Tag Archives: baby

Pregnancy Brain Is A Real Thing*

This is her brain. This is her brain on pregnancy.

When we were pregnant (and, if you’ve read that nearly-a-bestselling-book A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook, you’ll know it’s a two-person event, pregnancy), we liked to refer to it as PIS, or pregnancy-induced senility.

That way, she could say she PISed off and we could laugh when she locked her keys inside the car in line at the car wash and I had to leave work to come rescue her because she was crying and upset. It was that or start screaming my own self and that would have been a bad idea.

Hell might have no fury like a woman scorned, but even they run in fear of pregnant women. And it’s not simply because of the wacky hormones running amok in their bloodstream. But that is a post for another day.A woman's brain really does change during pregnancy, but I'm pretty sure that would be a bad thing to mention to an actual pregnant woman. Because pregnancy also does wacky things to their emotional lability.

What my wife, known to me as She Who Must, While Pregnant, Be Getting What She Wants So That I Might Be Allowed To Continue My Miserable Existence, and I called PIS also is known as pregnancy brain. There are those who say it is a myth.

They are, according to science, very much wrong. Pregnancy brain is real. However, it’s more than merely pregnant women forgetting stuff.

“Pregnancy brain” definitely exists, but it may not be as negative as you think. In fact, it can make you more perceptive of other people’s emotions, according to new research presented at British Psychological Society Annual Conference in the U.K. 

Pregnant women were more sensitive to facial emotion in all of the pictures, which could mean that the right hemisphere of their brains (the one usually responsible for recognizing visual emotion) was more active in them than in new moms, meaning they could process emotion from all angles. This might be the body’s way of preparing a soon-to-be mom to be more responsive to a baby once it’s born.

But, I hear you calling**, dude! That has nothing to do with putting a box of cereal away in the fridge. True, but this does.

One meta-analysis of 14 studies in 2007 found some evidence of memory impairments in pregnant women, though the findings weren’t totally consistent. Another 2010 study says that hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect your memory of spatial locations, but the research only looked at less than 50 women. 

All of which goes to show that, while pregnancy does make some demonstrable physical changes to a woman’s brain, we can’t say with certainty that it’s what causes her to forget stuff, to lose stuff, to become absent minded, to get mixed up with simple directions or any of that stuff.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say, even with conclusive scientific evidence to back you up, it’s probably a good idea to not mention any of the negative stuff that might have something to do with pregnancy brain.

If you’re not able to simply turn and run (which, oddly, seems to be my most frequently offered bit of advice for dudes dealing with pregnant women), I think your best bet would be to say that, yes, pregnancy does change a woman’s brain.

But it’s for the good. Pregnant brains are actually changing so moms-to-be can better bond with the little dude or little dudette.

Then turn and run.

Footnotes & Errata

* But don’t think that gets you off the hook for even considering the possibility of maybe mentioning it. Sort of like saying the word menopause when talking to ladies of a certain age. Not a good idea.

** But I’d better not hear you call me Beth. (Wow, that was an obscure and very old joke.)

Share on Facebook

Baby’s Reach Exceeds His Grasp

It’s a huge day in baby’s life.

On the day the little dude figures out just what — exactly — the wriggly things on the ends of his hands are for, it marks a major turning point in his relationship with his parents.

Whereas, before the epiphany, mom, dad and little dudette were living in a state of blissful harmony, marked by glances full of love and adoration, it’s a whole different ball of goop after.

Before, you could put the little dude in a high chair next to a table and

Babies tend to grab stuff as much as possible once they realize they actually can have an effect on the outside world.
Gimme!

have him sit there blissfully playing with whatever happened to be in front of him. Which let Mom and Dad eat relatively leisurely and without much incident.

And then the little dudette gains the smallest extra bit of self awareness and realizes that she can cause change in the environment around herself. And she can do it with her hands because they — holds up hands in front of wide eyes and wriggles fingers back and forth like a stoner realizing for the first that the four fingers are like a highway and the thumb is a little off ramp and whoa! Dude! doesn’t that just blow your mind?  — allow her to grab stuff.

Even better, those two hands and ten fingers allow her to grab stuff and then throw it anywhere. Or knock stuff over. Or, best of all, grab stuff, use that stuff to throw and knock over more stuff and watch Mommy and Daddy freak out, jump up and start talking funny and blotting at their clothing with napkins.

And here’s the thing. Even when new parents accustom themselves to the idea that their little dude can now grab stuff, it still takes a while before the really understand that he can lean farther than they think and knock over stuff a really big distance away.

It happened to me. When Sarcasmo was a young ‘un, maybe a year or so, his grandmother, Kaki (who was my mom) went away for a week or so. This was during the time he discovered the wriggly things and grabbing stuff.

Kaki asked to hold Sarcasmo while we were out to eat for a friendly lunch at a Gainesville diner. I warned her about his newfound propensity for grabbing stuff. She glared at me, silently reassuring me that she managed to raise me and my sister and she knew what she was doing thank you very much you young know-it-all. Mom had very expressive eyes.

What Kaki had forgotten was that reflexes, if not used, will sometimes decay. She stood Sarcasmo up in her lap, facing the table, and having fun.

He managed to get a salt shaker and mostly full glass of Diet Coke before I could get him free from Kaki’s lap and into his car seat, which we were using as a high chair. Kaki insisted on having Sarcasmo sit next to her.

He managed to get the refilled Diet Coke and a very mean look from the waitress who had to clean it up. Again.

Even experienced parents can misjudge the reach of a newly grabby little dude. Much less those new parents who have no experience to fall back on in their panic.

And this is before we bring in poisons and cleaning supplies and the like into the equation.

All is not lost, though.

To combat a little dude’s propensity for grabbing stuff, you only need to remove from his immediately surrounding environment anything that you could grab with your arms. And lock up all cabinets with the most parent-annoying security system imaginable, and then use them.

No worries.*

Footnotes & Errata

* That was a lie. There are a lot of worries. It’s not until you get to your third or so kid that you stop worrying and begin to think you know it all. Of course, that’s when everyone around you begins to panic because they just don’t understand that a toddler juggling razor-sharp knives while riding a kiddie unicycle is just little dudes being little dudes.

Share on Facebook

A Baby Is Born . . . via Text Message

The first text came in around 9 pm.

The grandpa-to-be needed to update the family on what was going on.

K is in hospital waiting fur the baby to come. She has been there since one this morning. They are about to give her an epidural and then try to speed things along. Will try to keep you all up to date if I can keep my eyes open. 

This was grandpa-to-be’s first blood grandchild and to say he was elated would be an understatement akin to saying Mount St. Helen’s got a little burpy back in the 1980’s.

I’m sure that this is nothing new to the older relatives of children being born these days, but the sense of immediacy and connectedness that this engendered was amazing to me.

Way back in the old days when I first blessed this world with the spawn of my loins, things were a bit different. And I don’t say that just because of all the dinosaurs roaming around.

My dad was the only grandparent who lived out of the state and so we had to call him in advance and let him know we’d be inducing our first born on a certain day. That way, he could plan ahead and be there when his first grandchild came into the world. Everyone else we delayed because we didn’t want our entire family in the delivery room.

We had to plan. Then, once the proto-Sarcasmo was born, the only people who knew what he looked like were those who came to look at him directly in the face and be blinded by his astonishingly good looks.

Non-immediate-family had to wait until we had taken the first of approximately 7 gillion pictures of the boy, had said pictures developed at a local photograph store, picked up said pictures and then mailed them out to interested parties. It was weeks before everyone we cared about knew that we were parents, much less had seen the little dude.

This time, though, it was like we were in the delivery room with the AlmostMom is smiling because the epidural has kicked in real nice and she's feeling no pain in the delivery room as she works to birth her first baby.beautiful mother, older sister, smiling dad, amazing aunts and gobsmacked grandparents.

We received pictures via text message and then e-mails with more pictures and even a video or two. It was a connected birth the likes of which I’ve never experienced before.

Say what you want about the intrusiveness of modern communication, how cellphones and computers and the internet are forcing us apart from each other and into hiding behind screens of glass, but there are definite upsides to this.

Not only did I know that Scarlet Jane (also christened Baby Jake by her grandpa) was born, I was able to look into her adorable little baby eyes and see her mother smiling back at me, the same adorable face I’ve known since she wasn’t even a teenager.

Thanks, Grandpa and Grandma, Auntie L and all the rest for your great updates. Thanks for showing us how it’s done here in the 21st century. And welcome, Scarlet Jane.

Share on Facebook