Everybody’s got hilarious stories about the wacky things they did while under the influence. The influence of pregnancy, I mean. We laugh about it…eventually. In the moment, when we’re ugly-crying in the theater, or raging at our husbands for their inept sandwich preparation, or completely miserable because there’s not a pair of maternity jeans in the world that isn’t horrible–well, it’s less hilarious.
Actually, I don’t think these things are as funny as I used to. It’s easy to laugh. It’s easier to laugh than to do the work it takes to understand where these emotions came from, and what they’re trying to tell us. Because as unreasonable as they might seem, there are no truly random emotions. We do pregnant women a colossal disservice when we assume that the only reason they’re feeling something is the hormones. Hormones don’t make emotions appear; they just magnify the ones we already have.
So don’t let “Oh, it’s just the pregnancy” be an excuse to ignore what you’re feeling. Don’t say it to yourself, and for the love of God, don’t put up with that kind of dismissal from anyone else, either. Remember:
1Your baby needs you to trust yourself.
Your instincts are an important part of caring for your child. Any pediatrician will tell you “Trust your gut; if you think something’s wrong, don’t ignore that.” Not that every worry we have turns out to be real, of course, but if you get into the habit of telling yourself that what you feel doesn’t count, you won’t know which feelings to take seriously.
2Nobody’s emotions are really impartial.
We humans are influenced by literally everything. How much we’ve eaten, slept, our memories, experiences, neurotransmitters, and yes, our hormones. Which men have too, by the way. Just because something is influencing your mood doesn’t mean your mood isn’t real.
3Dismissing your emotions isn't really possible anyway.
You can’t turn them off, you can only ignore them, and that’s not recommended. You may as well actually address them, since trying to make them go away by sheer willpower is going to backfire on you eventually.
4Taking your emotions seriously is a huge part of self-care...
… and how supported you feel in your mental health is going to be a huge part of your pre and postpartum mental health. Constantly telling yourself that your emotions don’t matter and you shouldn’t have them is basically guaranteed to give you postpartum depression.
“But wait,” you say. “Some of these emotions are totally ridiculous! Am I really supposed to take my feelings about that diaper commercial seriously?” Seriously, yes, just maybe not at face value. If something makes you cry, or if it makes you angry, or afraid… is it possible you’re sad about something else, and the commercial was just the catalyst?
Being pregnant is a time of change and transition–anyone would feel sad, scared, overwhelmed, frustrated, some of the time. When we’ve got a lot of powerful emotions so close to the surface, it doesn’t take much to bring them up. Maybe your tears are real, except you’re not crying about the commercial. You’re crying because babies seem so vulnerable, or because you don’t know if you’ll be good at this, or any number of things. Maybe those horrible maternity jeans are just making you think of how unfamiliar your body is, and how surreal that feels.
I’m not saying everything you feel has some profound, hidden meaning. Sometimes a mood is just a mood. If you can’t figure out why the heck you’re so hair-triggered, or what your frustration or fear is really about, there’s not an urgent hurry to get to the bottom of it. Giving it some time isn’t the same thing as outright dismissing the feeling. You don’t need to have all the answers right away, and in anyone’s case, these things take time to figure it out.
Sometimes what you feel will be silly, and sometimes it’ll be unreasonable. That’s true for all of us. But respect yourself enough not let your pregnancy be a reason to dismiss what you’re feeling. Knowing how to take these things seriously is part of what you need to help you cope with the ups and downs of pregnancy and motherhood.
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