Back in August when my midwife came to see me, she sipped her cup of coffee, nestled back in her chair and asked, “So – what are your concerns about this pregnancy?”
I glanced at Ads.
Then glanced at midwife.
Then glanced back at Ads.
Ads look at me, urge-on-ingly.
“What I mean is,” the midwife clarified “are you concerned about the birth itself? Pain? Or more about how you will cope afterwards?”
I narrowed my eyes, pushed out my lips like a small volcano, cocked my head to one side and gazed out of the window unseeingly. “There is one thing …” I murmured.
“And what is that dear?”
“I don’t want to be baby-brained.”
Thirteen years and nine months ago (ish), I spent a spell of time in Tamil Nadu, South India where a bird locally known as “the Brain Bird” nearly sent me bonkers. The bonkers effect of Brain Bird was caused by its call. Every so often during the morning and evening, you’d hear this tuneful shrill that started low … and then went higher … and higher … and higher … and higher …
And then just as you waited for the next note of the octave …
… it would just stop.
Just like that.
And you’d wait and wait, desperate for the next note to complete the octave … but no. Brain Bird would just stop on a cliff hanger and refuse to end the story.
Apparently Brain Bird used to send the British soldiers mad when they had fevers. I was not a feverish British soldier but it made me feel crazed all the same. Some days I felt like my brain was a papaya skin pecked dry by Brain Bird and the Indian crows. Some months and many footsteps later, I fell pregnant with Pix and came home.
Then I discovered this new thing.
It was called Baby Brain!
I’d heard about it … the way in which pregnant women’s brains shrink as the pregnancy progresses and then, once the baby is born, how they wander around in some twilight zone combination of sleep-ness night exhaustion and rollicking hormones. Looking back I can’t remember if I experienced Baby Brain or not, but the fact I can’t remember means I probably did …
And this time round, to be in a state of Baby-Brain is my fear.
“I’m quite attached to my brain and my ability to use it,” I explained to the midwife. “In fact I’m probably a bit OVER attached to it.”
The midwife smiled and nodded. She was a perfect combination of Mrs Miygai and Yodaetta. “Its funny how many people talk about this Baby Brain thing,” she said wisely. “And interestingly I am attending a course at the moment which involves us learning all about the brain and what happens to it during pregnancy and beyond. It has been shown that when a baby is born, it is completely right-brained. The left brain functions of separation, organisation and speech just haven’t yet fired up. Scientists have also been looking at the brains of mother’s of newborn babies and have proven that the mother’s brain becomes powerfully right-brain orientated in order to be in sync with her baby.”
So this was different.
If being Baby-Brained meant being Right-Brain Dominant for a while, I think I might be able to handle it.
One module we cover in my workshops focuses directly on left and right brain, the functions of each and how balancing and combining the two, we literally turbo-charge our effectiveness, creativity and memory. My blog post from ages ago “Featuring a Brain Factory Near You” talks about the needs for more brain balancing in our education system.
In my experience, many people who know about left and right brain functions tend to get a bit Left-Brainist and are biased towards the right brain because it sounds more fun and less boring, but in reality it is the combination of both left and right brain which makes us truly sensational brainsteins.
Having said that, I can definitely handle being Right-Baby-Brained over Left Brained.
For a while.
“Thank you,” I said to the midwife. “I feel a lot better about this now.”
Since that conversation and the pregnancy has progressed, I have definitely noticed a shift in the old brain/behaviour front. A degree of Right-Brain-Baby-Brain has kicked in, but so has (strangely) being a bit like Brain-Bird.
Having delivered around 35 workshops between August and this day, there have been countless moments in which I’ve been mid-flow in a sentence and suddenly my mind has gone blank.
Just … gone.
The participants stare at me, bated breath, hanging in the pause …
And I’ve remained, mouth opening and shutting like a speechless fish … a bundle of tumble weed has blown eerily through the room … the clock hand ticks …
In that moment I have been transformed INTO Brain Bird. How weird is that? But unlike Brain Bird, after a few croaking splutters, I’ve managed to get my shit together … and keep going. Ha!
Everyone lets out a breath and we skip on with the workshop, barely noticing what has just happened.
On the Right-Brain-Baby-Brain front, I’ve noticed a sharp increase in my creativity, in particular my use of Sharpies. You could even go a far to say that my current usage could be considered abnormal. Roo comes for a hug and has to literally sit on the carrier bag full of pens. Wherever I am there is the squeak of the nip, the smell of ink fumes and the kitchen tables and sofa are perpetually covered in vibrant doodles. You may have noticed a flourishing of colourful illustrations on this blog?
Well, its all the baba’s fault.
This little boy has turned me into a right-baby-brained maniac.
And Brain Bird.
Thank you Baby.
I like your sense of humour.
All the slogans were inspired by very funny messages that people sent to me following the original F Off T Shirt post however as I began to draw the designs I realised that it would take a very special sort of Angry Day to have the guts to wear a t shirt such as the one above. This led me to develop this the pregnancy patience thermometer. This highlights what sort of shirt you should be aiming for on any given day.
If you come up as being purple and v v near to exploding, then the below shirts would be a good option. I particularly like the one that says, “Yes – my husband/partner DID ejaculate into my vagina on purpose” in response to being asked “Was it planned?” over and over and over.
These are the days when we’re feeling okay but could potentially explode if one too many people say the wrong thing. I have deliberately designed these as vests so that they can be worn UNDER other clothes, then ferociously flashed should the need occur.
Finally, I have designed a lovely floaty number for post-pregnancy F Off moments. Good for sailing through the park in, whilst pushing your gorgeous bambino in his or her baby carriage. We’re a bit thin on the ground for post-preggers slogans, but I’m sure they will emerge quite quickly when the little man is born and our combined brains are synced in wild-jubilant-creation mode!
Then, last but not least, one last design for when you are feeling supremely indifferent to everything but are in the mood for fully exploiting the attention that your bump gets.
Wah-lah!! The Bump Ad Space ..