Pregnancy's Emotional Roller Coaster
C'mon, admit it. You have some "Pleasantville"-like images of
pregnancy. We all do. You know, cheeks and hearts glowing (even if our stomachs
aren't). Reveling in the months, and inches, of our ever-expanding bellies
without a worry or doubt. Invariably you even know somebody who seems to fit
The truth is, women often experience a range of emotions during pregnancy,
even if they and their partners are excited about the baby and planned it from
the get-go. They might have mood swings. They might be worried about their
babies' health, uncertain about the changes in their bodies, their
relationships, their abilities to be mothers -- the list goes on and on.
How could that be, if you're apparently so happy about that tiny life
growing inside you? Duh, experts say (although they won't be that
blunt). It's because moms-to-be are teetering on the brink of something
"Motherhood is such a permanent transformation," says Deborah
Issokson, a licensed psychologist in Boston who specializes in perinatal mental
health. "I don't know any life event so permanent and transforming that
wouldn't come with some anxiety, worry, regret, ambivalence or wondering. It's
the nature of the beast, the enormity of the journey you're on."
Unfortunately, these less-than-glowing feelings are also among life's
best-kept secrets. Everyone thinks on some level that they're not supposed to
feel these things, and if they do, something must be wrong with them.
"You look in the baby magazines, and there's the picture of the woman
who's beautiful and happy and she's setting up this incredibly expensive
nursery. ... We look at all of that and wonder why we don't fit in," says
Jennifer Louden, author of "The Pregnant Woman's Comfort Book."
For women who have experienced infertility or miscarriage, such guilt or
disillusionment can be worse, because they may not think they deserve any
doubts. "They don't dare voice their ambivalence or wonderings, because
people would just say, 'You should just be grateful you're pregnant,'"
But take a deep breath and relax. These feelings aren't necessarily a
reflection of how badly you want your baby or how good a parent you'll be. In
fact, Issokson worries more about couples who don't feel any of these things.
"To me that means they're a little bit in denial about how enormous this
change really is."
Here's a look at some women, and men, who were thrust onto the emotional
roller coaster of pregnancy and some tips on how to still enjoy the ride.
Honey, I'm Home
Simon D'Arcy, a management consultant in Santa Barbara, Calif., clearly
remembers his wife Sharon's pregnancies. "The mood shifts were pretty
amazing. There were times when I'd call before leaving work and say, 'How was
your day? How are you feeling? Did you feel the baby kick?' She'd say, 'Fine,
honey. I can't wait for you to come home.' Ten minutes later I'd walk in the
house and get it with both barrels."