The Indignities of Pregnancy Brain


I sort of hate to lament or even acknowledge the existence of “pregnancy brain,” because I don’t want to feed the problematic stereotypes that pregnant women can’t hack it at work, or are a liability in some way. When I worked during my first pregnancy, I pretty consistently knocked it out of the park in my estimation–or at the very least, was just as productive and satisfactory as any other time. And as a stay-at-home mom with a small side gig, my performance is now measured a little differently, but my kid is still fed, dressed and reasonably happy (though admittedly getting more than zero screen time now that I can’t lift my arms and legs after 3 p.m.)

But there’s no denying that it’s harder to apply myself while I’m fighting to stay awake and trying to keep morning sickness at bay. When I succeed at remembering to buckle my toddler into his car seat, it is sometimes at the expense of remembering to refill his diaper bag. Early pregnancy, at least for me, is a graceless slog. For your entertainment, here’s a brief list of some of the self-inflicted indignities I’ve endured over the last few weeks, thanks to pregnancy brain.

  1. Abandoning things I’ve recently paid for: This has happened at least three times in as many weeks. I’ve dropped $50 at Target and had the clerk shout after me as the sliding doors open, gesturing to the bags I didn’t even glance at as I left the line; I paid for dry cleaning at the local grocery store, put it in my cart, parked the cart (which is not allowed outside this particular store) and gone home with my husband’s shirts abandoned–he was pretty amused when he got the phone call; and at that same grocery store, I went through self-checkout, loaded my groceries into the cart, once again parked it near the entrance, cajoled The Toddler into the car, and did a quick lap around the parking lot before I reached for the ginger ale I thought I had bought and realized I needed to reverse course and retrieve my bags from customer service.
  2. Coming completely unprepared: At the tail end of another grocery excursion, The Toddler filled his diaper and wouldn’t get in his car seat with that load (I don’t blame him.) We were already at the car, so I popped the hatch and stripped him down, only to realize I had one remaining wipe and nothing but a swim diaper to put him in. I cleaned him up as well as I could, pleaded with him not to pee on the way home, and felt like a complete dumb-dumb.
  3. Emulating my toddler: Pregnancy brain isn’t just about forgetfulness. This state of mind also includes some really fun emotional meltdowns. Just one example: I really wanted some nasty Chinese takeout (the only kind of Chinese takeout available in a semi-rural Ohio town) the other weekend. The Husband valiantly volunteered to go pick some up. I gave him my standard garbage food order (wonton soup, sweet & sour chicken) and anxiously awaited his return. I ate my soup and a few bites of doughy, greasy chicken with Red No. 40 sauce before I started feeling really queasy and guilty for eating it. I felt rage and tears welling up, directed at that poor asshole who married me, for daring to indulge my disgusting craving. He should have known it wouldn’t end well, I thought to myself, trying really, really hard not to vocalize my feelings. It has given me a bit more sympathy for my wildly irrational 17-month-old who rages at me when he drops and breaks something. We have no control over how we feel or whom we feel it toward, Little Guy. Don’t I know it.
  4. Putting on a free show: The grocery store seems to be the main setting for most of my pregnancy brain antics. Just last week, because laundry has sunken to the bottom of my priorities lately (below toddler wrangling, eating, napping and sleeping), I threw on a button-down shirt I rarely wear and set off for a quick shopping trip. It was about 10 a.m., and I cruised the aisles for about 10 minutes, sipping my half-caf latte and smiling warmly at the many elderly shoppers who had been dropped off by bus from a local retirement community while The Toddler steered our behemoth car-cart (God, I hate those). It took that whole 10 minutes and at least one very uncomfortable-looking old man for me to notice the draft across my ribs. I looked down to see that the two middle buttons of my shirt were wide agape, exposing me from the bridge of my bra to my belly button. You’re welcome, Medina!!!

It doesn’t warrant its own story, but I also found a fork in the freezer the other day. Damn, pregnancy. I’m only nine weeks in. Here’s hoping I recover my wits soon.

The Indignities of Pregnancy Brain

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