Monday, November 7, 2011

Where Do Tears Come From And Other Related Questions

  As Kent and I were on our way home from visiting Brent and Ranae and meeting our new, precious, preemie Granddaughters, Lyla and Mae, I had all sorts of thoughts racing through my head.  I knew I wanted to post on Thought"full"ness when I got home, but what would I write about?

One thing I have had lots of experience with during this past week and half is crying; so I wondered, "where do tears come from and other related questions."

For the past week and a half since the birth of Lyla and Mae, I've had tears come in all sorts of circumstances and come unexpectedly.
I've shed tears privately and in public, in front of friends and strangers.

I got on my computer this morning and researched my question since I am not well versed in scientific things.  I know after I cry that I usually feel better, and this little bit of information helped explain that:  From an article titled, "Why Do People Cry" written by Emily V. Driscoll, "tears contain more manganese, an element that affects temperament, and more prolactin, a hormone that regulates milk production.  Sobbing out manganese and prolactin is thought to relieve tension by balancing the body's stress levels and eliminating build-ups of the chemicals, making the crier feel better."  

There are all types of tears: tears of sadness, of joy, of love, of fear, out of frustration, out of being hurt (physically and emotionally), and of anger (although I believe that the "hurt" feelings are the underlying emotion that causes anger), and then sometimes there are unexplained tears, times when I cry and I really don't know why I'm crying.

Lately, my tears have run the gamut out of fear to joy and everything in between.  The first evening we met Lyla and Mae in the NICU, my emotions were filled with awe for these tiny, precious babies and any tears that came that evening came out of my instantaneous love for them, out of gratitude for their lives and from the joy of having them here in our family.

On Saturday before our visit, Ranae received a phone call from the Nurse Practitioner telling her of their concerns for Mae and some changes the doctor had made to her care and of upcoming tests.  My tears that afternoon were ones filled with fear and just plain scaredness (is that a word?) for Mae.  Luckily, I was not next to Ranae when I broke down with my ugly cry face in front of the nurse next to Lyla's incubator.  I loved that nurse; she grabbed the kleenex box and consoled me for a minute or two.  I knew I had to have more of a cry, one where no one would see me; I retreated to the washroom (which is what Canadians label their restrooms) and had a moment.  I felt a little better; although, there were still a few moments that I needed to hold my tears back; I didn't want to make it worse for Brent and Ranae seeing me cry.

Saturday evening when we returned for only an hour visit, so Kent and I could tell Lyla and Mae good-bye and that we would see them soon, Mae was improved and Lyla was still doing very well.  My tears were ones of relief and of gratitude; which then turned to sadness when we had to leave. (I don't know how Brent and Ranae are dealing with this situation so well; I was emotionally drained by the end of the day)

We know that tears streaming down our faces come from our tear ducts, but how do they know to flow?  I don't know the technical explanation; something about a connection between the tear duct and our brain.  Isn't there a saying about "tugging at the heartstrings"?   Maybe there's some kind of invisible string running from the tear duct to the heart that pulls the tear duct open when we are so full of emotion that our bodies can't hold it in and there aren't words to express it.

 As I was thinking about tears this phrase came into my mind,

                         "Tears are an outward manifestation of emotions 
                       that words cannot adequately express."

I don't love to cry; the tears mess up my make-up; tears make my eyes puffy and red and cause my nose to run (I know there's some kind of scientific explanation for that one as well), but I am grateful for the ability to release emotion that obviously I can't hold in.


Lyla peeking through the tubes

                                                                               Mommy holding
Mae for the first time.

                                                                                                                                                                                             Mae holding her little hands

 Mae's little feet against             
Daddy's hand.

                                     Brent and Ranae are                           wonderful with Lyla and Mae

 Mommy washing Mae's eyes.

                                   There's a "Wall of Hope"
       in the hallway outside of the NICU; photos of children who were once in the NICU and are older and healthy now.

Mae Lyn

                                                 Lyla with her
                                                    eyes wide open.

Mae, all sprawled out


Lyla Kay     



Grammy, I think I'm with Lyla


  1. My mom always claimed here Hearts strings were too close to her tear ducts. I don't know where the saying comes from. Every posting you make about your sweet babies is a tear jerker. My heart and prayers go out to your family and those sweet babies so far away in Canada.

  2. Mary, thank you for your comments and prayers. It means alot.

  3. Oh and I Forgot to add,tears of empathy.

  4. I am one that has weepy tear ducts as well, and just seeing those little babies with their parents and grandparents really touches my heart and the tears begin to well up...those little babies have so much going for them...they are blessed to come to a family that loves them and has so much to offer in so many ways. All of you are in our prayers. Love you all!