Friday, January 16, 2015

The Differential Diagnosis Always Includes Pregnancy

Here's another one from my past...I'm pretty far past this point but it is interesting to see how my feelings have evolved over time. I thought I would share for those of you who have also felt puzzled by this awkward question.

* * *

I can't REALLY blame you for asking, we look like we'd be great parents, right?

Have I posted about this already? I honestly can't remember, but it keeps coming up, especially in light of my recent bout of illness.

Can people please stop asking if I am pregnant? 

I think I got asked 20 different times the past week, and each time the answer was no. 

I don't think I will ever be at risk of being on one of those Lifetime Original Series type shows, I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. I pay pretty close attention to my body. I understand that some of the symptoms of early pregnancy are fatigue, nausea, vomiting. But I also understand that those are some of the symptoms of residency, influenza, food poisoning, and cancer. Just because I am hungry or sick or tired or cranky doesn't mean that I am pregnant. And I don't like thinking I am not allowed to feel much of anything without falling under suspicion.

People are probably just trying to helpfully remind me of this option. "Have your realized that maybe pregnancy could be in the differential for how you are feeling?" (For those of you not in the medical field, a "differential," or "differential diagnosis" is a list that includes the top most likely medical problems that are associated with the present signs and symptoms.)

Or maybe they hope to be one of the first to make the baby diagnosis? "Yes, I knew it!" 

Or maybe they are just being hopeful as they must clearly recognize what amazingly beautiful offspring I will have considering my good looking husband. "I hope you are because I can't wait to see your babies!"

Whatever the reason, it makes me feel a little embarassed. Or annoyed. (No, I don't think I'm pregnant unless pregnancy includes fevers, chills, sore throat, and diarrhea, as well.) And it makes me unsure what to say because it almost inevitably is followed by, 

"Are you sure?"

Which really baffles me. I'm not sure what I am supposed to say here. A simple, "No, I'm not pregnant," doesn't seem to be enough.

Should I say, "Actually, it has been xyz since my last cycle, which would suggest that no, I am not?" Or would more information on my private life with my husband be helpful? Can I bring up my calendar app on my phone or should I take a pregnancy test? 

Can any woman truly know with certainty at any moment that she is 100% sure she isn't carrying a bun in the oven (with a few exceptions)? This is why they do pregnancy tests on all women ages 11-50ish before surgery at our hospital. (And even then, pregnancy tests have to be correctly timed.)

Actually, I am glad I wrote this post because I now know exactly what to say,

"Are YOU? You know many women don't have any symptoms of early pregnancy."

And now we are back to the Lifetime network. (You Didn't Know You Were Pregnant)

When I am pregnant, I anticipate I will be asking myself those same questions without prompting from you. And when the time is right, I would appreciate if you would let me inform you in the way and time that I prefer. Until then, I hope to not have to share my fertility status with any acquaintance I meet who happens to notice I may not be feeing or looking so well. 

And finally, despite how awesome you think it would be for me to have a baby right now, I'm the one that has to make it work. 


Rachel Culmer said...

Ah -- love those awkward questions! I've learned that people don't know proper etiquette: never, NEVER ask couples about potential pregnancies or children. These people are ignorant and unfortunately they have to learn the hard way in these situations.

In 2009 I talked to a therapist in my parents stake (my home stake growing up). He was a good family friend and I informed him of our situation in regards to infertility, the judgments coming our way, and the questions/statements people would verbalize to us, etc.

The best advice he gave me was in situations like that to respond in a way where it would make the other person so uncomfortable that you have put them in their place. They will see how uncomfortable you are in answering their question, and that it makes it so awkward for them where it just puts them right in their place.

I got asked a few months ago if I was prego at church. I was wearing a maxi dress, and the style of the dress flares out at the bust so I could see why this woman thought I was prego. I just smiled and said "No. I was last year, but I ended up miscarrying." It was kind of fun to tell her that because I realized she felt so incredibly awkward and stupid, and I seriously doubt she will ever ask another woman the same question. I walked away with a smug little smile on my face that said "Well, I hope she learned her lesson."

I didn't bother me that she asked if I was pregnant, now. Back in 2009, maybe. I get questions like this all the time (when are you going to have your 2nd child, are you pregnant, are you trying, etc.) and I've learned that the people asking these questions mean well even though they are out of line. I just roll with the punches, give them an honest answer, and many times they walk away with their foot in their mouth. It's fun to watch now. Earlier, not so much. I've dealt with this long enough that I start to find the entertainment in it.

Erin said...

Thanks for your response Rachel. I find this question doesn't bother me nearly as much as it did months ago when I wrote it. I think even a simple, "No, just fat" makes people realize maybe they shouldn't ask.

But, in all honesty, while it makes me feel a little bad my belly isn't very flat and even strangers are asking me more frequently than I'd like, I try to take it as karma. Maybe they sense I should or will be pregnant.

Erin said...

Also, I hesitate a bit to post things like this. I don't want people to think I am grumpy or defensive all the time. I hope people realize it is mostly an attempt at a humorous look at some common experiences.

Susan said...

I got asked that all the time. Yeah, it is awkward and not so nice. I had to remind myself, they never intend to be insensitive. I'm not sure what they do intend...