I lay on the table, anxiously watching our fertility specialist’s face, trying to see an indication of whether it was going to be good news or bad news. Her face was completely unreadable and she wasn’t saying a word.
All of a sudden I heard my husband speak up, “It’s there, right? Right there? That’s the heartbeat isn’t it?!” Whereas the screen had purposefully been turned away from me, he had positioned himself to see it.
“Yes! There is a heartbeat!”
I burst into tears. It had been a long, fear-filled three days since I had first started spotting. Because we lived an hour away from our doctor and we were having a bad snow storm the day the bleeding started, she had told me to just rest until we could make the trip in.
I thought for sure I had lost our longed-for miracle baby, and it wasn’t until I was told that we still had a heart beat that I lost it emotionally.
“There is a heartbeat and everything looks great!” we were told. “But,” our specialist added, “since you are still spotting you need to sit on a satin pillow for the next few weeks, at least until the second trimester, and then we’ll go from there.” I was thrilled that my baby was alive and well, so I nodded, not really comprehending what she was saying. Within twenty-four hours, however, the reality sank in of what “sitting on a satin pillow” really meant!
Me, who exercised every day, ran a counseling center, gardened extensively in preparation for winter, cleaned my house daily — I needed to be on bed rest for the next eight weeks at least! I would be dependent on my husband to keep my house clean and other people to bring in meals, would have to prolong starting my garden, and working out and staying fit had to be completely released as a pregnancy goal.
I’m not sure how it was possible to be so ecstatic that the baby was fine and yet so devastated that I had to lay around day after day, all at the same time. Thankfully, I had wireless internet and was a part of several online forums. It was my friends in those forums that supported me through my time of bed rest.
My online friends, so many of whom had been in the same place I now found myself, encouraged me to be active in developing my bed rest plan, and helped me do so by offering the following pieces of advice:
Know your limits. Discuss with your doctor the specifics of what you can and cannot do. Are you allowed to shower? Fix a meal at least once a day? Go outside and sit on the porch? Go to Wal-Mart and use a wheelchair? Or are you to only allowed to get up to go to the bathroom? Do you have to lay flat on your back or are you allowed to recline for a small period of time each day? Are you to do nothing but stay completely inactive?
Whatever the limits, I was advised to follow them to the T and remind myself constantly why I was so restricted — because I had a life growing inside of me and I was a mother, already sacrificing my wants and desires for the health and safety of my child. “Put note cards up with this reminder, near your bed,” my friends told me, “if you can’t remember why it is you have to lay around all the time. Do whatever it takes to do what is best for that lil baby.”
Use this time to strengthen existing friendships. When else are you going to get time to write note cards and snail mail letters? Email is the way of life for all of us, but everyone really loves getting letters in the mail, and right now, you have the time to send them! Build connections with people by writing!
(I practiced this, and was amazed at how many people actually wrote a letter back in response!)
If you have wireless internet (I did), use it to connect with people online. Use this time to connect with women in other states and even other countries that you would not have normally connected with. Use the platform of your blog or community forums to do so. Have fun “meeting” new people.
Use this time to pray for others. Many people in our lives can use prayer, and this is one of the best times, and most freed-up times, that you will ever have to pray for people. Ask for specific requests and be amazed at the answers that come.
Enjoy movies. Watch all the movies you love. The sappy, romantic ones, the old classics, comedies, and even documentaries. Sitting down and watching movies all day long will quickly come to an end as soon as your baby is here, so enjoy this time of “leisure”.
Get crafty. There are plenty of “bed” crafts you can do — cross stitch, bead jewelry, embroidery, polymer clay. Find something that intrigues you and become a master at it. Who knows, you may find a way to make some extra income from it once you become a stay-at-home mom.
Look at this time as a time of schooling and education. This does not have to be a stagnant time of life, by any means! Have people bring you books and magazines on a variety of topics that you would like to learn about. Maybe you want to learn more about organic and green living, or maybe you want to brush up on history, or maybe you are fascinated by science. Read whatever you can get your hands on while you’re resting and increase your knowledge database.
Keep a journal. Journal for yourself and journal to your baby. Record how this time of bed rest is changing you and the new perspective it is giving you for life. Write a story for your baby to read and have for a keepsake when they are older. Put your hopes and dreams for your baby on paper. Record your love story as the baby’s parents and the journey it took to become parents. List current event details and your thoughts on everyday life. Write about your spouse and the role he has already played in the baby’s life, such as coming home and talking to it every night after work. Make a journal full of memories.
Invest in puzzle books. There are puzzle books galore in the magazine section of stores. You can find everything from word finds to anagrams to sodukos to variety puzzle books. Stretch yourself mentally by working on these puzzles.
Set up a radio and/or CD player near your bed and enjoy a variety of genres of music. Learn a little about classical, listen to the country countdown each week, and dissect a jazz piece in your mind as it plays over your speakers. Expand beyond your usual world of music.
Get to know who you are. So often we get our identity from what we do, and in the busyness, lose who we are. Take a survey of your strengths and weaknesses, list what you like and dislike, and plot out what you would like your life to look like five, ten, twenty years from now. List what you can do to arrive to that place.
Take this time and take care of any business that needs taking care of, such as broken relationships, a marriage difficulty, or unhealed wounds from your past. Close some final doors so you can fully walk through the new door when it opens the day your baby comes into the world.
Set goals for yourself. Set goals for the weeks and month following the baby’s birth and set goals for yourself in the coming year or two. Set them for your marriage, your social life, and your spiritual life. While doing so, keep in mind there will be a baby in the mix, so keep the goals realistic and flexible.
Bed rest does not have to be a time that you look back on years later and say, “I quit living life and missed out on so much during that time.” Instead, it can be one of the most dynamic seasons of your life.
Will you miss going to stores and seeing friends over coffee? Yes, you will.
Will you anticipate being able to cook a meal again and buy your own groceries instead of relying on what your husband thought sounded good? You bet!
Will you be eager to find some control over your body once again and be able to get back into a more active lifestyle? Absolutely.
But while you’re waiting for those things to happen, life doesn’t necessarily have to be put on hold. Life will be different, but it can still go on. It will be a new “normal” for awhile, but that’s ok.
Embrace this time. Instead of fighting it, grow from it and be forever changed by it.