11 March 2008


You know, I've heard about momnesia and I totally believe in it. However, the articles I've read indicate that it is a temporary thing that largely disappears once you stop nursing.

Is that so.

According to one article I recently read:

Scientists agree. While researchers say they can't explain all the ways motherhood affects a woman's memory, they agree there's a pattern.

Like Massingill, many moms feel mentally foggy in the days after delivery. And they notice that the details of labor and delivery, which are scenes one might expect to be seared into a woman's consciousness, began to slowly slip away.

Sadly, Massingill says, her son's first few weeks of life have become a blur.

Few parents enjoy feeling so scatterbrained, says neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain. And momnesia can be dangerous, such as when moms forget to fasten the straps in an infant's car seat. Yet momnesia may give modern mothers an evolutionary advantage, Brizendine says.

"It turns you into someone who serves that little infant, to keep it alive no matter what," says Brizendine, founder of the Women's and Teen Girls' Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California in San Francisco. "Other parts of your brain that are usually on high alert are sort of taken offline."

Women may be reluctant to talk about their memory problems for fear of being judged poorly at work, especially because returning to a demanding job puts even more stress on the brain, Brizendine says.

But women don't get dumber after childbirth. Instead, like sleep-deprived medical residents who learn on the job, their brains are getting a workout. "You are learning a lot," she says. "Once your mommy brain gets readjusted, you get more efficient, and you become smarter and learn things faster, but it won't happen all at once."

Mothers' priorities often change dramatically while caring for a baby. They need to be "hyper vigilant" about their infants, who may develop symptoms of illness that are apparent only to those who have scrutinized their every coo and cry, Brizendine says. "You're on the mother beat all the time. It requires certain parts of your brain to work hyper, hyper, hyper well. But it requires other parts of your brain to play second fiddle."

I haven't been nursing for at least a year now and my brain is still mush. Total mush. It's like I'm 120 years old. I forget names, forget how to spell, forget what I went downstairs for, etc., etc., etc. I first noticed it when I was pregnant with my son. I was watching Jeopardy one afternoon and couldn't answer a single question although I knew I had known the answers just a few months prior. If you had asked me who the first president of the US was, I would've been stumped. Frustrating is an understatement.

Will momnesia ever go away or does it last as long as I am a mom? Am I relegated to being face down in my oatmeal in a few years?

However, the Jeopardy crew was in town last week and was at the Mall of America. We were there to go to Long John Silvers for fish on Friday. Jeopardy was trying out potential contestants for the show. I am pleased to report that I did, indeed, pass the initial round. Surprise! Surprise!

I sat down with my test and didn't know the first two questions. I mean I really didn't know them...ever. Got the last eight questions cold. Zipped right through them. The first question was something like what president was sworn in by his father after the death of President Harding. I don't know. I guessed Wilson, knowing that it was incorrect. Turns out the answer is Coolidge. Then, the next question dealt with my worstest subject...movies. It was what 200X film had certain characters in it, one being the Green Goblin. Ok, I probably could've got this, but with the kids and hubby sitting there distracting me and knowing that movies aren't my subject, I just balked and answered Batman. Everyone knows it's Spiderman...even my son.

But, I was pleased as punch to have passed the test. I didn't go to the next round because at this point in my life, being a Jeopardy contestant just isn't in the cards. I'm too busy with phonics to study up on presidents and the like. I never knew much about opera or the Bourbon kings (or any royalty, really), so there are huge gaps in my knowledge that would make me look idiotic if I went on Jeopardy. I was tickled just to have the satisfaction of passing the test and knowing the fog seems to be lifting, albeit not nearly as fast as I would like. Maybe by the time I've homeschooled my kids for 16 years, I will have learned the things that always stumped me.

I'm already reading up on royalty.


Vincenzo said...

Cool! I knew that you were a genius! (I nominated and voted for you in the "Smartest Catholic blog" category.)

swissmiss said...

I ain't no genius...it just made me feel good to answer the questions and have them hand me the golden ticket to the next round...so American Idolish! Since having kids my mind is just gone. Really gone. It is really pathetic. My husband asks me questions for his job that are chemical engineering related and I look at him like he is speaking a different language. Seriously! It's so bad that when I'm talking with someone I can't even think of the words to use. AHHHH!! Women always complain about what having babies does to their figure (and believe me that's true too) but for me, the worst part is having an involuntary brain dump.

Thank you so much for voting for me!! You are so kind, V!! At least I have one vote. Yipee. I just assumed I didn't get any votes since the site never sent an e-mail or anything to let me know. I have to do a big mea culpa since I totally spaced on the whole blogger awards thing. If I can remember to next year (eliminate momnesia), I will vote for a few blogs and I'd vote for yours in a few categories :)

Anonymous said...

Whoo-hoo! Not bad going for Mummy-brain.
The mush and mashed potato I have for a brain is a dangerous thing it seems to me. I once went to the door in a hurry having put the baby down I was feeding-but NOT doing myself up!!! HORROR! As I opened the door I suddenly realised and kind of hovered behind the door trying to adjust myself and talking to the man.

swissmiss said...

Oh Shell, that is funny! And, I have to say I'm glad it wasn't me, although I have answered the door with my pants not done but with a shirt hanging over so that no one knew - whew!

V: Update - I went and saw that the voting was still open. I thought it already closed, but I'm way behind the times. I see that others nominated you in the categories I would've...if I had gotten off my duff and nominated anyone. So, I did the nextest best thing and voted for you in the categories you were nominated in! You have my vote anyway! I also voted once for Terry and Cathy, but don't tell them that :)

Vincenzo said...

Thanks! That's very nice of you (though I think that I shouldn't even have been nominated). You are in the "most spiritual" category too.

KitBrookside said...

It's not just you. Trust me. I am teaching the same evening class (Business Law) as I have for the past 4 years. I was going over my same ol' lecture notes on business-related crimes this morning, getting ready to talk for 3 hours, and had a moment where I looked at my own handwriting of a "great example" to give the students, and thought "what the heck did I mean by that?"

I was nearly 8 months pregnant and had just taken my first insulin shot (gestational diabetes - yuck!) when I gave this same lecture last year...but obviously more on my game than I am this year!

Anonymous said...

You have been awarded (again lol)
Come and get it.

swissmiss said...

Your blog is one of my regular visits. It's very well-done, informative and funny. Your awards are well-deserved. I'd also vote for you as Kindest Blogger :)

I have many, MANY times been thankful that I am not working because I know I would've screwed up something. In my last job, I worked with some very nasty chemicals and it was really no place for momnesia. I used to have an excellent memory, but it's just so-so now. Even my husband accused me of forgetting he told me he had a Saturday grad class during the summer. I knew that never happened because if he had signed up for a Saturday class in the summer, he wouldn't have lived to tell me about it ;}

You are too kind and I am still behind with things so will have to get over to your blog this time before the flowers wilt :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, if you have momnesia and passed the test to be a Jeopardy contestant--boggles the mind to think how intellegent you were before being a mom--whew!

You should become a contestant, and let us all know so we could watch and cheer for you--that would be fun.

When you become a mom, details that once were so important--you realize how unimportant they are--you don't really forget--you just become more selective focusing your attention.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog! My little girl is 9 months now. I lost my memory horribly when I became pregnant. I was setting up an appointment with the OB and they asked for my phone number...I rattled off the first 6 digits no problem, but I blanked on the last one...I finaly narrowed it down to a 50-50 shot and gave up. When I went in for the appointment they asked me again and because they read the number to me instead of just asking...my husband had to answer...I just couldn't remember! Prior to pregnancy I rarely forgot anything--ever!!! My memory now is only slightly better. Does it ever come back?

swissmiss said...

It really wasn't all that big of a deal since there were only 10 questions...just made me feel good to be able to answer some questions that had been totally cloudy.

Welcome to my blog. All I know is that when I was pregnant, I couldn't answer any questions about anything...like you mention about your phone number. I was in la-la-land. Now, I can answer some questions, but my memory is far from what it used to be. I don't know if I'll ever completely "recover" but things are better, just disturbing to not be able to spell and recall words at the drop of a hat. My 82 year old aunt forgets words at about the same rate that I do...I wonder what I'll be like if I make it to my 80s...yikes!