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Infertility Brain

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a blog by Elphaba, March 31, 2011

We’ve all heard of pregnancy brain — supposedly it’s that potent mix of hormones, vomit and anticipation that combines to make pregnant women forgetful and spacey. Experts debate its existence, mostly dismissing it as urban myth, and yet most pregnant women can regale you with at least one or two (or 20) examples of that time they put the flour in the fridge or forgot their own name.

Pregnant Women Don’t Have a Monopoly on Insanity

There is another very real, very active form of baby-induced mind mush — and that’s the infertility brain.

In this case that potent mix comes in the form of injected hormones, tears and the anticipation that someone, somewhere is soon going to shove something hard and plastic up your lady bits.

After my miscarriage, I spent months in a fog. I lost interest in everything I loved. I stopped reading and cooking and being engaged with everyone around me. After that initial period of mourning, I became consumed with the instruments of conception —and that’s when my infertility brain really set in.

My every waking thought is now centered around ovulation, my body temperature and the goo emanating forth from my vagina. I can think of nothing else except perfectly-timed sex, swallowing handfuls of supplements, getting poked by needles and reading every single thing ever written on the topic of infertility.

Add to that the crushing sense of defeat and hopelessness in the wake of facing the unknown each and every day, and even the most composed gal is sure to lose her head a little.

I’ve done all those things women claim in the name of pregnancy brain — only in this case it’s infertility brain.

I’ve forgotten what I’m doing in the middle of it. I’ve put the dirty clothes in the dryer before washing them. I even forgot to go to a friend’s wedding shower once because I thought it was actually happening the following weekend. (Luckily, she forgave me for that one.)

I never used to do things like that, and I know I do them now because 99 percent of my brain function is busy scheming on how to get my husband’s sperm to land in the right spot.

Infertility Consumes

I’ve read a lot of blogs and articles that say we shouldn’t allow infertility to define who we are as women, and maybe there is some logic to that. But I think that any woman could argue that nothing is able to consume and dominate every waking thought so successfully as the process of baby-making.

Even before I knew getting pregnant was going to be a problem, I became totally consumed with it.

Infertility brain is one of the reasons that phrases like “just relax” or “don’t think about it, and it’ll happen” are met with eye rolls or homicidal anger by infertile women.

It is physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically impossible not to think about it. That’s like telling us not to breathe, or maybe this is a more apt example —it's like telling a mother to stop thinking about her children for a while.

So next time you’re feeling a little off (and wondering why the cat is locked in the liquor cabinet while that half empty bottle of gin is snuggled in its bed), don’t be surprised — that’s just your infertility brain at work.

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Comments (3)

I'm so thankful for this post. I'm emailing it to DH who, as wonderful and supportive as he is, just does not understand my 'infertility brain' issue.
Not only do I continually space all things non-IF-related....I somehow find a way to relate everything BACK to IF.

This happens to anyone and everyone at some point. People are just more "aware" of their lack of awareness when pregnant because, duh, pregnancy brain! They're suppose to be forgetful, and have that go to excuse.

I have those moments alot now too. Definitely Infertility brain. I also have had them frequently before even thinking about babies. Preoccupied brain. Be it an exam or just tired, or worrying about finances, things like putting the milk in the fridge not freezer and putting the dirty dishes in the washer not the cabinets aren't at the forefront.

So what do you call it now when YOU have an absent-minded moment?

You're right. I think you could also call it "your mind is somewhere else" (but that's not as catchy). Pregnancy, infertility, grief, falling in love, and even starting a business all strangely share the common side effect of absentmindedness.

I'm glad you pointed out that pregnant women aren't the only ones who have something on their minds.

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