Long before I ever got pregnant, I read about “momnesia” — aka “mommy amnesia.”
I remember the article tried to overthrow the urban myth status of the term. It reported that yes, moms in general have a tough time remembering things—especially moms of young kids.
At the time, I sort of wrinkled my brow, thought, “Hmm,” and didn’t give it much weight. Moms have a lot of stuff to remember, more so than most people—especially before their kids are self-sufficient. Right?
Well yes, that’s right, but it’s also true that the mental sharpness of any new mom dives right on into a valley, post-birth. And, now I know why: Our brains shrink.
I first heard this explanation on Dr. Oz. He actually displayed a shrunken mommy-brain for the audience’s benefit. According to him, our brains shrink by roughly 8 percent during pregnancy. It’s not that we lose cells, though. Our cells just get smaller.
The scientific explanation for this is that our babies suck up a lot of our omega-3 fats while they grow in our bellies. A lot of those fats are stored in the brain. Indeed, Dr. Oz points out that 80 percent of our brains are composed of fat.
I only remember one incidence of this “mommy brain” after Caden was born. I had him on a Friday, and then the following Monday I went to the bank. I could not for the life of me remember my account number—and I’ve had that account since I was ten years old! That was a weird moment. But it was the only moment.
This time around, post-Chloe, all I can say is good heavens! I draw a blank on basic words. I’ve forgotten what month it is, let alone what day. I’ve gone looking in the wrong kitchen drawer for a fork.
It’s annoying, but not mortifying. That’s because we can blimp our brains back out once we start getting plenty of sleep. Dr. Oz also recommends taking omega-3 fatty acids to speed the process along.
Noted. In the meantime, I’m perfectly comfortable excusing my erratic behavior and stunted speech by telling people, “I’m sorry. I have a small brain.”