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The incredible melting brain?

I would say I’ve been stupid lately. Mostly this manifests itself as me burning things all the time. (On Sunday I burned the red peppers I was roasting for sandwiches. On Monday I burned the red peppers I was roasting for pizza…) But there are also episodes of more extreme mental malfunction.

One. I NEVER lose things, but a while back, I dropped my gloves while walking home. I checked my route carefully several times on my walks to and from the office, but they were not to be found. OH WELL. A few weeks later, I was walking to work, thinking how odd it was that they’d vanished. Maybe someone picked them up and put them in some campus lost and found? Maybe I should try the mall just in case there were still some in stock? And then I looked at my hands and realized I was wearing my gloves. They had never been lost at all, they’d just been in the pocket of a different coat. I’d put them on that morning without even realizing it. Dude.

Two. Last week, I put in my contact lenses and the left eye felt really uncomfortable. The vision was blurry, too. I thought maybe it would clear up, but it felt so yucky I had to take them out and put my glasses on. I tried again the following morning. Same deal. I tried a couple different packs, but the left eye was just wonky. I knew it was implausible that my prescription had changed overnight, but I decided to book an eye exam anyway. Maybe there was some kind of pregnancy thing going on? I have astigmatism in the left eye, so maybe hormones might affect it? The doctor looked at my file and reviewed my prescription. Near-sighted in the left eye, astigmatism in the right… But doctor, I protested, isn’t that reversed? No. No, it’s not. I’d been putting my contacts in the wrong eyes. Despite wearing them for years, I fucked it up. And I would have smacked anyone who suggested that this was the issue, because LIKE I DON’T KNOW MY OWN PRESCRIPTION.

And then on the way home from the optometrist I went through the express line at the grocery store with, like, 156,258 items. A thing I would never do if I weren’t so out of it, because I’m not a SCUMBAG.

And yet, research on the topic indicates that pregnancy does NOT actually make you stupid. Sleep deprivation, yes, but pregnancy? No convincing data. Lots of women report cognitive changes, but they perform equally well (as non-pregnant women) on tests of cognitive function. And while there do appear to be brain changes associated with pregnancy, there’s no evidence they’re correlated with behavioral changes. In rats, brain changes are actually correlated with improvements in cognitive function.)

Maybe thinking about all those extra smart rats will prevent me from burning tonight’s red peppers.

20 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wouldn’t you correlate pepper burning with the blue section of your graph – increased mobility? Pregnancy might be just the spurious correlation here, and the roving Bun Bun the true causal factor. But I’m not in your kitchen while you roast peppers, so I don’t know. I’m actually downstairs doing laundry after you reemed me out for slacking on your last post.

    June 12, 2012
  2. Jen #

    Well, how nice for the rats, but I’m quite sure I’m teetering on the edge of borderline retarded these days. N=1.

    June 12, 2012
  3. Ana #

    Well I generally agree with you Bunny, but I think all the things you are describing fit more under the heading of “distracted” than “stupid”. And it isn’t necessarily just pregnancy itself—fatigue, sleep-deprivation, chasing a newly mobile toddler, and (for me, at least) the rampant anxiety I had while gestating are all independently associated with distraction (says me, I don’t actually have any references). I rant & rave against the whole “pregnancy brain” thing because its one more tool of the patriarchy to ferment the idea that women are stupider/less capable than men because of “basic biology”. From an evolutionary perspective it’d make no sense for women to lose intellect as they gestate….but lose the ability to multi-task so they can relax & nest…maybe.
    Also, the glove thing, hilarious. I do the “losing things—but not really” thing all the time these days; I’ve sat on my steps for 30 minutes because I “forgot my keys” when I couldn’t find them in my bag. They were in my pocket. I blame the children in general.

    June 12, 2012
    • Many of the researchers who fail to find effects make the same suggestion–we think women are stupid, and a belly makes a woman extra womanly, so she must be extra stupid. Certainly gave me pause…

      June 21, 2012
  4. Yeah I am not convinced of the research. Maybe we are able to take tests at the same mental capacity as non-pregnant women, but whilst pregnant you definitely suffer some serious capacity limits when it comes to keeping track of what is going on from one moment to the next. I think it probably has to do with being so mentally caught up in your bodily changes and the changes to come. You just don’t have the capacity to notice “15 items or less” signs.

    June 12, 2012
  5. I would definitely blame pregnancy….and then after the baby is born you can blame sleep deprivation 🙂

    June 12, 2012
  6. SRB #

    As someone who frequently looks for my glasses, which are on ON MY FACE, I can relate. And I’m an educated woman, dammit!

    June 13, 2012
  7. I agree. That’s all I can come up with. ’cause I left my brain in my other skull.

    June 13, 2012
  8. LMAO! I’m with AplusB – blame the pregnancy. The baby is eating your brain. Its a good thing babies are cute 🙂

    June 13, 2012
  9. Bionic #

    Whatever, “science.” Pregnancy made me dumb as a box of rocks. I felt like a fraud reaching writing, seeing as I was functionally illiterate, and anyway I’m not sure it counts as teaching if you forget what you were just saying at every breath. I also really did lose my gloves. I hope you have bunbun clearly labeled, just in case.

    June 13, 2012
    • I had to put my gloves on a through-the-sleeves little-kid style string the first time I was pregnant: it’s fucking cold here. Second time was mostly summer, fortunately for my dorky self.

      June 21, 2012
  10. Cognitive improvement, you say? Not my experience at all.

    June 13, 2012
    • Maybe you need to spend more time running mazes in search of cheese next time?

      June 20, 2012
      • So THAT was the secret. Here I was trying to teach freshman comp when I should have been following nature’s plan by chasing cheese. Feminism!

        June 21, 2012
  11. I’ve recently lost my wallet four times. Not really lost, but left it places, like the store and the top of my car. Each time someone has turned it in. So yeah…I’m quite sure it’s a real phenomenon. The glove story is rather hilarious I have to say!

    June 14, 2012
  12. My favourite is your contact lense story!!! I think you’re so funny bunny.
    I refuse to believe you’re stupid. It’s not even a possibility. Only smart, witty, beautiful people are born on 15 April!
    Seriously though, hope you’re able to give yourself a break as you do have to think for 3 people right now (or 4 if Mr Bunny likes you to think for him too) so thats a lot of stretching for one brain. And I still admire the socks off you, you’re awesome!

    June 17, 2012
  13. I didn’t have any noticeable pregnancy brain, but the post-baby sleep deprivation has sometimes resulted in amusing gaffes, such as the day my husband found the postage stamps in the fridge…

    June 18, 2012
    • Awesome! (I’ve spent some time in Somerville…) She deserved what she got, man.

      June 20, 2012
  14. Maybe you should just stop roasting red peppers… 😉

    June 20, 2012

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