When Tara Burrows found out she was pregnant last year, she was expecting a bit of morning sickness.
But when she started vomiting eight times a day, and ended up in hospital after losing six kilos in the space of three days, the NSW Illawarra region mum knew there was something wrong.
"In week seven and eight I started vomiting regularly, sometimes it was just bile because there was no food for me to vomit and I was vomiting eight times a day in the middle of COVID lockdown," she said.
"I had a telehealth appointment and the GP suggested the normal things - ginger, crackers and that sort of thing - but none of that worked. I was really dehydrated and I couldn't keep food or water down.
"I ended up losing six kilos in three days - and that was when they said it's time to be put in hospital."
Ms Burrows, from Corrimal in Wollongong, was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum - or HG - a little known pregnancy disease which involves unrelenting and excessive nausea and vomiting - which would continue through her whole pregnancy.
"I felt helpless, confused and really, really low especially in the first 12 weeks where you're advised not to tell anyone about your pregnancy," she said.
"At times I didn't want to be pregnant anymore, and then I'd feel guilty for having those thoughts because we really wanted to have kids. It was a vicious cycle of feeling so low and not being able to do anything."
Ms Burrows all but left her job as a teacher, only returning for one day a week for one term during her pregnancy as a way to have some normalcy in her life.
By the end, she felt wracked with guilt that her baby would be harmed by her inability to eat and drink properly.
That was six weeks ago, when healthy baby girl, Florence, was born - and Ms Burrows' HG symptoms disappeared literally overnight.
"The next day, I ate a normal breakfast, normal everything," she said.
"Florence was cooked really well, she came out at average birth rate and had no problems health or breathing wise, she went straight upstairs to the maternity ward."
While relieved her hellish experience is over, Ms Burrows said her life has been forever impacted by HG.
"It's made me reconsider whether we extend our family - because there's a high chance that you'll have it again," she said.
"Do you take that risk? I don't think I could go through that again, unless there were other support services available."
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That's why she has shared her story ahead of HG Awareness Day this Sunday, in the hope it might make things easier on other parents who experience the disease.
"I want to tell people to try not to be so hard on yourself because you are doing everything you can and that you're able to, and rely on your support networks as much as you can," she said.
"Also get medical help as soon as possible, so that you're not dehydrated."
She is advocating for support to be available for women at home, so that they don't need to travel to hospital for IV fluids, and for patients to have a medical professional or support person working with them the whole time.
She also wants to connect with others who have had the disease, and provide support to those going through it.
In the Illawarra, Hyperemesis Gravidarum Clinical Nurse Consultant Taryn Elder is leading a project to provide increased support and education to pregnant women and better understand of the impact and prevalence of the disease.
"For women with HG, pregnancy can be a debilitating experience impacting their physical, mental, social and financial wellbeing," Ms Elder said.
"Severe cases can result in hospitalisation and if left untreated can be potentially life-threatening, yet many people still don't know HG exists."
"Women with HG report that aside from the physical impacts, one of the most difficult things about having the disease is trying to explain it to those around them.
The HG project is part of a $17 million investment by the NSW Government into education and research into the disease, as well as offering women and their families more support.
The Local Health District has developed a resource written specifically for children that explains in simple language what their mum is going through.
"We worked together with clinicians to develop the children's book and also had input from a mum who'd experienced HG and was able to share with us some of the questions her young son had during her pregnancy," Ms Elder said.
In the lead-up to this year's Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day, the Local Health District has been asking women who have experienced HG to share their stories and help spread the word about the disease.
"We want to give women with HG a voice, to acknowledge their difficult journey and the impact of the disease, but also to educate other pregnant women about HG and how to seek help and support," Ms Elder said.