I was barely a few weeks pregnant when the brain fog started kicking in. Suddenly I was forgetting common words, lost my ability to put together a coherent sentence, and all but lost my grammatical skills. My emails became riddled with typos, my conversations became occasionally awkward, and my writing more than suffered.
Until that point, I’d thought “mom brain” was simply a common excuse for being forgetful. I could hardly fault a mom for her forgetfulness — surely she had plenty going on in her life. But I didn’t honestly think it was a real, legitimate “thing” until it happened to me.
I waited for the weeks and months to go by when I’d get my formerly high-functioning brain back, then I waited and waited some more.
I chalked it up to pregnancy hormones and the toll such a physical undertaking was having on my brain as well as my body. But when my son was born, it didn’t suddenly slip away along with my basketball-shaped belly.
Soon I was blaming it on the lack of sleep that comes with a newborn and new mom territory. Instead of improving, it got worse. I was hardly surprised though; I was getting the fewest hours of sleep of my entire life and they were rarely consecutive.
But as time does, it continued on and on, only without an improvement to my memory and my once sharp thinking. Everything remained just a little muddy; just a little cloudy, hovering somewhere below the surface. It was all still there, it just took longer to bring to the top and not always with the best accuracy. I could remember the important things, but if it wasn’t absolutely essential, my brain automatically filed it somewhere way, way back in the deep recess of my mind.
Three years of waiting for my new mom brain to disappear and here I am still waiting. Although I wish it would go away, I’ve accepted it and learned to deal with it.
I write things down that I never used to remind myself of and own it when I completely forget something. I double check all my emails and even texts for grammatical errors that I once would have never let cross my fingertips but are now commonplace, and I don’t get upset when something slips through the cracks. Although I’ve accepted it, I’m still secretly waiting for my former brain to magically come back.
Only it turns out, not only is mom brain not made up, it may actually have an advantage. Hallelujah.
A recent study showed that moms may actually be smarter — as in we’ve formed more connections within our brain by kicking out the not-so-needed stuff. To describe “smarter,” a clearly subjective term, the researchers cite moms are better at planning, problem solving, and dealing with stress.
I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say moms are smarter than non-moms since there are thousands of factors to consider, but surely we get enough practice at those things in our everyday lives that we ought to be good at them.
And at least there’s an upside to what I’ve considered a downside for so long. Maybe mom brain isn’t such a disadvantage after all.