Thursday, February 28th, 2013
While there are countless perks that come with being a new mother, it’s no secret that forgetfulness, absentmindedness, and a foggy brain are often some of the unwelcome consequences! Doctors explain that a lack of sleep, a need to learn new skills, and a concoction of raging post-birth hormones can all send your weary brain into a tailspin.
When mom Christine Schmidt, who also founded the online store Yellow Owl Workshop, heard the phrase “mommy brain,” she decided to take action with a social media-oriented project she dubbed #getwise2013. The project combines Twitter and Instagram with her crafty and artsy skills to teach/re-teach herself (and others) one new thing every day this year. She researches different topics and then writes and illustrates facts on paper, all while keeping a sense of humor. In the interview below, Christine shares what inspired the #getwise2013 project and the pros/cons of having “mommy brain.”
Has the feedback you’ve received from #getwise2013 been encouraging? How long do you plan to continue with the project?
Through great feedback, I am learning that a lot of other moms are in the same boat. As much as I’d like to think of myself as being so much like my fun, childless friends (drinks at 9 P.M.? SURE!), I am learning to embrace my life as a new parent. #getwise2013 is my New Year’s resolution. I knew I could not stick to a resolution that involved sweating or prohibiting carbs from my life. I will continue teaching myself something new every day until the end of this year.
Where do you find the facts you teach yourself every day? Any favorite sites?
I most often research stuff I have at hand or actually in my hand, like crayons. What are these suckers made of? I usually start with Wikipedia and then I just cruise trusted websites until I have figured the answer out. I never trust anything on forums where anybody, unchecked, can make up stuff. That is a practice I honed first as a pregnant lady. Google one query about, say, baby fingernails, and prepare for an anxiety spiral that proves your heartburn will cause in-utero polio.
What was the progression of your “mommy brain” like? Was it worse during pregnancy or right after?
I think “mommy brain” really hit me after my daughter, Emmy, was born. Of course the lack of sleep did not help. But as I emerged from those sleepless nights (or were they days?), I just felt this fog that I could not shake. That being said, I also think “mommy brain” really does have benefits because it seems to block out the noise. I am able to focus on what is really important right now. For example, I might not be able to remember state capitals, but I can tell you what my daughter Emmy ate last Monday, which brand of diapers give her a rash, and that her favorite part of a new gift is the paper tag — which, even with my back turned, I can tell she is eating right now!
Any advice for new moms suffering their own bout of “mommy brain”?
More than advice, I wish I could just give all new parents a hug and tell them they are doing an amazing job! When my husband. Evan. and I took Emmy to her first doctor’s appointment, we were so proud and pleased with ourselves. Parts of being a new parent were challenging (especially breastfeeding) and stressful, but we followed all the books, took charge of every detail, and ceremoniously handed the doctor this baby while expecting roses and balloons to fall from the ceiling. Surely we are the best parents this doctor has ever seen! They will write books about our pro skills! I hope I lose all the baby weight before they take my portrait for Mother of the Year. The doctor took one look at our daughter and told us she was jaundiced and losing weight because she was not receiving enough breast milk. The doctor immediately fed Emmy a bottle of formula. Devastated, I fell into a sobbing puddle. We have failed as parents. I am an inadequate mother that starves her baby. I cannot do this! As we left the doctor’s that day, I wish one of the parents in the waiting room, who could no doubt see my puffy, tear-stained face, would have just given me a hug and said, “You are doing a good job.”