Walking for a Cause

by Symptom Advice on April 3, 2012

This story updated Monday, April 2, to correct the foundation’s web address.

BARSTOW • making their way down Main Street on a breezy Saturday morning, a group of locals held signs and marched for a cause most had never heard of: Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

The Ayden Rae Foundation, made up of Barstow and former Barstow locals, walked the long stretch of Main Street to bring awareness to HG, which causes severe vomiting during pregnancy, causing dehydration and malnutrition, and in severe cases can lead to death of the mother or the unborn baby.

Barstow Mayor Joe Gomez participated in the walk, saying “I just wanted to help them with their cause.” Gomez also issued a proclamation on behalf of the city, recognizing March 31 as Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day.

For Vanessa Pack, Ayden Rae Foundation’s founder, HG caused her to lose nine of her 11 pregnancies. with each pregnancy she suffered severe weight loss, constant vomiting, fainting and dehydration to the point where she couldn’t swallow her saliva. she was prescribed many medication, IV treatments, and even a feeding tube to keep her nourished, though she was denied some prescriptions by her insurance carrier.

“Many people don’t realize the hell we go through to have a child,” Pack said.

According to medterms.com, HG affects one in 300 women and is usually associated with women who lose more than 5 percent of their pre-pregnancy weight.

Pack said since the foundation has been active in raising awareness, there have been many women, five in Barstow so far, who have sought help as they struggle with HG.

She said one of the greatest difficulties HG affected women face is when family, friends, and even medical professionals don’t take their illness seriously.

“most people who are in the medical profession, they see it as the women are making it up and the signs and symptoms are not real,” Pack said.

She said though there are treatments that can help the ease the symptoms of HG, insurance companies will sometimes not approve treatments.

This was the case with Pack’s seventh pregnancy with Ayden Rae, a baby girl who only lived to 23 weeks. During the weeks of that pregnancy, Pack said she was denied treatment after treatment from her insurance company. After grappling with extreme dehydration, constant vomiting, weakness, hunger, infections and denied IV treatment, she noticed at 23 weeks her baby wasn’t moving anymore.

“you hear it over and over again, ‘when you get pregnant, morning sickness is normal,’” Pack said. “there was a point I was thinking this was normal. But when you have HG, you can’t eat, can’t drink, you can’t even stop vomiting. when you have blood flying out of your throat, at a certain point you realize this is not normal.”

Pack has told her story on the medical show, “The Doctors,” and to anyone who will listen. she believes if more people were aware of HG, perhaps they would be more supportive of women who struggle with it.

To raise awareness and funds for HG research, the Ayden Rae Foundation has planned several events, including the motorcycle “Ride for Ayden” April 14, and the Route 66 run and Relay Sept.1-16.

To find out more information or to get involved visit aydenraefoundation.org.

Contact the writer:(760) 256-4123 or

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: