Pregnancy's Emotional Roller Coaster (cont.)
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,'" Issokson says.
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."
D'Arcy even started tiptoeing in and peeking around the corner first "just so I could see what the mood in the house was. I thought, Should I go into my office? Do I come in with my hat in my hand? Do I go back out and get flowers? I was floored." Sometimes he could pinpoint a cause for her sudden angst. Other times he didn't have a clue.
So are the range of emotions during pregnancy simply a case of hormones run amok? Not necessarily, doctors say. Some women may react to the increased levels of hormones; others may not. And even if they do experience moodiness, hormones certainly aren't the only cause.
"Emotions are triggered by so many sources other than hormones," says Dr. Frank Ling, professor and chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Tennessee. Even the physical discomforts of pregnancy, such as morning sickness, breast tenderness or constipation, can play a role, since you'd naturally feel down when you're uncomfortable.