From “Pregnancy Brain” to “Brain Dead”

My pregnancy hormones, my nightmares and insomnia due to stress, and my way-too-frequent nighttime bathroom trips have made me progress from the forgetfulness of “pregnancy brain” to feeling like I am literally brain dead.

“Brain Dead” Example 1

Sunday, my husband and I took our 4-year-old son to the Chicago Botanical Gardens’ Hallowfest.  I registered for the event online last week, then received a confirmation letter that would serve as our proof-of-purchase when we arrived. 

Knowing that my short-term memory is shot, I put the confirmation letter in my wallet, ensuring that I’d have it to gain admittance.  However, on the drive to the Botanical Gardens, my husband asked me what activities were taking place, and, when I opened my wallet to read from the confirmation letter, it was missing.  I looked again and again, incredulous, knowing that I had placed the letter in my wallet just that morning.  I then dumped my entire purse onto the car floor.  But the letter was gone.

I had no memory of removing it.  But I realized that I must have taken it out to read again, perhaps confirming the event’s 3 p.m. start time.

We drove back home to get the letter.  And, it was right on the dining-room table, right where my purse had been before I’d picked it up to leave for Hallowfest.

But, even after finding it, I have no memory of removing it from my wallet—and that scares me.

“Brain Dead” Example 2

Yesterday morning, my son and I went grocery shopping.  Because I’m having such difficulty with my memory, I created a detailed grocery list.  But, two aisles in, I could no longer ignore my overactive bladder, so I placed my grocery list and pen in my purse, then pushed the cart, complete with my son inside it, into the restroom.  After crossing the store back to aisle 3, I realized that, while my pen was at the top of my purse, exactly where I’d placed it, my list was nowhere.  Once again, I looked through my entire purse, thinking maybe it had slipped down inside, but it had vanished.  So, I had to do my grocery shopping from memory and, with my hormone-affected, sleep-deprived brain, didn’t purchase several needed items. 

“Brain Dead” Example 3

This morning was the worst example of how much I’ve degenerated.  I didn’t sleep well again last night, so I didn’t wake up until 8 a.m.  While my son and I were eating breakfast, I looked at the microwave clock and panicked because it was 8:35 a.m., I hadn’t yet showered, my son was still in his pajamas, and we needed to leave at 9 a.m. for his gymnastics class.

We rushed around, leaving 10 minutes late, only to walk in to our local recreation center and see my friend whose son is in the class before my son’s. 

She looked at us, surprised, and asked, “Are you just here really early?”

I looked at my watch. 


And, only then did it register.  My son’s class is at 10:15.

We have the same schedule every week.  It’s written in my calendar, but I know the schedule so well that I have it committed to memory.  Or at least I used to have it committed to memory.

Now, I have no memory. 

I have gone from sharp to ditsy, flighty, disorganized.  And, even my attempts to overcome my problem are backfiring. 

This must be what it feels like when Alzheimer’s first hits—memory loss and confusion, followed by periods of full cognition in which you recognize how your brain is failing you.  Thankfully, pregnancy isn’t a lifelong condition, so my “pregnancy brain” will recover. 

Until then, my psychiatrist, whom I regaled with these stories today, said I have to get more sleep—lots more sleep.

P.S. My son and I just finished doing a dinosaur puzzle, and he announced, “I’m smarter than you.  I am.  Because you have ‘the pregnancy brain.’”

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