Forget actual scientific research. I don’t care what (mostly male) researchers have to say about pregnancy or momnesia. I am confident I can claim 100% matter-of-factly that “mommy brain” is a real ailment. It is my diagnosis for having a short attention span, terrible recall, and doing stupid stuff.
Take Exhibit A. Not once, but TWICE, I have tried to pour coffee into my mug from the hinged back of this coffee carafe instead of where the dispenser spout is. I took this picture to document the second time this happened. If you look closely, you can see that I managed to drench the sugar in the sugar bowl with coffee as well as the tablecloth before my friends were able to stop me.
And this is one documented example of hundreds. I have poured coffee into my cereal and milk in my orange juice. I have even poured liquids straight onto the counter. I have found my missing keys in the refrigerator. I can’t even recall simple words like “mug” and “cabinet,” so I often ask Greg to get me a “thing” from the “thing” and hope he can deduce what I need because I’m holding a coffee carafe. This week alone, here is what I remember: On Monday I forgot to strap Ethan into his car seat when I went to the gym. On Tuesday, I took out the trash in the pouring rain on my way out the door, and upon returning, Eliza said, “Mommy, the front door is open!” Just to be safe, I waited for three police cars to arrive 20 minutes later to check that it wasn’t an intruder who had opened my door, but rather that we had left for two hours without closing and locking up. Yesterday I grabbed my mailbox key instead of my neighbor’s house key to let out their dog, and I didn’t figure out the mistake until the key didn’t work in their door. And just now as Greg got home, we found I had left my keys in the door for the umpteenth time.
Check out Exhibit B. I’m going to say that the laws of proportion back me up on this. My thought is if your body incubates a baby and provides what it needs to grow its own organs, bones, and especially brain, then just as the baby will take Vitamin D and Calcium from your bones, it will also take cells from your brain. It also follows that the more times you go through this process, the worse off you are. I’ve read that the parts of your brain that control motivation, reward behavior and emotion regulation actually grow after you give birth, presumably to help you care for the child. That’s lovely. But my brain can only do so much at a given time, so keeping a baby’s needs at the forefront means other things – like remembering the word “chair” – go out the window. In fact, a British study showed that hormones can control spatial memory, which would explain why when you’re pregnant or a mommy with a baby, you can’t remember where you put things or why you walked into a room in the first place.
Sleep deprivation has to be a part of it. We are sleep-deprived when pregnant, and even more so after giving birth. This past week, Ethan has woken up every night, I think because he’s going through a growth spurt. I fed him a bottle for a few nights in a row, and now I think he’s waking up because he got in that pattern. (Ugh.) He was sick before this, so I haven’t had a good night of uninterrupted sleep in a while. Mommy brain always gets worse at times like these. I am hopeful that I can get close to normal again soon. I do think I remember it getting better. I vaguely recall that once Zach was two, I felt like my brain was sharper and I could remember things better. I think …
I think I’m resigned to having mommy brain forever because I’m getting older. And maybe that’s part of it, too: maybe women are having children later in life, and so our brains are already less capable of bouncing back easily. Like I said, I don’t claim to have any scientific basis for my conclusion. I just know I’m right. It is the one thing I can trust my brain on these days.
What is your funniest pregnancy or mommy brain moment?