Mom Brain is Devastating Me.
Today, I cried for a large chunk of the day. I absolutely hate this new feeling of inadequacy that motherhood has thrown at me. I want so badly to “do it all,” but I can barely remember to brush my freaking hair!
I dropped the ball today. Big time. I forgot about a meeting and basically pissed off the entire world. Ok…I’m being a little dramatic with that last part. No one was actually mad at me, but I still feel the heaviness on my shoulders because my memory is starting to interfere with every single aspect of my life.
You see, I am a typical type-A perfectionist. I have always been on top of my game, and I usually stay 2 or 3 or 4 steps ahead. Pregnancy absolutely ruined that for me. After giving birth to my daughter, my memory is continuing to decline rapidly. I know I can’t be the only one.
Some Prospective Memory Science
Prospective memory (PM) refers to the ability to remember to execute an intended action in the future.1 In a 2018 study, postpartum women showed decreased PM performance, a higher number of nocturnal awakenings, and lower estradiol level.1
The authors of this abstract state, “PM is essential when performing daily tasks, so disturbances to its processes can cause simple inconveniences or more major consequences. For instance, forgetting to attend an important meeting can lead to a missed promotion at work, forgetting to take medication can result in serious health problems, and forgetting to turn off the gas can even cause fires.”1
It is also suggested in this article that things like depression can play a role in memory loss. Also, things like waking up in the night contribute to this particular memory loss. It makes total sense. Sleep deprivation and depression can be detrimental to our overall health and wellbeing. It’s really no surprise that they would wreak havoc on our cognitive function as well.
Why does this happen?
Now, I find myself questioning everything through the tears. Is my cognitive function really that impaired, or is my postpartum depression to blame? I know I’m not sleeping enough. Could that be the cause of my mom brain? I also wonder if it could be a side effect of my multiple medications to treat my severe anxiety. These are all questions that I plan to present to my psychiatrist, but it still sucks.
It sucks that I have to question every move I make. It sucks that I have to walk through the house 15 times before I leave in the morning, and I still forget things. It sucks that if I don’t write something on my calendar immediately when it’s scheduled, I will miss it.
Although we may never fully understand the why behind it, there is definitely a deficiency when it comes to pregnancy and postpartum memory. Hormones to blame?? I think so. Seriously, F all the hormones. Still, we need to make more effort to take care of ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally after birth. Our babies need us at our best.
We need a little more grace.
I have trouble with the overall concept of grace. Due to my personality type, I have exceptionally high standards for myself. Allowing things to fall through the cracks is basically an alien concept to me. Just thinking about it makes me need a Xanax. I need to remind myself daily that I am not perfect. I am human, and I am a mom. Nothing will ever be perfect ever again.
Instead of working myself into a panic every time I fail, I need to take a giant step back. Evaluating the reason for my failure and working on a plan for correction can get me back to feeling in control. For example, today, I went over my entire calendar after I forgot that meeting. I looked through text messages and emails to make sure nothing was missing. I’m sure there is probably something that will blindside me at some point, but at this moment, I feel like I’ve got this again.
At the end of the day, we just have to do our best. That really is all that we can do. For everything else, there’s grace.
- Shin, Na-Young et al. “Disturbed retrieval network and prospective memory decline in postpartum women.” Scientific reports vol. 8,1 5476. 3 Apr. 2018, doi:10.1038/s41598-018-23875-5