Hyperemesis gravidarum can bring out the best and the worst in our friends and family. Heck, even the most well-meaning comment can be… shall we say, ill-timed.
I want to take a moment to highlight a few of the low- and high-points of comments I’ve personally heard over these one and a third pregnancies. This post is intended to be eye-rolling and funny. If you find yourself on the guilty list, don’t get your undies in a bunch. Laugh, shake your head, and go forward a little wiser.
I’ll start with the Hurtful things people have said to me and the witty and snarky responses I wish I could have come up with at the time:
- “Have you tried ginger?” “Seriously? Ginger? That never occurred to me! And here I am shelling out $40 a day for this Zofran pump! Wow! Thank you so much for that priceless piece of advice!” See also: Ginger and hyperemesis gravidarum..
- “Have you tried eating [insert food item here]?” Bonus points if the speaker begins waxing poetic about said food item. “Really? And all this time I thought starvation was good for my baby!” The absolute worst example of this came from a woman working in the Panera Cafe when I was pregnant with the Grasshopper. She began describing in detail how her mother could only eat liver and onions. No I am not making that up. Can you imagine? I was feeling proud of myself for being able to get down the damn broccoli and cheddar soup and she’s over there describing freakin’ liver and onions! It was jaw-droppingly stupid on her part. As I recall, I had to just walk away from her mid-sentence because she would not shut up about it.
- “I feel sorry for your baby.” “I feel sorry for your face.” There really is no good comeback to that kind of comment that doesn’t involve physical violence. The one time this was said to me, it was said in reference to the meds I was taking and with such a tone of disgust and disdain. I never really spoke to that person again.
- “But is that safe for the baby?” “What about me?” This is the gentler cousin of the #3 comment. It’s a nasty, guilt inducing comment. The implication being that I may not be clever enough or careful enough to do my research to understand the risks and benefits of what I am taking to deal with the HG. It’s my doctor’s job to keep both myself and the baby safe. Let’s let her do that. And you know what? At some point, when you’re as sick as you can get with hyperemesis gravidarum, you reach a point where you just want the sickness to go away. Let’s ask ourselves what is more dangerous to a baby: meds that have not been shown to have ill-effects on a fetus or a mother who is so sick and so desperate for relief that she will begin contemplating terminating a pregnancy. This innocent-sounding question automatically gets a knee-jerk rage reaction from me.
- “Should you really be eating that?” “Honey, if it stays down, I’m going to eat it.” Yeah, I eat a whole lot of fast food when I’m pregnant. McDonald’s and Taco Bell are my favorites right now. I would love to be able to eat an organic, free-range diet, but that just ain’t happenin’. If it hasn’t been processed to within an inch of being actual food, my tummy rejects it. Sorry. You can live on fast food. It ain’t pretty but it’s better than starvation and malnutrition which absolutely will kill a fetus.
- “You look good! Have you lost weight?” Or really any other comment about weight. “Ah, yes. It’s this new diet I’m on called starvation. You should totally try it!” I think the thing about this comment that sets me off is the value US society puts on being thin at all cost. Trust me, when this was said to me, I did not look healthy-thin. I looked really and truly ill. That thinness, despite the very obvious ill-health, seemed to be the be-all, end all, it just was deeply disturbing to me. Let’s be happy with our bodies folks! Let’s strive for health, not some number on the scale!
- “I totally understand what you are going through.” “No. You don’t.” Not to put too fine a point on it, but unless you’ve actually lived through HG, you don’t understand. You can’t understand. Trust me, you don’t want to understand.
Phew! I feel better! Got a lot off my chest there!
Now, I’d like to mention a few of the really awesome things people have said to me that have helped me make it through.
- “I don’t know what you’re going through, but I think of you often.” I had a lot of friends in real-life and online make similar comments to this one. Just knowing that someone is thinking of me is huge. It means so much. There is a certain family whose name starts with a B and rhymes with “miss” that were a huge rock of support. I got regular emails from several members of the family, and getting those surprise emails periodically really got me through some rough patches. You know who you are. Thank you.
- “I’m going to cook ____ for your family for dinner tonight.” Mom, bless you. Feeding my family was a huge stressor. Having some meals ready for them in the evenings was awesome.
- “You CAN do this.”
- “This will end.” In the thick of things, time stands still. Being reminded that there will be an end is really valuable.
- “Don’t let the redeemer’s fire burn you up.” Said to me by the man who does my yard. I got so much strength from this simple statement. It’s one that I repeat to myself often. I don’t know him too awfully well, so I hope some day I get the courage to tell him what strength he gave me when he said that. I’m not sure the bible verse he’s referring to, but when I heard this, I thought of a forge, and right now, I kind of feel like that’s where I am. I hope I will come out of this stronger.
- “You will never have to experience this week again.” Said to me by my doctor. I loved her for that. It was a good reminder that what had passed was over. Progress was moving forward.
- “You’ve made it to week _____!” My mom took the time to remind me often how far I’d come. When time is standing still, being reminded that it’s not and there is a light that you are getting closer and closer to at the end of the tunnel is awesome.
What about you? What hurtful and helpful things have people said to you? I just have one request. If you post a hurtful thing, please do your best to include a helpful thing, too. Venting is wonderful and cathartic, and even better when you can get out the negative and replace it with a positive.
Love to you all!