I always thought movies and TV shows exaggerated pregnancy hormones. “Get out of my f@#$*&^ car!” Katherine Heigl’s pregnant character tells Seth Rogan’s character as they’re driving down the road in the movie Knocked Up. There’s no way it’s this extreme, I thought as I watched years before I became pregnant.
As it turns out, it wasn’t that off base. I’ve experienced this same type of rage while pregnant and in the months following. And that’s not the only emotion I’ve felt. Sadness, irritability, and thankfully, happiness too—these are just some of the ups and downs that together have made pregnancy and postpartum one wild ride.
During my first pregnancy, I felt a lot of anger. I don’t know if it was the testosterone running through my body since I was having a boy or what, but I remember feeling unjustified rage over things that didn’t really matter. The worst incident had to be when I insisted my husband take us back home on our way to a BBQ. Why was I so hell-bent on getting back to the house? Well, I couldn’t bear being seen with him in his current outfit. I mean, who wears a winter sweater with flip-flops and a dirty baseball cap? As we were driving there, I told him if he didn’t turn the car around and return home to change clothes, I would open the door and tuck and roll. TUCK AND ROLL, I shrieked.
Who was that person?
I thought for sure I would feel like myself again once the baby came, but it took several months before everything leveled out—and I credit my exercise routine with FIT4MOM for helping me get my sanity back. It was during the postpartum period that I had what my mommy friends and I now refer to as my “silhouette moment.” I was thrilled when I saw a local silhouette artist was coming to my favorite consignment shop and immediately signed up my baby. Many of my friends had silhouettes of their children done at Disneyland, but we didn’t have any plans to go there until kids were older. This seemed like the perfect opportunity.
After making my baby sit patiently for the artist to cut out his likeness on black silhouette paper, she told me there was a flaw in the original so she was going to give me the copy, which was a mirror image. Apparently, I misunderstood because I thought she was saying I was going to get an extra one, since one was flawed.
“No, you have to pay for that one if you want two,” she told me.
“But you just said it’s flawed, so why can’t I have it? Won’t you just be throwing it away?” I asked.
“Oh no, I’ll use this for advertising,” she told me.
Frustrated, I walked out of the store. As I was buckling my son in his car seat, I decided that wasn’t acceptable. I marched back in there, guns blazing, and firmly told the woman that I would be taking the other silhouette for free because she did not have permission to use an image of MY son for advertising. We went back and forth, and the exchange became heated. Sure, I was arguing against her using a solid black cutout of my son’s profile, which was virtually unidentifiable. But he has one freaking cute profile. Have you seen his button nose?
In the end, the artist ripped up the silhouette and threw it in the trash, and I dropped to my knees to pick out each tiny piece. I was then escorted out of the store as I felt the judging eyes of several moms waiting their children’s turn.
“I’m going!” I said with my baby in my arms as the manager swiftly shooed me out.
I’ve never felt so crazy before in my life.
Fast forward to more than a year later, and here I am, pregnant again. This time, it’s not rage I feel primarily. Most days it’s sadness. Logically, I can tell you that I have more than enough reasons to be very happy; nonetheless, I have a cloud overhead that I can’t seem to shake.
The tears also come more easily with this pregnancy—maybe because of the additional estrogen due to this baby being a girl. On a recent trip to the store, I just about lost it after having to ask three different employees to help me bring a mattress to the front.
“My cart is full, I have a toddler, I’m very pregnant, and I have to pee,” I explained after they said no. Not one minute later, my raspberries rolled out of the container onto the floor, and my eyes immediately welled up with tears.
That’s when a woman, bless her heart, swooped in and said she would not only go get the mattress for me, but she would also get me a new container of raspberries. When she met me at the front with both, she gave me a hug and told me everything would be okay.
This woman saved me that day.
While it can be easy to make light of these situations, particularly after they’re over, the truth is postpartum anxiety and depression is real and can be debilitating for some women. It’s something we rarely talk about but should. If my hormones don’t level out for me after this baby like they did last time, I plan to discuss a treatment plan with my doctor that involves more than exercise. There is no reason to feel shame about that, and if you’re in this boat too, I encourage you to do the same.
And mamas, let’s save the judgment. Instead, let’s be the woman who hugs the mother she sees struggling in the store or wherever she may be. Who knows? Some day you may have your own silhouette moment or feel the urge to tuck and roll, but know that there is a village of mothers who are here to catch you when you fall.