Jenna von Oy's Blog: This Is Your Brain on Baby

In her latest blog, the actress shares stories from friends about their "brains on baby" - and tells one of her own.

Please give a warm welcome to our newest celebrity blogger, Jenna von Oy!

Best known for her roles as Six on Blossom and Stevie on The Parkers, von Oy is also a musician who has released two albums and is set to publish a book, The Betweeners.

She’ll next appear in Lukewarm, slated for release this spring.

von Oy, 34, wed Brad Bratcher on Oct. 10, 2010, and resides in Nashville with her husband and five dogs.

They expect their first child, a girl, in June.

You can find her on Twitter @jennavonoy.

Picture this: You are craving pickles and ice cream (or some such oddity). You throw a coat over your pj’s, jump into your car, and head to the nearest all-night market.

Throwing your vehicle into park, you race into the store at warp speed and find yourself standing in the frozen goods aisle with a dumbfounded look on your face, thinking, “What the heck did I come in here for?” You retrace your steps back out to the car, desperately wishing you’d made a grocery list … and that’s when you realize you’ve locked the doors with your keys still inside.

Sound familiar? Thankfully, this wasn’t a personal experience of mine, though I do have several choice nuggets for you this month. However, it exemplifies a little thing I fondly refer to as “baby brain.”

I won’t pretend to understand the phenomenon, but I’ve been a walking, talking, living and breathing personification of it for six months now. It’s as if some twisted little magic fairy came down and bestowed a foolish and forgetful virus on me for nine months — somebody alert the CDC!

If you are in the early stages of your pregnancy and haven’t yet experienced this awesome state, be warned. I’m telling you, it’s truly baffling. I ponder where all of my brain cells have ventured off to … did they wind up in a secret pile with all of the socks that go missing from our dryer? Am I leaving a trail behind me like Hansel and Gretel with their breadcrumbs? And, more importantly, will I ever get them back?

All I know is that the cells are no longer in my head and I miss them terribly. I’m beginning to wax nostalgic about the days when I could walk from one room into the next without losing my train of thought. Which brings me to an anecdote from my own grisly repertoire:

It was the week before Christmas, and I was in a gift-packaging frenzy. I only had a 30-minute window before my husband got home from work, and I wanted to get a few of his presents wrapped before his arrival.

I was cutting and folding paper as fast as my little fingers could go, when I realized I’d forgotten a crucial ingredient. Rushing into my office, I yanked open my desk drawer, and flew back into my dining room, clutching the stapler.

The stapler, you ask? Because I’m sure this seems like an obvious mistake to you. I, on the other hand, was a bit slower to process. I stood over those gifts for a good five minutes, attempting to recall what I needed the stapler for, but the thought had pinballed its way into the recesses of my head.

You’ll be pleased to know I ultimately returned to my office to exchange the stapler for the item I’d originally intended to fetch — the Scotch tape. Which, as it turns out, is a significantly more practical tool for keeping packages closed.

Remember the old anti-drug campaign that was launched in the 80’s? Well, here’s my new spin on it: This is your brain. This is your brain on baby. (Insert fried egg here.)

If you ask my friends, my personality is very Type A. My husband might say I’m mildly particular, and my family will say I’m downright OCD. I’d like to state, for the record, that I’m all three — the epitome of an “i” dotter and “t” crosser, with a tangible control complex. So, as you can imagine, it’s a bit startling every time I manage to lose track of my thoughts or do something dumb. And that seems to be happening with more and more frequency these days.

Luckily, I have an incredible group of girlfriends around me who’ve ripped the Band-Aid off, and provided me with ample proof that I’m not the only clown in this parade. Since misery is so darned fond of company, they have been showering me with sympathetic stories.

And, because they are so awesome, they’ve also been kind enough to grant me with the ability to share some of their own scary tales from the dark side with you. Never fear: you are NOT alone in this madness! As a side note, some names may have been changed to protect the intelligent…

Here’s one from my friend Katie:

I was weeks away from giving birth to my second child, and was in the midst of baking and freezing cookies, in order to have some goodies on hand after the baby’s arrival (as an aside, I highly recommend that pregnant women do this!).

My dog, Molly, needed to go outside. In between batches of cookies, I opened the back door to let her out into our unfenced yard to do her thing. Just about that time, my two-year-old woke up from his nap and requested I read his favorite book. Wanting to spend as much time with him as possible before his status as “only child” was dethroned, I obliged.

Thirty minutes later, my phone rang — it was a neighbor telling me that Molly was sitting outside on their patio, looking to be let into their house. Between cookie baking and getting my son up, I had totally forgotten that I’d let her out. Evidently, my poor dog felt her own household had abandoned her, and had to seek refuge at the neighbor’s house!

Needless to say, she got a few extra treats that day.

And here’s a gem from one of my best friends, Lila McCann:

I was a complete dodo brain when I was pregnant — BOTH times!! One little incident, in particular, comes to mind. It was when I was pregnant with my first child … I was running all over the house trying to find my keys, in order to make it to a doctor’s appointment on time. After looking for them for what seemed like forever, I gave in and used my spare set.

When I opened the fridge to prepare dinner that evening, I finally found them — in the vegetable drawer! Yikes!

If you aren’t pregnant, you should be feeling smarter by the minute. If you are, or have ever been pregnant, you are more likely breathing a sigh of relief. Isn’t it nice to know there is no shortage of fellow baby brain-sufferers out there?

“Do you have more wonderfully awful stories for us, Jenna?” you ask. Why, of course! I like to do my part in contributing to your daily dose of laughter. It is, after all, the best medicine.

Allow me to introduce my friend Stacy, who (God bless her) has three boys under the age of six. I wish I had room for all of her hilarious anecdotes — there are an abundance of them!

My husband coaches baseball at the professional level. Because of this, he is mostly gone from February through October. I am a “single mom” during the very long baseball season … and a tired one, at that!

One day, I had to drop my husband off at the bus, as his team was about to embark on a long road trip. I was VERY pregnant with our second child, and most people would ask me if I was having triplets — not twins, triplets! I was in the last trimester and the exhaustion had set in once again.

My 16-month old son was also suffering from a double ear infection, so I hadn’t slept in days. Now, my husband was leaving for another week.

I pulled up next to the bus and PRIED myself out of the car. (It’s not easy when you’re that pregnant. I felt like a can of crescent rolls that has just had the paper label peeled back, revealing the popped-out mess of dough!)

My belly was stuck under the steering wheel, as I tried to get out of the minivan, and I just KNEW every single one of those ballplayers was watching me through their window. I managed to kiss my husband goodbye, and I watched him load his luggage onto the bus and climb aboard.

Feeling quite embarrassed about the entire scene, I hurriedly got back into my car, while waving goodbye to an entire bus full of men … to my horror, I had gotten into the BACK SEAT. Mind you, I didn’t just “jump into the car.” I even tried to put my keys into the seat in front of me.

So, I did what any sane person would do — I hurled myself onto the floor, and pretended to look for something. My face turned 10 shades of red. When I finally quit laughing, I reemerged and pretended to tend to my son, as if I knew exactly what I was doing.

After a few minutes of this, which felt like hours, I realized the bus was not leaving any time soon. I waddled out of the minivan, got into the CORRECT seat, and drove off as quickly as I could!

Perhaps the most disconcerting thing about baby brain, is the thought that it might never go away. I secretly hope my forgotten thoughts are being transferred (through osmosis, maybe?) into the artist formerly known as my belly, which is currently creating my little masterpiece.

It makes me feel better about the whole thing, I suppose, to think my daughter is gaining those brain cells even as I am losing them. I would happily donate them for the good cause! But the idea that they are being cast out, into the oblivion, is just more than I can bear.

According to some of my closest friends, it is an ongoing struggle. Once baby brain has wiggled its way in, it tends to overstay its welcome. Spoiler alert: even after the baby is born, we will STILL experience bouts of baby brain!

Take it from my dear friend Cindy Alexander:

The only thing worse than baby brain is mommy brain. I drove out of a gas station yesterday (with kid in tow), still connected to the pump… I drove until I pulled the hose out of the thing altogether. Mother of the Year? NOT!”

If it’s any consolation, that isn’t exactly what I wanted to hear either, and I suspect my future holds a lot of fact checking, note taking and list making. In fact, I am contemplating buying stock in Post-its.

But, alas, it’s all part of the deal — and well worth it! In exchange, I get a beautiful baby girl who will someday, no doubt, remind me to turn the oven off after I finish cooking, and put the stamp on the envelope BEFORE I mail the letter.

Until then, I’m stuck fending for myself. Who knows, by the time you read this, I may have already forgotten what I wrote this blog about. Here’s hoping that we can all learn to laugh it off … I propose we grab some popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show!

Before I let you go, I want to extend a HUGE and heartfelt “thank you” for your overwhelming response to my first blog installment last month. I can’t tell you how much I have loved hearing from all of you, whether you’ve left messages here on or contacted me via Twitter.

I haven’t had quite as much time as I’d like to respond to each of you individually, but I’m enjoying every minute of reading your stories, thoughts, advice, and well wishes! Keep ’em coming — you give me my daily dose of laughter too!

Until next time,

— Jenna von Oy

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