A Line In the Sand: Morning sickness no laughing matter

IT is very hard to have any sympathy for 2Day FM radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian after the royal hoax call scandal this week.

It is true that no one could have foreseen the tragic death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, but what a foolish idea that phone call was from the outset. 

Nothing about that move was in any way humorous. Instead, it was in indication that proper human conduct is being dismissed to make way for provocative radio airplay.

The hosts’ intention was to speak to the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, using whatever means possible – in this case, impersonating (pretending to be) the Queen and Prince Charles.

But not only did they fail to stop and think about those innocent medical staff humiliated along the way, not once did they consider the impact the call would have on an ill woman who, regardless of her royal status, is exactly that.

To quote Mel Greig, “you prank someone, you record it, then it goes to other departments to work out what they want to do with it... We just do what we do, which is to make those calls.’’

What a cop out.

I wonder if at any point the two radio hosts stopped to think about the woman they were trying to reach via phone. It was more than just a prank call.

It was a call to a young woman extremely unwell in the early stages of her first pregnancy.

Yes, she is a royal – but she is also a woman trying to preserve her energy to ensure she is well enough to carry her unborn child.

Morning sickness is all too often dismissed as a minor issue.

I had hyperemesis gravidarum with my firstborn and let me tell you, it is hell.

There’s no excitement at watching the blue lines come up on a pregnancy test – you know you’re pregnant when you wake the morning your period is due and start sweating with overwhelming nausea.

It is disgusting, debilitating and takes away any pleasure a new pregnancy should bring. And it’s not just for the first 12 weeks – it lasts the entire 40. 

Every minute is spent worrying if you are close enough to a bathroom or rubbish bin, or anything that will catch a violent, gut-wrenching vomit with little notice.

There is no relief. You vomit standing under the shower. You vomit cleaning your teeth. You vomit all day, all night and when you’re not vomiting, you’re in hospital on a drip having intravenous fluids and anti-nausea medication to give you enough strength to get through another week.

Often, it takes more than one attempt to get the cannula into your veins because you are so dehydrated.

You are sitting in a hospital room with a spit bucket in front of you, wondering how any woman could describe pregnancy as beautiful. You just want it to stop.

But then you feel guilty because you love the little one growing inside you and you’re worried that the medication will affect their long-term health.

It’s just that the vomiting never ends. Your stomach hurts, your lips are dry and cracked and you sleep with a towel under your tongue to catch whatever falls out of your mouth in your sleep. 

After a day or two of fluids, you’re sent home with anti-nausea tablets to “enjoy’’ the pregnancy.

But within a week, you’re back in the same hospital room, having someone else poke and prod at your veins yet again.

Yes, the outcome is worth every minute, but it is a long nine months to get to that point.

You spend most of the time worried about how you are going to get nutrients to your baby when nothing you put in your mouth stays down.

My first pregnancy was so dreadfully awful that when I conceived my second child, it took a bit of counselling to get me through it. Not that again .... but fortunately, while the vomiting lasted nine months, it wasn’t all-day-every-day. 

A girlfriend who also had the same experience said what should have been a beautiful time for her was spent wanting to rid “a parasite from her body’’.

She was being spoon fed by her mother, because both feared the baby would be malnourished.

So you can only empathise with Kate Middleton, knowing she is now experiencing this.

Kate is a young woman in the first (and still dangerous) trimester of pregnancy. She is trying to stay strong and well enough to ensure her unborn child has the best start at life.

This is her first pregnancy and she will be feeling positively awful.

For anyone to think a phone call from immature and insensitive radio shock jocks pretending to be family was the right thing to do, is absolutely inexcusable.

Most journalists respect that if someone is ill in hospital, they are out of bounds.

Just because Kate also happens to be the Duchess of Cambridge does not change this.

Now, because of an insensitive radio station and two shock jocks who didn't have the decency to say no to making a stupid phone call, Kate has the suicide of a nurse on her mind.

Greig admits the first thought that came to mind when told of the Jacintha Saldanha' s death was "was she a mother?" Did it ever occur to her that Kate Middleton is, too. An ill mother to an unborn child. 

Did she and her co-host ever think about what the additional stress would do to a woman whose body is physically exhausted and in the still dangerous stage of pregnancy? What part of any of what they did was funny?

For help or information, visit beyondblue.org.au or phone Lifeline on 131 114

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