From Our Nurse Manager

As I perused my calendar looking ahead over the next few weeks, I saw it…  Mother’s Day. So many thoughts and feelings went through my mind.  My mom passed away in 2002 while I was pregnant with my daughter. I’m sad she never got to meet my little girl. I think about the kind of woman my mom was and how she loved each of us kids no matter what we did or how we may have failed. I also remember my own children and the son I lost in 2007.

What do you think of when you think about Mother’s Day?  Do you smile with fond thoughts? Or shed a tear for a woman no longer present leaving a void in your life? Is your first thought, “Oh crud, I need to get a card in the mail!” or are you making plans to take your mom or grandma to dinner? Maybe the memories evoked are complicated and confused.  Some moms struggle with drugs or mental illness and aren’t able to take care of their children well. Moms are regular people and have all the flaws inherent in humanity. So if moms are just regular people, why do we make a big deal about Mother’s Day?  Is there something special and unique about mothers that makes us want to celebrate them?

Crazy enough, there are some amazing differences between mothers and non-mothers.  Some of these differences can be mapped in the human brain through special imaging.  An article titled, “What Happens to a Woman’s Brain When She Becomes a Mother” states that “even before a woman gives birth, pregnancy tinkers with the very structure of her brain.” The hormones of pregnancy actually alter the brain in a specific pattern unique to moms.  The gray matter becomes more concentrated. Brain activity increases in a part of the brain called the amygdala. Areas of the brain light up that are also active in romantic relationships, allowing for a deep bond with the child. These changes seem to allow a mom to be hypervigilant towards her newborn. She is aware of her baby almost like an obsession. Perhaps that is when she grows the proverbial “eyes on the back of her head.” She becomes focused on caring for and keeping her baby safe. Now I know why a sound sleeper like myself would wake at the slightest fuss from my infants. A soft cry of my baby heard through walls would pierce into my awareness when my husband was often oblivious to the sound. I was hardwired by my pregnancy to be aware of my child’s needs. Another quote I loved from the article states, “[M]otherhood really is like secret space in a woman’s brain, waiting to be discovered.”

Not only do mothers go through pregnancy and labor to bring a baby into the world, they love and protect their children throughout their entire lives. The time and energy devoted by a mom to her children goes above and beyond what most people would willingly do for another person. That is why we celebrate mothers.  Who will ever love us like our own mother?  It is the unique changes in a mom’s mind and body that allow her to accomplish this beautiful and timeless calling.


Happy Mother’s Day to moms everywhere!