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Commentator Says Pregnancy to Blame for Mood Swings

By Lynn Lombard

Buffalo, NY – After spilling cherry soda on my new, light beige Berber carpet the other day, I spent the next hour and a half crying like a baby. I couldn't stop the tears, blubbering, "I've ruined our carpet ... it's all my fault ..." Even when my husband tried to calm me down, I still kept sobbing.

"It's only a carpet," he told me. "Why are you crying?"

My response, which seems all too familiar in our house lately, was "I don't know." And honestly, I did not know. I have only one excuse to give. I'm pregnant.

Now in my second trimester, I have been blessed with no morning sickness, no nausea, no frequent trips to the bathroom, no ... anything. My only complaint is that I'm exhausted, and my eyes don't want to stay open past 9:00 p.m. In fact, if I didn't hear the baby's heartbeat for myself and I didn't see my waistline disappearing, I would question if I was pregnant at all. So when people ask me how I'm feeling, a question that is frequent in my circle of family and friends, I always have a positive response. "Great," I'll say. "So far, so good," I often add.

What I hadn't realized until recently is that my emotional state has changed. I do admit that I've always been a passionate person. I cry when I'm sad, even sometimes when I'm happy. I yell when I'm angry. Pre-pregnancy, I was able to control these emotions. But now, my hormones soar and dip like a roller coaster ride. I only have two words to say about that: "Watch out!"

When I blew up at a client recently about something as silly as a telephone number, I didn't recognize the person I had become. "Just admit that you're wrong!" I kept yelling. He looked at me with wide eyes and a dropped jaw, not knowing how to respond to my sudden outburst. What is happening to me? I questioned afterward. I don't treat people this way. Even when they deserve it, I'm usually able to bite my tongue and look the other way. Luckily, this client knew I was pregnant and was graciously willing to forget the incident.

I should have been prepared for this. My friend, who recently had her first baby, warned me that she threw a chair across the room during her pregnancy. That won't be me, I remember telling myself. I can keep my cool. But I had no idea what was going to happen to my body or my mind. According to The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth, as the reproductive hormones suddenly kick in, levels of a brain neurotransmitter called serotonin will drop, causing irritability, tension and tears. It's biological, not psychological.

At this point, unless I reveal the good news, nobody can tell that I am expecting, and I'm not sure what I should do to warn people. Should I wear a sign around my neck that says, "Beware: Expectant Mom"? I certainly don't want to offend anyone with my emotional, and sometimes, irrational behavior.

Because this is my first pregnancy, it's all new to me. I can only hope people understand that this sobbing, irritable woman isn't the "real" me. The books assure me that the old, familiar, keep-it-together, pleasant person that I usually am will return in about six months. Until then, I will ride this roller coaster with every bit of energy that I possess and hope that my friends and family don't jump off mid-ride.

Listener-Commentator Lynn Lombard is a writer and legal administrative assistant from Akron.