As far as pregnancies go, mine were easy: No real morning sickness to speak of, no gestational diabetes or talk of bed rest, no bleeding—not even a single hemorrhoid. I’d read about possible complications and heard firsthand the horror stories from friends who were not so lucky, but I was lucky. I know that. I felt really grateful and, honestly, a tad smug. What’s the big deal? This pregnancy thing is a breeze! Behold my awesome fecundity! I am obviously the perfect vessel for burgeoning life! Fertility goddess personified right here.
That smug superiority bit me in the ass when I experienced other, more subtle side effects of housing a tiny human.
I’d read in passing some nonsense about how massive fluctuations in hormones while pregnant may cause some memory and cognitive impairment.
Yeah, about that.
Memory? Cognitive impairment, you say? To put it more bluntly, I immediately developed what can only be described as a serious case of the dumbz. Some people think pregnancy brain is a myth, but let me tell you, friends, my sudden onset dumb-mentia was very real. Here are just a few of the feeble-minded baby-brain farts I’ll admit to:
1. My memory went to shit.
OK, it wasn’t that stellar to begin with, but suddenly I couldn’t remember certain… What do you call those things in sentences? Oh yeah, words. I couldn’t remember why I had walked into a room or where I put my purse. (It was in that place where we sometimes keep food. Not the cold one. The pantry! Obviously.)
2. I became completely useless.
I was still working at the time and wanted to prove I could handle the 11-hour days. I tried to keep the number of snoring, drooling naps at my desk to three or four a day, tops. Also, during my first trimester, I got lost driving to the office, which was totally reasonable because I had only worked there for six years.
3. I was a maternity fashion model—when I was five minutes pregnant.
The pee wasn’t even dry on the stick, and yet there I was, plopping down the plastic for designer maternity duds. Buying them and wearing them. That’s right—I was so excited, I started wearing actual maternity clothes at around 6 weeks. Who does that? Dummies, that’s who. By the end of the second trimester, of course, I couldn’t fit into any of those adorable, expensive ensembles. I bought more. By my second pregnancy, I wanted to burn all of it.
I also bought a beautiful white nightgown and matching robe for my hospital stay, because nothing goes better with bloody, postpartum mesh panties than a white silk nightgown. Idiot!
4. I forgot I was not actually giving birth to the heir of any throne.
Most of my other dumb purchases were the standard new-mom impulse buys, but I took it a moronic step further and began accumulating fancy, hand-smocked newborn outfits. Newborn! Apparently I was preparing to birth and dress the Duke of Cambridge himself. The kind of fancy-ass outfits that I would have to iron. Iron! Cut to a year later when my darling little Duke laid a massive dookie, and we’re talking blowout (code: brown, running-down-both legs dookie—in his cream-colored linen ensemble. I took the whole mess off and threw that outfit in a dumpster behind my Mommy and Me class. Because fuck that.
5. Hello, identity crisis.
I’d read the emotional upheaval during pregnancy causes some women to temporarily become short-fused and unreasonable. Bitchy and unreasonable are pretty much my default settings, so pregnancy had the opposite effect on me. As my belly grew, I became more soft-spoken and docile, which scared the bejesus out of everyone who knows me. It was particularly disconcerting for my husband, who was used to my, um, adorably formidable nature. Watching me suddenly cry over an erroneous paint color in the nursery really freaked him out. He didn’t know what to do with this weepy, indecisive nincompoop except to hug her and say, “Who are you?”
6. I watched way too many Lifetime movies.
This resulted in a brief bout of paranoia not to mention a lingering mistrust of actress Meredith Baxter-Birney. I once slammed our front door in a stranger’s face, who I was convinced was there to cut my baby from my womb. Yeah, “sharing the good news of our Lord and Savior,” my ass! Keep your pamphlets. I know a baby-stealer when I see one.
7. There may have been some questionable choices in personal hygiene.
My no-brainer pregnancy reached its crescendo when I booked a full day of bad decisions relaxation at a new spa. Pampering! What could go wrong?!
I sat smiling and nodding in a post prenatal massage haze as a “stylist” (and I use the term loosely) convinced me that a carefree, shorter ‘do would be easier to maintain once the baby came. I realized too late that this stylist got her training at the Billy Ray Cyrus School of Beautimous Hair. Leaving her chair, I wish I could say I felt carefree. I did not.
Then it was on to my facial. I’d noticed a slight discoloration on my cheeks and forehead, and read it was due to something called melasma or “the mask of pregnancy.” The spa said microdermabrasion may help. Sign me up! If you’re not familiar, this procedure is basically a mini Black and Decker belt sander applied directly to the face until they reach the non-blotchy skin or bone, whichever comes first. So very relaxing.
Next on my never-ending “Day of the Dumb” was a bikini wax. It was sort of a kind gesture to my OB/GYN, who I thought would appreciate working in a well-manicured lady garden. I’m very thoughtful like that. Did you know increased blood flow to the genitals during pregnancy makes waxing 10,000% more painful? I didn’t. I cursed and begged for an epidural as the wax girl (I didn’t catch her name—we’ll call her Satan) carried out her torture. She tried her best to avoid my flailing legs as I listed back and forth like a storm-battered cruise ship on the table. She may have given me a tiny, Achy-Breaky vullet to match the mullet now gracing my head. Who knows? I had not seen my own baby cannon in months, even with that tiny mirror that Satan offered. She could have vajazzled an exit sign down there; I was delirious from pain and no longer cared.
I limped to my car, red-faced, red-vajingo’d, and sporting a sweet mullet. I felt… what’s the opposite of rejuvenated? Unjuvenated? I silently questioned my choices in life and, more importantly, my ability to keep an actual baby alive. My PISD (Pregnancy Induced Stupidity Disorder) might kill us both. I drove home (without getting lost, go me!) and decided not to leave the house again until contractions started.
A few weeks later, I delivered my beautiful baby boy without a hitch. It is some consolation that he is currently excelling in every gifted and talented program available. You’re welcome, son. Enjoy my brains!
My baby-making days are over. I wish I could say that I am back to my former whip-smart, self-assured ways, since my youngest child is now a 10-year-old, but some of the dumb-mentia still lingers.
I can only hope for the wisdom and calm clarity that come with the inevitable onset of menopause, right?