Before I had children I remember vaguely hearing about ‘baby brain’ but I honestly thought it was just one of those patronising things men occasionally say. You know, a little like asking you if it's 'that time of the month' if you show signs of being the slightest bit grumpy. Images sprang to mind of women giving birth to large brains instead of babies, the stuff of nightmares; so I pushed those thoughts to the back of my mind.
However, when I became pregnant with my first child I suddenly realised that ‘baby brain’ is actually a real thing. Research has shown that during pregnancy the overall size of your brain decreases and is at its smallest by the time your baby is full-term (feel free not to share this information with your partners, they really don’t need to know). But don’t panic, your brain is supposed to go back to its normal size within 6 months. This however does not explain why 6 years after having my first baby (and 4 since my second child), I still have what can only be described as ‘baby brain’.
I have not met a single mother who hasn't experienced it in some form or another - a universal problem that unites us all. There is the daily issue of going upstairs and forgetting what you went up there for, or putting the kettle on only to remember half an hour later that you forgot to make the tea. Irritating, yes, but then there are also those times when you really feel like you might possibly be going just a little bit mad.A friend of mine told me how she got in her car only to discover she was still wearing her slippers (easily done, given she had probably already remembered to pack the changing bag, favourite cuddly toy, assorted snacks, buggy etc.- not to mention the baby!). Another friend got all the way home from work before realising she had forgotten to pick up her son from nursery. These are the daily struggles us mums often go through.
I think my most memorable case of baby brain was a few years ago. My best friend had just given birth to her first baby. Dying to meet her little man, she suggested I come visit them in the hospital. So I waited for visiting hours and then off I drove to Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. I finally found a parking space (local readers will know this in itself is no mean feat!) and worked my way through the maze of corridors to the maternity ward on the top floor. But my arrival was met with a blank face; my friend wasn't there. Cue complete panic from me; what had happened? Were they okay? And then something clicked in my brain. It was then that I remembered that while my friend was indeed in hospital, she was actually in hospital in Worthing, not Brighton! I felt pretty foolish I must admit, but this sort of thing happens quite often to me. I think what may start off as ‘baby brain’, for some of us actually turns into what I would like to call ‘mummy mist’. Not quite the thick fog that the 24/7 care and sleepless nights of those early days with newborn brings; more a light haze that comes and goes. We get ‘mummy mist’ because we no longer have the ability to be selfish and think entirely about ourselves. There is a new focus. Parenthood means there is so much going on in our lives and so many things to remember that other things slide. This is one of the many sacrifices we make when we become mothers. But it’s a sacrifice I am more than happy with. I love my little people, and now they are getting bigger, they are actually getting pretty good at reminding me about the things I have forgotten!
Helen was born in London but has always been mesmerised by the sea and that was one of the many reasons for her decision to study at Brighton University many moons ago. Whilst she left this wonderful city briefly, she finally moved back just over 3 years ago and is now delighted to call Hove her home. She set up the Brighton & Hove Working Mums group on Facebook over a year ago, as a safe environment for working mums to get advice without judgement and promote their businesses. A mother herself, of two gorgeous children, she spends her time copywriting and blogging about anything she feels passionate about.