As a mother, have you ever felt like you are losing your mind? Do you find yourself mixing up words or forgetting what you went into a room to do?
Let me assure you that you are not alone. You are just suffering from “mom brain” or “pregnancy brain.”
Pregnancy brain is caused primarily from lack of sleep and lack of energy. Also, a fun fact: “your brain cell volume actually decreases during the third trimester of pregnancy.” (What to Expect) So yes, this results in pregnant women being more forgetful than normal.
When I was pregnant for the first time, I worked two jobs, a full-time Document Control position, and then a part-time job as a tutor in the Writing Center of a community college. My workdays were 11-12 hours long, and I was constantly worried that my coworkers or tutoring students would find out that I was losing my mind. The best way to describe it would be to say that my mind was not as sharp as before. I had to really stop and think about what I wanted to say, instead of the words flowing easily off my tongue.
I thought that once my son was born, my “pregnancy brain” would disappear. But instead, it has been replaced by “mom brain.”
When you become a mom, and are up all night with a newborn, you experience exhaustion on a whole other level than what you experienced during pregnancy. Those first few months of motherhood deliver a crash course in sleep deprivation, unlike anything most first-time moms have ever experienced.
And so “mom brain” begins. Have you ever felt so tired you couldn’t think straight? Yep, you got it, “mom brain.”
But “mom brain” is also a result of multi-tasking and being responsible for several things at once. As a stay at home mother to two under two, and a custodial stepmom to a 9-year old, my days are jam-packed taking care of three kids, while also keeping the house in order.
This quote from Sophia Loren sums it up nicely:
Add in multiple children, and well, you get the point.
I recall my own mother, who mixed up her three daughters’ names all the time. Now I find myself doing the same thing, and instead of getting frustrated about it, I simply laugh.
So, if you are experiencing “pregnancy brain” or “mom brain,” don’t despair. I can’t say that it goes away, because until your kids leave the house, your mind will probably remain overtaxed, thinking of your kids’ needs before your own.
But you know what? That is alright.
I still sometimes switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer and forget to actually turn the dryer on. Or when my husband and I are watching a recorded show and he fast forwards through the commercials, but ends up going too far, instead of saying “rewind”, I will say “backspace.” (That was a disassociation that first began during “pregnancy brain” and has carried over into “mom brain.”)
Just a few days ago, my stepdaughter was playing “Guess the Emoji” on her tablet, and was stumped on a question. I was fairly certain of the answer, but I could not for the life of me recall the name of “Miss Piggy.” So, instead I said it was the “girl who liked Kermit the Frog”, and my stepdaughter figured it out from there.
Turning Negatives into Positives
The truth is: pregnancy and motherhood changes a woman’s brain. Yes, it sometimes manifests itself in forgetfulness and mental slowness.
But, for every negative there is a positive.
I am far more empathetic and sympathetic than I was before becoming a mother. My brain has developed another layer of emotional intelligence. My ability to multitask has increased exponentially. (I’m writing this blog post while bottle-feeding my daughter and keeping my toddler from dumping the silverware drawer onto the floor.)
My advice is this:
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Find humor in your forgetfulness and mental missteps. Someday you may laugh about that time you put the keys in the freezer or poured orange juice in your cereal.
And mixing up your kids’ names? Yeah, that will probably never go away. But I read somewhere that moms mix up the names of those they love the most. So, tell the kids that next time they laugh at you for calling little Johnny: “Bobby-Susie-Johnny.”
Readers: Do you have any funny “pregnancy brain” or “mom brain” stories to share?
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