Dr. Baerkaler cleared his throat professionally. “I said,” he repeated slowly, “That is a common side effect when you’ve lost some parts of your brain.”
I felt dizzy, and tired. I felt like I’d just given birth, for Pete’s sake. The doctor wasn’t making much sense. I’d lost some parts of my brain?
I looked down at the snoozing head of my newborn son. “Could you explain what you just said in more detail?” I managed. Surely, this would have been a chapter in that What to Expect book.
The doctor settled onto a guest chair and assumed his cheerful, patient, bedside manner tone. “You’ve just given birth,” He began. He met my gaze, so I nodded. Smiling, he went on, “It’s a major strain on the mother’s body to make and deliver a healthy baby.” Dr. Baerkaler paused, obviously so that I could process such a long sentence. I nodded again.
“As the baby develops inside of you, your nervous systems -pieces of your processing abilities and memory storing capacities- are used up by this process.” He looked at me cheerfully, despite my now-blank face.
“What?!” I managed, again.
Searching the ceiling briefly for inspiration, he looked back at me and slowly summarized, “You lose normal brain functions and forget things when your body is making a baby.”
I blinked. “Seriously?”
“Why, yes,” Dr. Baerkaler answered immediately. He sounded surprised that I wouldn’t know this. “And, now that you’ve delivered, a sizeable amount of functionality is gone.” He laughed a bit, in commiseration. “Surely, you’ve noticed it’s been draining out, so to speak, over the last eight months.”
I shook my head gently, in shock. “No, I hadn’t.” I said, nearly crying.
“Oh,” he supplied. “I suppose that would make sense, too.” He stood, and offered a slight, inadequately comforting squeeze to my shoulder. Bringing his medical tablet to his chest, he turned to leave.
“Is it permanent?” I timidly asked his back.
Pausing at the beige hanging curtain, he looked over his shoulder at me. I felt small, helpless, and dumb; a disheveled, ignorant mother swaddled untidily amidst thin hospital blankets.
Perhaps sensing my distress, Dr. Baerkaler smiled a reassuring doctor smile.
“Oh, don’t worry,” he said. “You won’t be needing your brain for a while anyway.”