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The One Question People Need To Quit Asking

It is so belittling. It is so invalidating. It is so frustrating. And it is so ubiquitous, asked by everybody -- partners, friends, parents, and doctors alike -- as if there is no other question left to ask and no other problem left to solve. Some words for you: "Just shut up" and "listen."

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After a three-flight walk-up, I drop on the couch, exhausted. I'm on the verge of tears and am lightheaded, barely able to hold my body up.

"I'm so tired," I tell my mother, who has been markedly noticing my recent 16-hour "naps," sluggishness, and immobility. "And I'm in a lot of pain. I just can't seem to hold myself up anymore."

My entire body is collapsed now, my head on the arm of the couch, my own arms and legs sprawled awkwardly, and tears now finally running down my face. I am zoning in and out, my eyelids are heavy and burning, and I desperately just want some rest.

And then it happens.

After a long, awkward pause, my mother asks, "Are you sure you're not pregnant?"

I groan.

Sure, I am a sexually active 25 year-old woman, and I share a bed with my boyfriend. But I also underwent a tubal ligation at 21 and recently had an endometrial ablation in which they literally fried my uterus. I have thyroid disease, fibromyalgia, and depression. Why is it when a young woman is in pain or is tired or is gaining weight, (and I'm even losing it), people immediately go to, "Are you sure you're not pregnant?"

This happens consistently.

At every ER visit, the first questions, as a woman, that you get asked, are "When was the date of your last period?" and "Any chance you might be pregnant?" At every doctor's visit, "When was the date of your last period?" and "Any chance you might be pregnant?" When you tell the people around you about your latest symptoms, even if they know about your other illnesses, they ask with wide eyes, "Oh my God, you're not pregnant, are you?"

NO.

Although if I were, I'm sure the appointment that is taking a month to come to fruition -- the only remaining appointment they had available for months (what good fortune! although it is at 7:40 in the morning) -- would have come conveniently much sooner, since fetuses have much higher priority than women in the USA.

I'm tired of being reduced to my ovaries and fallopian tubes (which, I again say, by the way, are tied). I'm tired of being reduced to my womb which will grow nothing in it. I'm more worried about the possibly malignant nodules in my thyroid right now, the ones that have been growing over the years; the ones that the ultrasounds have proven exist; the ones that are already there. I'm more worried about the fact that I can't function in the world because of my crippling fatigue and pain, things that have existed on-and-off since before I could conceive a child, due to conditions I was born with.

I am tired of being treated like a walking incubator.

Next time a person asks me, "Are you sure you're not pregnant?" I think I'm going to reply with, "It depends. If I say I am, will my suffering matter?"

Tomas Hajek / Via stockfreeimages.com
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