Not-Baby Brain


The other night I must have heard Baby MoFo crying in his sleep because I didn’t quite wake up, but I dreamed I had a newborn. In my dream, I was lying in bed, as I was, and I put my hands up to my chest to see if I had overslept, if my breasts were hardened with milk desperate to get out like prisoners at the bars of their cells. Then, in dream world, I got up, picked up a tiny, smiling infant and dropped him because I was so tired. The infant–which was probably much smaller than even most preemies–kept smiling. I picked him up again and he peed on me (he wore no clothes). Then he pooed on me. I ran to the sink to wash but instead I dropped the baby in the sink. I turned on the water anyway. He kept smiling.

Having a newborn is shockingly exhausting. You might, as I did, do amazingly stupid things. You might, as I did, brew a pot of coffee and stand over it, watching every drip, and when it was done, pour the whole thing into a jar of peanut butter instead of a coffee mug and then be helpless to do anything about the ruined coffee (and ruined peanut butter) but sob uncontrollably. You might forget to wear breast pads, as I did numerous times, and watch, again helplessly, as dark circles form on your shirt in a public place and grow bigger and bigger. You might not have the state of mind to forgive the stupidity of others: To wit, I seethingly asked a cashier if she had ever taken a biology class when, two days before Cool J’s bris, she looked at the baby and looked at me and said, “You’re already so far along with your next baby and you have this little baby? That must be so hard.” Clearly she was a kind and sympathetic soul who had really not taken a biology class. You might go to the video store and leave your baby sitting in the car, blissfully forgetting you ever had a baby (this I attribute to another family member) or fall asleep with the baby in your bed and dream the baby is a wild animal that’s attacking (this is a very reasonable dream for a new mother) and in response, you bite the animal (and by extension, your real, newborn baby lying next to you) (this, too, I attribute to another family member, who shall remain nameless) (hi sister). There is a reason Canada offers a paid maternity leave (separate, one should note, from the longer parental leave that follows it). It is very difficult to think coherently in that hormone-bubbling, sleepless, every-day-offers-new-wonders-and-agonies stage. It is very difficult to do the jobs of getting dressed, feeding yourself, feeding your family, and not crying. I can’t imagine doing another job, as well.

In the last two weeks, I feel my brain has reverted to its much-unloved Baby Brain stage.

To review:

1. I lost my car keys, house keys, and car remote in a small, enclosed space, where it would seem they would be easily retrievable, but somehow I never found them.

2. I put my cell phone in the washing machine. I turned on the washing machine. Rice trick, rice shmrick. It didn’t survive.

3. I put earbuds in the washing machine. Ditto.

4. I put a pish-filled diaper in the washing machine. It exploded. I had to run that same load three times to get all the disgusting absorbent gel balls out of our clothes. Tell me when you see a pattern, by the way, or want to hire me a maid because I’m clearly doing too much laundry.

This is from a website asking if cloth diapers are right for you. The gel balls that fill the inside of a diaper are revolting. Imagine them all over your clothes.

5. I told The Scientist that I was sure one of our babysitters had stolen the ink out of our printer. When he expressed disbelief, I convinced him that even if she didn’t happen to have a printer just like ours, she could take the cartridges into Staples and get money for recycling them. I angrily went out and spent $60 on new cartridges. Then I tried to jam them into our printer in a morning panic . . . but they didn’t fit. So I yanked The Scientist out of the shower and told him I had to print something Right! Now! and I needed his help. He obliged . . . and then discovered the problem. “How can you get these cartridges in the printer when the old ones are still inside?”

6. I got my room assignment for my new Spring semester course and was handed a key and told to make sure all was fine with the room. But rather than go check it out in advance–and I had plenty of time, seeing as it is February and Spring semester is just beginning–I showed up on the first day expecting everything to just fall into place. Instead, I discovered a) my card didn’t open the building door, b) my key didn’t open the classroom door, and c) there was no laptop in the room for me to use. I am sure I was a picture of unruffled professorialness as I greeted my new students.

7. I took out Hitchhiker audio books for our long drive for winter break. On return, I discovered one of the CDs was missing from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. I searched high and low and low and high–nothing. I renewed it as many times as I could and then returned the boxes for Hitchker’s Guide and Restaurant with a missing CD for the latter–which, of course, the library noticed. I conveyed an appropriate measure of surprise, then apologized profusely and said that we must have never gotten the CD in the first place–what else could the reason be? (my car is not an abyss of of school projects and snack wrappers and coffee cups and toys . . . surely not). She said to keep looking. I said I would, but, of course, I was sure that I couldn’t possibly have it. Meanwhile, I kept getting overdue notices and I irritatedly wrote the library an email saying that my audiobook wasn’t overdue, I was just (theoretically) searching for the CD . . . and please stop harassing me, will ya? And they wrote back, “No problem.” Then I went into the library a few days later, and the librarian said, “Do you still have Life, the Universe and Everything?” I said, “No! I have already explained several times that I don’t have it and it ought to be taken off my record immediately!” As I walked out, I thought to myself, Hmmm . . . she must be a Douglas Adams fan, since the missing CD is from Restaurant and she accidentally said Life . . . which is funny because she was looking right at her screen when she said it. Lalalalalala . . . And then yesterday, when I was searching the car high and low and low and high for the GPS which had absolutely and definitely disappeared into the abyss . . . I found . . . the box of Life, The Universe and Everything and in it, apart from all its own CDs, the other missing CD–from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

Well, that, I’m afraid, is something of the short list.

Three kids in, and I guess the fact is, this is no longer Baby Brain. This is my brain.

This is your brain on Baby. And pre-baby. And post-baby. Especially if there are lots of babies.


6 responses »

    • Actually, the first time I saw an exploded diaper it was when we were traveling in Whistler and LL, then a year and a half, was disoriented from traveling and kept waking up at night, so rather than take him out of bed, we just kept handing him another bottle full of milk, hoping he would fall back and stay asleep. No one thought to change his diaper with all those bottles and boy were we in for a surprise come morning!

  1. Are you sure you’re not trying to tell The Scientist and us that you are following in the footsteps of The Dentist? This one nicknamed Miami?

    • My people have a response for this: it’s “khas ve’halila,” also more politely rendered as “khas veshalom.” This womb is *in* Miami (that is to say, in retirement), not *hosting* Miami.

  2. What an awesome and creepy picture there at the end! I want to say I really like this post (which I did) but then I’m afraid you’ll ask or know what I really liked about it. And I don’t know if I can write the same kinds of silly things here I would on FB.

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