I remember life before children (well, just about), when my memory was slightly more intact and I really only had to think about myself and my own schedule. But now, with a 4 year old, 6 year old, husband, career and two mischievous kittens, my memory appears to have gone astray. These days it’s very much a case of ‘if it ain’t written down, it’s gonna be forgotten’.
With two children in school, our schedules seem to be even more all over the place. We have different days for PE, after school clubs, reading days, forest school, homework books and show and tell. There are my own work meetings, my husband’s jollies very important work trips to Belgium, vet appointments, social outings, exercise sessions and a gazillion other things that are going on in our lives at the moment. My poor brain just can’t remember all of this stuff I need to remember.
Was baby brain the start of it?
When I was pregnant with my first child, I experienced my first dose of ‘baby brain’. It was a phenomenon that I had heard of but, if I’m honest, probably didn’t really believe existed. Oh boy, how wrong I was! Pregnancy did funny things to my mind and memory (and my body, but that’s a whole other blog post). I went from being fairly organised to being, well, not organised – primarily due to the fact that my memory decrease seemed to be in direct correlation with my growing bump. The bigger my bump grew, the poorer my memory became.
It was at that time that I found myself buying a diary and using to-do lists in earnest. Before that, I was pretty good at remembering appointments and things that I needed to do. Pregnancy just seemed to dissipate any memory cells that had been clinging on. I knew a bit about how memory worked from my psychology days (well, what I could remember anyway) but baby brain wasn’t something that I really knew much about. I wanted to find out more. So with my research head on, I trawled the internet to see what I could find.
Normally, in my day job as a researcher, this would be the section where I start summarising the research literature I’d found and the arguments for and against the existence of baby brain. I’m not going to do that here as I couldn’t do it justice in a blog post. Also, there was one thing that my research gave me that was so much more important to me at the time; the stories from other mums and mums-to-be who felt they were going through the same thing as me. Whether the experts believed baby brain did or didn’t exist wasn’t as important to me as knowing that there were other women were going through this too. It was so comforting to know that I wasn’t alone!
From ‘baby brain’ to ‘mumnesia’
Naively, I thought that everything would return to its pre-pregnancy state once I’d had the baby but instead I found myself slipping further into a fog of forgetfulness. I’d find the milk in the cupboard, walk into a room and forget why I was there and get part way through a sentence and forget what I was talking about. However, I always remembered the important things like feeding my baby, changing his nappy and remembering to take him home when we went out. Phew!
By the time I was pregnant with my second child, my baby brain hadn’t really disappeared but I was finding ways to manage it. My little boy was 14 months old when I became pregnant with my daughter. This time the impact of baby brain wasn’t such a shock (if only the same could be said about the impact of pregnancy on my body the second time round!). I was definitely still experiencing that familiar pregnancy fog, but with a toddler to think about and work to focus on, I really just had to deal with it in the best way I could. I would literally write everything down, from appointments to shaving my legs. I was determined not to forget a thing.
As my children have got older and we’ve moved on from the baby stage, I still find myself struggling to remember everything if I don’t write it down. I now refer to this phase of my forgetfulness as the ‘mumnesia’ phase. This is a term sometimes also used to refer to baby brain, but I think it’s fitting to the challenge of remembering everything I need to remember as a mum.
For me, I believe my mumnesia is the result of many things, not least of all sleep deprivation (do children ever sleep through consistently?!), juggling work and family life, keeping up with school activities and schedules, and the busy lives that we live in general. There’s only so much this poor old brain of mine can cope with. So I’ll continue to write things down, try not to leave things to the last minute and stay on top of our busy schedules. But if I ever look a little lost, disorganised or distracted, it’s probably because I am. Would I change it though? Not for the world.
Did you suffer with baby brain? Do you still have mumnesia? I’d love to hear about your experiences.