Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mommy Brain: Fact or Fiction?

It may start when you are pregnant. You begin misplacing keys and other important items. You are in a state of constant “brain fog”. You attribute it to your current medical condition and look forward to the time when you can fully reclaim your wits and move on with your life.

Sadly, for some of us, this will never happen. Pregnancy Brain morphs into a more permanent state of Momnesia. And believe you me, it gets worse before it gets better….

Things I have done under the influence of Mommy Brain:

- Left my driver’s side door open in the parking lot for the duration of a visit to the supermarket.

- Left my paid for and bagged groceries in the customer pick-up area of the parking lot and drove home. Yes, it was during the same trip as above.

- Pulled over onto the shoulder of the road panicking over the missing baby seat in the rear, when in fact, not twenty minutes earlier, I had dropped the baby off at my mother-in-law’s.

- Poured a glass of juice, then returned the juice bottle to the cupboard instead of its rightful place in the fridge. (easily a dozen times)

- Called to make a doctor’s appointment and could not, for the life of me, remember my name. Or phone number. Or date of birth.

- Was momentarily confused about “green light go” and “red light stop”.

- Left the house in slippers.

- Put salt in my coffee.

- Pulled into a parking space and shut the car off…WITHOUT putting it in park first. It took me a minute to figure out if I was rolling backward, or all the other cars were inching forward. Luckily, my husband was in the car to alert me to the urgency of the situation. I won’t say the exact words here, but you can imagine.

- Dotted my face with concealer and never got around to blending it in. And no one told me. Thanks.

- Most recently, my car’s reverse sensor alerted me to the fact that I had forgotten to open the garage door before starting the car and throwing it into reverse. Close one!

To my husband, if you are reading this – I am NOT a danger to society. I repeat – NOT a danger. Don’t take away my car keys!

ANYWAY, after some research, I felt immensely relieved to see that I am not alone. Momnesia is real – it is not a suburban legend. At this time, there is no known cure. I had hoped to hear that this affliction resolves itself instantaneously upon achieving “empty nest” status, but I’m told this is just not true. It is a chronic lifelong condition.

Things that help me live life to the fullest with momnesia:

- Keep a notebook and pen in your purse/diaper bag and car. I may not always be able to read what I have written, but I think it’s a step in the right direction.

- Leave plenty of time for getting yourself together and out the door. I find I do better when I am not rushing. There’s nothing like realizing your child has a diaper full of thanks and you have forgotten to replenish your on-the-go diaper stash.

- Do not talk on the phone while driving or running an errand. You may not be ready for multi-tasking yet. Luckily, I have a voice activated phone system in my car. My husband understands when I am unresponsive, I am likely making a left turn in a large intersection.

- Shop at stores with shopping cart depots. My old supermarket did not allow carts into the lot, which was a real problem. Not everyone remembers to go back to the pick up area for their loot. If I am able to take my cart directly to my car – I certainly have no chance of forgetting my groceries…or my child…which has never happened.

Scientists (yes, research is actually being done on the subject) say that momnesia is mainly caused by post-partum hormone fluctuations and sleep deprivation. New research is also finding that the area of a new mom’s brain that is dedicated to protecting her child “borrows” from the other parts of her brain (goodbye memory and organizational skills!). I’m on board with that theory. I may have done some ditzy things, but I assure you no harm has come to my kids as a result.

I hear there are support groups in place, but it seems many would-be meeting attendees forget to show up. Or show up in their slippers…with a salty cup of Starbucks…after abandoning their groceries at the store.

My advice: sticky notes, sticky notes, and more sticky notes.

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