I confessed to the moms in my playgroup that I hate the question “How are you feeling?” I hate it especially at this late stage in my pregnancy when everyone is by their phones waiting for updates on the status of my female anatomy as I anticipate labor. What is it about this innocent inquiry that sets me off? I wasn’t even sure until recently.
I hate this question because it expects a neat, simple, 1-2 word answer. An answer that can be neatly categorized into the asker’s head before we move on to the real conversation. But, I don’t have a simple answer. I feel everything. I feel annoyingly pregnant. I feel vulnerable. I still feel like myself, but that my body has been hijacked. My feet hurt, my back hurts, my head hurts. I feel tired. I feel excited about meeting my new little one soon. I also feel terrified: will I remember how to care for a baby? I feel stupid: who has a toddler and a baby? I feel thankful and grateful that my baby has been safely carried to term. I feel him kick and move. I feel his hiccups every night as I lay down to sleep. I feel hungry. I feel frustrated at keeping up with a busy toddler while 9 months pregnant. I feel blessed. I feel ready. I feel all of this at once or none at all. And my emotions change on a dime.
I think those who ask me really want to know, but they want to know in a neatly summarized sound bite and I can’t do that. I’ve experimented with different answers that sum it all up. “I feel pregnant” or “I feel ready” and then trying to summarize the rest with my body language. Once I was more honest and told a guy “I feel crappy” when he asked the dreaded question. It threw him off and he wasn’t sure how to respond. It’s OK, guy, I’m not expecting you to be my therapist or doctor! I’m just glad you are interested.
My other issue is that I find the question dismissive. Instead of being a person I’m reduced to a pile of emotions or feelings. I’m reduced to only the vessel, the carrier of another being because the only reason they are asking is because I’m heavily pregnant. At least with “How are you?” I’m personally being addressed. Weird? Most likely. And, I’m sure I’m reading way too much into it. But hey, that’s how I feel and you asked so there.
I still don’t have a great answer to this question to satisfy the asker and to give justice to my feelings in a neat, simple phrase. Maybe the answer is just simply “I feel.” That, or a blank stare followed by a pregnant pause and a shrug…get it? 🙂