HOW TO PREPARE IF YOU ARE GOING ON BEDRESTThe transfer to bedrest is sudden and unexpected for most of us, but if you do have a few days to prepare ahead of time, here are some suggestions for how to get ready.
-Get your hair cut, but do not make any drastic changes. You probably won't be allowed to sit/stand long enough to blow dry/style your hair, so something simple and easy is best.
-Get your absentee ballot arranged so that you can still vote.
-Go to the dentist.
-Get a pedicure. With shellac.
-Check when your driver license needs to be renewed. You won't be able to go to the DMV once you're on bedrest, so get it done ahead of time.
-Decide ahead of time what to do if someone rings the doorbell. I've heard of some people give a copy of their house key to friends or family members who will be making regular visits, which seems to work well. For other unexpected visits, though, decide now that you won't get up.
-Go grocery shopping.
-Buy straws. You have no idea how difficult it is to drink from a normal cup when you're laying down.
-Trays. They will keep the inevitable crumbs from your most recent meal to a minimum.
-Dry shampoo. It will do wonders to preserve your dignity.
-This goes without saying, but really good, comfortable, supportive pillows. Lots of them.
HOW TO SURVIVE WHEN YOU ARE ON BEDRESTOnce you're laying down, you will be spending a lot of time alone doing very little. Here are some ways to tackle the boredom, retain your dignity, and still feel good about yourself.
-Start the day right. Eat a healthy breakfast. Have a cooler by your side stocked with drinks and snacks and lunch to get your pregnant self through the day. Make sure you have everything you need within arms reach before your spouse leaves for work: cell phone, iPod, laptop, chargers, books and bookmarks, notepads and pens, chapstick, medications (Tums, Tylenol, etc. as needed), lotion, tissues, hair bands and bobby pins, make-up, napkins, hand sanitizer, TV remotes, etc. Note: this will probably require a good sized nightstand.
-I can still take my own showers, but this may not be an option for you, depending on what kind of bedrest you are on. If you can shower, though, actually take a shower. You may not feel very motivated to take a shower, because, hey, you're not leaving the house anyway. But it will be worth it. Feeling clean and wearing normal clothes will help fight the depression that more easily creeps up on you if you stay in your PJs all day. I have been wearing more make-up these days than I did on my non-bed-rest days. It just makes me feel less like a slob.
-Keep your blinds open. It will remind you that life goes on outside your walls.
-The interwebs are great. Use them. Reading the news online and emailing friends will make you feel less cut off from the world.
-FreeCell. If it's not on your laptop now, get it.
-Podcasts. Particularly Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.
-Community. Or some other entertaining show that will keep you smiling. (Season 4 starts next week!!)
-You will no longer be able to attend birth classes, infant CPR classes, nursing classes, or any of those other classes that are intended to help you prepare for your kid's birth, so you'll need to educate yourself. The internet and the library are your friends. Use them.
-Keep a photo from your latest ultrasound where you can always see it to remind you why you're doing this.
-Muscle pain and weakness, fatigue, backache, joint pain, and insomnia are all side effects of bedrest that can effect your body. I've found that it helps to stretch your muscles. You can't actually use them, but stretching them (as much as is safe) will help your body feel more relaxed and calm, and will help you sleep at night. Getting massages will also help a LOT. Getting massages generally helps with everything in life though, so that's no surprise.
-Don't read What to Expect When You're Expecting. It will freak you out, and more stress and worry about the well-being of your unborn child is the last thing you need if you're already on bedrest.
-Do read Pushed. It will inform and educate you, and leave you feeling empowered rather than completely freaked.
-Read non-pregnancy books too. You need to think about other things than all the pregnancy shenanigans surrounding you. Absorbing and distracting fictional trilogies are ideal, but anything that doesn't talk about reproduction will do.
-Find a friend who will pick up said absorbing and distracting books from the library and bring them to you, and then return them when they're due. (Marse and Becky, you guys are the best.)
-Your brain is not on bedrest! Use your mind. Open Courseware Consortium is a great option. Or you can check books out from the library on whatever topic you've always been interested in, and become an expert. Like cheetahs, or British poetry, or psychology, or American history, or Russian politics, etc.
-Learn a new skill that you can do without moving your legs. Like knitting, or drawing, or computer programming, etc. It will give you a sense of accomplishment.
-Don't say no to help! This one is really hard for me, because I am really independent and like to do things myself. But I can't right now. And you won't be able to either. The sooner you can accept help from others, the better off you will be. Let your friends and family empty your dishwasher, or take out the trash, or vacuum, or bring you lunch, or whatever. It will make you happy because things are getting done, will make them happy because they're doing a kind deed, and will ease the burden on your spouse, for whom this is also a difficult challenge.
-Remember that bedrest is temporary. You will not be like this forever. It ends, eventually. Just keep going. A really cute kid is coming out of this, so just take a deep breath and hold on.
Perhaps my greatest piece of advice, though, is this:
-Marry someone exceptionally awesome. Someone who will be your middle-of-the-night Tums retriever, personal masseuse, chauffeur to doctor appointments, food craving satisfyer, daily breakfast in bed preparer, water bottle refiller, laptop cord retriever, pumpkin cookie maker, Harry Potter movie marathon watcher, lunch schedule organizer, personal cheerleader, and who will make you as many green smoothies as your heart desires. I love you, Hot Buns.
HOW TO HELP IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE ON BEDRESTHere are some ideas for how to help, support, and encourage your bedrest friend. (Note: this is not a subtle cry for help. I am very well taken care of. This is more a list of things that others have done for me that have made a huge difference and that Mike and I have really appreciated.)
-Bring them food. Meals are hard when you're on bedrest, and bringing a lunch or dinner is a massive, colossal help. (You know who you are: THANK YOU!)
-Hang out with them for a few minutes. They are probably bored and starving for human interaction so just talking will lift their spirits.
-If you see something that needs to be done, do it. Take dirty dishes from the nightstand to the sink. Sweep the floor. Fold a load of laundry. These are things that the spouse has to do after getting home from work, which means less time your bedrest friend and their spouse can spend together. So you helping this way will not only make their house a little cleaner, it will give them more time to be together. And they will love you for it.
-Bring over movies and/or books.
-Flowers seem useless and impractical, but they actually are really nice. Your bedrest friend can't go out into nature, so bringing a little nature to them is a great way to show you care.
-It's hard to commemorate the holidays when you're on bedrest. One way you can help is offer to get out your bedrest friend's holiday decorations and hang them. Or bring over an autumn-scented candle, or something. Mike's mom brought over a pumpkin, and I have really, really loved having it in our house. It has made me feel more festive, which has really done a lot by making me feel like I'm not missing out on this holiday season that I love so much.
-Find out what their pregnancy cravings are and help to satisfy them.
-Bring over maternity clothes. Your bedrest friend can't go shopping, so letting them borrow a couple of your old maternity shirts for them to wear will help them feel nice. And it will give them motivation to get dressed in the morning.
-I've felt a lot of love and support from people who are far away. If your bedrest friend lives far away, there is still a lot you can do for their mental and emotional well-being. Emails that just say hello and ask how they're doing are awesome. You can't bring them books, but you can recommend them. And this is a time when your friend could use a lot of book recommendations. Have your kids draw pictures for them and send them through the mail. My young niece sent me a series of jokes via text message. The jokes didn't really make sense, but it still brightened my whole day. Email them funny stories. If you can, send them some bedrest-friendly pampering things, like good smelling shampoo, lip gloss, scented soaps, or nail polish. Something that will add some spice into their limited routine. Recommend websites, or new recipes, or youtube clips, or online articles (anything from the Onion is pretty much a guaranteed win) or anything else that you see that makes you think of them. The practical support from people nearby is awesome and needed, but the emotional and mental support from those far away is just as valuable.
I am very much looking forward to bedrest being over. But thanks to my family and friends, I think my bedrest experience has been about as positive as it possibly could be. Thank you!!
PS - The baby is doing well. She is a perfect little fetus, growing and developing in all the ways she should. The problems we're experiencing are due to my body not agreeing with pregnancy, not due to the baby. We're 27 1/2 weeks along now, and hoping to stay pregnant for as long as my body will allow. Our original goal was to try and make it to 28 weeks. We're feeling pretty confident about making that goal. (Hallelujah!) Now we'll just keep going as long as we can in order to give our little girl as much time in the womb to grow and develop as possible. It's stressful and a constant source of anxiety knowing I could go into labor at any moment (I swear I've aged a decade in the past month) but we're remaining optimistic and hopeful that everything will turn out okay. We just love our little girl, and hate knowing she's in constant danger of being born before she's ready. Everyday that passes without incident is a victory. Continued thoughts/prayers/good vibes are appreciated.