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Crocodile Tears

It’s “transition” time at preschool, which means I’m supposed to be gradually leaving E alone there for longer and longer periods of time until one day, she looks at me and says “Bye, Mommy! Have a great morning, I’ll see you after lunch!” Or something like that. But it’s not exactly going that way.

Yesterday, she burst into tears before I’d even said goodbye. I made it two feet out the classroom door before bursting into tears myself—in front of 20 or so assembled parents, all who looked at me with a combination of shock and sympathy. “It’s OK,” said one mom, rushing over to give me a hug. “When I’m pregnant I cry all the time, too.”

Except I wasn’t crying because I was pregnant. Or was I? I’ve lost the ability to distinguish between reality, and pregnant-reality. Which is NOT a good thing. True, my emotions are raw and at the surface these days, but isn’t that just….life? There’s a lot of changes going on in our household, and I’m not sure if being pregnant is just one piece of the puzzle, or the whole Jenga piece that, when pulled, will make the tower fall.

Throughout the day, I did something I never do—played the pregnant card. How else was I supposed to explain that I was crying as much as my two-year-old daughter was, and all I’d done was step into the next room for a cup of coffee? E was fifteen feet away, painting lots of things purple, and she had bounced back faster than I did. I was still cradling a lukewarm Styrofoam cup of coffee and sniffling into a tissue. SO embarrassing, and the only thing I thought might spare my reputation in the parking lot was to blame it on (what else?) pregnancy hormones.

Everyone seemed to buy it, and I got lots of sweet hugs and even made a few new friends by sharing preggo battle stories. But when E and I finally got in the car to go home (and it was a rough day all around, with several more episodes of tears for both of us) I felt guilty about the whole thing. It wasn’t really right of me to blame my over-emotional episodes on #2. It’s not his fault I can’t stand to see his sister cry; this was the same reason I practiced attachment parenting, why I could never bring myself to sleep train.  Two-and-a-half years of parenthood may have made me choosier about which cries are truly heartbreaking enough to cry over. It’s not like I sit around weeping over every little crocodile tear. But hearing her scream “Mommy, come back! Don’t leave me!” was more than enough to send me over the edge.

But now I’m confused. Can I trust my own reactions, my own emotional responses? Or does pregnancy really make women…well, a little crazy? It used to drive me insane when, every time we’d argue, J would ask me if I had my period. Like the only reason I might voice a complaint or have an opinion was if I was experiencing PMS. This feels similar. Is the world more topsy-turvy because my pregnant brain is on overload? Or can pregnant mamas have bad days just like everyone else?

Now that I’ve stumbled on the question, I’m determined to find the answer. When I feel edgy or anxious or sad, I’m asking myself “Would this have bothered me six months ago? Will it bother me a year from now?” You know, keeping it all in perspective, trying to keep a handle on reality—whatever that is. I’m only coming up with the right answer around 50% of the time. And even then, my results aren’t reliable. After all, the me that’s coming up with the answers is still…pregnant.

Did you go a little nutty when you were pregnant? Did hormones make your emotional side more fragile than usual, or did things continue on just like always? Share your stories!

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