Monday, June 23, 2008

Placenta Brain

People have made much of this phenomenon called “baby brain” or, in my gross family of origin, “placenta head.” It’s supposed to refer to a certain absent-mindedness that takes hold during pregnancy, and it is allegedly hormonally driven.

Now, I’m very aware that my hormones are doing some amazing stuff in my body right now. I am not going to deny that I feel qualitatively different. I’m fatigued, I’m overjoyed, and I’m outrageously frisky. But I am not stupid. My ability to work is not compromised, my ability to think is not compromised, and I realize everyone’s experience is different (and I’m only 12 weeks in), but I’m just not seeing it.

And if I were experiencing this alleged maternal idiocy… Could it be that having a child is emotionally overwhelming, and that having that child take up residence INSIDE YOU might be a little distracting? (I mean, guys complain about losing their wives’ attention. I’m losing my body’s attention. Guh?) Could it be that emotionally, you’re wondering how you’re going to live up to meet the needs of another mammal, one that doesn’t use a litterbox or have sex with you?

And is it really even happening? Men forget stuff all the time, and nobody calls them "testosterone-noggins" or "ballbrains." No, everyone just notices the big-bellied woman who can't find her keys. 

And having invented this non-symptom, then blamed it on pregnancy, making it, therefore, something that only these silly little women do, folks immediately translate this nonexistent phenomenon into some “adorable” “quirk” that enables men (and other women) to dismiss a pregnant woman, shove her out of the workplace and into a more socially appropriate role, and write off real worries and concerns.

This even happens with alleged feminists, by the way. Nobody’s off the hook on this one.

Make no mistake, I’ve been guilty of this too. When someone comes up with a name I regard as goofy, I’ve been known to complain that a woman in her 9th month of pregnancy can’t be trusted to pick that poor child’s actual name. (I’m not saying who I actually said that about; I will only say that one of my sisters has a four-syllable name that our mom insisted, all her life, could not be shortened, which irritated her to no end; her eldest daughter now has another four-syllable name which, until recently, we were also scolded for shortening. I mean, that’s goofy. But is it somehow the result of female hormones? No! My sister is a goofy person! So is my mom! It has nothing to do with their fucking ovaries! They’re just! Fucking! Goofy!)

I know it's annoying when someone squeals at me that I've got placenta-brain because I forgot which Smothers Brother has hair, and I respond with an angry jeremiad against the mysoginist patriarchy. But hey -- if you're the recipient of such an outburst, cut me a break. I can't hewp it -- I hormonal! HA HA. 

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