Tag Archives: Memory

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.)

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Keg-Stand Birthday Party

We threw a keg party for our oldest little dude’s first birthday.

I mention this not to subject myself to abuse, although I have a feeling that’s just what I’ve done.

No, the reason I mentioned it was as a way to continue the discussion about memory and youth. On Monday, I  talked about how I should have saved a lot of money by not taking the young dudes to Walt Disney World until they were old enough to actually remember going.

Here’s the thing: I can’t tell you the number of first-birthday parties to which I’ve gone that were complete wastes of time, energy and cake.

There is no way that a one-year-old little dude or dudette is going to be participating much in the festivities, unless there’s a drool off at some point, much less remember it with fondness later.

A lot of parents seem to forget that their adorable little spawn-of-their-loins doesn’t have an actual brain at one year, nor much control over their muscles (not to mention bowels).

Unless you’re desperately short on cute onesies, then, what’s the point of throwing a huge, big-time party for a one-year-old little dude?

The answer to that question is staring you right in the face. Well, it is provided you’re standing in front of a mirror and looking at it.

*sigh*

It’s you, dudes. You parents are the reason for the party.

No kid will ever remember nor appreciate the party you throw for them. Considering we didn’t remember this when it was time to force Walt Disney World on ourselves, it’s a miracle we remembered this little tidbit.

My wife, known to many as She Who Must Be In Charge Of Every Kegs of beer are one of the most important ingredients when you're throwing a keg party. You could even go so far as to not purchase any cups, but you've got to have the keg and the tap. Can't forget the tap.Little Party Detail Or Else, and I quickly realized that every first-birthday-party was, in fact, for the parents. So we decided, if that was the case (and it is), then let’s really make it for the parents.

Which brings us to the keg party.

Before the actual party began, we had a little celebration with the proto-Sarcasmo involving cake he could barely eat, candles he couldn’t blow out and presents he didn’t understand. But mostly it was about pictures. Lots and lots of pictures.

Then we cleaned up the mess and got to the fun. We held the keg party to celebrate the fact that we’d managed to procreate and had kept the resulting mass of replicating protoplasm alive, functional and cute as all get out for one complete revolution around the sun.

We invited friends, family and, for one rather fuzzy moment, the mail carrier on his appointed rounds.

A good time was had by all.

Although, now that I think about it, I’m not sure we really achieved anything different by holding an adult party instead of hosting a party for a young dude who wouldn’t remember the party.

Considering the number of kegs we upended that day, it’s a cause for another celebration that anyone remembers any of the party at all.

Although I’m sure it was fun. At least, so I’m told.

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Do You Remember This?

Memory is a fickle thing.

You might remember the phone number of your girlfriend from high school, but not be able to remember the phone number you just looked up on the computer and have forgotten it by the time you get your cellphone out of your pocket.

You might remember that horrifying time you accidentally ordered sheep’s brains in a French restaurant three decades ago, but not remember what you had for breakfast this morning.

Students, of course, have the most contact with the fickle side of memory. I’m sure every single kid has studied their butts off the night before a test and gone to sleep confident they know everything there is to know about the subject. However, when they sit down in class to actually take the test, the answers remain frustratingly out of reach.

I wish I’d remembered to take that sort of thing into account when my young dudes were, in fact, young. I would have saved a lot of money I spent at Walt Disney World, I’ll tell you that.

Latest research talks about childhood amnesia or infantile amnesia, which means we remember nothing before we’re about 2 years old. The more sporadic holdover takes us up until about age 10 and, from those years, we retain fewer memories than we should, based merely on the passage of time.

And, yet, still we took the young dudes to Walt Disney World because we wanted them to have great memories of the place from when they were younger. We knew about childhood amnesia, but thought we’d be different.

Which explains why I was in Walt Disney World last December, accompanied by Hyper Lad and his mom, my wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Hankering For More Mickey. See, we talked with Hyper Lad and he said he had never been to Disney World before. We begged to differ. He stood firm and we realized he just didn’t remember it.

Which led to me asking his older brothers and I found they didn’t really remember any of their trips with a great deal of clarity, only bits and bursts. Hyper Lad, though? Nothing.

At least, that’s what we thought until we got there.

We were walking through one of Disney’s resorts on our way to a dinner when Hyper Lad had a flash of memory. He stopped still and pointed to the window sill on a room we were walking by.

“That,” he said. “I remember that. We stayed here.”

No, actually, we hadn’t. We had, however, stayed at a hotel where our room was right next to the pool and there had been a windowsill like that outside of our room. He remembered something, but it required some visual and tactile reminders to trigger it.

You might want to keep that in mind the next time you’re considering an expensive vacation with a young dude or dudette. Or even a massively expensive birthday party for one of your spawn.

Which reminds me. . .  Let’s talk more about this on Wednesday, yeah?

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