A heartbroken mum bravely told how she chose to abort her healthy baby – because she could not cope with the devastating effects of MORNING SICKNESS.
Cheryl Harrison, 34, vomited up to 40 times a DAY for more than seven months while pregnant with her first daughter Scarlett, now five.
From week seven of her pregnancy she could not walk, leave the house, watch TV, or even go inside her own kitchen and admitted wishing for a miscarriage to end the torture.
Scarlett was born healthy and happy, but when Cheryl fell pregnant again in January 2008 her sickness was even WORSE second time around.
The bouts of sickness left her prostrate on the floor, unable to care for her toddler, and her health was in jeopardy as a result of high blood pessure.
In desperation she and husband James, 34, made the agonising decision to pay for an abortion in a private clinic in February 2008 – just nine weeks into the pregnancy.
Speaking yesterday at her home in Beverly, near Hull, Cheryl said terminating the life of her healthy second child was the hardest thing she has ever done.
But she wanted to highlight the horrendous ordeal of an estimated one per cent of pregnant women and called for better medical and emotional support.
Brave Cheryl said: ”When I was pregnant with Scarlett I thought I had some sort of undetected cancer.
”I was vomiting morning, noon and night for my entire pregnancy and my mouth watered 24 hours a day.
”I was extremely depressed. I had a good job, a career that I loved, but I couldn’t even stand up. There was no way I could work.
”I forced myself to eat turkey sandwiches or digestive biscuits because if I had nothing in my stomach I knew it would hurt even more.
”The 20-week scan showed I had a beautiful baby girl but I was almost disappointed because I just wanted the pregnancy to end.
”I had a normal delivery and now I cannot imagine life without Scarlett.
”Afterwards I was desperate to have another baby and thought I would be mentally prepared and able to cope. But the sickness was worse than ever.
”I had one day where I could not move from the bathroom, I was sick 27 times. I couldn’t get Scarlett anything to eat even though she was starving.
”I dragged myself across the floor, managed to get her some chocolate from the fridge and thought ‘I can’t do this again’.”
The non-stop nausea meant sales manager Cheryl needed a flannel, changed every hour, to mop up the constant watering in her mouth.
Doctors diagnosed her with hyperemesis gravidarum, the most severe form of morning sickness, but failed to offer any counselling to cope with the terrifying situation.
At least 70 per cent of women experience nausea and sickness in pregnancy and around one per cent suffer so severely they are hospitalised to avoid dehydration and starvation.
But the condition still baffles medics because it varies so dramatically between individual women.
On July 1 academics from across the globe will meet at Warwick University to discuss ongoing research into the causes, effects and treatments of hyperemesis gravidarum.
Cheryl said she felt ”let down” by NHS medical services who failed to give her enough support and trivialised her condition.
The couple had been desperate for another baby after Scarlett and experts said she was unlikely to suffer so severely again because no two pregnancies are the same.
James, a joiner, and her family were ”incredibly supportive” of her choice to have an abortion but Cheryl said she still thinks about the unborn baby every day.
She said: ”It was the most horrendous decision I have ever made. I know I can’t have any more children, even if they develop a treatment for morning sickness.
”I had severe hypertension, I was putting my life in danger and I sacrificed my baby’s life. I could never risk that again.
”James could see how much I was suffering and never opposed the idea of a termination, but he still thinks of the family we might have had.
”I think there are other women out there who terminated pregnancies for the same reason but it’s a taboo, no one discusses it.”
Psychologist Dr Brian Swallow, coordinator of Pregnancy Sickness Support 1st National Conference, said too many doctors trivialised morning sickness.
Dr Swallow, of the University of Lincoln, said: ”Hyperemesis gravidarum can be far more serious than anyone realises and in Cheryl’s case she was so distressed she opted for a termination.
”Women consistently say they feel quite alone because there is insufficient help.
”In some parts of the country hospital staff are very sympathetic, in other parts morning sickness is just seen as something women are going to have to put up with.
”We need to see a national protocol developed to offer counselling and support.”