How I Stopped Forgetting to Remember
After a losing battle trying to find a comfortable sleeping position, I sat up in bed, maneuvered my laptop around my large, pregnant belly, and started Googling “tips on having twins.”
By hour two, I had a wealth of information, mostly from reputable websites about babies and parenting. But my favorite website contained a forum of a bunch of twin moms on a discussion board. Each post was a humorous or sobering take on what it was like to have two new infants simultaneously. One veteran mom even quipped, “Forget everything you thought you knew.”
One post grabbed my interest in a sea of other comments. “Get different color bottles,” the mom wrote. “Because at three o’clock in the morning, you’re not gonna remember who was drinking out of what.”
“That makes sense,” I said just loud enough to make my husband stir in his sleep.
“And write down everything,” the poster continued. “Write down every dirty diaper, every feeding time, because when the doctor asks you all these questions, you’re not going to remember.”
So when our twins were born, I wrote down everything, proudly pulling out my large binder and reporting to the pediatrician all the necessary answers to her questions. Writing everything down was a lifesaver.
Yet almost nine years later, sleep-deprived, frustrated, and overwhelmed, I sat in the ER with my oldest daughter, whom we’ve called Ladybug since birth, unable to recall her current medications, when her symptoms started, or how long they’d been going on. When a third nurse asked me the same set of questions, I sighed and uttered a defeated, “I’m not sure.”
In the past, I had been exceptional in situations like this. As a trained stage actress, I prided myself on remembering a massive amount of information because of how we learn lines. But I couldn’t keep up when Ladybug’s unexplained symptoms kept occurring or when doctors were perplexed about facial swells, achy throats, and random bellyaches.
In my head, I would scold myself. Every time we had to take Ladybug to the ER, it would bring our house to a standstill, and those moments leading up to the visit seemed memorable at the time. So why couldn’t I answer any of the crucial questions I knew were coming? It felt like a test of my motherhood that I was constantly failing.
The most significant thing I forgot was remembering why my memory was failing me. It wasn’t just about remembering the onset of Ladybug’s symptoms, her medications, her laundry list of allergies, or her last albuterol treatment; I had three other children. I had to remember to sign permission slips, email the twins’ teachers, make sure my oldest son registered for his classes, and that last ingredient of the dish I was making for dinner.
Of course, none of this included the stuff I needed to remember as a business owner and independent contractor.
My brain was full.
When Ladybug was finally diagnosed with hereditary angioedema in 2021, the information was so overwhelming that I was devastated at the idea of what I would have to recollect. While being trained by a nurse to administer Berinert, I made a light quip about having to recall too much.
“You can’t,” she replied. For a moment, I was offended. How dare she challenge my attempt to recall necessary information! “Don’t even try,” she continued. “Just write it down.” She was right. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten the lesson I learned as a mom of newborn twins. And while the emotional toll was far more significant, the solution was still simple.
Now, I know it’s OK if I have to pull out my phone to pull up the date of Ladybug’s last flare. It’s good that I pull a small notebook out of my bag to recall the last time I had to give her an infusion. It’s great that I have an app that lists allergies and medications on my phone. Recording this kind of information doesn’t make me a bad mom because I can’t remember it off the top of my head; it makes me better.
The best thing a caregiver can do is not to try and live up to the supernatural being we think we need to be; it’s to embrace the human beings we are.
Note: Angioedema News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angioedema News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to angioedema.