Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Marital Bed

Before you get married, there are certain conversations that need to be had. Skipping blithely into matrimony without a thorough sit-down can result in two years later discovering you have acquired a spouse who thinks that raising minks in the basement for cash is a swell hobby. Tom and I covered all the biggies: religion, where we wanted to live, career goals, how many kids to have, pets vs. no pets, and whether black lacquer is acceptable on furniture (no). What we failed to discuss was mattress density.

I have a bad back. It functions approximately as effectively and reliably as Congress. I never know when it will stage a random attack. Paint the whole house? No problem. Hiding Easter eggs? Ten days in bed on muscle relaxants. It once went into a massive spasm as I was blow-drying my hair, sending me corkscrewing to the floor, where I laid for about an hour until I realized that sooner or later I would need to pee. By employing a sort of slow-motion, belly-side-up crab scuttle, I was able to inch my way across the living room to the phone to call a friend for help.

My point? For maximum back placation, I need a firm mattress. Firm like my stomach before I had kids.

Tom likes a cushiony mattress. At one point, he explained this by saying that the springs of our firmer mattress felt like they were stabbing him because he didn't" have as much meat on his bones". Which I pointed out was the same as calling me fat and did I mention that I'm damn handy with a butcher knife? He made a hasty retraction and some lame-ass explanation that he was specifically talking about the way his own personal hip bones are constructed. Then he shut up because I was starting to get the crazy eyes and happened to be standing within an easy arm's reach of the knife block.

For awhile, Tom and I thought that a memory foam mattress would suit both of our needs. Firm, yet cushiony. Soft, yet resilient. We both have memory foam pillows that we adore to the point of taking them with us when we travel. If we could afford it, wouldn't a whole mattress of memory foam be the ultimate perfect solution?

Short answer = no, it wouldn't. Turns out, it's like my personal mattress version of hell.

Using the excuse of Tom's 40th birthday, we splurged and bought a four-inch memory foam mattress topper. The very first night I laid down on it and thought, huh, it's squishier than I realized and kinda hard to roll over once you sink down into it. I brushed the doubt aside, figuring that I'd be sleeping so soundly that I wouldn't need to roll over.

I didn't realize exactly how many times I roll over in the course of a night until I found myself having to come fully awake each time in order to first hoist myself up and out of the Jenn-shaped depression in the memory foam and then flip over. In my new position, I felt myself sink, sink, sink until I looked like I had been surrounded in foam for shipping purposes.
"It's like I'm being cradled in my sleep!" Tom cooed happily the next morning. I gave him a sickly smile and kept quiet, figuring I just needed time to adjust. The next few nights, I slept fitfully and had recurring dreams of being trapped in small places: caves, coffins, elevators, and once, a filthy ball pit at a McDonald's Play Place. I woke up in a cold sweat, panicky and unable to move my limbs. A couple of nights I wound up migrating to the guest room bed, where I was free to flop around like a salmon as much as I pleased. Tom slumbered on, peacefully unaware in his memory foam cocoon.

Eventually, though, I had to confess that our pricey new topper wasn't doing it for me. And since we're not ready to go the whole Dick van Dyke Show route and have separate twin beds, we're back to square one. Tom keeps musing about cutting the memory foam in half and using it just on his side of the bed, which would make his side four inches higher than mine and turn bed-making into a logistical nightmare. So far, my response to that suggestion has been a look of mute horror. But I also don't have any better ideas.

Oh, and are you ready for the ultimate irony? Last year, we won a Sleep Number adjustable bed through some online sweepstakes. At the time, and this was before we knew we'd be adding on to the house, we had no way of fitting the bed into our bedroom and driving an hour away to pick it up seemed like a hassle anyway. We never went and claimed it.

And the Big 40th Birthday Memory Foam Splurge is currently folded up on the guest room floor, where the cats enjoy sleeping on it.


Nana said...

So...what letter DO you have propped inexplicably on your night stand? :)

I've heard many people complain about the memory foam mattresses, so you're not alone. Like you, I wouldn't want to have to force myself awake in order to turn over. Plus, I would feel trapped in my "form." No thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for you and your sleepless nights, but I'm certainly glad you wrote this post. I've been seriously considering ordering one of those memory foam toppers. People have been singing its' praises. I like to flip and roll though. I'm actually like a fish, so now I don't think it would work for me. Oh, what's a girl to do? I just want to sleep well without springs digging into my side.

Jen on the Edge said...

We bought a new mattress when we got married, but by the 15-year mark, it was giving us both backaches. It took us an additional two years to decide to get a new mattress. The problem? Whether to stay in our full-size bed or move up to queen. We ultimately decided on queen and then went mattress shopping. We tested loads in all price ranges and, for us, the latex mattresses at Ikea were the perfect combination of firm with a tiny bit of give.

Lora said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. We have a firm king sized mattress that we LOVE and miss dearly when we travel . . . we literally mention to each other every night how much we love it. Who knew this was such a big topic?! :)

Nana said...

I might have a solution for you. Pile the unfolded laundry on YOUR side of the bed only, then the bed will look even. :) Seriously, I have nothing to suggest other than twin beds with a combined headboard. It would still look like a king-sized bed, but you could each have a mattress to your liking.

Dawn in Austin said...

You won a sleep number bed?? Oh, I would love to have one of those.

I'm with Nana, on the clothes AND the twin beds pushed together.

I've heard those memory foam things keep in the heat and the first time you have a hot flash in the night, boy howdy you can't get out fast enough!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

My wildest dream is a sleep number bed! D and I are just like you and your hubby (except my back isn't bad, I just prefer a hard mattress). MAJOR bummer that the foam memory didn't work out. I never trusted that idea.

Violet said...

Have you tried contacting the sweepstakes people? They may very well say too late, too bad, so sad...but they may be cool, decent folk who will give you the bed you won, too.

They can't say yes if you don't ask...

Anonymous said...

I feel ya on the memory foam. I watch those commercials and get the heebie jeebies just thinking about getting stuck in the foam. sorry it didn't work out for you.

Susan said...

We tried the foam topper and had the same sinking issue plus it was like a heating pad. We rolled it up and returned it.

And remember, twin beds in the same room is better than you in the guest room...