Monday, June 4, 2007

Remembering Mr. Dobler

It's officially getting hard to sleep. But as much as I want to whine about it, I know I'm in complete bliss right now compared to how I'll feel in my third trimester. So I'm trying to shut up and suck it up.

All of my pregnancy books say women should stop sleeping on their stomach for obvious reasons. Plus, it's just too uncomfortable. But from the fourth month until giving birth, experts recommend not sleeping on your back either. And I am a back sleeper.

I credit my preferred nighttime position to my neurotic fourth-grade teacher Mr. Dobler. He was a well-groomed, fit, middle-aged man who often lectured us about posture and wrinkles. To this day, I can envision him pacing back and fourth at the front of the room, jingling the obscene amount of change in his left pocket and tossing and catching a worn piece of yellow chalk over and over again in his right hand as he quipped at us to sit up straight and keep our fingers off our faces because any unnecessary touching would lead to wrinkles down the line. (Which, as everybody knows, is of utmost concern to an audience full of 9 year olds.)

But against all odds, one of Mr. Dobler's random life-lesson tidbits managed to stick -- much more so than the arithmetic he taught during math hour or the structure of a haiku poem during English lessons. I remember him talking very seriously about how the body regenerates during sleep and how everyone actually wakes up a little taller than when they crawled into bed as their ligaments and spine stretch out. He followed it up by explaining that the best position for your back is to lay on it.

Wanting to test his theory, I snagged the measuring tape from the kitchen drawer that night and clumsily attempted to record my own height in the privacy of my bedroom before going to sleep. I wrote down the figure, trying my best not to get it exactly. To the nearest millimeter.

That night I didn't squirm at all. I got on my back and willed myself not to move. I'll never know if it worked entirely, but I woke up staring at my ceiling, so I considered it a success. The measuring tape, pencil and paper with my scrawled height measurement were sitting directly beside me on my dresser. Without hesitation, I bolted up, pulled out the retractable ruler as fast as I could before gravity made me shrink and attempted to record the length of my body one more time.

I'm not sure if I wanted it to be true so badly that I subliminally altered the figure a little, or maybe my highly irregular self-measurement tactics simply lead to two different results, but either way, I was taller in the morning. Mr. Dobler was right.

From then on, I vowed to sleep on my back. And still do.

But now I'm not supposed to. By the fourth month of pregnancy, the uterus gets so heavy that if an expectant mother lays on her back, it presses against two vital blood vessels along the spine. It blocks blood flow to the baby and prevents the blood in the lower half of the body from returning to the heart.

At first I thought it was a bunch of crap. Sure, I tried to lay on my left or right side like the experts recommend, but it isn't easy breaking a habit you've had for at least two decades. All last month I ended up getting frustrated, giving up and returning to my back to fall asleep.

By the end of the month, I realized that the whole "heavy uterus thing" might actually have some weight. During the middle of the night, I often would wake up and notice that my legs felt a little tingly. So I'd flip to my left and, sure enough, noticed a warm sense of activity in my lower back as the blood coursed through it unimpeded.

Still, I found it hard to give up my routine. I tried to fall asleep on my side, but it just frustrated me.

Now that I'm approaching the middle of my fifth month, I can actually feel the weight of my uterus when I'm laying down. I can feel it pressing against my spine. I can feel that I shouldn't be laying on my back for long periods of time. It isn't comfortable anymore.

So now every position is unpleasant and my nights of mostly uninterrupted sleep with only one or two trips to the bathroom are over. I toss. I turn. I curse my bloated midsection and inevitably wake up every morning with a sore lower back and joints that feel like they were squeezed through a wine press.

Not to mention the baby deciding it's time to conga dance while I'm trying to sleep. (Fortunately, that has yet to ware on me. At the moment, I absolutely love it.)

So, every night, as my achy body tries to settle into a somewhat comfortable stance, my discontented mind inevitably wanders.

Mostly I curse Mr. Dobler and wonder if all of his obsessive ideals kept the wrinkles away. I'm guessing they didn't.

And that, at least, curls my budding laugh lines into a smile.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Remember I always HATED Mr. Dobler.
We need to get you one of those body pillows. That might make you sleep better.

Lovechild420 said...

I agree.. body pillows are great.. Or you could try a bunch of pillows propped up at your headbored, so you're still on your back, but sitting up slightly. I had to sleep that way for an entire 7 months (though, I was bolt upright) due to acid reflux. Just some suggestions. I know how uncomfortable sleeping can be when you have a tap dancing bowling ball in your tummy :o)

the "yawning" plainsman said...

"...might actually have some weight." Hee! I like those little touches where you add a bit of humor to the mix.

Maybe Mr. Dobler was right about the sleeping position though -- you might have ended up six inches or so shorter if you had slept otherwise!

Anyway, just remember the discomfort of it all is temporary. In a few months, you will again be able to sleep comfortably -- that is until baby wakes! LOL?

Tonya said...

I was an avid stomach sleeper so when I got pregnant, I bought a body pillow and wrapped myself around it when I slept. To this day, I cannot sleep without one.

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www.xanga.com/nothingbeast said...

I'll sleep in phases each night.

I start out on my side (it used to vary from left or right, but since I got my eyebrow pierced i've been staying on my left so I don't irritate it while it's healing)

Then after a while, i'll shift to my stomache.

I can't sleep on my back.

Kristin said...

I'm very glad that I am the opposite of you. I couldn't fall asleep on my back if my ife depended on it. At least that will do me some good during pregnancy. And I hear the babies in urtero will move about when you're still b/c when you move that lulls them to sleep. Go figure - the kid is against you right from the start :) Good luck with the side sleeping.

Marina said...

Oh man. That's weird. I can ONLY fall asleep on my sides. It takes a very long time to fall asleep if I have to sleep on my back. I guess I'll be lucky during pregnancy. But it makes sleeping on airplanes a bitch. Hopefully you get used to the side sleeping thing soon. :)

Marina said...

Woah. My comment is almost identical to Kristin's. Weeeeeird.

Heidi said...

Mr. Dobler sounds like a dork. LOL

Heidi said...

Oops. I didn't write my real comment. I bought a big, beautiful body pillow from The Bay last week. It was a real pillow, that you can buy pillowcases for and stuff, not one of those fuzzy things from Wal-Mart. I have yet to get used to sleeping with it, but the price was right, and I'm sure it'll feel better when I'm bigger.

Ray said...

That's one reason I could never get pregnant! I've ALWAYS slept on my stomach, always! At night I sometimes try to sleep on my back and it doesn't work. I must retreat back to sleeping on my stomach. I try to sleep on my sides but then I find myself pinning an arm down and it hurts. Blah.

But I agree with everyone else you need one of those body pillows that are specifically for pregnant woman (http://www.mommysthinkin.com/serenity_star.htm). That hopefully should help you sleep better.

Take care, Kelly.

Chelsea said...

Never heard of a body pillow but sounds like it would do the trick!

natalie said...

haha!! i teach 4-6th grade science and my 6th graders do a body unit and i have them all measure their bodies before going to bed and then in the morning. they're all amazed at how they've "grown"...then i tell them to measure again *that* night, and sure enough they all "shrink". bodies are funnly like that!
hope you start sleeping more restfully! :-)

Emilee said...

I'm a crazy sleeper & also a really light sleeper, I usually wake up at least 5-6 times a night anyways and I shift around like a madwoman while I sleep. I sleep on my back, stomach, side, curled in a ball, diagonal, upside-down, you name it. I remember when I was younger, I would always end up with my head at the bottom of my bed and my feet at the top when I would wake up, and my parents found it pretty fascinating. Good luck! =]

Janice said...

That has to be horrible. I'm a side-sleeper so that wouldn't bother me at all, but I couldn't imagine if they were to say "sleep on your stomach" because I wouldn't be able to manage it!! I hope things get easier!

jsi said...

I myself am a belly sleeper, and during pregnancy needed to sleep on my side. And although I did it, the fractured sleep never really rejuvenated me. Oh the truest pleasure following delivery to be able to rest at least 4 hours on my belly. Real zzzzs...and soon following when my milk came in, another 6 months on my side.
There is no sleep like your most comfortable sleep, in your favorite position.
You will get it back...someday!

Anonymous said...

its very, very true! but its doesnt take a whole night for your body to stretch out. measure yourself standing up, then measure yourself while laying down. you'll be at least 2 inches taller when you're laying down.

gravity does a number on your spine and it compresses when you stand up.

the human body is really interesting! its pretty cool actually.

Anonymous said...

oh....i have been having the same problem,becos i am a belly sleeper.....i always imagine i will squeeze the baby so much by this position that the baby wont grow at all and that my belly wud be back to the normal state b4 pregnancy!!!!!!!!!with this in my mind,i try very hard to sleep on left side which is said to be the best position......
nights have become miserable becos of this.....even though i try hard,morning i wud be back in my belly position.best idea is to hug ur hubby all thru ur sleep on the side position.....it works.
good luck kelly.....
-sreenitha

Anonymous said...

One leg over pillow, one arm over another, the body pillow sometimes gets in the way of the belly.. it takes some getting ussed to but try cocooning yourself in nice fluffy pillows.

Rachel said...

I'm a stomach sleeper, which is next to impossible now that I am 23 weeks into my pregnancy. I keep waking up on my back, but have found that I can at least fall asleep while snuggling with a body pillow, though it usually ends up on the floor by the AM. The most troublesome for me is the constant waking to pee! Good luck!

aahcoffee said...

I had a 4th grade teacher who told us not to crack our knuckles because it would cause arthritis. To this day I don't crack them. :)

Wendy said...

I have heard that laying on your back is bad for your boobs. When you lay on your back they want to each go to their respective side and can cause them to be more saggy in the long run. I think I can remember who told me this, and I never slept on my back again...fears of boobs around my knees somday....