I’ve mentioned before that being chronically ill will get you a lot of attention from “experts” who think they know more than you do. Pregnancy is no different, but what I wasn’t expecting was that it would make common courtesy fly out the window, too. There are certain things that it’s just not polite to ask someone, no matter what the situation, but since announcing my pregnancy to the world, I’ve come across a few good ones:
“So, how much weight have you gained?”
You wouldn’t ask someone a question like that in a regular situation. At least, you shouldn’t. It’s rude. So many of us have issues with weight and size that we don’t need to be reminded by people, some of whom we hardly know, that things are going to be changing. A lot. Every person gains weight differently when they’re growing a tiny human, but it’s never okay to ask about it.
“Have you been eating properly?”
Again, you wouldn’t have asked me this four months ago. Why are you starting now? This one is particularly frustrating because I’ve been so sick. I eat what I feel I can, when I feel I can, and that’s exactly what my doctor recommended I do. Every single person I know doesn’t need to have intimate knowledge of my eating habits. I’ve just started saying, “No.” every time someone asks me. The usually don’t know what to say to that, so they shut up.
This one sometimes comes after the weight question, because I haven’t gained anything yet. If I tell someone this, my diet and ability to properly feed myself come in to immediate question. My body had enough “fuel” to be getting on with for the moment. It will gain when it feels it needs to.
Then, we usually get to the more specific questions: Are you drinking milk? Are you eating fruits and veggies? Make sure you don’t eat too much X, Y or Z. I’ve managed a good smile-and-nod response most of the time, but there have been several occasions where I’ve wanted to go off in a hormone induced rage. No, person who thinks my body and habits are now public domain, I am not drinking any milk. At all. Ever again. Thank you, though, for asking.
“Are you sleeping?”
This usually comes from people who are well intentioned, but don’t know me at all. All of my close friends and family know that I have chronic insomnia when I’m not making a tiny human. It’s only gotten worse, and I can’t even knock myself out for the odd night with drugs at this point. My response has usually been something along the lines of, “I sleep when I sleep.” Then I change the subject.
“Are you sure you should still be taking medication X?”
People don’t understand the delicate risk/benefit analyses that went in to each choice I made with my medications. I’ve had to completely change the way I manage pain, lose all sleep aids, and take the lowest possible dose of my preventative meds. Yes, there is some risk to all of that, but the way I would be feeling if I cut everything out all together is not worth it. Things have been bad enough. My answer here? “If my doctors say it’s fine, I have no problems with our plan.”
I don’t feel the need to point out that I have a general practitioner, neurologist, cardiologist and two obstetricians looking after me. This tends to make people ask more dumb questions and raise more concerns. Are your doctors communicating with each other? Do they each know all the facts from all of your charts? (That one doesn’t even makes sense. Everything is in the computer here and can be pulled up anywhere.)
“Are you sure you should be having a baby at all?”
No, we decided to do this and make an experiment out of it. We haven’t weighed all the options, looked at every factor and come up with a plan. We decided to go ahead with this horrible idea in spite of the fact that you idiots read one internet page of what you think I have. This one really gets me. It goes back to the “expert” thing, and is closely linked with the sanctimommy phenomenon. I’m sure I know more than you about my body and what it can handle. Kindly back off.
I really don’t get it. Pregnancy doesn’t make a person fair game for the entire world. Just because someone is choosing to have a baby doesn’t mean that every person in their life needs to question everything they do. This is supposed to be an awesome experience (and it has been, despite the illness and ickyness I’ve been going through), but it tends to lose some of the magic when you feel like you’re being interrogated on all sides.
For the most part, I just don’t talk to people any more if I can avoid it. I talk to my husband and my mum, who both know that harassing me is not the way to go about things. They also know my various ailments and such inside out, so they know what is best for me, sometimes better than I do. Everyone else, I’ve been avoiding. I know it sounds terrible. I’m not cutting them out because I don’t want to share our joy with them. I’m cutting them out because they don’t know when to leave well enough alone.
If I wanted advice, I would ask for it. If I wanted someone to question my every choice, I would get another doctor. I don’t. I want our friends and family to be happy for us without all the attendant bullshit. Yes, that’s a little ass-like on my part, but it’s the truth. Not talking to people is a lot easier than dodging questions when they come up and coming across as a bitch.
I’m not a bitch. I’m a person who knows my body and what it needs. I have a team of people who know the same things on my side, and they’re doing an excellent job of helping me: when I ask for it. This is not how everyone is going to want to do things. Some people like as much advice and assistance as they can get, from anywhere they can get it. That’s just not how I roll, and there are certain places you just don’t need to go. Leave my weight alone. Don’t ask me what I’ve eaten for the past week. If you need to ask something, just ask how I am, like you would with any non-incubating person.
Am I way out to lunch with this, or have other people been bugged by friends and family since getting pregnant? I would love to know your thoughts.