You've probably heard a lot of things about pregnant women in your life. Terms like "crazy pregnant lady", "hormonal", or "pregnancy brain" may come to mind. I can tell you now from a place of experience that there is not a single thing that applies across the board. No two women will have the same symptoms, or display the same characteristics. Although, crying is the unfortunate, but common factor. Since I found out I was expecting, I started to read a huge amount of forums and blogs on the topic from new moms, and veteran mothers a like. Some are laugh out loud funny and others are really heartbreaking. I have heard stories about women in early pregnancy going to jail for assault because they suddenly hate everything about their partner and are prone to aggressive outbursts that have gone so far as to include physical assault, drag out brawls, and breaking everything in the house. Others may share sweet stories about partners that insist on rubbing tired feet, never letting their lady lift a finger, and how much closer they've become since they found out about the pregnancy. My journey lies somewhere in the middle ground. Between the field of wild flowers and the path of burning hot coals. So lets talk mood swings!
In my case, it wasn't anything I noticed right away. I have been on anxiety/depression medication off an on for the better part of 12 years so that may have played a part in the beginning. When I think back on the first couple months, I was handling things smashingly well. I was a woman on top of the world! A beautiful, sweet, funny man in my life and a baby growing in my belly. Cloud 9! In reality, I was a mess. I was so emotional that I couldn't keep my head on straight. I often cried at work, cried at home, cried with friends, cried alone. I was in a constant state of self doubt and very afraid that the only reason my fella was still hanging around was because of the baby. I was constantly telling myself that he didn't care about me at all and that he must be secretly resentful of having to give up his "fun" life for this new existence of stress and responsibility. The mental anguish I was putting myself through was only rivaled by the suddenly increased amount of physical pain I was in. I've struggled with back and shoulder pain for years due to an old work injury, but now it was becoming something I couldn't manage and the pain medications I had come to rely on were no longer an option in my eyes.
On one particularly rough day at work I had the opportunity to speak to my spa manager and our owner about what I was going through (I'm an Esthetician, btw). I gather that even through the crying and snot and gasping for air, they got the message because I was permitted to leave my position at the first job I have ever really loved a short 7 days later on my 31st birthday. It's a decision that I still struggle with. I couldn't be the employee that I was and the guilt of feeling like I was letting people down was not something I was prepared to deal with on top of everything else. I truly wish that I had been able to power through and work until I was ready for my maternity leave. I still feel a huge amount of guilt and disappointment when I think about it. On the upside, I have been mostly pain free since I made the choice to leave and this tells me that I did the right thing. Tomorrow I may still have a good cry about it, but right this second, I'm happy that I made the tough choice and can be sure that it was not a snap judgment fueled by hormones.
I have to take it one day at a time. That's just how it is now. I could wake up feeling fabulous, full of optimism and energy, and by lunch be hating the way my body looks and crying because I saw one of those awful animal abuse commercials. Lets try an example of a moment in my mind: I wake up feeling fabulous and head to the bathroom...
I have to pee. This baby is really pressing on my bladder. How is a small human going to come out of my vagina? I bet he won't seem so small during labor. I'm going to give birth to a full grown man with a beard and a beer in his hand. What happens if I have to have an episiotomy during labor? What if it goes wrong? Labor is going to suck. No, Autumn! You'll do great. But what if I don't? What if I can't handle it? Animals make it seem so easy. At least I don't have to have a litter. What if I did have a multiple birth? God, I hate Kate Goslin. What an awful human being. I hope I'm a good person. Who am I kidding? I'm a selfish jerk. I'm so unproductive. I never should have left work so early in my pregnancy. We could really use that money. I can't believe I'm living with my parents again in my 30's. I hope Jason is happy here. I hope he feels at home in my parent's house. I should really be doing more to help around the house. Man, we need a new dishwasher. If I was working I could buy one. I'll sink my first paycheck into one when I go back to work. I hope they'll rehire me. I bet they think I'm crazy for the way I left. Maybe I am crazy. Crazy people are so nuts. You'd have to be crazy to be on reality television. I hate those reality shows about animal abusers. I should volunteer at a shelter. Oh those poor kitties! But I can't be around that many cat boxes. I would be useless. I am useless. If I was thinner I wouldn't have been in such pain and I could have stayed at work longer. I hate my body. How can Jason stand to even look at me? He has never bought me flowers so he must not really love me. If I wasn't so fat he would buy me flowers. What an asshole. I should bring up the flower thing later. Maybe I'll just buy myself some flowers! We're out of toilet paper. Am I the only one that ever restocks this bathroom? Bunch of lazy bastards. I really want toast.
.....end morning trip to pee.
It happens that fast, folks. I could leave a room with a smile on my face and come back 5 minutes later so worked up that I can't decide if I should cry or yell. Thank goodness that I have an exceedingly patient man in my life, a father that is as much a friend and confidant as a parent, and a mother that gets me because we are so much alike. I know that I have it easy and am a very lucky individual. I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, healthy pets, loving and supportive friends and family and a level enough head to remain calm for the most part, but it's all easy too lose sight of. Like every other expectant mother on the planet, I may have a day or two of total dismay and distress, lose my keys/phone/coat/gloves regularly when they are right in front of me, and flip flop from happiness to misery a hundred times an hour in my head, but deep down I am blissful and I know I'm not alone in my journey. I find that the best remedy for all the negativity that I let sneak in is to simply stay aware of the big picture and not get hung up on the small details. If you are one of the unlucky majority to suddenly hate everything that your partner says and does, from the smell of his shampoo to the way he walks, take comfort in the fact that it will pass and all the fondness will retun. I actively practice letting the little stuff roll off, and retraining my brain to go in a positive direction when it starts to go toward that dark place. It's a survial tactic. Sometimes it is easier said than done, so just keep trying. Everything is going to play out the way it's supposed to, and in reality, you don't have much control over it. Find ways to deal. Find beauty in small things. Find solace anywhere you can. Get lost in music, books, movies, and nature instead of in your own head. Don't be so hard on yourself! The only advice I really have to offer on the topic is to remain calm and love yourself.
In the words of the always fabulous Rupaul, "If you don't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?".
P.S. I will write a later entry just for partners and fellow future parents. A little how to on not getting yourself into trouble, and making mommy feel a little more stable. Trust me, husbands/boyfriends/girlfriends/wives need all the help they can get when it comes to dealing with the crazy, hormonal, wonderful, beautiful pregnant lady in their life.