Mom Brain

We all suffer from it, some more so than others.   It starts out with a feeling of fogginess and disorientation and then almost as if by the snap of the finger, I feel as if I’ve been hypnotized and suffer from some form of amnesia, at least this is how it all began for me.

It started early, in the first trimester of my pregnancy with Davey.   At that point, I blamed it on lack of sleep, which could have been a factor in feeling like I was sucked dry of all brain cells.   As the months and years rolled by, one child became two, and I found that it wasn’t just from lack of sleep.   It actually had me wondering if “mom brain” is a legitimate condition and if so, what causes it.

A couple of years ago, The Journal of Experimental and Clinical Neuropsychology examined evidence around reports of memory loss in pregnant and postpartum mothers, finding that your ability to organize and plan is disrupted during pregnancy and postpartum.   I knew it!

There can be various reasons for “mom brain” including biochemical and situational, but there are also pregnancy hormones affecting brain symmetry.  In other words, when a woman may have once been left brain dominant (logical), chemical imbalances can distort that and she could become right brain dominant (sensitive).   As we all know, most of us don’t think logically when we’re sensitive.

Most studies I’ve read have stated that moms go back to their normal cognitive functions after they stop breastfeeding.   Unfortunately for me, I seem to be in the minority of this case.   My mom brain has gotten worse as opposed to getting better and I’m going into 2 years since I last breastfed a child.

Why write about this now?   I suppose it’s because I’ve become less and less patient with myself as I continually suffer from mom brain.   What are some of the signs I experience?   Well, just last week I had an encounter with my youngest.   He told me his name was Henry, not Davey.   I knew that.   Then why did I continue to call him Davey, he asked.  I told him that he and his brother have sucked me dry of my brain cells, to which he responded with, “do you want them back?”   Yes, my son!   I would LOVE to have them back, but it appears mine are quickly dissipating, never to return especially if all of these studies I’ve been reading are true.

It’s not just that I call them by each other’s names, but I’ve also been known to call them by the dog’s name.

I have conversations with my husband.  Not unusual, I know, but most of these “conversations” I have are in my own head.   He’s at work all day, I can’t immediately talk to him about what’s on my mind, so I have the “conversation” with him and I portray how I think he will respond.   The problem with that is I completely forget that the conversation didn’t happen with a willing and participating second party.   This in turn leads to arguments of, “I told you that” and “we’ve discussed this already.”

I find myself wanting to say something, knowing in my brain what it is and how I want to say it, but it’s almost as if the spark isn’t there between my brain and my speech.   I know that’s a doorknob that’s broken, for example.  I can see it with my own two eyes, and I can see the word in my head, but I can’t for the life of me spit it out of my mouth!   I’ve never had a problem with speaking, especially speaking my mind, at least not until I had kids.

Then there’s my coffee.   My coffee intake has dramatically decreased for various reasons, but mostly because I get distracted by one of my kids and completely forget not WHERE the coffee is, but that I even HAD coffee to start with!

I lose my keys at least once a week, forget my YMCA membership card periodically, and I’ve even been known to forget to pack my son’s lunch before!   What the heck has happened to me?   Mom brain, that’s what.

I’ve even managed to sit down to write a blog and completely FORGOT what I wanted to write it on.   I lose my train of thought mid-sentence, leaving me longing for the days when I could have intelligent conversations about our country’s state of affairs, the economy, and anything NOT child related.   I no longer think logically, but have instead been reduced to a scatterbrained version of my former self.   Could I even handle it in the working world again?

I’m sure many of you have suffered from this phenomenon.   And if you’re like me, almost 5 years into being a mom, you STILL suffer from it.   Unfortunately for me, it appears I will be stuck with it for quite some time.   There have been zero signs of improvement.  On the plus side, while frustrating to me, mom brain has proven to be humorous to others.  I suppose you have to find that silver lining somewhere.

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Toxic Foods

Weight!  What an evil word.  Weight gain, those two words are even more dreadful to speak and hear especially for those of us who are desperate to kick the gain away.  For me, my disdain for the little devil has fluctuated back and forth, much like my weight has since having children.  In my younger years, I was loathe to lose weight.   I was picked on for being too skinny, and my six feet frame only seemed to exacerbate my low weight.   Back then metabolism was also my enemy.  I could easily devour a large supreme pizza, a bag of Doritos and a 2 liter Pepsi and my weight would actually DROP!   Huh!?!?!?  Imagine that.  Growing up in the South, with some of the best cooking in the country, I didn’t exactly eat healthy.   We were a meat and potatoes family, with the occasional green beans (my favorite) and corn thrown in for good measure.   The food was fried and super delectable, and, boy, could my mama cook!

As the years went by, metabolism continued to remain my enemy just in an adverse way.  I found myself having to eat less, although I didn’t necessarily eat healthier, and I started running.   Mind you, none of this happened until I was in college.   Damn you, Freshman 15!  Fortunately for me, since I was already super skinny, the Freshman 15 actually made me look good!  I went from 135 pounds, at 6 feet, to 150 at 6 feet!  I started to look like a buxom broad.    Well, maybe I’m going to far with that statement, but I started developing the appearance of a female, with the curves instead of the toothpick I was always compared to.

After college, I stayed in pretty decent shape, but of course metabolism started to unfriend me.   I suppose since I had treated him so poorly for so many years, then this was naturally payback.   Is it too late to make up and become friends again?  It seems so.

When I became pregnant with Davey, I was probably at the healthiest weight I’ve ever been, 175.  I was toned and capable of running a 5k race in 26 minutes.  I worked a lot, didn’t exactly eat well, and I was also a smoker.  Yes, yes, I picked up that terrible habit to impress a boy nearly 20 years ago, gave it up for another boy, and then picked it back up again just to have something to do.  Ridiculous, I know!  Don’t worry, I gave up smoking well before I became pregnant with Davey.

At the peak of my pregnancy with Davey, I weighed 200 pounds.  I gained 25 pounds.   I had girlfriends asking me if that was healthy and shouldn’t I weigh more.   My doctor assured me that there wasn’t a problem with my weight.   After Davey, the weight fell off pretty quickly.  I didn’t get back to 175, but I got close, fluctuating between 180 & 185.   Two years later, I became pregnant with Henry and at that point I weighed exactly 185.   At my peak with Henry, I weighed 206, that’s just a mere 21 pounds of weight gain and both of my boys were pushing the 9 pound mark when I gave birth to them.

After having the boys, I had a period of eating healthier since I was breast feeding.  I didn’t want whatever I was eating to osmosis its way some how into my milk and upset the boys, so I cut out some of the fried foods and starches, but not my beloved mayonnaise sandwiches (which by the way can only be made with the best – Dukes Mayonnaise).   I immediately began working out after both boys, but unfortunately all of that stubborn weight from Henry seemed to hug every square inch of my body like a leech.   I resorted to taking laxatives, increasing my fiber intake, and even starving myself.   I relished the days I had the stomach flu, because it was a guaranteed 5 pound weight loss, but it didn’t stay around for long.

book
Rocco DiSpirito’s Negative Calorie Diet

This summer, I’ve been miserable.  I started the summer weighing the exact same weight I did when I gave birth to Henry.   I cried myself to sleep at night.  I apologized to my husband for the fact that his beautiful wife was now resembling Jabba the Hutt.    I took more laxatives, exercised twice as much, and degraded myself in front of anyone who was around.   On top of that, I became Cruella DeVille to my two boys.   So, what was I going to do about this?

smoothie
A sampling of the smoothies…cucumber strawberry.

I read an article about Mediterranean diets one day, which led me to Rocco DiSpirito, which in turn led me to his Negative Calorie Diet book.   Not eager to waste any money on the purchase of a book that I may not stick with, I checked out a copy at the library.   I read through it, shared it with my husband, and determined that we could both do this, especially if we considered it a lifestyle change and not a diet.

frittata
This was the kale, red onion, and sundried tomato frittata made with egg whites. We actually had this for dinner one night. We’re big fans of breakfast for dinner at our house.

The first 10 days had us on a cleanse, which consisted of 3 smoothies a day and soup or salad from Rocco’s book for dinner.   We had to cut out coffee, dairy, breads, starches, and refined sugar.   And, oh yeah, those evening cocktails we had on the back porch after the boys went to bed, those had to go as well, at least for the first 10 days.   I thought, 10 days, why not?  I could do this.   Easier said than done.

dinner 1
This has easily been my favorite dinner, by far. Flank steak, with sautéed collard greens, onions, and mushrooms with horseradish.

The first two days were sheer misery for me.   I have spent the better part of my adult life thriving off of my coffee every morning.  It has always been the first thing I’ve started my day with, not to mention the fact that I’m a huge fan of Starbucks, and there’s just something about those mocha lattes that hit the spot.  I suffered debilitating headaches for two days, brought on by my caffeine cleanse.   It was as if caffeine had become my drug, and now I was detoxing.   Miserable is an understatement.  I was tired, cranky, and my kids drove me bonkers just by breathing.   The first two days were not for the faint of heart.

chef salad
Chef salad is phenomenal. I will be making his cranberry vinaigrette dressing for ALL of my salads moving forward. No more store bought dressing!

Of course, there was also the fact that I felt like I was starving because I’m not a huge fan of green veggies and all of the smoothies were calling for greens of some sort.  I wanted a bowl of pasta.  I wanted my mayonnaise sandwich.  I wanted those chocolate chip cookies, and while will power has always deserted me when I needed her most, she hung tight this time around.   By day three, I was feeling pretty good.

meatballs
Another favorite has been the meatballs with the kale and mushroom “gravy”.

In the first week, I lost 8.6 pounds, and that had me really reviewing my past food intake and what was going on with my body.  Until this, I never really knew just how toxic certain foods are to the body, mind, and spirit.   I always thought as long as I kept my portions down, then I could eat anything I wanted.  Not true.   I found that once I was eating the whole fruits and veggies and cutting out the sugars and processed foods, I legitimately had more energy throughout the day.  I enjoyed doing things with my boys.  I wanted to go hiking with them, to go blackberry picking, to go to the pool.  I wanted to get out in the backyard with them, and I was able to focus more.   I was able to keep my patience more in check and I was able to sleep more fully at night.   So, all of this time, it wasn’t the quantity of food, but the QUALITY of what I was eating.

mustard chicken
This was last night’s dinner. Chicken with mustard greens, quinoa, and oranges.

We’re two and a half weeks into this lifestyle change and I’m down 13.5 pounds, my husband is down 18.6.   I’m happier, less hungry, and more focused.   We make our dinners at night, and while the boys are required to try everything, I always have a standby for the two of them.   We have; however, found that Henry is a huge fan of collard greens and mushrooms!   Another perk to this lifestyle change.

spinach pasta
And finally, I know how to make spinach pesto pasta. We didn’t follow Rocco’s tomato sauce recipe, but instead used my husband’s. We substituted Monk Fruit in the Raw for sugar.

Do yourselves a favor, my friends, and look at what you’re consuming every day.    Ask yourself is it really worth it?

It’s Just a Phase, Or Is It?

“It’s just a phase.  He’ll grow out of it,” my mother says to me for the one millionth time as I’ve called her pleading for advice, help, a drink, anything.   She then goes into stories about my brother, how strong willed he was and determined to carve his own path regardless of who was standing in his way.   Sounds about like my Henry.

I don’t remember Davey being this terrible.   I don’t recall that every other word muttered under my breath was a swear word, as I found some sort of outlet for myself while travelling along the not so dusty road of a two year old.   I was actually pregnant with Henry when Davey was going through his terrible twos, and no way was my patience, or lack thereof, this bad.   No way!   And no way was Davey this demonic.  I’ve even snuck into Henry’s room some nights just to see if his eyes glow, or if he’s chanting in his sleep.   At least that will confirm what’s going on with him.

It’s gotten to the point where I wonder if it’s too early to start researching military academies for Henry.   Is it?   I mean, if I tell them my child is a juvenile delinquent and that I’m unable to whip him into shape the way my parents did (spankings and what not), then will they do it for me?   Seriously, I’m considering it.

I tell people about Henry and I hear the same. old. thing.   “Not my sweet Henry.   Not that cute little boy.  Maybe you should let me have him for day.”  Yes!  I will give him to the least highest bidder for the day.  Heck, I’ll even pay you and I can guarantee that if he doesn’t turn you into a knee walking drunk, who wants to drown her sorrows in a bathtub full of whiskey every night, nothing will!   I would stake my life on the fact that my boy would turn even the driest person in the world into a raging alcoholic.   And I’m not really sure if they’ll thank me for it or forever curse me later.

I’ve been told it’s the second child syndrome.  Perhaps!  Perhaps that is the case.  He’s eager to do what his big brother does, but to do it in his own way, AND to do it better, no less.   He is strong willed and honestly there are some days when I’m almost tempted to rip off my shirt and just get the verbal, toddler flogging over with!  It’s a daily regime.   There’s rolling of eyes (mostly his), gnashing of teeth (both of us), and roars that could wake the greatest of hibernating bears (and I think he has me beat with the roars).

He’s bossy, domineering, whiney, dramatic, and I swear if he didn’t have his man parts, I would think I’ve been given a daughter!   I wake up daily, praying to make it at least through my coffee (I’ve given up trying to make it through breakfast) before having a melt down to rival that of Chernobyl.  I actually get up EARLY just so that I can have some peace and quiet!  I sacrifice my sleep! By 10 am, I’m wondering if I could sneak in a beer.   By noon, I’m thinking my husband better not be late getting home.  By 3, I’m telling myself it’s 5 o’clock somewhere and then considering how it would look to go into the local liquor store with my two kids in tow.   I think the owner and everyone else would understand and once they met Henry, I bet my first bottle would be free.

The one perk to this kid’s attitude…I NEVER regret my decision to have a tubaligation.   Smartest decision I’ve ever made. EVER!