Thursday, September 10, 2015

What Your Pregnant Friend on Hospital Bed Rest Wishes You Knew

My first four babies were perfectly healthy, textbook pregnancies and births.

I guess you could say I got cocky.

When I was pregnant with #5, I made up for it with a 3-week stay in the hospital on bed rest. And I learned a lot  namely, that it isn't like you think it is. There are four main things people don't know about bed rest, and I really wished they did when it was me stuck in the hospital.

I spent the last three weeks of my pregnancy on hospital bed rest, and it isn’t at all like people think. What we need most isn’t care packages or ways to stave off boredom… do YOU know how to help a friend survive hospital bed rest? Keep reading for tips and ideas on how to help. #pregnancy #hospital #bedrest #howtohelp #bedrestsurvival #unremarkablefiles

(Note: My bed rest was of the hospital variety, so I can only speak from experience about that. I read up a lot on bed rest while I was incarcerated and I know a lot of women do it at home, camped out on the couch with a cooler full of snacks and their toddler for ALL DAY until their husband comes home. I don't even know how that works.)

1. I miss my family more than I miss you.

Of course I welcome your visit  we're friends, right? And if you want to bring a movie and order a pizza that doesn't come from the hospital cafeteria that'd be awesome. But do you know what I really want? My family. I need them like a preschooler on a long car trip needs the bathroom.

I haven't spent one second alone with my husband since I got in here. I'd love it if you'd stay with the kids for a few hours so he can come in and see me by himself.

Also, I'd love it if you'd drop one of the kids off to spend some one-on-one time with me. When I was on bed rest, most days Phillip did bring everybody to visit me  but with four kids packed into a little hospital room they couldn't stay very long before getting bored and fighty and claustrophobic. That was hard.

2. Forget about me  I'll be fine. It's my family who needs help.

I might be a little bored but I'll survive. My family is in crisis mode. They're scrambling to cover for me, and my poor husband is trying to do both of our jobs without any advance warning at all. (And our closest family lives 1,500 miles away.) This is a five-alarm logistical nightmare.

We had a supportive church community that brought my family meals. Do that. We had great friends who had the older kids take the bus to their house after school. Do that, too. My stepmom ended up flying out to help for a week. If you can, definitely do this. Or give their kids a ride to soccer or pick up some milk and bread for them at the store. Any little thing you can do for the family helps.

3. Please understand that this isn't a vacation. If you say so, I might rip your face off.

Some people  not many, but some  are under the impression that being in the hospital on bed rest is actually restful. 100% of these people have never been on hospital bed rest. Trying to sleep alone with weird noises and lights and nurses waking you up and an IV port digging into your arm every time you try to get comfortable turns you into a zombie by Day Three.

I know things just slip out of our mouths sometimes, but try really hard not to refer to this as "time off" or "vacation" when you come to visit me in my 10' by 10' cell. I've been on vacation before and trust me, this ain't it.

What Your Pregnant Friend on Hospital Bed Rest Wishes You Knew -- people don't always know how to help when a mom goes into the hospital for bed rest because of a complicated pregnancy. Here's how you can help, from a mom who's been there.  {posted @ Unmarkable Files}
This was seriously the view from my window. Cue the violins.

4. I'm an emotional basketcase and I'm not always ready to see you.

The worst part of bed rest isn't the boredom (the kids call the computer desk chair in our house "Mom's Chair," so believe me when I say I'm perfectly capable of occupying myself all day using the hospital's Wi-Fi connection.) It's the emotional rollercoaster that's really getting to me.

Doctors telling me different things on different days + missing my family + feeling like my kids' lives are going on without me + all the regular crazy-hormones from just being pregnant = one hot mess.

So I'm not always going to be company-ready. Yes, I'm not going anywhere, but still call first. I might be having a really bad day, and not feel up to visiting with you. At the very least, tell me when you're coming so I can brush my hair before you show up. Also, knock. That's just good manners.

A year and a half later, it's still weird to drive by the hospital and think "I used to live there." But we made it. The baby and I are both fine, after a somewhat traumatic delivery and recovery period (me), and a rough start in the NICU (him.)

We're really grateful to all the friends and church members who helped us out during those difficult weeks and months. Go be that friend!
I spent the last three weeks of my pregnancy on hospital bed rest, and it isn’t at all like people think. What we need most isn’t care packages or ways to stave off boredom… do YOU know how to help a friend survive hospital bed rest? Keep reading for tips and ideas on how to help. #pregnancy #hospital #bedrest

I spent the last three weeks of my pregnancy on hospital bed rest, and it isn’t at all like people think. What we need most isn’t care packages or ways to stave off boredom… do YOU know how to help a friend survive hospital bed rest? Keep reading for tips and ideas on how to help. #pregnancy #hospital #bedrest

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PurpleSlob said...

Wonderful post! Thanks for giving us the inside scoop, so we have concrete ideas on how to help! Thank God you're both okay!

Unknown said...

Good insight! Both of my kids arrived via c-section and with the first I was stuck in the hospital for 5 days after the birth and then at home on bed rest for two weeks. I was going nuts. After our second child was born the only thing I wanted to do was cuddle with my first born and let him know that I was still his Mommy. I think I was more freaked out by the new baby's arrival than he was!

Jenny Evans said...

One to two is a really hard transition (SUPER HARD) even without the extra complications to deal with! So glad you're okay.

Leigh Ann said...

I didn't even have other children when I was on bed rest, and I was still horribly homesick and emotional. I didn't really want visitors at all. Great post!

Jenny Evans said...

It seems so counter-intuitive that you might not want visitors all the time on bed rest, but honestly - you don't!

Jenny said...

I'm really happy to say that so far I haven't had to do the bed rest thing at all. But we are only on kid number two here. So I hope that I continue to never have to do the bed rest thing. These are some really great things to do for people who need it.

It's weird and makes no sense but for some reason when I hear someone is on bed rest I automatically think that they need to be sleeping most of the time and not have visitors. Then my sister was on bed rest and I realized a lot of it was entertaining her and waiting on her that she needed. (She was at home and had no other kids) but it's amazing how fast you can get sick of people doing everything for you.

Jenny Evans said...

Again, the 'rest' part of 'bed rest' is kind of a misnomer. And yes, it is very annoying to have other people to everything for you. If you drop your pen on the floor, you have to call a nurse to get it for you? Forget it! (I didn't want to bug them for stupid stuff so I'd wait until they came in for something else. Which also sucks.)

Rachel said...

Man, that would be so tough. I'm actually a staunch believer in not visiting people at the hospital unless they are specifically the sort of people who like that kind of thing. A lot of my relatives think being visited at the hospital is the worst. My Mom was on total at-home bedrest for 9 weeks before my baby sister was born. It wasn't crazy crazy hard as far as taking care of the family went, because so many of us kids were already older. I was 15 and coordinated all cooking and meals and went grocery shopping with dad, that sort of thing. Boredom was a huge factor for my mom--her twin sister sent her a whole bunch of embroidery supplies since you can't get them here and Mom embroidered this huge baby blanket during the wait. Also, homeschooling went on as usual so we have pictures of Mom and all the 5 younger kids sprawled all over her bed, doing their schoolwork. We're so glad that baby Sarah came safely at the end of it all, but it was a scary time for the family.

Jenny Evans said...

I didn't usually mind visitors on bed rest because I was feeling perfectly fine. But I don't like having visitors, say, after I have a baby. I'm all tired and scuzzy and wearing a maxi pad the size of a twin mattress, plus I just want to hang out with the baby... put that on my list of times that I do NOT want to entertain guests.

Jenny Evans said...

I'm glad to hear that everything was okay with your little sister, it sounds like your mom handled it awesomely, and that you were such a big help.

Bekki@a better way to homeschool said...

Oh boy. You hit the nail on the head!
All five of my pregnancies ending up with varying degrees of bedrest, so I understand.
I finally got to the point where I was no longer afraid to ask for the exact help I needed with numbers 4&5.

What do I need? "Someone to do my laundry, scrub my bathroom, take my kids outside to play for a few hours, etc."

I think people mean well, but truthfully are not able to anticipate that our need may be different from their idea of what I need. You know?

Queen Mom Jen said...

Nailed it! I was on bed rest and in the hospital a lot for my first pregnancy, it was hard, but I didn't have kids at home! I can't even imagine, but you summed up perfectly how I would be feeling if this happened now.

Unknown said...

I can't stand hospitals and think being on bed-rest in hospital sounds absolutely awful! So glad you made it thruogh. I also think the first two points are spot-on: I'd be super worried about my family coping without me and missing them like crazy! #thetruthabout

Somerset Craft Workshops said...

Oh my gosh... what a great post... you have written every thought I had! I wasn't in whilst pregnant but did have a 3 week stay with our #5 baby (There must be something about #5!!) All our other babies had been total text book babies too so it was a horrid shock and I still struggle when we are re admitted for the odd week here and there!!

Letting Fear Go said...

This is so good to know! Thanks for sharing your perspective. Staying 2 nights in the hospital after my son was born was an eye opener for me. Hospitals are anything but relaxing! I don't think I slept at all while I was there.

Unknown said...

Urgh! I was only in overnight when I had my eldest (well, both actually but the eldest was more disconcerting!) and that was pretty hideous! I feel for you. Great tips for friends there though - shame your parents weren't able to be there from the beginning but I don't know anything about their circumstances so not judging at all. X #thetruthabout

Unknown said...

Urgh! The longest I stayed in hospital was 5 days and I totally lost track of what day it was or what time. What is it about hospitals, they are like an alternative universe where there's no night or day? This is a really useful post though, I will be sure to think of the family if I ever have a friend in this situation. #thetruthabout

Jenny Evans said...

The nurses all told me, "Nobody can sleep here." It's just... hospitals! Who knows?

Unknown said...

Great ideas! Thank you for spelling them out for those of us on the other side.