Emetophobia and Pregnancy

Vomiting scares the hell out of me.

“Okay Jeanette, no one likes throwing up – stop being dramatic.” I’ve heard it over and over growing up. Here’s the thing. It’s not just not “liking” vomiting. It’s a constant anxiety. It’s panic attack inducing. It’s something that changes the way I live.

Emetophobia is the phobia of vomiting. I’ve had this deep fear since childhood. I have no clue where it stems from, but I recall when my younger brother or sister would get sick, my parents would have to comfort me. Personally, I haven’t thrown up since I was about 5 or 6. It’s been a solid 2 decades.

How has emetophobia changed my life? I never drink to excess out of fear of being ill. I wouldn’t go to parties as a teenager. I avoid public transportation as much as possible. If I am on public transportation, I am constantly scanning others for signs of possible sickness. If someone coughs, my heart starts beating faster. I’m very cautious about food and how it’s prepared. I keep Zofran in my purse.

What happens when I feel nauseous or someone around me is ill? I freak the hell out, to put it simply. I caught some type of bug when I was in Israel a few summers ago and I remember crying on the phone to my husband about how scared I was to throw up. I appear heartless to those who are sick, because I simply cannot be around it. Physically, my heart starts to beat faster when someone even mentions being sick. My anxiety goes through the roof. I start thinking of escape plans. I get as far as humanly possible from that person. If it’s me who is nauseous, I typically take Zofran, rub mint oil all over and chew gum in an effort to keep it at bay. I’ll probably cry as well.

How has it been with pregnancy? Honestly, a million times smoother than I thought it would be. I have had bouts of nausea throughout my first and third trimester, but never came close to actually throwing up. It was a huge concern of mine prior to getting pregnant, but my wonderful husband made sure I was always stocked up on ginger candy, tea and sparkling waters to help keep it from becoming actual sickness. I am far more concerned about how my emetophobia will pan out when baby is actually here. Kids get sick – I know this. I’m trying to rationalize it in my head that it’s just a natural thing that happens but I can’t. When I taught elementary, when the kids got ill, I could not help them at all. I often couldn’t stay in the room with them. I’m nervous that my daughter will see me as a heartless creature for not being able to comfort her when she’s ill. I’m starting to get nervous about how the bathroom upstairs is connected to both her room and our room. The thought of her being sick in the middle of the night terrifies me. I have discussed this with my husband, and he is very understanding, and is okay with dealing with that part of parenthood, but at some point, I will likely have to deal with it.

I’m not quite sure why I wrote this all out there. Emetophobia has played a big role in my life thus far, and I expect it to continue to as I set forth on this new chapter. I know it’s not an especially common phobia, but it’s there and I have it. I hope that one day I will be able to overcome it, but I know there’s a good chance I can’t. I’ve come to terms with that.

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