was extremely nauseated the entire time and threw up during the conference (fortunately, in the bathroom), and when I got home, I called my doctor and requested a script for zofran. I hadn’t even been in for my first appointment, but they called it into my CVS and I picked it up that day.
If you have a job where you are generally required to be functional on somebody eles’s schedule, where you cannot excuse yourself constantly to run to the bathroom, like teaching or litigating, I highly recommend getting zofran the minute you find out you are pregnant and then taking it as soon as you start vomiting or your nausea interferes with your ability to do work. If you are still feeling nauseated after that, talk to your doctor about something stronger.
I made some other changes to my routine as well. I added lifesavers and peppermints to my court file and started carrying a bottle of water to court with me on particularly bad days – I found that when my throat was dry, I was much more likely to start gagging. I only took the zofran if I was feeling bad before court, so I started carrying an emergency pill just in case in my padfolio just in case I was hit by a sudden wave of nausea. I found my nausea was tied pretty closely to stress, so it was pretty much a given that I was going to need it on days I had court.
After 14 weeks, I stopped taking the zofran on a daily-ish basis, but didn’t feel significantly better. I started throwing up more, because I wasn’t taking the zofran, but I didn’t have as many full-on bad nausea days – the nausea would come on very quickly, I would throw up, and then I would be fine. That lasted until close to 18 weeks. I haven’t thrown up in almost 6 weeks, but I do still have some bad nausea days where I eat saltines for dinner.
So if you are concerned about having a job and being pregnant, at least as far as morning sickness goes, the best advice I can give you is that there are drugs for that. And saltines. I went through four boxes of saltines. It was a couple of rough months before I could eat cereal again for breakfast, instead of toast. I had trouble getting enough vegetables and protein as well (although string cheese helps a lot with the nausea). Everyone has different nausea remedies and just try them all. If you have concerns about taking drugs, I recommend reading Expecting Better and then deciding what you are comfortable with.