36 weeks and 2 days today. Everyone keeps telling me–sleep while you can! Your chances for sleep will disappear when baby is born!
While I appreciate the advice and the intention behind it, I’m starting to feel a bit frustrated every time someone mentions sleep! You see, I haven’t slept properly since the beginning of this pregnancy. Everyone’s experience with pregnancy is different and mine has been full of wakeful nights. I thought maybe I could vent a little here today, however as I’ve started writing about my sleepless 3rd trimester, I’ve realized I’d rather share my experience in a way that contributes to the narrative of birth that women experience. Because the women who’ve been advising me to sleep have been sharing their experience with me with love and sincerity, and while I may not be sleeping well, I appreciate knowing that they care. It feels comforting to know so many women have held life and given birth so many times across the world, and even if my experience is different, just knowing others have done this makes me feel safer.
“When we establish human connections within the context of shared
experience we create community wherever we go.” Gina Greenlee
I truly believe we become more connected to the people around us through the stories we share, and some of the most powerful stories are the ones we write as we bring life into this world. Pregnancy and birth is profoundly different for women across the world, and yet in some way it is a shared experience, even if the minutiae of each birth differs.
My 1st trimester was achy and anxious. I was grappling with this new discovery and the inevitable changes it would bring to my life, along with early morning nausea and a complete loss of appetite. I got through those weeks on prenatal vitamins, ginger tea and large quantities of fruit. However I caught a terrible cold with a lingering cough (thank you for shutting down immune system, I appreciate it). The cough kept me up at nights for at least a month, impacting my quality of sleep(and my husband’s too). When the cough dissipated, I kept myself awake with thoughts of baby, maternity leave and finding balance in this new part of life.
In the 2nd trimester, the nausea faded and my appetite returned. My anxiety lessened and I looked forward to stepping back into familiar routines and habits. And then my hips and lower back started causing me intense pain that even prevented me from working for several days. Turns out hip pain in pregnancy is normal and sacroiliac joint dysfunction is a real problem for some pregnant women. This pain slowed my entire pace of life down–anyone who knows me will recognize how difficult that was! I enjoy moving quickly and keeping busy. With limited options for pain relief that are baby safe, I slowly explored yoga and chiropractic care with limited results. Because sleeping on your back is out when you’re pregnant this left me with a problem–can’t sleep on stomach, can’t sleep on back and the hips hurt too much to lay on my side for any length of time. Sleep became fitful as I would doze off for a few moments at a time and hip pain would wake me and force me to turn over to the other side, over and over again. (I’m not even taking into account the number of times I got up to use the toilet each night)
Now, in my 3rd trimester I find the nausea gone, my appetite increasing more than ever and a general…expanding. The hip and back pain persists, but yoga is helping. Only now I find myself dealing with a painful kidney infection and headaches. I try to cram as much sleep as I can in…I hear the thoughtful voices of more experienced parents and know they’re right. When baby Fox is here, I’ll be awake with him all the time as he grows and adapts to this new and strange world.
And yet, I spend most of each night awake, trying to find a position to sleep in that limits pain, trying to stay asleep on each of my bathroom visits and once again worrying about headaches and kidneys and being prepared to welcome this new person into the world.
So yes…I sleep while I can…but perhaps I’m already prepared for those future sleepless nights with baby Fox!