The Early Bird
Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 11:46 PM EDT
Iâ€™m up early again today, because I just canâ€™t seem to sleep past 7:00 anymore. This is horrifying to me, an avowed sleeper and night owl who has spent the past ten years very carefully constructing weekends so that Willem and I trade off who gets up with the kids. There are some weeks when I would bribe myself out of bed all week long with the promise of a really long, solid, uninterrupted sleep on Saturday night, because Sunday was his day to arise early. (And, in the interests of fair disclosure, we really are spoiled, regardless; for the past two years or so, our kids have obediently â€“ perhaps even happily â€“ stayed in their own beds until 8:00 on weekends, unless Jacob has already come in and fallen asleep in our bed, and so â€œgetting up with the kidsâ€ is not exactly a break-of-dawn sort of chore.)
But ever since getting pregnant this time around â€“ and this includes the week or two before I got a positive pregnancy test â€“ my sleep habits have gone a little bit insane, at least by my own standards. Suddenly I was barely able, and then only with caffeine and constant stimulation, to stay awake past 11:00, and by 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning, I was wide awake with no hope of rolling over and going back to sleep, or even just dozing. Itâ€™s not an anxiety thing or a need to accomplish anything in particular; itâ€™s just as though every cell in my body has switched itself to an Awake setting, and I canâ€™t convince them to switch themselves back to Asleep.
I know itâ€™s partly because I have cut way back on pain medication since learning about the pregnancy. With my doctorâ€™s blessing, I have continued on the same thing Iâ€™ve been taking for the past two months â€“ itâ€™s called Opana, and is new on the market, to the point that no generic is available. I take a long-acting form such that Iâ€™m to take 10mg every 12 hours regardless of pain level, with a second, 5mg prescription for breakthrough pain. I would love to be able to go chemical-free, or at least drop down to the short list of medications that is proven safe for pregnancy, but the back pain is chronic and intense, and the days that I have skipped have been very, very difficult. So Iâ€™m cutting down, taking half a pill at a time and waiting until itâ€™s really bad before taking an extra dose â€“ as opposed to taking that dose when it started to feel like it was going to get bad â€“ and have accepted this compromise for myself. As I explained to the doctor, I would much rather just not have the pain in the first place, but that doesnâ€™t seem to be an option. And I can choose to expose the baby to a known chemical with reasonably good studies establishing its safety in the first two trimesters (Iâ€™ll need to switch to something else for the third, not sure what yet) or to bathe the kid in cortisol and other unpleasant body chemicals because Iâ€™m in pain every day. Two evils, hoping Iâ€™ve chosen the lesser.
But that canâ€™t account for the complete weird-sleep thing, because my sleep schedule had started to shift before I tested. The night of the Dave Matthews Band show â€“ two nights before those two pink lines â€“ I fell asleep on the shuttle bus that brought us back to my motherâ€™s car, and slept through the hourlong drive back to her house. In normal circumstances, Iâ€™d have woken up at some point in there â€“ at the very least, upon arrival â€“ and then would have had a hard time falling back to sleep for several hours, because a nap of any type, of any length, at any time of day would entirely dislodge my nighttime sleep habits. Instead, I was barely able to stay awake long enough to brush my teeth, and collapsed on her couch with a couch pillow and a throw blanket. Woke up at 6:00, paced around the house with this odd, unbearably-awake feeling, laid back down for an hour, and then gave in and started the day.
So, who knows? Itâ€™s a weird thing, but itâ€™s not entirely a bad thing; I do enjoy having some quiet time to myself in the mornings, and itâ€™s a good time to deal with email and whatever small tasks I can do before the kids get up. And in Marthaâ€™s Vineyard, Gretchen benefited from my early risings, because by the time she woke up â€“ and weâ€™re talking, 8:00 or so, she wasnâ€™t sleeping till noon â€“ there were iced coffee and fresh baked muffins from the Black Dog Bakery magically waiting in the room.
And someday, I will again crave the ability to sleep late on a Sunday.
This article originally appeared on One More Thing.