I used to call my lapses in memory "pregnancy brain." Then I gave birth.
Jeanne Sager: I quickly realized that not being able to remember where I put the pacifier five seconds after I dropped it into the boiling water for sanitizing wasn't really my pregnancy's fault. After all, my little bun was no longer in the oven, but crawling past it -- bound for the dog's bowl, where she'd find something else to stick in her mouth if I didn't find that blasted binky.
So I did what any good mother would do: I adapted. Henceforth, I began referring to my condition as "placenta brain." As in, "My brain was sucked out around the time I was passing the placenta." My theory was, I was so busy watching the nurses clean up my newborn at the time, I never knew what they were taking out along with that little sack of nutrients. And this vegetarian wasn't going to ask to see her placenta -- or take it home for cooking.
So this new study in the British Journal of Psychology that contends that scientists "found no evidence of persistent cognitive deterioration being associated with pregnancy or motherhood" is really cramping my style. They've even gone so far as to tell the BBC that "obstetricians, family doctors and midwives may need to use the findings from this study to promote the fact that 'placenta brain' is not inevitable."
First they steal my name for it, and now they're stealing the whole excuse away from me?
Completed in Australia, the study says we've been conditioned by past studies to believe that pregnancy affects the brain. So naturally we believe it -- and then our brains go on the fritz. The inference is that it's time to just stop believing.
But before you all take your balls and run home from the playground (that is, if you can remember where you kicked them), hear this: All those strong admonishments to ignore the hype have been overshadowing our best excuse of all. While they were trying to figure out how to disprove "pregnancy brain," they admitted that moms are exhausted. And what does exhaustion bring? That's right, folks: It brings a lack of concentration -- which is the key to forming memories.
So let me get my addled mother's mind around this: It isn't the pregnancy that's making my brain forget my in-laws' phone number. But it IS pregnancy -- and subsequent motherhood -- that's making me so blessed tired that I can't concentrate. And because I'm not concentrating, I'm not forming memories. And since I can't form memories -- wait, what was I saying again?
I can promise not to call it "placenta brain" anymore. But will you tell me how to make a cranky preschooler go to sleep without the doll she left at Oma and Opa's house? Because man, am I tired.
|Jeanne Sager is a mom to Jillian and writer from upstate New York. She's strung words together for Babble.com, Kiwi Magazine and AOL's Holidash, and she shares her award-winning weekly newspaper column on her blog,|