Seven Strategies for Surviving Bed Rest
Bed rest. For whichever diagnosis, you’ve got the prescription, and now you’ve got to figure out how to spend those weeks. You’re committed, dedicated, concerned, and willing to do whatever is best for the baby (or babies), right? Women do this all the time, you’ll get through it, it’s not forever, the reward is a healthy baby (or babies): these are the things you tell yourself when faced with three, five, ten weeks or more, laying in bed, resting.
But now it’s day four, or seven. Those weeks are stretching ahead, endlessly, blankly. How much television can you watch before your head fills with static? Luckily, you have options. You’ve got solutions, tested by women pioneers, the brave bed-resters who have gone before you and lived to tell the tale. Relax: help is here.
Establish a lifeline to the outside world
This is a crucial step, the building block for the next six strategies. Subscribe to your local paper, daily delivery if possible. Add some magazine subscriptions, preferably at least one weekly (a great gift suggestion). Establish a small group of people who can receive phone calls during the day. Email frequently, sign up for email lists, and look up old friends through Google.com. Recruit friends or relatives to make frequent library trips.
Use the time to connect with your baby
Lorraine, who spent five weeks in the hospital, six weeks at home on bed-rest, says, “I talked to my baby a lot, and I think in some ways, that time was really good for helping me to connect with him.” This increased closeness and bonding, she feels, even helped her through the delivery, because “I had already given myself over so completely to him, that in some ways it felt like everything that came after that was easy.” Talking to your belly may feel awkward at first, so try reading and singing out loud to ease yourself into it.
Stay connected to your pre-motherhood life
Bed-rest can sometimes turn into obsession, which isn’t healthy for you or the little one(s). If you feel up to it, schedule regular time for friends to come visit during the week. If you have the option, stay somewhat involved in your job or career, by doing research on your field or more directly. Rebecca, a Brooklyn mother to one-year-old Maggie, remembers that “four days before she was born, I was on the phone with my boss, working on budgets. That was my last day of work!” It’s important for your mental survival to remember that you are more than the pregnant body making a permanent impression on your mattress.
Become your family historian
Now is your chance to record how your parents met, where your descendents were born, your high school nickname. Call relatives for stories, and ask them to share their favorite old joke or scandal. Collect all their/ your old photos, invitations, letters and other great scrapbook material. Make memories for small children by gluing copies of photos onto magnetic sheets, or making an illustrated family tree for the nursery wall.
Find ways to nest from bed
Anne, mother to ten-month-old Jonas, spent ten weeks on bed rest in her Baltimore home. “It was very difficult not to nest,” she says ruefully. “I was hit with a nesting need around the time I went on bed-rest.” Feeling the urge to fill your freezer? Perhaps instead, you can go through piles of cookbooks (libraries should have plenty) and stockpile a fat file full of desserts and entrees (for years in the future, when you’ll actually have time to cook!).
There are plenty of books and videos to help you learn to sew, quilt, knit or crochet, and a good yarn or quilt shop will even help you over the phone. If the decorating urge strikes, use pencil and paper to design your ideal nursery, kitchen, bathroom or backyard.
Write, write, and write
Many women start pregnancy journals, either on paper or on the Internet. Write letters to your future son(s) or daughter(s). If that’s not feeling right, start your memoirs. Try to figure out how you were parented, and begin to see how you want to parent. Read old diary entries, tell your future teenagers what you were like, or simply remember you first kiss. For inspiration and support, visit Mamaphonic.com.
Become an expert on anything!
Always wanted to know more about Ronald Reagan/Marilyn Monroe/ Marie Antoinette? Now is the time to immerse yourself in all those biographies and histories you never had time for before. Always wanted to go to Greece or Brazil? Do a virtual day trip with your library’s help: books on tape, language tapes, videos, photography books, atlases, folklore, cookbooks are great places to look. This is where your library gofers come in handy. Send those suckers to the stacks! A good reference librarian can help you set up a “trip” to anywhere, especially with interlibrary loan programs.
If even looking at this list makes you want to take a nap, then feel free! Your most important project in the upcoming weeks is lying low (literally) so that your body can work on its most important tasks ever.