Friday, 18 November 2016

Eaton Park Science Day 2017 and Hyperemesis Gravidarum


My name is Jessica Suter, I am a 25-year-old mother in my penultimate year as science undergraduate with The Open University, and I am running the first ever science fest in the renowned Eaton Park, Norwich to celebrate British Science Week and raise money for PregnancySickness Support.

5 years ago I would never have thought of writing a blog post with such an introduction. As 5 years ago I was a promising public relations officer. Having set-up my own PR consultancy and it blossoming in its first year my (now fiancé) and I decided it was the right time to start a family. I could work from home and be around my family – seemed like a win-win. Very soon after trying we were blessed with a positive pregnancy test and had so much excitement for our future, but within a few days of the test my health dramatically declined.

By 6 weeks’ gestation, I found myself in hospital after a painstaking fortnight of being bedridden, vomiting stomach blood and unable to keep down any foods or liquids. My GP practice told me pregnancy sickness was normal in the first 12 weeks and advised ginger, sickness bands and bed rest. When my mother dropped by our home she took one look at me and I had never seen such horror on her face. She helped me into her car and took me straight to the Accident and Emergency unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. There, I was seen instantly and hooked up to intravenous vein fluids. I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum and was put under consultant-led care for the remainder of my pregnancy which I carried through on a cocktail of frequent hospital trips, vitamins and antiemetic’s, with the occasional mars ice-cream and a banana milkshake that I craved.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum didn’t just leave me feeling robbed of a pregnancy. It crippled by business - as I was no longer able to communicate without ending up violently shaking and vomiting (anything involving my senses did). It almost destroyed my relationship with my fiancé as I wasn’t able to have human contact and communication for months. It stole my confidence in my writing abilities which is all I felt I had, and it gave me painstaking Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). However, I also gained a lot through this experience.

I found new friends online that I could share my feelings of disparity with and socially matured in a lot of respects. The bond I developed with my mother became stronger than it had ever been. The bond with my fiancé is now immeasurable and I became the mother that I never realised I could be to a child I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to raise.

After having my daughter, my entire world shifted for the better and in completely unexpected ways. I suddenly felt empowered, like I was able to make a difference. It was as if my mind and body screamed that getting through such a debilitating disease allowed me access to conquer the world. I felt that I could actually help to change the world, to create a brighter future for our daughter, as a scientist.

Having always aspired to be in the science profession, but lacking the confidence and education to do so I always put it on the back-burner. Once Sofia had arrived though it all changed. I realised that I no longer wanted to do work that didn’t inspire me or challenge me in the ways that I needed to be challenged, and I could never offer my daughter what it means to follow your dreams if I couldn’t even do that myself. The summer after she was born I dedicated any of my spare time to science and maths and in October 2014 I enrolled on an Open Degree in the sciences with The Open University.

Three years on and I have brought up a marvelous child full of life, almost graduated, and created Eaton Park Science Day to celebrate British Science Week and to inspire others to embrace the science around them and allow science to embrace them.

Eaton Park Science Day is a free family-friendly event being held on Saturday 11 March 2017 at the Eaton Park Community Centre during 9am and 12pm. After lunch, we will be running several activities on the park grounds including a fitness class and nature hunt.
Follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/EatonParkScienceDay

Tweet to us: @Eatonparksciday

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