Mommy Brain and Short Term Memory Loss

Having trouble focusing since having a baby?  Read here for members thoughts on the subject



Question : My son is 18 months old and I have found that since giving birth my short term memory has changed, a
nd I have a hard time remembering and focusing at my job.

I have even started thinking that maybe I have ADD.

I am worried, and was wondering if others are experiencing anything similar to this and can it be treated?

With my son I am very focused, but at work I have a hard time to focus and remember details.

Answers:

Are you sitting down? I have good news and bad news... First the bad
news: I fear this may just be motherhood. I too experienced what
you've described. I spent entire days tearing the house apart looking
for infant hats - infant hats that l'd later find in front of me on
the table where I'd gone to weep, my head in my hands. I was worried
it was early onset Alzheimer disease. I slunk out one day and bought
a book about memory to try do a self assessment - you know, before I
broke the news to my friends and family.

Here's the deal. It's only if you start forgetting the things that
make you, yourself, i.e. like the names of your parents that sort of
thing, that you need to go see someone. What you are experiencing,
like what I experienced, probably has to do with two things 1) a
sudden doubling of the people you need to organize and 2) the stress
you experience in the course of everyday life as a mom is probably
interfering with the way that you commit things to memory. If you're
distracted when you are trying to remember something (you know, by
work or your child) you may not remember it as well. I found it helps
to try to be conscious about the fact that you are committing
something to memory. And then, of course it helps to write things
down. If it's any comfort many of my friends experienced the same
thing -even the really, really efficient ones.

I also found that simple things like a regular routines for basic
stuff - like laying out clothes for myself and the kids at night and
planning meals and writing down a menu - anything that was taking up
mind space I didn't have and could be put on auto pilot with the help
of a routine made a huge difference.

The good news is that focus and control comes with time. It took me
about two years or so to feel more like myself - but it's a constant
battle. Mind you, I was a little unfocused before the kids so maybe
you'll fare better.

Good Luck, don't worry and go have a massage now and then.

_____________________

I agree whole heartedly.
It's four years since the birth of my last child and I am on occasion
revisited by a loss of memory. When this starts happening I pull
back, relax and start living consciously(slow down).

__________________________________

I think memory/focus issues are very common: "mommy brain"

In my opinion, it is combination of some of the following:

- lack of sleep

- suddenly having to track a whole new list of things (last food,
last milk, last diaper change, last haircut, how much milk is in the fridge,

whether hair was washed last night, when to go to the pediatrician next, etc.).

- watching your child while you try to do something else (so that
you don't get deep into a task very often)

- stress

I actually have more trouble with it at home than work - I am constantly thinking of things that I have to tell my
husband about, and then I either don't tell him, or I tell him several times - I have no idea whether we had the conversation or not.

For work, think about what is getting in the way - is it that the tasks
don't seem very important? Are you thinking about things at home? Is the job very stressful so that a small lapse
in memory is noticeable? Does your job require you to shift tasks a lot instead of taking 1 task to its conclusion?
Are you getting enough sleep?

There are different strategies to use depending on what the lack of focus looks like and what the contributing factors
might be. Making lists can help, re-organizing your work in various ways to reduce the amount of memory you have
to rely upon, trying not to contact home too often so that your focus can remain at work, and of course, more sleep will always help.

A funny note - My MIL took care of 3 of her grandkids for 10 days last month, and she kept forgetting things. She was
worried it might be Alzheimers. I told her it was just "mommy brain", and it would get better as soon as she was back in her own house and
had a good night's sleep. Sure enough, it did.

_________________________________

As the mother of 14 yr olds, it does get better, but it is also great
to carry around one of those little digital voice recorders. The best
mother's day present ever.

__________________________________

t depends on how severe of a memory issue you're
talking about. it's perfectly natural and healthy to
have your mind occupied with "primary maternal
preoccupation." even subconsciously you may be
preoccupied with your child, especially since s/he is
still so young. this is a good thing!

if it's to the point where you can't function well
enough to carry on then that's a whole other issue.
there's also sleep deprivation that can throw you off
and are you eating well?, do you stretch your body out
every once in a while to make sure the blood is
flowing? etc. it's very easy to space out when your
tired, not getting enough nourishment and your energy
is stagnant. i know it's hard to find time to take
care of yourself as a mother, but try it. maybe you
already are, but i think most mothers put their own
health on hold.

________________________________________

I agree with everyone else that a shift in focus is common, and I can add that I would have not survived motherhood
without post it notes. Lately I transitioned to LARGE, long, handwritten lists of things to do, very detailed, and even lists of lists,
with attachments, arrows, asterisks all over.

BUT I think that if you feel this is causing you any kind of discomfort, it is healthy to seek help, even just to be reassured
that you do not have ADD (and I do not think you have it!) I would start with a little general assessment: do you sleep enough?
eat well? do you have at least 30 or 45 minutes a day just for yourself, where you can relax, gather your thoughts (I use this time
to write the above mentioned lists). You can also just try to see what is it that makes things difficult, do you need a buffer time to
transition from home to work and/or viceversa? More coffee? Less coffee? :-) At times a  massage can help, or
just a manicure, or a good book, a movie, a date, a haircut, to help you shift the focus from EVERYTHING to just YOU, and relax.
Whatever you do, from taking a yoga class or seeing a doctor, is a good thing you can do for yourself, and you should do whatever
makes you feel better.

When I look back, I see I often overeacted in my various phases of my life with my son, but AT THAT MOMENT, things were
overwhelming and I needed to do what I did, they were all necessary steps to make it to ...TODAY.

So even if I agree with the other PSPs who have suggested "take it easy, we are all on the same boat", I think you should also
get the help you feel you need to feel better, worry less and enjoy life more.