Jokes about the emotional instability of pregnant people are never-ending. And yes, we have a hell of a lot of hormones rushing through our system when we're growing human beings. It's true. The dramatic changes that our bodies go through in less than a year are astounding, but we're also freaking exhausted. All. The. Time. A little help can go a long way, so let me do the heavy lifting for my currently pregnant comrades and tell you what a pregnant woman really means when she says she's "hormonal."
It's no joke how crazy I felt when I was pregnant. But, honestly, it's hard to say that without accidentally giving credence to people who wish pregnant people would avoid public and just stay at home until their babies are born. Whether it's because they think we're "too fragile" or "too emotionally unstable" to continue life as normal when we're growing a human, or they think we should STFU and deal with the intense changes quietly, not everyone understands (or cares about) the plight of pregnant women. There isn't too much room for pregnant people to just deal with the challenges they're having openly without running the risk of their experiences being minimized or misunderstood.
If you're anything like me, hormonal changes in pregnancy felt so isolating. I wanted commiseration but, like many before me, my feelings were usually minimized or I received patronizing responses (see Serena Williams' Australian Open Win coverage). What follows is an effort at commiseration with my counterparts who've been, or are currently, pregnant. Everything you feel when you say you're hormonal is valid, even if it's not one of the examples covered below:
I just can't even with you (read: anyone) right now. Go away.
All of my parts are tired. I can't even begin to explain to you this level of exhaustion. I'm amazed I'm not falling over sleeping as we speak.
You expect me to listen to your words when a human head is crushing my pelvis? Nope.
Sometimes playing along with misogyny is what keeps those of us marginalized by it alive and surviving. If I didn't make excuses, like being "hormonal," while I was pregnant at my last job — thus playing into the destructive idea that pregnant people are somehow less capable or emotionally stable than non-pregnant people — I feared I would be labeled "emotional" and my job would be at risk.
This is a real fear for many pregnant people. So, if you hear a pregnant person say she's "hormonal," ask her what's really going on.
(Author's note: all pregnant people — just like all people — are different. She may not want to talk about it with you. If she tells you to bugger off after this question, just do it.)
While I was pregnant I would fluctuate between absolute disgust of all things food-like and ravenous hunger that only one very specific food item could solve. I don't give a good goddamn if it's the middle of the night! You better find a way to get me that fresh fruit torte.
Because I am so sad right now.
I am not some fragile porcelain doll that needs protection and kid gloves! I'm a grown-ass person growing another person!
Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. They're both true all the time.
Sometimes we actually say what we mean. Pregnancy hormones are one of those times.