So as it turns out, sleep is really important. I’ve always been a good sleeper. My mother has said that I slept through the night early, and while I’ve always been late to go to bed, I’ve also been prone to sleeping in when the schedule allows. Always, that is, until my sweet little passenger came aboard last November.
At first it was just a general annoyance. I’d sleep for a few hours and then lay awake the rest of the night, mostly worrying about making it safely through the first trimester. Then as the baby got bigger, I’d get up to use the bathroom every 2-3 hours, and have a hard time falling back to sleep once I got back in bed. Now it’s a matter of position. Nothing is comfortable. Lying down yields indigestion; sitting up makes my back hurt; and standing results in feet that resemble kayak-sized marshmallows. And I fear that my body has gotten accustomed to functioning without more than two or three hours of sleep each night, so maybe now it’s just routine.
Don’t get me wrong – I’d still rather deal with all the discomforts of pregnancy – including sleep deprivation – than not be pregnant at all. As MKL puts it, “it will all be worth it in the end.” As usual, she’s so sweet. Every time I sigh heavily, trying to find a position that will work, she kisses me on the forehead and thanks me for going through this so we can have a child. And for a few seconds, I can picture what our lives will be like in six short weeks. Then my sweet monkey kicks me in the ribs and makes me switch positions. Back to mild misery.
A friend of ours who is also pregnant, and a few weeks ahead of us, recently said that she thought she’d never sleep again. I’m starting to fear that she’s right. I miss sleeping. Really. I love being tired and having heavy eyelids that will undoubtedly slam shut the minute my head hits the pillow. I love that feeling I get when I wake up all rested and ready to face the day. I love to snuggle up in bed with MKL on a rainy weekend afternoon and let the sound of the raindrops lull us into a nap. Recreational sleep is one of my favorite pastimes. And I miss it so.
These days as it gets dark outside, I start to get depressed. I dread the nighttime. I know that I’ll most likely spend the first hour in bed propped up on pillows, trying to meditate myself into slumber. It works for about an hour, sometimes even two, if I’m lucky. Then I’ll have to get up and use the bathroom. Then I’ll try to lay on my side, sleeping for a few minutes before everything I’ve eaten during the day seems to settle in my throat. Another trip to the bathroom later, and I’ll try the other side, working hard not to glance at the clock. Except that I do see the clock and realize the alarm will go off in three hours. Then the dog barks, desperate to take her place at the foot of our bed, or curious about the sound she thinks she might’ve heard in the back yard (btw, this usually amounts to a bird sneezing a few blocks over, not the dangerous intruder she has signaled). Sometime between 4:00-6:00AM, I usually take a few laps around the house to try to calm the pains in my lower back and hips. Then I’m back in the bed for one more propped-up-cat-nap before the alarm goes off and Matt Lauer reminds me that it’s morning. Damn that Matt Lauer. And here’s the worst part of it all: my best sleep comes around 7:30AM – just when I should be getting out of bed and starting my day. I could sleep from 7:30-11:00 if my schedule allowed it. But apparently no one told my body that this just isn’t feasible.
In case you’re wondering, the baby’s awake through most of this, too…kicking, rolling, punching…as if to let me know that if I can’t sleep no one’s going to. This makes me worry that the baby won’t be a good sleeper, or will only sleep from 7:30-11:00 every morning. I know that’s not really the case, but one of the side effects of sleep deprivation is that one’s thoughts lean toward the irrational (like the night I convinced myself the indigestion was some type of heart episode, or the time I thought MKL’s breathing/light snoring pattern had taken on the unmistakable drum part from Queen’s We Will Rock You). I’m sure that when our little one arrives, he or she will eventually get into a great sleeping routine and I’ll stand at the nursery door, marveling at his or her ability to conk right out whenever the body says to. I also think “pregnant brain” is not just hormonal, but also a result of pregnant ladies’ lack of sleep. Sometimes I can barely remember driving home from the office. Safe, I know.
Everyone says, “It’s just your body helping you to practice for middle-of-the-night feedings!” Or, “You think you’re tired now, wait ’til the baby comes!” And I know they’re right. But all the same, I’d like to tank up on some sleep now so that when the baby comes I’m awake enough to say hello. So here’s my prayer for the day: Mr Sandman, tonight, please let me sleep…like a baby.