Bun in the oven

Oct 052010
 

stupid Baby Brain

                Depending on who is speaking, there are all sorts of reasons to have a baby. You will hear everything from how fulfilled a child makes your life to ‘God wants me to make babies’ to the fallacy that it will make the marriage stronger. So here is another reason to have kids. They make you smarter. Well, first, they make you stupid then they make you smart.

                I didn’t know this but they actually have something that they call ‘baby brain’. This is the poor memory, loss of focus and general ditziness that a woman experiences during pregnancy. Like PMS and growing pains, baby brain was one of those things that the medical field discounted as imaginary for years. According to a story in Monitor on Psychology, an American Psychological Association publication, not only does baby brain exist but it is grounded in millions of years of evolution.

                 Neuroradiologists have found that a woman’s brain shrinks by 4% during their pregnancy with a large volume decrease in the hippocampus. For those of you who are not up on their brain anatomy, the hippocampus is located in the center rear of the brain and is associated with memory and navigation. In Alzheimer’s patients, the hippocampus is the first part to go. So a decrease in that area of the brain explains the ‘where was I going?’ breakdown in the day-to-day of a pregnant woman.

                  The reason why a woman cannot remember where she was going is because nature has programmed her to sit down and stay put. If you compare us to our ancient cave people ancestors or to our modern day mammal cousins, as the female becomes more vulnerable to attack in her childbearing state, her mind makes it a little bit harder to leave the nest. Luckily, or by design, the male physiology is changing also. One of several studies that explored changes in the mated male looked at marmosets, which co parent their offspring like humans do. During the course of the pregnancy, the testosterone level of the males increased and spiked around birth. In other words, on a hormonal level, men are built to be the most protectively aggressive when the woman is most vulnerable.

                The good news is that, after they give birth, women get smarter and these new brains last throughout their lives. Generally speaking, the female mammal gets more efficient in their thought process. Rats that have given birth catch crickets five times faster than virgin rats. Human females wiz through tests to gauge how quickly they can perform day-to-day tasks.   Specifically, females report a decrease in fear and anxiety as it relates to taking on the challenges of daily life. For wild primates, that means backing a predator out of their territory. For humans, we can see it in the rapid-fire juggling act that is motherhood.

                Happily, daddies get brain benefits from childbirth also. This comes in the form of increased dendritic spine density. The dendritic spine is the part of the nerve that receives information from other nerve cells. Having more of them means that we can receive more information.  Increasing dendritic spine density is what is found during intense training sessions, like what an astronaut or an assassin might go through. By the way, a decrease in dendritic spine density is associated with schizophrenia. So, where mommies are becoming machines in their efficiency and fearlessness, daddies are training-up in a way that would rival the Matrix.

Paul Reyes-Fournier is the co-author of CoupleDumb.com. You can reach Paul at Paul@Parentdumb.com.

Jul 282010
 

anatomy parent s brain SM Kids make you smarter

Depending on who is speaking, there are all sorts of reasons to have a baby. You will hear everything from how fulfilled a child makes your life to ‘God wants me to make babies’ to the fallacy that it will make the marriage stronger. So here is another reason to have kids. They make you smarter. Well, first, they make you stupid then they make you smart.

I didn’t know this but they actually have something that they call ‘baby brain’. This is the poor memory, loss of focus and general ditziness that a woman experiences during pregnancy. Like PMS and growing pains, baby brain was one of those things that the medical field discounted as imaginary for years. According to a story in Monitor on Psychology, an American Psychological Association publication, not only does baby brain exist but it is grounded in millions of years of evolution.

Neuroradiologists have found that a woman’s brain shrinks by 4% during their pregnancy with a large volume decrease in the hippocampus. For those of you who are not up on their brain anatomy, the hippocampus is located in the center rear of the brain and is associated with memory and navigation. In Alzheimer’s patients, the hippocampus is the first part to go. So a decrease in that area of the brain explains the ‘where was I going?’ breakdown in the day-to-day of a pregnant woman.

The reason why a woman cannot remember where she was going is because nature has programmed her to sit down and stay put. If you compare us to our ancient cave people ancestors or to our modern day mammal cousins, as the female becomes more vulnerable to attack in her childbearing state, her mind makes it a little bit harder to leave the nest. Luckily, or by design, the male physiology is changing also. One of several studies that explored changes in the mated male looked at marmosets, which co parent their offspring like humans do. During the course of the pregnancy, the testosterone level of the males increased and spiked around birth. In other words, on a hormonal level, men are built to be the most protectively aggressive when the woman is most vulnerable.

The good news is that, after they give birth, women get smarter and these new brains last throughout their lives. Generally speaking, the female mammal gets more efficient in their thought process. Rats that have given birth catch crickets five times faster than virgin rats. Human females wiz through tests to gauge how quickly they can perform day-to-day tasks.   Specifically, females report a decrease in fear and anxiety as it relates to taking on the challenges of daily life. For wild primates, that means backing a predator out of their territory. For humans, we can see it in the rapid-fire juggling act that is motherhood.

Happily, daddies get brain benefits from childbirth also. This comes in the form of increased dendritic spine density. The dendritic spine is the part of the nerve that receives information from other nerve cells. Having more of them means that we can receive more information.  Increasing dendritic spine density is what is found during intense training sessions, like what an astronaut or an assassin might go through. By the way, a decrease in dendritic spine density is associated with schizophrenia. So, where mommies are becoming machines in their efficiency and fearlessness, daddies are training-up in a way that would rival the Matrix.

Paul is co-author of www.CoupleDumb.com where he flexes his degree in Physics, his business experience and his 21 year young marriage.

Jul 252010
 

mia 300x205 For love of a child
We can’t talk about parenting without using the word “love”. Half the time, if you were to ask someone to define love, they would not be able. The nature of love is kind of like trying to remember a dream, we know the feel of it but have problems keeping it in the forefront of our minds. And then our friend, Sara, came over and she sparked one of the qualities of love that, without it, there would be no love.

Love is courageous.


In every love story, whether it is an epic romance or your parents’ recollections of their stumbling courtship, there is a moment when one of the people draws in a breath of bravery and makes a declaration of love. It is always a pronouncement that is heard only by the intended loved one as amplified through the beating of one divine heart.


We know that Sara made this declaration about ten years ago, right around the time that we first met her. It was when she said that she was adopting a Chinese baby. At the time, Sara and Lee worked together at a substance abuse facility handling the mental health of adolescent girls, which, if you know anything about adolescent girls, is like controlling a tsunami by wielding a sponge. To compound things, the girls also had BOTH mental health issues and substance abuse addictions. Did I forget to mention that this was a juvenile justice facility?


So when Sara said that she wanted to be a parent to a little girl, I just asked her ‘Why?’ Hell, I had a little girl and was actively looking for a suitably cloistered nunnery for her. Of course Lee, in her immitigable style, probed and prodded with sisterly love in one hand and the red hot poker of reality in the other. ‘You are a big white woman who will be raising a baby as a single mother. Do you know how hard that will be?’


Sara, with tears in her eyes and wisdom that I have seen in very few people, said, ‘No I don’t know how hard it will be. I have no idea. But I have people around me that love me and I think that I can do it. I know that I have the love in me.’ She said all of this with just the barest hint of panic, which I think is appropriate for anybody talking about the possibility of having a child.


Ten years later, with all of the hoops finally jumped through, she is getting her little girl from China. The picture above is really the baby. She is 11 months old, has a cleft lip, big beautiful eyes and a cuddly nature. And she will be in Sara’s arms in December.


Here’s where you can help. Adopting a baby with a cleft lip from China is really expensive. The button on the right is our ParentDumb version of a collection basket. If you can make a contribution, God will bless you and your karma will be cleared and you will have seven years of good luck and you can make three wishes. But mainly you will be saying thank you to Sara and her courageous love.

pixel For love of a child




[We do not usually make collections so, if you are getting this and have never read ParentDumb, do your due diligence. Check us out on Snopes.com. Google us. But make sure you cough up some cash. Thank you.]