Do You Mean I Look Good Or Do You Mean I Shouldn't?

I have been thinking about this post for a very long time. I have concerns about how it's going to be received. It is about a sentence I was hearing very often when pregnant with Kai, and I have been hearing it again this time around. It doesn't only come from strangers or acquaintances, it usually comes from friends and family members, so I know for a fact they mean well, but I still don't get it. After going back and forth on whether it is worth digging into and potentially offending my dear and near, I have decided to go for it and maybe get some answers that will point out that I am an idiot who doesn't see the forest for the trees.

Both of my pregnancies qualify as miserable (the second worse than the first), with acute morning sickness, lots of vomiting and constant nausea that is best described as being stuck in a car or on a boat while suffering from motion sickness. When I get out and meet people, this conversation almost always happens. A person asks: "How are you doing? Are you still sick?" And I respond: "Yes, I am still sick.", sometimes with more details if asked to provide, and then this person says: "But you look so good!" At which point my mind boggles and I have no idea what to say to that. I learned to smile politely and say "thank you", but I don't feel like being polite at that moment, I feel like asking: "Why on Earth would you say that?"

I assume - because as I said, this usually comes from friends and family who I know care about me - that they say it to make me feel better. Yes, you may be vomiting a lot and feeling crappy lately, but at least you don't look like you're about to cross over to the other side. But what I often hear is disbelief, doubt and inquisitivness - if you really are as miserable as you claim, how come your cheeks are still red and you are still smiling? How come you managed to put that make-up on? Hm?

I feel judged. I feel like I don't fit the idea of a person suffering from extreme nausea and/or daily vomiting. It reminds me of all those Facebook posts people share which say that you don't deserve food stamps if you have Nike shoes on and a cell phone in your hand. An instant prejudice without any room for explanations - that person probably got the Nike shoes from goodwill (I myself donate a ton of new, clean, often brand name clothes, because I either receive it as a gift and don't like it, or buy it in Marshall's and realize later it does not fit the way I was hoping it would), and the phone could be paid for by a family member, who can't offer to do more than that. When I hear "but you look so good", I feel like I am being called a liar, or at least being caught exaggerating.

Did you see the picture of Kate Middleton leaving the hospital after being treated for hyperemesis gravidarum? My first thought was 'people will never believe how sick she truly was looking at her'. So maybe it's just me - maybe I am just a mean person who jumps to conclusions and projects them on others. But I would love to hear from you. What do you think about the "but you look so good!" response? Have you ever experienced something similar? It is OK to tell me that I am crazy, I promise. I would just like to stop dissecting this issue for my own sake. It drives me nuts.

1 comment:

  1. I certainly don't think you are crazy! I do, however, think that people mean well and are trying to make you feel good. Honestly, they probably don't know what they should say. I'm guessing they don't want to try the whole 'well, it is worth it for the baby line' or making you feel like they are asking too many questions about the illness, and complimenting your looks is a pretty natural/neutral feeling response. Even as a pre-natal yoga teacher I am guilty of telling the moms how great they look.