Sunday, June 22, 2008

"The Look"

Well, it's been a while!!! I have a TON of things to write about, but a morning when I am already late getting ready for church is not going to be the morning. Hopefully this should be a big blogging week! I have two book reviews to post, lots of personal stuff, more HG theology, and a report of the big HG event of the month - my meeting with Sarah and Jenna, which occurred yesterday and was amazing!!!!

But for now, I wanted to just post a quick little note on something that I call "the look." I think that every HG and post-HG mum must know what this is. I personally have gotten it so many times that I honestly can't count it. Here's how the situation inevitably goes:

PERSON X: "So, Caleb's turning two soon.... Are you guys thinking about another one any time soon?" (Or some variant of this)

ME: "Well, we'd like to, but I'm kind of scared to try again. I dealt with some severe morning sickness during Caleb's pregnancy, and I'm not sure that I can deal with that again."

Person X: Gives "THE LOOK"

So what is "the look"? I have tried to analyze its different components, and here's what I've come up with. "The look" seems to me to be composed of more-or-less equal parts of the four following components (with possibly more of an emphasis on #2 and #3):

(1) Confusion/Shock/Surprise

(2) Amusement

(3) Contempt

(4) A desire to change the subject

Anyone out there agree/disagree? That seems to me to be fairly accurate, but I could be missing some components.

I had an interesting conversation with Joe yesterday (or rather, I talked at Joe and he listened politely), and I think that I came up with something. Hyperemesis is included among those unfortunate health conditions which are publically disregarded. In other words, if you have them, you are going to be somewhat ignored or patronized. Other conditions in this group would include chronic fatigue syndrome and depression (I'm sure there are many others). They're all diseases which are considered to be "in one's head" and are given the public prescription "just deal with it" or "snap yourself out of it" etc. Diseases not in this category would include things like cancer. (You never hear someone say to a cancer victim, "Come on. We have all had a little bit of cancer at one time or another. Just snap out of it and deal with it. You're making yourself sick by thinking about it too much, you know.")

So then it struck me. Diseases in the "publically dismissed" group are all diseases which occur on a continuum, at the shallow end of which they are not diseases at all, but normal conditions of human life. For example, everyone has been tired (chronic fatigue syndrome), down in the dumps (depression) or experienced some form of morning sickness (hyperemesis). Thus, when people experience the non-mild disease end of the continuum, the knowing public believes that it knows all about the disease and is qualified to speak on it. "I had morning sickness, but I just sucked it up and worked through it." "I had depression, but I just went for a walk and felt better." "I feel tired sometimes, but I just work harder to gain energy." But, though most people know fatigue, doldrums and morning sickness, most people do NOT know chronic fatigue, true depression, and hyperemesis. Unfortunately, that wee bit of experience is enough for an omniscient public to dismiss all people who suffer from more severe versions of what is a common affliction.

Does that make sense to anyone? It just came to me that that might be the reason why certain conditions are lumped together as being "all in your head" (and for some reason, it's generally "all in a woman's head"). Female conditions, such as menstrual cramps and labor pain, are often put in this category. After all, the labour prep class I took told women that labor pain was all in their heads - great, another encouragement of people to think that suffering people are self-sickening hypochondriacs.

Well, I've wasted enough time!! More later!!


  1. Ah, I know that attitude well! IF is in that category, too. And everyone thinks they have an answer for you! Unfortunately, I don't think there's much we can do except educate people and forbear with them. I guess in one sense, we're glad they don't get it, right?

  2. It was great to see you, too! And I think you are right on with your hypothesis about public acceptance of disease/disorders. HG is one of those things that, unless you have experienced it, you have NO clue what it is like. I am ashamed to say that I viewed depression with skepticism until I experienced it along with my HG. Now I have great empathy for those who struggle with depression (and HG, unfortunately). Thanks for shedding some light on this topic.

  3. I noticed these entries are from a while back so I hope you still check comments. I wanted to let you know that your blog is a godsend. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with HG. I;m going through it now. Reading other women's stories helps me realize I will make it and it won't last forever.


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