Since I’ve been pregnant, aside from the first few weeks, I’ve had a lot of trouble falling asleep. It sometimes takes me an hour or two – and on our mini vacation, I was awake until around 4. I usually take medicine to help me sleep, but I didn’t pack it with my overnight stuff. Oops.

In the past when I’ve had trouble sleeping, I’ve tried various over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Unisom, Tylenol PM, Benadryl, and similar drugs all knock me out for a good 10-12 hours, plus 2 hours of complete grogginess when I wake up. If I had a nanny to get up with the kids, I suppose that would work out. But I don’t have a nanny, unfortunately. I’ve had prescriptions for amitriptyline and Ambien, both of which worked really well – getting me to sleep without leaving me groggy in the morning. (Yes, I know amitriptyline is usually given as an antidepressant. My doctor at the time said it also works well as a sleep aid – which is what I was using it for – and he was right.)

When I was pregnant with Evan and asked my doctor if there was anything I could take to help me sleep, he gave me Ambien. It was beautiful and wonderful and lovely. I took it a few times after I had Evan, which I guess I was not supposed to do – I apparently had a few instances of imagining that Evan was crying, and I tried to comfort him, which actually woke him up from his peaceful sleep. I had Ambien again with June, and I do remember the doctor telling me to stop taking it once I had the baby. It was sad to give up, since it got me to sleep quickly and I woke up feeling rested. But no one gets a solid night’s sleep with a newborn anyway, I suppose, and Ambien wouldn’t have helped me much.

At my first prenatal appointment this time, I explained that it was taking me a ridiculous amount of time to fall asleep, that I’ve tried lots of other medications without much luck in the past, and that I’d like to have Ambien again. Honestly, I’d been counting down until I could get a prescription. Being exhausted and not able to sleep is no fun. To my surprise, the doctor – one I hadn’t seen before, who joined the practice after June was born – said absolutely not. She said that Ambien is a Category D drug, which means there’s positive evidence of risk to the fetus. And she was shocked that I’d been given Ambien before, by doctors in the same practice, when she insisted that Ambien is habit-forming and not at all okay to prescribe for pregnant women for more than a week or two at most.

I was crushed. But, I’m me, so I didn’t really try to counter her arguments at all. She suggested I try Tylenol PM again.

When I got home, I looked up some information about Ambien, and I’m pretty sure it’s a Category C drug. I doubt that the other doctors would have casually prescribed a Category D drug. But it’s still hard (for me) to argue with my new doctor, so I’ve tried to let the Ambien issue go.

Instead I tried a generic sleeping pill from Walgreens, which I later found out is just Benadryl – Diphenhydramine. It worked about the same as the other over-the-counter pills – I got to sleep, but I was still exhausted the next day. Then ZzzQuil came out, and people kept telling me to try it. After the first lovely night, I looked at the ingredients and realized . . . ZzzQuil is Benadryl, too. But it worked so much better than the pill form, despite being the same dosage.

Two nights ago, I used up the last of my ZzzQuil. Which meant last night I got to choose between the Walgreens pill and a few hours of lying in bed trying to fall asleep. I went with the pill.

This morning, I couldn’t understand why I felt so groggy. I hadn’t stayed up late. I hadn’t slept poorly. June didn’t wake up during the night. It wasn’t significantly earlier than I normally get up. Eventually, it occurred to me that the pill and the liquid act differently enough that I wake up feeling rested with ZzzQuil and feeling groggy with the pill.

I’ll be heading to the store today for a few more bottles of ZzzQuil.

(This isn’t sponsored by ZzzQuil or Ambien, but that would be pretty cool. I just wrote about my real life, which happens to involve drugs. Legal ones.)

P.S. The painting I was talking about yesterday: