A Womb of One's Own

A Womb of One’s Own: The Before-Baby Blues

There are times when I deeply and passionately envy the women who say “I love being pregnant! I feel so amazing!” This trimester has been one of them. A combination of physical discomfort, hormones, and plain old lack of sleep has kept me at the edge of tears, much to the dismay of those who have to be around me.

My belly has gotten big.  Like, “lift it up to reach across the kitchen counter” big. By the end of the day, it aches the way your calves do after you’ve taken flight after flight of stairs. Unfortunately for me, “the end of the day” is edging further and further towards “noon.” When I prepared dinner last night, I had to repeatedly take breaks to sit down and catch my breath. The only place or position that sounds comfortable in the world is in water, so I take baths every night, reveling in even the little bit of support it offers me. Along with the pain, the giant belly makes sleeping difficult. Over the course of this gestational event, I’ve gone from stomach-sleeping, to side-sleeping, to sleeping with the Snoogle, to this week’s awful incarnation. I can now only sleep with three full-sized pillows and the Snoogle under my head and neck, a throw pillow under the main bulk of my belly, and the end of the Snoogle supporting the crest of my belly. And, of course, I’m sleeping on my left side to keep the maximum blood flow going to my placenta.  While this pillow fortress allows me to fall asleep, it doesn’t allow me to fall deeply asleep, and it insulates my already-overheated body even more, causing me to wake up sweating.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, I don’t have my own bedroom. I share our queen-size bed with my husband and my eight-pound cat. As any cat owner can tell you, the cat is 90% of the problems on the bed. Last night she decided to summit my hips, leisurely strolling up my leg. I don’t understand the physics of cats, but something she’s done every night for the past ten years is now enough to wake me up and send me into a momentary pain-induced rage. I tried to dislodge her but only succeeded in causing her to slide off of my hip and onto the Snoogle, where she decided to take up residency instead.

Off the bed, there is our elderly greyhound, who adores us and sleeps next to our bed every night. Sweet, docile, and dumb as a sack of rocks, we’re currently navigating some digestive issues with her. These issues meant that last night I woke up five distinct times from dog farts.

I am also suffering from the pregnant bladder, which means I had to pee three times. I used to be able to stumble blindly from bed to the toilet and back without fully waking up, but at this point I have to wake up, consider the least painful way to sit up, and then brace myself with the bed, dresser, and door frame on my way to the toilet because my pelvis hurts. If you’re counting, that’s at least nine times I woke up last night – and I was only in bed for eight hours.

It’s been documented that prolonged periods of interrupted sleep can send people into depression, and I feel like this is a textbook case. Combine the sleep-deprivation depression with my overwhelming anxiety about the upcoming birth, and it’s a perfect storm of crying fits, undeserved outbursts at others, and an overwhelming fear of the fact that I can’t control so much of what’s happening in my life right now. I can’t control my body, I can’t control or compel the actions I need from others, I can’t control anything. And for someone whose primary method of self-soothing is organizing, it’s completely overwhelming. And, it’s hard to explain to other people how I feel – if I don’t get eye-rolling about my very real distress, I get hand-patting that “it’ll all be fine,” neither of which I need. I don’t know what I need, but I don’t need to be brushed off or talked down to. And I am scared shitless that this sleep deprivation depression is going to continue through the birth and into my parenting, which feeds back into the ugly spiral of fear of loss of control.

Maybe all I need is a good night’s sleep, but right now, I’d be happy with a prescription for Zoloft.

By Jessica Werner

Free-range librarian in Seattle. A sucker for happy endings, teen angst, and books that make me want to sell my possessions and travel the world. Incurable homebody and type A. Send love letters and readers advisory requests to

10 replies on “A Womb of One’s Own: The Before-Baby Blues”

Ipomoea, darling, you wrote in a previous post (that I would comment on, but wasn’t sure if you’d see) that you used an app to track cycles and ovulation, etc. Which one was it? Did you like it? There are a boatload in the App Store, but none of them seem great. They don’t track enough or they track too much or the interface is poorly designed.

I used MyDays for Android, it was free and very, very easy to use! I tracked my BBT every morning with a $6 thermometer from Walgreens, and after a month of tracking my BBT and my periods, it was able to pretty accurately predict my high-fertility days as well as the day I was most likely to ovulate. I highly suggest it! You can also track when you had sex or take notes if necessary.

I know I said it over on tumbly, but I’m so glad you post things like this. I can’t think of anywhere else where I’d read or hear something so honest about the “miracle” of motherhood. It’s all sugar and flowers and pregnancy is shinyhappywonderful all the time. Thanks for keeping it real. ♥

Ahhhh I feel your pain atm.

I’m 31 weeks next Tuesday and I can’t wait for this baby to be out of me! I was doing ok, then developed gestational diabetes, soon accompanied by swollen hands (with the tips on my right hand now being numb). Today I have noticed that my feet are swollen and aren’t going down (even after I had a two hour nap this afternoon).

I have also tired of people’s comments such as “sleep now because when the baby comes…”. Yes I know I won’t be able to get lots of sleep once the baby is here – I haven’t just stumbled into this pregnancy thing…

I just want to meet my little person and get to know them and actually take care of them instead of feeling like I’m being sucked dry from the inside.

I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated the third trimester. Especially towards the end. My back hurt, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t bend down, I couldn’t eat, my stupid stomach got in the way of my laptop, etc. etc. etc. I kept saying “I cannot WAIT to have this baby,” and people kept saying, “it’s easier to take care of the baby when she’s inside of you than outside of you,” at which point, I would punch them in the nose. Well, I would have, had I had the energy and coordination and didn’t have to leave the conversation to go to the bathroom.

You know what? For a lot of people, it IS easier to take care of the baby when its inside of you. NOT FOR ME. Recovery from a tough labor was shit-tastic, but damnit, at least I could tie my own shoes and sleep on my stomach again.

And I am scared shitless that this sleep deprivation depression is going to continue through the birth and into my parenting, which feeds back into the ugly spiral of fear of loss of control.

Once you’re past the labour and birth part, you may be sleep deprived but the critical point is that you won’t be pregnant and that means being able to sleep on your front without the feeling that your pelvis may shatter at any moment (at least, that’s how i felt towards the end). Until the labour and birth point arrived, all i could do was sleep when i was tired. Couch in the middle of the day? Sure. Back to bed at tea time? Yes please.

It can be horrible though and i am amazed to this day that my husband still loves me after having our son.

I have a theory about this sort of thing, based on my pregnancies. I think it’s nature’s way of making you forget about being nervous about childbirth. By the time your due date comes, so are so sick and tired of being pregnant that you are thinking “Labor can’t possibly be as bad as being pregnant ONE MORE DAY.”

When I had trouble sleeping in my bed, I did pretty good sleeping on the couch for part of every night. My couch provided at least half of my nest and I only needed one or two supplemental pillows to feel supported, and I had a fan all to myself in the living room. I had to spend part of the night in bed, or else I didn’t feel like I had “gone to bed” but I was actually getting better sleep on the sofa.

You are sleep-deprived and you’re making a small human. Your sleep gets priority over everyone else’s in your house right now (and you can tell ’em I said so!:) ).

::Possible assvice to follow::

– ask your husband to take himself, the dog, and the cat elsewhere in your home and leave you to sleep undisturbed. Maybe not every night, but enough to keep you functioning.
– tell your husband you are going elsewhere – at home or not – to get some proper sleep.
– ask your doctor/midwife for some pharmaceutical help
::end of assvice::

If it might help to know that you’re not the only one who has been through this, I point you here: it’s part depression and part birth story, but all heart and also contains a serious dose of the funnies.

Girl, I love you, and I know you’re not laughing right now, but I snorted when I read the paragraph about your dog. Pregnancy sounds like it fucking blows. I’m looking forward, for you, to the day when you can look back on this chunk of your life and think, “Thank the FSM that shit is through.”

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