When I saw that positive pregnancy test I felt a rush throughout my entire body. I uncontrollably paced around the house, suddenly excited and nervous simultaneously. My husband and I just started trying and, honestly, I thought the process would take much longer. The positive test was instantaneous, though, and so was the stream of emotions that quickly followed. I realized pregnancy came with numerous emotions, some of which are heightened due to increased levels of various hormones. I also learned there are certain pregnancy feels no one is allowed to blame on hormones, pregnant people included.
A woman's body is miraculous. Every cell and every process has to work intricately and diligently and perfectly to create a healthy life. Hormones, however, can wreak havoc on a woman and her wellbeing. According to the The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), increased levels of hCG make women nauseated and suppresses the immune system. Meanwhile, the American Pregnancy Association says progesterone is responsible for heartburn and acid reflux and escalates the feelings of sadness. Then, of course, there's estrogen, which according to Healthy Women gives women sore breasts and a heightened sense of smell while the rising levels of prolactin trigger cravings and an increase in appetite.
Since I had every single pregnancy symptom known to expecting women, I thought my hormones were working in overdrive. Approximately two weeks after I found out I was pregnant the nausea began. The nausea, quickly joined by indescribable exhaustion, was so bad that I constantly regretted being alive. I couldn't wait for nighttime so I could sleep and not feel anything, and every morning was met with disdain. I couldn't even get up to pee because of how sick I was. Some days, I crawled to the bathroom because standing upright was not an option.
I realized many of my symptoms were caused by a disruption of hormones, but that doesn't mean blaming those symptoms on the hormones made me feel any better. In fact, just like blaming my irritability on my period, blaming everything on pregnancy hormones just made me feel worse. So, with that in mind and because playing the blame game never helped anyone, here are a few pregnancy feels you can't chalk up to pregnancy hormones. Ever.
When You Feel Like Something Is Physically Wrong
Severe morning sickness, also called hyperemesis gravidarum, is an actual medical condition one should not ignore or blame on pregnancy hormones. Some women require a diagnosis for horrible nausea and vomiting and are sometimes put on certain medication that make life bearable.
My nausea was so bad I had to take special prenatal vitamins with extra vitamin B (and sometimes prescription medication) in order to be able to go to, and function at, work.
When You Can't Get Past That Sadness
Pregnancy brings on numerous emotions, but if a woman feels like something is not right with her mental wellbeing, she should seek some medical advice and help. According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), depression during pregnancy affects somewhere between 14-23 percent of women. Sometimes depression during pregnancy goes undiagnosed, though, because people tend to blame pregnancy hormones for every feeling a woman experiences while she's growing another human being inside her body.
When You Are Constantly Anxious
Generalized anxiety can sometimes go untreated in pregnancy because, just like depression, the symptoms of anxiety can be easily blamed on overactive pregnancy hormones. However, according to Healy Smith, M.D., a reproductive psychiatrist at the Women's Mental Health Clinic at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, untreated anxiety can cause low birth weight, premature birth, and a low APGAR score. Risks to the mother include postpartum depression or anxiety, substance abuse, preterm labor, and preeclampsia, among others. Therefore, constant feelings of anxiety should not be blamed on hormones and, instead, should be discussed with a healthcare provider.
When Someone Hurts Your Feelings
Pregnant women have the full right to be upset by the words and actions of others. If someone does or says something hurtful, then blames pregnancy hormones when the pregnant woman gets upset, that someone deserves a swift kick in the shins. No one should go around hurting people's feelings and then blaming something else when those people get upset. In my third trimester, someone "jokingly" told me I'm "as big as a house" and then told me to stop being sensitive when I got upset. No, I wasn't being sensitive, that comment would hurt whether or not I was pregnant.
When You Get Instantly Angry
"Why are you freaking out?" someone would ask if something made me really angry. That question alone is enough to trigger even more anger, but when someone alludes that my feelings of anger are invalid because I'm hormonal, I get even angrier. How dare someone dismiss my feelings just because I'm creating a life? Maybe I've had an actual bad day, or a bad moment? Maybe I'm not feeling well? Or, maybe you're just being an asshole? It's not all hormones.
When You Are Afraid
Bringing a child into the world is a wonderful and amazing experience, but that doesn't mean it isn't absolutely terrifying. I'm scared by the thought of raising a child in our world without the pregnancy hormones, although I'm sure an extra batch of hormones would elevate at least some of those fears. Regardless, pregnancy is scary and the knowledge that anything can go wrong at any moment is frightening all on its own. Having children is great, but it doesn't come without reservation and some uncertainty.
When You're Exhausted
Pregnancy begins with exhaustion and ends with exhaustion. I remember reading somewhere that your body words as hard during the first trimester of pregnancy as when you're training for a triathlon. Although I have never trained for anything like that, if what I felt during the first trimester is anything like training for a triathlon, I'm never competing in a triathlon. The exhaustion isn't to be blamed solely on pregnancy hormones, though. There's lack of sleep, stress, and anxiety that can all play a part in the undeniable exhaustion pregnant women experience.