My Kids F**ked Me Up
For some time, I have been under the impression that the recent quirks and subtleties embedded in my personality over the last few years were a result of life changes such as becoming a mother and getting older. While this is true in part, there may be something deeper at work called FETAL MICROCHIMERISM. With each pregnancy, the fetus' DNA mixes in with the carrying mother's DNA, therefore altering it. Basically, the fetal cells get all mixed in with the mother's and stay there for perhaps a lifetime. In greek mythology the "Chimera" is a monster made up of a lion, a goat and a dragon. Whelp- that explains my temper tantrum the other night.
Most research has looked at how a mother's biochemistry changes in terms of disease susceptibility. Researchers are beginning to figure out how a mother's brain chemistry changes. If fetal cells in the brain can influence brain disease then they must certainly influence personality, right?!
If you think about it, did your personality change when you became pregnant? And if you have birthed more than one child, was your personality different with each pregnancy? This theory goes beyond hormonal changes.
When I was pregnant with my son, I was a stubborn mule! If anyone told me not to do something, you bet I went out and did it! I ate that sushi and drank that wine (very conservatively before you go judging me). I had my mind set on a natural birth and no one was going to stop me. I was moody and petulant at times and quite introspective. After getting to know my son, I see so many of these traits in him.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I sang all the time. Everywhere. I thought I maybe needed to try out for American Idol. Whereas I had previously dismissed all notions of "pink" for a baby girl, I became OBSESSED with pink a few months into the pregnancy. Again, all current reflections of my daughter.
The experience of a "personality takeover" extends beyond pregnancy. A friend of mine who is also a mother to a boy and a girl and I were discussing how we frequently feel scattered, untethered and unable to focus since having children. Mind you, we mothers are constantly running around doing a million things at once, so naturally we may feel this way. These symptoms are also related to ADD. Her son has been diagnosed with ADD. Mine has not, but shows signs. We both agreed that our husbands surely passed their ADD-like qualities onto our boys. Perhaps they then, via fetal microchimerism, passed those traits onto us? If we are carrying our children's DNA around with us, then by default we are carrying the DNA of the biological fathers of our children. That explains why couples with children begin to look and act alike after so much time together (kidding!). This is all theory and observation. I have not seen any research to support this hypothesis. I'm not even sure if it would be ethical to conduct the proper research on this matter, but I do find it fascinating.
These are just my experiences. I am curious to know about yours. Could there be truth in this theory? Do our children's genetic personality traits infiltrate ours and change our behaviors indefinitely? It begs the notion of the mother-child bond and takes it up a notch. I am curiously anticipating any future research on the matter. If you wish to learn more, I have linked a couple articles under Resources.