Motherhood means mental freeze

I just performed a search on google using the phrase “Keeping your brain active during and after pregnancy” and didn’t get a single hit on what I was hoping to find. (I’m not currently that interested in Diabetes and Pregnancy, Staying Healthy and Safe, Loose Skin after Pregnancy, Exercises for Pregnant Women, and something called the Brain Diet.)

One of them lists 9 ways “being a new mom changes your biology”… most of which I’m not currently experiencing, even though I’m nearly at 30 weeks. Sure, I’m tired, but my sense of smell has always been pretty good. No, I’m not a master of multi-tasking, and I can’t say for sure that I’m feeling particularly “tranquil”.

This article, from Web MD, is a little more interesting, but it’s still all about the ‘baby brain’ thing, which is not really what I’m after.

I’m more interested to find out how intelligent, productive, interesting, creative women carried on being just that despite all of the stuff that comes along with being pregnant, and those first few years of having a child. Ever since I heard the Breeders sing about how “motherhood means mental freeze”, I’ve always been terrified that I’d turn into a mindless, emotional heap of hormones once sperm met egg. Why do all of the baby sites just talk about your physical changes and challenges (with some references to post-birth depression), but nothing about any of the questions I’m interested in?


  • What will happen to my ability to concentrate on something for long periods of time?  There are plenty of articles around about how younger generations’ brains are being rewired due to the time they spend on the latest social bugbears: computer games, TV, twitter, iPads, et al. But perhaps there’s something to it. Just as a small example I know myself that if I’m out of the habit of doing a lot of reading I initially find it difficult to sink into those long periods of concentration that I ironically so cherish. What’s going to happen to my thinking when I’m being pulled in many different directions, with very little sleep?
  • What about logical thought? For the record, this isn’t meant to be some sort of inflammatory statement (any of it) about the cliches of motherhood. These are things I’m sincerely interested in (and concerned about) as I take my first steps into this new arena of life. But honestly, what will happen to my abilities to think critically and logically about, well, anything? Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to many big life moments in the future, but don’t have high hopes that I’ll be able to put into practice any of my medium term goals of studying philosophy, mastering a language, or contemplating what I want to do next, career-wise.
  • And conflicting thoughts of self-worth? I have these anyway, so probably nothing will change here. But I have always enjoyed being employable, earning my own money, and being independent. How is it really going to feel when I’m at home, still in my pajamas, watching my boyfriend go off to work every day? Lousy, I suspect. For starters, the extra pressure on him will make me feel guilty, as will be the regret that he won’t be there to experience the little one’s daytime life. But I can imagine I’ll also feel a bit jealous: he’s out there, progressing. I’m not really what you’d call a “career person” but that said I do place a high value on being able to learn something, to develop personally, every day. As much as the 9-to-5 gives me the creeps, I do see the value in the forward momentum it gives you. I’m just a bit worried that I’ll just be at home, drifting, while “other people” appear to be getting on and doing stuff.
  • How much of “me” will I really be giving up? Now I’m really sounding selfish. But I think it’s an important question. People at work, or even total strangers, LOVE to tell you about how things will never be the same, about how hard it will be, about how your every waking moment will center around the new baby. But is that really true? Or is it just another one of those weird cliches about parenthood that for some reason people love to perpetuate (much in the same way people always go on about how “women can’t park” or “men can’t multi-task” or whatever)? Will I come to be defined not by who I am, but by my relation to another person?


Perhaps, after the birth, all of this will just go straight out the window, and I simply won’t care. But when you’re standing at the top of the high dive, poised for the big plunge, a lot of thoughts go through your head.

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