I’ve always been prone to a Bridget Jones style moment. I’m partial to day dreaming and my brain is constantly workshopping too many things, all at once, meaning that a task at hand may not always be getting sufficient attention. Luckily, important things get my direct focus, however, less significant things can often turn into a clumsy moment.
When I fell pregnant for the first time, my tendency for the ridiculous grew. I would grab my garage door remote and confidently point it towards the boom gate at the entrance to a shopping centre and look on perplexed as the boom gate sat unresponsive. I would completely forget pin numbers to bank accounts I used daily (for years, mind) and be stuck on the bank hotline for an age trying to remember security questions I had chosen, to recover the pin that I had forgotten. The lovely lady on the bank hotline would assure me that I had once chosen these security questions myself (in a former life, with a former brain, I hasten to add). “What was your middle brother’s first girlfriend?”, “What was your favourite song in school?” she recites. I explain to lovely hotline lady, there must be some kind of misunderstanding, these must be someone else’s questions. We end up having to go through my credit card transactions to prove I am, in fact, me. Luckily, after five transactions, I recognise one of them and I can retrieve my pin. I am still, however, locked out of my hotmail account, they deemed my knowledge of myself to be too poor to reinstate my access.
I had vaguely heard about ‘baby brain’ but I had also heard people, mainly men in my workplace staffroom, poo-pooing the phenomenon. To my great relief, I read this year that researchers at Deakin university have since declared that baby brain is in fact a real condition, their studies showed that “General cognitive functioning, memory, and executive functioning were significantly reduced during the third trimester of pregnancy” (Pregnancy really does make women more forgetful: Study, SMH, January 15, 2018).
As I reached my due date for my first baby, I thought it was crucial to get my hair done, as from what I’d heard, leaving the house after having a baby was going to be impossible. I booked in with my local Toni and Guy, as my regular hairdresser was booked out and I had convinced myself the baby was going to come early (I wish!) and the hair situation was dire. The lovely English hairdresser was chatty and helpful and as he finished my foils and went to prep for my blow dry, I took the free moment to grab my phone and check on my messages. As I reached into my bag my fingers suddenly felt icy cold, and my hand brushed a wet plastic bag as I fumbled around to locate my phone. How on earth did ice get in my bag I thought?! I hoisted the sack of a handbag onto my lap, I may have grunted, such was the size of my girth at this point and opened the bag wide open to get a good look at what on earth was going on. There, tangled between my headphones, sunglasses and tissues was a plastic bag housing a very large, frozen, fillet of salmon. Bemused by the fish in my bag, I tried hard to think about how it could have gotten there. My brain felt like marshmallow, it seemed impossible to spark the neural pathways into gear to get to the bottom of this caper. As I stared at my sodden hair in the mirror I willed my brain to get into gear but I was getting bupkis. I decided to utilise the ‘retrace your steps’ method that had become common place in the last nine months and went through every action since leaving the house that morning. Shower, check, breakfast, check, getting dinner out of the freezer and putting it on the bench. Bingo! I remember putting the salmon out to defrost. Thank Christ. I had absolutely no recollection of putting the frozen fillet in my hand bag but after taking stock of my recent brain fog it was entirely believable. The relief of finally solving the fish in bag scenario was quickly replaced with sheer terror as I realised I had been sitting in the hairdressers with a piece of defrosting fish at my feet. What if the hairdresser had smelt something fishy and thought it was me!? He’d have to assume it was, as what kind of lunatic walks around with fish in their handbag!? Maybe he would be compassionate because I was with child. One could only hope. I was grateful that I only had to sit through a blow dry and then I could flee, post haste. What good luck it was that it wasn’t my regular hairdresser. I could potentially be safe in the knowledge I would never see this dude again. I placated myself with these thoughts as I sat through the final moments of my blow-dry. Nevertheless, I slowly and discreetly used my foot to push my handbag as far from my seat as I could manage, just in case any pungent fish fumes happened to catch his nostrils.
The fish incident was my first foray into motherhood brain meltdown. As the years passed in a blur and I had subsequent children, things like buying a sandwich and leaving it on my car bonnet and bolting off to rhyme time were common place. Strange men would gesticulate from their car windows when we were stopped at an intersection, I’d in turn lock my doors in fear of some kind of car jacking, only to realise after, that they were trying to alert me to the coffee I had left on my roof. Then there was the time a man sidled up to my table in a coffee shop, I had braced myself for the usual pleasantries of “oh your son looks so much like mine” or “you’ve got your hands full” but instead he started describing the exact make of my car and said I’d left the door to the passenger side wide open on the street. I certainly hadn’t remembered doing it but it definitely sounded like a bad case of baby brain.
Do I feel better knowing that the smart folks at Deakin have proven it to be a real thing?
I guess, but I already knew it was real.
image by Martine Payne