Saturday, March 21, 2015

What Not to Say to Someone Who is Overdue

Today I am 41 weeks pregnant. I can't think of anyone who is pleased with this, but least of all me. I've been getting a lot of texts, Facebook messages, e-mails, and general questions from a lot of people. All of them mean well. But a lot of these messages and texts do more to frustrate than to actually help - I know it's not their intention, but it is what it is.

Hence this post.

So, as a public service announcement (or really, just for my own sanity), here are some things that I recommend you do NOT say to a woman who is a week (or more) overdue.

1. How are you feeling?
This question, while sounding innocuous, is unintentionally frustrating. Why? Because we don't feel good. We are tired, frustrated, & possibly angry. We likely ache. It's possible we're having really uncomfortable or painful contractions but still aren't in labor, which is pretty much a horrible feeling. We feel betrayed by our bodies and possibly the baby. We're worried that something is wrong. We are hormonal- really, REALLY hormonal. Did I mention how tired we are?

It's not a good feeling. And so we'll smile and say "fine" out of social obligation, but we're not fine and we don't really want to be reminded about how NOT FINE we are.

What should you say?
Good morning, good afternoon, you're soooooo good looking (bonus points to those who get the allusion), or really anything other than how are you feeling...

2. That baby still isn't out yet?
Um, no f***ing duh. Obvious people state the obvious.

I seriously wonder if people are thinking when they say this to me. It's obnoxious. Don't ever say that. Ever. To anyone.

What should you say?
It's so nice to see you.

3. When is the baby going to come?
Lemme just get out my crystal ball or, better yet, check the meat thermometer I have pushed into my side.

The baby is not a Thanksgiving turkey, we cannot tell you when it will be done. I promise, we are not keeping it in there just to annoy you (although at this point, there are some people that have been so unintentionally annoying that if I could control when this baby was born I might just keep it in another day... no, actually, I wouldn't do that because see question #1).

That question is not helping. At all. So please stop.

What should you say?
Actually nothing. Just say nothing if this is your go-to.

4. Almost there!
Again, not helpful. Why? Because you don't know. At 41 weeks we could go another week before we get a baby. A week when you're overdue feels like a month. And the prospect of facing another 7 days of being tired, sore, hormonal, irritable, and plain miserable is not "almost there" - it is, in fact "hell on earth."

What should you say?
Would you like some chocolate?

5. (via text or e-mail or phone call) I hadn't heard anything, have you had the baby?
If we'd had the baby the world would know. It would have been posted to every social media platform know to mankind. We would have Lion King'ed that baby from the top of the tallest mountain. You would have gotten a text or a phone call.

No news means NO NEWS. You, and the 600 other people who are waiting are not nearly as impatient for this baby as we are and we are not prepared to spend our day sending out text blasts or constant social media updates to tell everyone that NOTHING IS HAPPENING. Because nothing is happening and we're significantly more upset about it that anyone else on the planet. Having to be reminded that nothing is happening by well meaning people is really, really frustrating.

And I know that all these people mean well. They love us, they love this baby, they are just excited and/or concerned and they want to reassure themselves that mom & baby are ok. I get that. I know it comes from a place of love. But while the intentions are purely good, the reality is that these notes don't really do much to help and can actually be hurtful because after the 100th message of the day we are more upset than we were after the 1st.

I will say that there are women who welcome these messages. It makes them feel good to be on someone's mind. I am not one of those people. There are a small handful of people from whom these messages are soothing - all of them are friends who have been in this spot. Mostly because it's followed up with an "I'm so sorry you're still pregnant" and "I can remember being in this place and it sucks."

What should you say (via text or e-mail)?
Just thinking of you. No need to respond. We love you.

6. Maybe this baby just isn't done cooking.
No, it's done. I'm done so it's done. Trust me.

Also, where did you get your medical degree?

And, it's not a f**king ham.

What should you say?
Here, I bought you this bottle of wine. (I mostly kid).

7. Man, you're huge. That baby will come out soon, it's out of room.
You think I'm joking with this one. People say these things.

Sometimes people are assholes. Please don't ever say this. To anyone. Ever. I've gotten so many "huge" comments throughout the pregnancy that it's a minor miracle I haven't punched anyone in the face. And 99% of these comments come from adults. The adults I WORK WITH.

What should you say?
You look lovely.

8. Have you asked your midwife/doctor about _______? I read online that...
We are in continual contact with our medical professional. But thanks for googling something.

What should you say?
This is another instance in which it's probably best to say nothing.

And again, most of the people who say, text, Facebook message, or e-mail these things mean well. They're not inquiring or making comments for the express purpose of making pregnant women feel bad or to upset them. But many of these things ARE upsetting and some of them (see #7) are really rude regardless (and yet, I hear it often).

When in doubt, send messages of love and support - things like "thinking of you" "we love you" and "I bought you some chocolate." You can even indicate that a response isn't necessary so we don't feel obligated to reply if we're too tired to think of anything to say or if we've just reached our limit on the amount of social interaction we can handle in one day. Because social niceties are exhausting, as is gestating a baby. And when you're 40+ weeks and tired, sore, frustrated, angry, weepy, and looking for signs every moment that you're in labor, it's hard to muster up enough energy to make pleasantries.

So world, when this baby comes you will know. It will be posted. Family will get phone calls.

And it's not that I don't love and appreciate all my family and friends, because I do. It's just that I am not in a good head space. I had PPD with Griffin, being overdue is already triggering my depression. If this baby doesn't come soon then I will become even more depressed - something I was really hoping to avoid. The thought that I may have to go into a hospital to have an induction fills me with dread, even though it may be necessary and if I don't have this baby by the weekend I will voluntarily be induced.

Not being able to nurse well with both P & G was rough on me, if I have to be induced AND I have trouble nursing then that will be very, very bad for my mental health and I cannot.stop.thinking about that. Every time I look in a mirror, pee, look down, put on shoes, have a contraction, or move I am reminded that I am still pregnant. That I am uncomfortable. That I am NOT IN LABOR. I feel betrayed by my body. By my uterus (which previously worked so wonderfully and now is being an asshole).

I am worried that my body won't be able to do it this time. That something is wrong. That I am deficient. That this is a bad omen (and I'm not a superstitious person, so this is new to me). These thoughts do not feel good. These thoughts are not helpful. And every time I get one of the above messages or phone calls or texts I am reminded and these negative feelings are reinforced.

So what should you do if you want news? Wait. Or text someone else. But better yet, wait. Good or bad news will be distributed when there's news to distribute. But no news means no news. And adding your anxiety as to when this baby will comes does not help my anxiety. It, in fact, makes it so, so much worse.

This has been your PSA for the day. Hopefully now you understand why I have ignored your text messages or phone calls or e-mails or posts. Why I haven't "liked" your latest comment on my Facebook update. Why I give one word answers to your inquiries when I do actually respond. Why I've taken a bit of a break from social media.

I am tired. I am sore. I am frustrated and angry. I am weepy. I am NOT fine and I won't be fine until I have a baby. Now you know. So now please, PLEASE send only positive thoughts or messages I don't have to respond to. Or send chocolate. Or wine.

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