As I’m writing this my mind literally does not want to think, so sorry if this sounds a bit, well, foggy. That’s been the story of my life for the past year – I just don’t seem to be able to function as I did before I had my son. Why? I blame mommy brain. (Yes, it’s a real thing.)
As most moms know, sleep deprivation is one of the major causes of mommy brain. Sleep is an issue which I’m sure I’ll expound upon in later posts, but suffice it to say that my baby just did.not.sleep. I had a love-hate relationship with his night wakings: I loved to go into his room, take him in my arms and feel the quiet peacefulness as I nursed him. I enjoyed letting my brain turn off as I watched repeats of Frasier and Friends on the iPad to keep myself awake while feeding him. I felt that he should decide when to night wean, not me, so I continued to revel in our special relationship.
But I was seriously tired. There’s a reason why sleep deprivation is used to torture people. As the months of waking every few hours continued, there was nothing I started to crave more than sleep. And yet when I went to bed, my mind would spin in circles about all the things I had to do, and I couldn’t fall asleep. And so the cycle continued.
I’m also convinced that babies just suck the energy out of you. I don’t know exactly how, but somewhere in between cleaning up poop, wrestling a screaming, wrangling child and trying to decipher their every cry you become worn down to a shell of your former self. It’s not that you don’t enjoy taking care of your child all day long. But it’s exhausting.
Not to mention the lack of mental stimulation. Singing The Wheels on the Bus and reading Goodnight Moon over and over and over will will take your IQ down a few points. You’re just not stimulating the adult part of your brain formerly used for meetings with your boss and PowerPoint presentations. Now when I try to read a novel or even an online news article, my mind makes mental leaps – it can’t hold as much as it used to, so it boils down the information to one useful nugget and throws the rest out. As a result, I know the basics of what I read but can’t for the life of me have an in-depth conversation about it.
Even though my son is finally sleeping through the night, I find myself utterly wiped. Now that he’s turned one, he demands more of my attention when awake. He actually wants me to play with him – or at least watch him play. When I see moms with newborns I’m suddenly jealous – those were the days when he just lay there and didn’t do anything. I also take him to play groups, kiddie activities, swimming… he’s one and I’m already overscheduling him, and me.
Plus, now I’m actually trying to use my brain to write this blog and my freelance assignments. And I want to watch TV and movies again. And read books. And keep up on current events. And Facebook. So I squeeze it all in after he goes to bed and end up staying up late. And I’m still having that insomnia when it’s time to fall asleep.
Will it ever end, or will I spend the rest of my life in a kid-induced fog? Do you have mommy brain, too?
Hi moms, dads, moms-to-be, moms-who-want-to-be-but-are-having-trouble, and all other versions of parents out there:
Thanks for checking out my blog! I started Foggy Mommy because as I entered the world of parenthood after a six-year struggle with infertility and pregnancy loss (more on that later), I felt like I was living life in a baby bubble. (Incidentally, “Baby Bubble” was the original name I was thinking of for this blog, but when I googled it I got results for baby bath products, so that was out!)
I have been in this baby fog since I had my son a year ago – mainly from sleep deprivation, but also because I’ve gotten so swept up in the day-to-day needs of caring for a child that I can’t focus on anything else. I admit I have no idea what’s going on in the rest of the world. Previously, I was an entertainment writer and editor before unexpectedly getting laid-off and becoming a stay-at-home mom – but now I couldn’t tell you what new shows are coming out, what celebrities are pregnant or what pop songs are on the radio.
But as much as I am happy to be so baby-focused, it contributed to my feeling very isolated. I met other moms in a support group, but we all seemed to be together in being alone, completely unprepared for parenthood, scared, exhausted, and generally at our wit’s end. OK, I get that you can never really be prepared for parenthood. But I realized there are so many things no one talks about when it comes to getting pregnant, being pregnant, giving birth and raising children, even in this day and age of a million mommy blogs. In our support group, the social worker gave us a little mantra: “Telling the truth about motherhood is a revolutionary act.” I found that to be very true. You always think the other mom has it all together, when really she is thinking the same thing about you. We all feel like we’re not good enough.
No one tells you that you might have trouble conceiving. No one talks about it when you have a miscarriage or stillbirth. Giving birth is still too often a battle of women vs. their doctor or hospital. No one tells you that breastfeeding will be hard, or gives you the tools for dealing with it. Most women are completely unprepared for nursing challenges, which leads to much guilt and shame when they give up.
Well, I want to talk about all that. I’ve been through a lot, but I’ve made it so far. And I don’t say that to brag – I don’t ever want to be the mom who makes other moms feel bad – but I do think we can and should have pride in our accomplishments. I want to be honest about the challenges I faced, to start a dialogue about the issues that aren’t discussed, in the hopes that it might help others.
That all sounds very serious! As we know, parenthood, and the road to parenthood, can often be downright hilarious. And sometimes, we have moments that just feel utterly sublime – another contributor to my baby fog has been the surreal sense of peace and happiness I found after so many years of struggling. I want to celebrate all of those moments as well.
OK moms (and dads), what challenges have you faced that you’d like to talk about? I want to hear from you.