Monday, March 11, 2013

Sleepless Nights and Braxton-Hicks Contractions

Ever since I got pregnant, I have had a heck of a time sleeping at night. Whether I am waking up every few hours to run to the bathroom or trying to find a position that doesn't make my hips feel like they are on fire, I just cannot seem to fall asleep and stay asleep. I have even tried Unisom, at my doctor's recommendation, but it only seems to help me fall asleep. I still wake up a couple hours later and cannot get back to sleep.

Lately, I have been sleeping so poorly that my poor hubby has woken up twice to find me sitting in bed crying. I am so frustrated I don't know what to do.

I tried changing my routine last night by reading before bed instead of watching TV. I know, I know. Watching TV to fall asleep is a terrible practice. It has always really helped in the past, though.  But since it has not been very effective lately, I gave reading a try.  I waited to lie down until I was really feeling sleepy and having trouble keeping my eyes open.  Then I set aside my book and lay down on the sofa.  I don't know if it was the reading or just moving to the sofa instead of the bed, but whatever it was, it did help a little.  I still woke several times in the night, but at least I was able to get back to sleep within about an hour.  I really hate sleeping on the sofa instead of in our bed, though.  Baby steps, I suppose.

In other news, on Friday I hit the 22 week mark.  Each weekly milestone excites me because it means we are getting closer and closer to meeting our son.  It really helps me to remember that time is passing by, and we will get to see him before we know it, especially as I reflect back on taking pictures of my almost imperceptible baby bump at 12 weeks and thinking that I would never be able to wait for week 20.

However, the 22-week mark brought with it another first that was not nearly as exciting: my first experience with Braxton-Hicks contractions.  I am not a doctor, so if you are having any kind of contractions, you should ask a doctor about them, not me.  My basic understanding is that Braxton-Hicks contractions are contractions of the uterus that occur during pregnancy.  They can sometimes be similar to actual contractions that signify labor, but they have distinct characteristics and are completely normal.  Braxton-Hicks contractions will last for different amounts of time and be irregular, whereas true labor contractions occur in fairly regular intervals, with severity of the contractions increasing over time and time between contractions shortening over time.

I had heard of Braxton-Hicks contractions before, but there are so many different descriptions out there that I wasn't really sure what to expect.  I was out for a walk with our two dogs, Oliver and Stella, when it happened.  It started out feeling almost like menstrual cramps, but there was also a tightness in my lower back.  (I do have problems with my back, so lower back tightening in a particular area is fairly common for me when I have my period.)  I was almost home, so I kept walking, but as I continued, the pressure was increasing to the point of becoming uncomfortable and somewhat painful.

As soon as we made it through the front door, I dropped the dogs' leashes and went over to lie down on the sofa.  I called for my husband, who was upstairs, and he came down and got me a glass of water.  I lay on my left side for about five minutes and drank my water, and the feeling passed.  Then I called my sister, who has two little ones of her own, and she told me not to worry because it was probably Braxton-Hicks contractions.  A little Google searching and reading confirmed that was the most likely cause.  Since then, I am being extra careful to make sure I get enough water since dehydration can be a trigger.  I was really good about water consumption in the beginning, but now that I have to pee about every 25 minutes, it's hard to be so gung ho about getting in my eight glasses.  One Braxton-Hicks contraction was enough for me, though.

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