Sleeping like a baby machine

When people talk about getting a good night’s sleep, they often use the term “sleeping like a baby.”

Millions of new parents the world wide beg to differ, I’m sure. But one thing is certain: The wordsmiths of the world will never refer to enjoying a restful slumber as “sleeping like a pregnant woman.”

Now, if you ask Chris, I get a fabulous night’s sleep every night of the week. While he rouses from repose after a mere six or seven hours, I slumber on for an additional six, giving me a nice round 12 hours.

In theory, 12 hours of sleep is a dream come true. Last spring, when I was surviving on 5 hours or fewer per night while juggling full-time work and school, I doubtless would have derived untold energy from such a wealth of rest.

In reality, however, 12 hours is barely sufficient for a pregnant woman. Between the moment I drag myself out of bed and the moment I hit the sack, I spend my 12 waking hours yawning and rubbing my eyes, forgetting simple things and getting tired walking up the stairs. In short, I am worse than I was as a bleary-eyed, time-strapped journalist/premed student.

The insomnia that plagued me even when I took sleeping pills to get that crucial five hours has become a thing of the past. My head hits the pillow and I’m out.

Given the duration of my slumber and the fact that it is not marred by insomnia, it would seem that I am getting 12 glorious, restful hours. But that’s before we factor in the ever-so-significant fact that I am pregnant.

What does this mean for my 12 hours of repose? Well, first, I am sleeping with a giant body pillow between my legs in order to stay on my side as the experts recommend. Can you imagine the scope of the planning and effort necessary to accomplish a simple middle-of-the-night position shift? Naturally, since my hips constantly feel like I’ve just come up from doing the splits for five solid days, these position changes happen several times a night.

When you’re pregnant, guess what else happens several times a night? That’s right — we preggies must answer the call of nature at least once per two hours, even if we quit ingesting fluids at 7 p.m. So add anywhere between 6 and 11 late-night trips to relieve our suffering bladders.

As if those potty breaks and repositionings weren’t enough, add to that the disturbing dreams caused by a potent cocktail of hormones and the extra REM sleep pregnant women get. Whether it’s the usual nightmares about being held captive, weird pregnancy dreams of having “my” children threatened by their dad (who in this dream is, oddly, some creepy drug dealer who roomed with a friend in university and certainly someone I’d never date, let alone have two kids with), or even pleasant dreams about my cute, adorable actual baby and its perfectly nice, nonthreatening dad, these dreams are so vivid that they often manage to wake me up.

So while I do get 12 hours of sleep, it’s definitely not unbroken sleep.

Now, for all we know, babies also experience joint pain and nightmares, and I think we can all agree that their bladders are easily as tiny as that of a pregnant woman (although we don’t have the luxury of being allowed to pee in the bed — as much as some of us have contemplated it).

However, since newborns supposedly sleep 16 to 20 hours out of the day, and they usually look pretty comfy and happy, I’m willing to bet they really do sleep like proverbial babies.

Meanwhile, if anyone thinks pregnant women enjoying a similarly restful slumber, I hope this post will put those fantasies to, um, rest.

And without further ado, here are the Week 17 belly shots! I’m so happy — I finally look pregnant! I guess it was a good thing my parents pushed Thanksgiving forward a week, or my belly would have made the announcement for me.

By the quick’ning in my tum, something kickin’ this way comes

Well, it’s 99 percent official. The baby is definitely moving around in there. (I think.)

It’s been happening since about Week 12. I’d be sitting in the car or lying in bed, and I’d feel a little flutter in the general vicinity of the uterus. If I happened to be listening to the baby’s heartbeat on my fetal monitor, this tickling feeling would be accompanied by a distinct plunking noise in my headset.

At first, I chalked it up to gas, but this week it’s been picking up and feeling more definite. Unless gas normally commences within minutes of ingesting sugar or caffeine (yes, I have been naughty and had a few small caffeine drinks here and there in the second trimester), it is most definitely the baby experiencing a brief burst of energy. Also, I have noticed that, unlike gas, the bubbling kicks up a few notches if I poke at my belly.

If that’s not enough, I know the baby has been hanging out a few inches southwest of my belly button for as long as I’ve been monitoring its heartbeats, and that, coincidentally, is where I’ve been feeling the fluttering. Now, theoretically, it could be that the baby and the gas are coincidentally situated in the same region. Yesterday, however, Chris and I ran over a dead deer on the highway and when the car bounced, I came down hard on my right side. The heartbeat moved over to the southeast for a few hours, and so did the “gas bubbles.” Then, when the coast was clear, everything moved back to that old, familiar southwest portion of my abdomen.

Now despite all this, and the fact that the baby’s movements are expected to be felt between weeks 16 and 20, I am still not quite sure it’s not just intestinal rumblings.

But I’m 99 percent certain that little Pele is not only living up to his reputation as the namesake of the volcano deity, but also living up to expectations as the namesake of the Brazilian soccer star.

Diversionary tactic

On visiting my parents last week, I had decided to make the big announcement on our second night there rather than right away. Like anyone who has been busting out of her stretch pants for a good month and a half, I naturally was worried that my unnaturally poochy tummy would make that big announcement for me … the minute I entered the house and peeled off my rather snug jacket.

In hopes of delaying the news of my pregnancy, I spent a day and a half wearing the same belly-concealing black turtleneck (which in itself should have been a dead giveaway, seeing as how I meticulously rotate my wardrobe so that things are never worn twice in a week, let alone two days!) and sucking in my tummy, cramping the poor baby and causing my abdominal muscles much discomfort.

Oh, what a blind and naive fool I was! While I was fretting over the obvious (to me) tummy bulge, my mother was wondering why on earth her lovely daughter had gone and gotten a boob job.

And here they are: the Week 16 belly shots, which prove that while what Chris has dubbed “the monsters” are indeed distracting and should not be viewed while operating heavy machinery, I have actually experienced some growth in the tummy area as well. You will have to excuse the wardrobe. Let’s just say I wasn’t at my best that day.

Pele on Board

Now that the second trimester is here and I’m starting to tell people the good news, the first question on many people’s lips is, “What names do you have picked out?”

Officially, we haven’t really gotten to that stage yet, since it will be weeks before we find out what we’re having. Sure we’ve tossed around a few names, but nothing that both of us love. Well, except Emma if it’s a girl — until we discovered with horror that it was last year’s No. 1 baby girl name. Having grown up with the No. 8 female baby name of the 1970s, I know the pain of being one of several Heathers in a given classroom and invariably having my name appended with my last initial. So officially, we’re still looking for a name that is classic, easy on the ears, and little-used.

Unofficially, I have dubbed my frolicsome fetus Pele the Volcano God (or Goddess, if you believe Chris and Hawaiian mythology).

It started about a month ago, at the end of Week 10. The first time it happened, I figured it was a fluke. The second time the volcano erupted, I started to wonder. Then, in the last few weeks, when it became a near-daily occurrence, I knew that deep within me dwelt a powerful entity who was apparently displeased with something I was doing around breakfast time.

Apparently, little Pele the Volcano God is angered when I fail to sacrifice a food offering first thing in the morning. Bile and prenatal multivitamins will be forced from deep within the angry bowels of his dwelling place, followed by the release of pressurized gases, in what many call “the dry heaves.”

Another thing that displeases Pele is the ill-advised Granny Smith apple offering, which apparently constitute an unacceptable sacrifice. Twice, I have made this breakfast-time oblation. Twice have I felt the wrath of Pele in the form of large chunks of crunchy, undigested apple being painfully upheaved through my raw and swollen esophagus. We will not be offering Pele any more first-thing-in-the-morning apples.

Also on the list of sacrifices that incur the terrible wrath of little Pele is Mexican food. If one were to toss a burrito and some Sobe cranberry-grapefruit juice into the crater first thing in the morning, Pele would be very displeased indeed. So much so, in fact, that last night’s food offering might be ejected as well in the violent eruption that followed.

Offerings of whole-wheat crackers, Ruby Red grapefruit juice, Raisin Bran and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches also are unacceptable in the eyes of Pele the Volcano God. However, Pele is pleased when he is offered things such as yogurt, baked potatoes and shredded wheat cereals.

Of course, being a fiery deity of carnage and vengeance rather than, say, a benevolent forest god, Pele’s wrath is incurred not only by morning offerings, but also by previous sacrifices and even by the actions of those living in the direct vicinity of the volcano (i.e. his mother).

Nighttime sacrifices of pizza will not immediately anger Pele, but come morning, retribution will be meted out upon the offending villagers, believe you me!

Chris also theorizes that blow-drying my hair upsets the wee volcano god. Indeed, the majority of eruptions are preceded in the previous few hours by my leaning over to dry my tresses. The hypothesis is that the motion and balance changes are detected by the angry little volcano god, who expresses his displeasure with our disruption of his slumber by causing a violent and showy eruption, punishing those who would threaten his ecosystem. Chris believes that to appease Pele, I should wear my hair back rather than down (coincidentally, the way Chris likes it).

It is to be hoped that the baby will not remain Pele the Volcano God throughout the entire pregnancy. Comfort issues aside, it would be difficult to stop calling the wee one Pele after his arrival if the eruptions were to last right through Week 40.

On the other hand, there is a bright side to harboring a wrathful volcano god within one’s person and calling the new arrival Pele. Unlike with some names we’ve tossed around, our child will most assuredly be the only Pele in his or her kindergarten class.

And here I am, in all my Week 15 glory:

You’ve come a long way, fetus!

Today my little lemon-size baby probably doesn’t feel any different, but he or she has just had a birthday of sorts — the passage into the second trimester.

Twelve weeks ago, two gametes joined forces to become a rapidly-growing cluster of cells. Today, what latched onto my uterine tissue in August as a microscopic, 100-cell blastocyst has become a 1.5-ounce fetus who measures nearly 4 inches from head to rump and who swallows and expels amniotic fluid, makes faces, may suck its thumb, is producing its own hormones and is beginning to grow hair and eyebrows.

It’s been a busy few months for the baby, although the only changes apparent in me are fatigue, a lot of nausea, a little vomiting, a little weight loss from aforementioned nausea and vomiting, my sudden metamorphosis into Dolly Parton, and an increasingly bloaty-looking tummy where my abs used to be.

Now, I can look forward to again enjoying food, an acceleration in weight gain, the “popping” of my tummy to make it evident to all that I haven’t just been binging on pizza, and best of all, feeling the baby’s movements. Additionally, I can look forward to more energy, less nausea and vomiting, more assurance that the baby’s stuck nice and tight in its little apartment, and (I hope) the feeling that it’s all a little more real.

Of course, since the baby doesn’t know it just became a second-trimester fetus, I woke up today about 1:45 p.m. still feeling exhausted, ate breakfast and promptly ejected my prenatals into the big porcelain bowl in which so many other vitamins have ended up lately. But I trust that once the wee one notices it’s covered in downy lanugo and can taste the onions in the Greek salads I’m constantly putting away, it will say to itself, “Hey, looks like I’m getting pretty big here. Time for me to give Mommy a break!”

Because really, little one, you are now officially too old for this kind of behavior.

Baby Madness

Every pregnant woman worries and wonders about her unborn child, but I suspect it is especially bad for those who have suffered through infertility and miscarriages.

While other pregnant women toss back cappuccinos, Taco Bell nachos and Krispy Kremes, I feel guilty for having that medium fry last week. No medication is ingested before extensive research is undertaken (even the doctor’s recommendations are suspect until proven completely risk-free), and if there were any way to safely install a tiny window in my abdomen so that I could gaze continually upon this marvelous little life growing inside me, I would — out of concern for the baby– have it installed without anesthesia.

I’ve cut back on drinking vitamin-fortified fruit juices to avoid getting harmful megadoses of certain vitamins, and I’ve scaled back the time I spend with the kitties, just in case there’s any trace of toxoplasmosis lingering in their plentiful hindquarter fur. In short, my paranoia rivals that of people who spend their days bouncing off the walls of their padded cells.

Worse yet, my next ultrasound is five weeks away. Sure, there’s a heartbeat, but how are my baby’s organs? Are all the fingers and toes there? What if there’s a neural-tube defect, since I was taking prenatals so sporadically before I got that positive pregnancy test?

Unfortunately, since nobody’s invented a handy little Plexiglass window for the uterus yet, I will have to take it on faith that the baby is doing fine. The bigger my belly gets and the more I vomit and break out and feel the need to nap three hours after waking up, the better the little bean is probably doing. In a few short weeks, I should be able to feel the baby moving, which will be a great source of relief. On the other hand, knowing me, it also opens up the potential for a great source of additional worry and wondering!

And here they are, the Week 13 belly shots: