Pregnancy, with its many drawbacks, also has one nice advantage. It is fairly free of accoutrements. This is very different from most other rights of passage in a woman's life. It is especially different from motherhood, which brings a whole houseful of accoutrements with it. However, occasionally, a pregnant woman does need to buy something or other to make herself more comfortable. Sometimes it's a pregnancy girdle to help alleviate the lower back pain that comes from carrying a watermelon around your waist. Sometimes it's support stockings to hide varicose veins. And sometimes it's hemorrhoid pads. Fortunately, I have needed none of these things. And I'm sure you, dear reader, are especially glad that I haven't needed the latter, because you can be sure that you would be reading all about it here on this blog. And no one really wants that, do they?
However, when I first learned I was "in the club" once again last July, I decided to buy a body pillow. Now, you can certainly make do without a body pillow when you are pregnant. But before I tell you how... let me first explain why one would need a body pillow to begin with.
When you reach a certain degree of pregnancy (usually by about half-way through the ordeal), "they" recommend that you sleep only on your left side. For many of us, to say this is limiting and a bit uncomfortable is like saying that the Sahara desert is a bit warm and dry. However, "they" do have good reasons for making this recommendation.
For instance, sleeping on your stomach would be simply out of the question. Even if you weren't simply afraid of crushing the little baby inside of you, it would be like lying over a large watermelon that kicks you all night. Not much sleep to be had in that scenario. Sleeping on your back is also obviously wrong, as anyone who has had a heavy cat or dog try to sleep on your tummy all night long can attest. Besides, when I do lie on my back for a few minutes to try to stretch it out, He Who Must Not Be Named ALWAYS starts kicking me. It's almost as if he feels my spine poking at him and it's uncomfortable for him. Then, if you really need a medical reason not to do it, there are a couple of major arteries that run down your back and if you lie on your back, the baby naturally rests on those arteries, creating sort of a "car running over a garden hose" effect. Personally, I prefer to allow blood to continue to circulate through my body, thank you very much.
You are permitted to lie on your right side if you would like, however, there is also a major vein or artery that runs down that side of your body, so once again, you risk some circulation problems. So left side is the winner, like it or not.
Now, when you lie on your side, if you don't have some support for your knees and your belly, you will find yourself with some major back pain in a short period of time. Hence the "need" for a body pillow. I put "need" in "quotes" because the same effect CAN be achieved simply by using other pillows that you probably have already spread around your house on various beds and in various closets. This is what I did the first time I was pregnant, and it worked quite well, all things considered.
There were a few drawbacks, however. The first was that all the pillows in the house were in our room. When I was pregnant with Athena, most of our friends still lived close by and my mother-in-law was not able to visit us quite as often from Texas. There was also no one else living in the house (for instance, Athena) that needed a pillow. So I could happily keep them all in the master bedroom and not be worried about it. Now, we have visitors far more frequently and I do get the impression that they like to sleep with pillows on the bed. Athena also has a pillow. This really depleted my supply.
Also, The Nest O' Pillows was a bit of a problem for my poor husband. I basically encircled myself with them to the point that he couldn't even really tell if I was in the bed or not... it just looked like a mound of fluff to his left. That is, if he could even get into the bed. We do have a king size bed, but pillows take up a lot of room, and the poor man was frequently teetering on the edge of the bed hoping not to tumble to the floor.
So for his sake, this time I forked over the $30 and got a body pillow. If you are unfamiliar with a body pillow, it's basically a pillow that is almost as tall as you are. And actually, for some of you, it probably IS as tall as you are... perhaps taller. The idea is that you rest your head on it at one end, and it runs down your body to support your belly, and then you tuck the bottom between your knees. There are also body pillows designed especially for pregnancy, that then run up your back again, and although this would be nice, they run about $70 to $80 and they are even harder to deal with than a normal body pillow.
Vicki Iovine (author of The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy) named her body pillow. So I felt a name was in order for mine. After all, you sleep with it every night... you should at least know its name, right? So mine is named Chuck. Chuck has been very good to me this pregnancy. However, Chuck -- like so many men -- does have his faults.
First of all, no human being can really sleep in one position all night long. Okay, maybe some of you can, but I certainly cannot. So I like to alternate between the right and left side. So far, I haven't lost all the blood flow to my feet, so I think whatever artery runs down my right side is successfully staying out of the way. However, to roll from one side to the other, I must also, in theory, take Chuck with me.
I sleep on the left side of the bed. So when I sleep on my left side, I can just tuck Chuck right under the sheets and we're all good. However, if I want Chuck to be on my right, I have to either:
A) Throw all the sheets off of me (and probably Chris), swing Chuck over my body, and then retuck all the sheets (easy way)
B) Wiggle around enough to make Chris believe he is living over the San Andreas fault as I try to drag Chuck under the sheets over to my right (hard way, but far more likely when I'm sleepy and not thinking about what is easiest.)
And let's not forget that the simple act of rolling from one side to the other when you are pregnant is just this side of impossible. Chris has frequently compared me to a turtle on its back when I try to attempt this daring maneuver. And I honestly have to say that I FEEL like a turtle on its back, or at the very least, a beetle. There is sometimes much kicking and twisting and there is always a fair amount of grunting and cursing... and the whole things ends when I finally say, "Can you stop laughing at me, you jackass, and help me up?!" Fortunately for our marriage, both of us are laughing hysterically at this point.
That said; imagine rolling over in bed while pregnant WITH darling Chuck along for the ride. I've successfully done this twice during the whole pregnancy, and if I woke Chris up in the process, he was very good about not letting on. Any other time, I have given up and I either try to sleep without the support or more often, I use Chuck as back support and I sort of sleep tilted TOWARD my back, but not on it.
Needless to say, this is where we see Mother Nature at the high point of her stand-up comedy routine. Pregnant women (especially those in their last trimester), don't sleep well... Chuck or no Chuck. And this is presumably to prepare us for the months of no sleep ahead of us when the baby actually arrives. Isn't good old Mama Nature a RIOT?!
*sigh* Chuck is calling... I suppose it's off to bed soon... perchance to sleep, perchance just to violently toss my swelling belly around the bed.