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Mommy Amnesia

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Guest blogger Jessica Katz: I was having lunch with a friend of mine who has a 5-month-old son. As I watched her across the table, it occurred to me that I had no idea what to do with a 5-month-old. I had completely forgotten -- and my daughter was only seven months older. I then realized that I also had no idea what to do with a newborn -- and we had one on the way. How often do they eat? Get changed? All my husband said was, "We just wrap them like a burrito." Yes, we swaddle them, but what else? I was in a panic.

Confused woman
It was then that my friend told me not to worry: I'd just experienced the mysterious ailment known as "mommy amnesia." While I had certainly not forgotten labor and delivery, I had forgotten what to do with a baby younger than my daughter. As I started researching this phenomenon (which has captured every new mom I know at one time or another), I found this: "AMNESIA. Condition that enables a woman who has gone through labor to have sex again."

Mommy amnesia, however, is an affliction that affects most -- if not all -- women after childbirth. Depending upon the difficulty of the birth and the temperament of the child, this period can vary from four months to three years. In any case, there comes a time when most moms gloss over those early periods of sleeplessness, colic, pregnancy pain, nausea, vomiting, bed rest, etc. and say, "Oh, it wasn't so bad. It was only three months of vomiting," or "It was only six months of pregnancy insomnia" or "It was only three months of colic." They have totally and completely forgotten the details. They think they haven't, but they have.

It is a fact that woman are more forgetful during pregnancy, and afterward we are so exhausted we are lucky if we remember our left and right shoes. However, amnesia eventually does hit, blocking out those sleepless nights, that painful labor. It is a form of self-preservation. We as a society would not continue to procreate if we could remember how hard that first year was. However, mommy amnesia can get more severe. It can cause a woman to forget her child in public or in the car, which is obviously a very dangerous thing. It's most likely attributed to hormones and extreme exhaustion.

It first occurred to me that I wasn't alone in my amnesia when my friend with a 1-year-old visited me after I had my baby. She didn't want to hold her; she said she had forgotten how to hold a baby so small. In fact, she had forgotten that her own baby was ever that small! Mommy amnesia may be frustrating -- especially if you read every parenting book and took every parenting class. But it is a blessing in disguise. If we remembered how hard it was, only the brave would do it again.

next: Time to Organize!
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