The 3 AM Crazies

There are quite a few pregnancy maladies I conveniently expunged from memory over the past fifteen months–nosebleeds, breakouts, the need to burp every 16 seconds on the dot. But the one that has snuck up on me in the worst way is the one I think of as the 3 AM Crazies.

I know that every pregnant or formerly pregnant woman out there is wincing in vigorous empathy right now.

Sometimes it strikes at 2 AM, sometimes 4. But the idea is the same: You wake up crazy.

I have written about it before as Midnight Brain, but I assure you when the subject is with child, Midnight Brain is to the 3 AM Crazies as a paper cut is to the Plague.

Conception has the uncanny ability to fill your head with an absurd number of worries, many having nothing to do with the pregnancy, let alone reality. You walk through your day fairly convinced you will be hit by a plummeting air conditioner or bitten by a stray boa constrictor on the A train. Logic? Pshaw. You are a woman. A woman with instincts. And when your instincts tell you that that bit of flatulence you’re experiencing is stomach cancer, well off to Web MD it is to confirm your suspicions.

Of course you learn to keep your mouth shut about all of your ideas, lest your partner start making that finger circling around the ear sign when you’re not looking, and talking about you behind your back. Which you know he’s already doing anyway. He’s totally talking about you. All the time. About how crazy and paranoid and hormonal you are. Asshole. Because even if you are, how dare he talk about it! How dare he even think it. He will pay for this later.

No, you can only talk about this with other women. They will understand. Even if they do think you’re crazy and tell you to relax and eat that blue-veined cheese and drink that caffeinated beverage. Still, they understand.

Then, they haven’t been in your head at 3AM.

The minor panics you experience under the relative safety of daylight cannot hold a candle to what goes on in your pregnant mind when you wake up in the middle of the night. Full bladder? Must be a UTI. Hallway clock ticking? It’s a bomb. Flatulence? Oh my God it’s the baby, what’swrongwiththebabythebabythebabyTHEBABY AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!

In fact I think that the smaller the problem in real life, the greater chance of it keeping you hostage all night, during which you stare unblinkingly at the bedroom ceiling until the sound of the garbage trucks making early-morning rounds starts vibrating your walls.

(Which could also be the sound of someone trying to break into your home, by the way.)

Now this is to say nothing of any real concerns, should you have them: Marital (or pre-marital, ahem) squabbles, aches and pains, workplace stress, a miserably constipated toddler, a cross-country move, a delivery date coinciding with the vacation plans of every single family member. If you wake up thinking about any of these actual issues, you might as well get out of bed and turn on the 3 AM movie on TNT because you’re not going back to sleep that night. You’re not going back to sleep for four days.

I’m convinced the 3 AM crazies are simply part of nature’s brilliantly evil plan for preparing us for the sleeplessness that accompanies early motherhood. However, shouldn’t those of us on number two (or four or seven) get a little break here? A free pass for having already been more than amply prepared?

I don’t want to wake up convinced that the ingrown hair on my calf is a tick bite. (A DEADLY tick, from a species only found in West Africa that’s just migrated here in the luggage of an illegal immigrant who happened to wander into Brooklyn Heights on his way from the airport, stopping under my window just long enough for the tick to hop onto the sidewalk then crawl up the exterior building wall and into the cracked window of my bedroom.) I don’t want to wake up at all for the next 6 or so months.

I just want to get some sleep.


69 thoughts on “The 3 AM Crazies”

  1. You poor thing! I remember those nights too well (I already had insomnia problems, so I was headed to the loony bin for sure by month nine). You are right, the 3AM crazies are the worst. And, it’s not like you can take NyQuil (my saving grace)! UGH!

  2. Oh, baby, it doesn’t take being pregnant for me to suffer this malady. As I get older, I am getting more sane, but I had years of the 3 am crazies.My favorite 3 am thought, during a storm: What if it never stops raining? I mean, never? We would be SO SCREWED!!

  3. OMG, YES!! When I was pregnant with Kaitlyn, every little noise I heard was someone breaking in to the house. Which meant I had to get up and check that all the doors were locked, and then since I was up anyway, watch some CNN and eat a PB&J or some cookies and milk.I also believe that it’s nature’s way of preparing you for waking up every few hours once the baby comes. It’s crazy, yes.

  4. crap, you keep writing about all this stuff that supposedly happens when you get pregnant, but i’m already experiencing it. sex dreams, 3am crazies – what the hell’s going to happen when i actually do get pregnant?!

  5. This post, right here? Totally, completely deja vu pour moi.I used to wake up every night for weeks in the middle of the night and worry about ridiculous shit. Like weather or not the dog will still love me after I bring the baby home. I worried about every ache and pain and asked Doug, oh a zillion times if he thought I had cancer, crohn’s disease, diverticulitis. Yenno, totally <>usual<> stuff. Poor man, I’m surprised he’s still hanging around.

  6. Oh and normally, I can spell “whether” correctly. Ugh..I wrote “weather”…sheesh…the meteorologist says snow and I forget how to spell.

  7. Oh I’d forgotten about the crazies. The honey you have to check every single window NOW because I head a tapping noise crazy. (dam trees) And people telling you to breath through it is never a help. So um…try to breath. 🙂I hope you can get some sleep. I agree with Elisabeth though, it is natures way of making sure we learn to deal on not enough sleep.

  8. Ha! The ingrown hair turned deadly tick thing – that’s totally something I would freak out about too! And just so you know, I’m not pregnant anymore but I still have those crazies so don’t feel too bad. I hope the sleep situation improves a bit. 🙂

  9. There was a time that I was grateful for 3am crazies that didn’t involve nightmares about work. Baby-fears? Break-in alerts? Hooray for variety. Uhhh, not so much anymore.I second Girl Con Queso’s thought and would totally buy your book.

  10. The way that you describe pregnancy sounds so delightful that I wish I was knocked up. Oh wait, that’s just my 3 AM crazies talking.

  11. Oh, I forgot about those! Glad to be able to live vicariously through this pregnancy and your funny stories, as I am done having babies! You probably didn’t want to hear someone say that, but trust me, someday it will be you too!Now, prop those pillows, grab a lavender scented eye mask and watch a little golf – that’ll put anyone to sleep!Carrie

  12. Subjects of mine last night: How to arrange childcare during the trial for which we don’t have a date yet, when to get our Christmas tree so that it will be up an decorated before #2 arrives and is it too cold in The Bird’s room? Yes. But will the supplementary heater start a fire? Probably! OH MY GOD! MUST TURN IT OFF NOW!Hmmm. And that was all before 2am.

  13. Just wait until the baby comes. My biggest fear once number 2 (the baby,not the other thing) came along was I am going to forget him somewhere, because I am too busy trying to keep number 1 under control. I had visions of him sitting in his little car seat in a parking lot all alone. I have even turned around while driving to make sure I didnt forget him. I didnt realize motherhood could make me more crazy. Oh yeah, I dont tell people what I was freaking out about while I was pregnant. I didnt need more reasons to send me to the loony bin.

  14. oh my gosh! i am SO familiar with this craziness. (and i have it, even now, when i’m not pregnant)

  15. Oh I got those crazies bad… a little better now, b/c I have an actual baby to wake me up who wants to act as if I am torturing him with my breasts. But oh boy, I hate those. If you want to see a glimpse into your crazies six or so months from now, don’t check WebMD, just read my account:

  16. Wait, you just get those at night? Light of day or dark of night those crazies were horrible for me no matter what time of day. And once you go crazy you never go back.

  17. Great. I never thought of the air conditioner falling from a ten story building. I’ll file that in after rouge mack trucks plowing into my house after I was asleep (I really did think that)and plane engines falling from the sky (thanks Donnie Darko). Congrats, by the way!

  18. I don’t have to be pregnant to get Midnight Brain. I’m a 24/7 sufferer. I ought to be in a science textbook someplace.

  19. how in the world could i have thought that this only happened to me? this did not go away after the baby was born. in fact, my fears just got more absurd. perhaps i should get pregnant again, if only for a little back-to-normal 3 am crazy.

  20. Ah, yes. I remember them fondly. And by fondly, I mean happy and relieved that they are gone from my consciousness. Good luck. You will survive them. You did the first time.

  21. Yow. I know the malady well. And with each of my four pregnancies they got worse. How rude is that? And the crazies lasted longer post-partum.But. But! They do eventually go away (even if it requires medication!) and you get to sleep again. I got 6 hours uninterrupted last night!

  22. Oh dear. I have the 3 a.m. crazies and I’m not even pregnant. But I’m adopting, so maybe it’s just due to the stress of the impending arrival of a new child….Hmm, they should do a study.

  23. Dude. The movies on TNT at 3 AM are so crappy. Switch to infomercials. I recommend those by/for/about RONCO Products. Good times. 🙂

  24. I used to wake up (er not sleep at all) convinced I had to to plan every outfit for the next month. I would hang clothes around the house and think nothing of it. Hal would wake up to a fortress, formerly my wardrobe, each day’s outfit labeled with a post-it. And then when I had cleared out my closet I would organize meals in the fridge. Oy. Effing. Vey.

  25. First of all… congratulations! I’m just now catching up. Second… yes. I remember the 3 am crazies. I had almost forgot. I was totally addicted to and it caused me no end of sleeplessness. Hang in there.

  26. You know until you mentioned it I never even noticed this was hapening, I think I blocked it out the next morning. Now I know it is at least normal. My worst was making ZD get up and turn off the ceiling fan because I was sure it was going to fall out of the ceiling and rip me to bits. Lovely rational fears.

  27. So, should I be concerned if my wife still has the 3 AM crazies 15 months after our child is born? Of course, she no longer pokes me at 3 AM asking if Brooklyn Heights is safe from tsunamis.

  28. Crouton boy: No shit, I woke up one night asking Nate whether we’d be in danger if a tsunami hit New York. He says no. I say yes! I think we had a fight over it.

  29. Liz, just read the news. Congratulations! I had the 3am crazies too, but trust me, you’ll be sleeping like a log (until the third trimester, anyway) in no time. 🙂

  30. Congratulations! I’ve just visited after a long absence and you seem to have been going through a lot recently. Hope it all eases a bit soon.

  31. The crazies are there for me, but they’re not a regular every-night occurance, thank goodness. No, instead I wake up every two hours to pee, which then takes me a half hour to get comfortable and get back to sleep.Just once I’d like to wake up actually feeling refreshed. I miss that.

  32. Oh … I had so blocked the 3 AM crazies out. But you have brought them all back. I was queen of irrational, illogical, obsessive 3 AM craziness when I was pregnant. I hope you can get some sleep soon!

  33. Yep. I once had a 3 am crazy. Woke up terrified that my daughter might one day be a republican.I cried for like an hour. Insane.

  34. What does it mean when you wake up at 3am worrying that the big tree in front of your house (that has been standing for around 1000 years) is going to fall and crush all of you, and you’re NOT pregnant?Oh,dear. I thought so.

  35. My crazies persisted through the first three months post-partum, but you’re right, ain’t nothin’ like the crazy of a women mid-pregnancy who stares wide-eyed at the bedroom ceiling at three a.m., convinced that the leg pain she is experiencing is cancer of the ankle.

  36. that does it–next time i wake up with the 3am (1am, 3am, 5am….) crazies I’ll email dreams–definitely no longer erotic, more related to dreaming about peeing, and then waking up and (hopefully) making it to the bathroom without have done so already. i dream of peeing, and needing to pee. this might be erotic to someone, i own brand of crazies–to vex over everything BUT the baby. weird.

  37. My 3 a.m. crazies aren’t about health or safety, they’re about money. I wake up convinced that we will not have enough money to live on while I’m on maternity leave; that I we will not make enough money to pay for day care when I go back to work; or that if I decide to stay home and work for myself, I will not make as much money as I am making now; that there will not be enough hours in the day for me to get everything done…

  38. I geez…I was so scared that everything would go wrong…she used to kick my cyrvix (which HURT, thanks for asking) I was worried that she was going to kick her way through and be born too prematurely and die. The doctor said if it were that easy for the baby to come out, they wouldn’t need epidurals. I said, but the baby is SMALL right now, and the doctor said, it’s the opening of the cyrvix that hurts so damned much. Stupid doctor.The real false alarms scared the shit out of me. The false positive for Downs syndrome, when my uncle died from Downs, after a lifetime of being institutionalized…the morning I woke up to blood….UGH. I cannot imagine the horrors that women with actual problems go through. The knowledge that something is wrong, and there’s nothing you can do to fix it, would be way too much. In the absence of any real problems of my own, sometimes I fixated on these women and their problems in the middle of the night. Smart, huh?

  39. The one and only good thing about the progesterone supplements I was taking was the blissful, blissful sleep. For an insomniac, to have three months in a row of uninterrupted 8-9 hours of sleep a night, well it was like heaven. Alas no more. I’m beginning to become all to familiar with the subject matter of this post, dammit.

  40. I feel for ya, Liz! The height of my pregnancy middle of the night neurosis was when I worried that I was worrying too much — and that would hurt the baby. I was stressed out about being stressed out. Sigh. Hang in there,Lisa

  41. crap. i’m screwed. i’m not pregnant, and they don’t hit at 3am. but… a close friend studied biology in college. every week the both of us were totally convinced that we had whatever strange and rare illness she was studying that week. at one point, we were both sure that our tongues were green and we were going to die.after i read a news article about a couple that went out to the movies and came home to find that a meteor had vaporized their trailor, i stopped worrying about the ‘what-ifs.’ obviously, some people are just cursed. i happen to think that i’m one of them.

  42. Oh honey…oh yes.Let Go, Let Google.I can attest that both tetanus and rabies shots are okay during pregnancy. That should ease your worries a bit. Or make room for others, lol!

  43. No such luck dearie. My sleep sucks so bad right now that I think it might actually get BETTER once the baby is born :))

  44. I guess I’m in the “Still Crazy After All These Years” category, since I already had one of these little episodes this morning. My son went in to wake up his sister, came out and said, “She’s not waking up.” Now, I *knew* in my heart of hearts that she hadn’t died in her sleep, that she was just being her usual disgruntled morning self, but I had to hustle upstairs and check her for a pulse, all the while thinking that if I had to call 911 and do CPR, would I remember how now that she’s bigger? I mean, I remember the infant CPR…and I wouldn’t have time to cancel my son’s bus pickup by calling the dispatcher, but hey! Maybe the bus driver could help me out by watching him while I rode in the ambulance to the hospital with my daughter…!Yup, absolutely bonkers.

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  46. The 3 am crazies…one of the many lovely things about pregnancy I had blocked out. I had many crazy moments, but I think my favourite fear was that my baby wasn’t going to like to be touched because I didn’t rub my stomach as much as all the other pregnant women I knew. My insomnia solution was always snacking…my 4 am staple was cheese whiz and almond butter on toast (I avoided peanut butter due to another crazy fear). I never got back to sleep, but at least I wasn’t hungry 🙂Good luck with the zzzzz and congrats!

  47. I can’t even remember if I commented but at least you don’t have the 24-hour crazies.Those just suck all around.

  48. I also turned 3AM into snack time. Yogurt, cookies, and watching My So-Called Life, it was a ritual. My crazies actually got worse after the baby came when I would jump straight out of bed (I have a slight tendency to sleepwalk) convinced the baby was smothering. Oh, and all my moles had turned cancerous.

  49. It’s coming back to me now. In the wee hours, my mind was like an emotionally unstable hamster running in it’s little wheel. . .Good times!

  50. I remember when I would talk about my sleep deprivation when I was pregnant, people would say “that’s just natures way of getting you ready for the baby”. I hated it when people said this. I don’t know why, but that’s the one thing that would rub me the wrong way. It was probably because I was sleep deprived and grumpy.

  51. Midnight Brain! That’s what it was? All of those sleepless hours during my three pregnancies! I thought for sure that I had developed a crippling case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder…heavy on the Obsessive! Many hours were whittled away, ruminating over all of the many possibilities of losing or accidentally harming my unborns. Was there mozarella in that quiche? Is it considered a soft cheese? Was there enough ventilation while I was cleaning the bathroom? And what about the fumes from that diesel truck that was in front of me for 7 blocks earlier today? Does my multi-vitamin have the bad kind of vitamin A? What if the name I give my child causes them to be made fun of in middle school? Aren’t kids having sex middle school nowadays? Sex! Oh, God! How am I going to talk to my child about sex? Shit, my child is going to have sex someday!! Etc, etc, ad nauseam.Memories, like the corners of my mind! Congratulations on the baby on the way! Midnight Brain be damned!

  52. Yep, totally a preparation thingy. My baby girl is 1 week today and the 3am crazies definately helped get me ready. Well sort of. Now I can’t just turn on a movie I have to like do stuff. Congrats on #2!!Jessica

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