Most of the time, when someone talks about your baby, they use fuzzy words like “kissable”, “angelic”, “precious”. You can’t get enough and nod with pride. But when someone tells you your baby “should be viable”, it shocks you out of your mommy haze and makes you pay close attention. And when that’s followed up with things like strict bed rest, nifedipine, 80% determined by your cooperation, you know your doctor means business. You do too, of course, because you want your baby to be more than viable. You want them to be strong, healthy and home—as soon as possible.
I’m now 3+ weeks in to the bed rest, the meds and the cooperating, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned from my own experience, as well as some tips from wise friends who have been in my position (yes, this horizontal one).
10 Things to Have at Your Bedside
1) Big water cup, straw (have you ever tried drinking lying down?), full water bottles for refills
2) Kleenex for emotional moments and the congestion that comes with lying down all the time
3) Lip balm
4) Mini cooler filled with snacks for the day (string cheese, crackers, Belly Bars, fruit)
5) Thank you notes to keep up with friends who help out or send baby gifts (my issue is getting my family to deliver them around the neighborhood!)
6) All your medications and vitamins (I even set my iPhone alarm to remind me to take my medicine so I don’t lose track of time)
7) TV or laptop for catching up on movies (I have yet to watch one though…)
8 ) Books and/or magazines you always wish you had time to read (I’m in the midst of reading Bed Rest, a fun book my friend, Jenny, sent me)
9) Laptop to stay connected with the outside world (but do not, I repeat do not, read scary articles about your condition)
10) Calendar so you can cross off and celebrate each day you’ve made it one step closer to your due date (thanks, Cari, for this great idea!)
5 Ways to Be Good to Your Munchkins
1) Explain to them, in age-appropriate language, why you’re stuck in bed and what your limitations are (my friend, Jenny, also send me this cute book: Mommy Has to Stay in Bed)
2) Find cuddle time each day. I’ve found that lying on the couch with them for their morning cartoon
s gives them a bit of attention for a better start to the day.
3) Find activities you can still do together. My kids love to play balloon ball, I Spy and card games. They also can’t get enough of the animal video clips at National Geographic Kids.
4) Plan surprises like watching a fun kids’ movie together or buying a couple new books to arrive in the mail to read together.
5) Try not to cry along with them, but listen and be empathetic when they just want you to carry them, change them, play with them and be the mom you used to be.
5 Ways to Be Good to Your Baby Daddy
1) If you have kids, realize this is as hard on him as it is on you. And it’s ok that he does things differently than you do.
2) Try to bundle your requests, even make a list (e.g. fill snack bag each morning, grocery shop, take pics at events you can’t attend, etc.), so you don’t have to keep interrupting him as you think of things.
3) Ask friends to keep him and your kids company so he gets some much-needed adult conversation (e.g. meals out, walks in the neighborhood, etc.).
4) Acknowledge that he’s taken on basically all of the household and parenting duties and will be tired and, at times, cranky.
5) Say thanks. A lot.
5 Ways to Be Good to Yourself
1) Let go of the day-to-day jobs that make you feel like a good mom (e.g. diaper changing, school lunch packing, family dinner planning, tackle football playing). And know that you’re still a good mom, even when you can’t do everything (or anything, for that matter).
2) Remember that your To-Do List should begin and end with “rest”. Great for you if you can catch up on photo albums, plan a charity event or work 8-hour days from bed. I’ve found that I can’t and I literally cannot stress about it (that’s what got me into this position in the first place). As my friend, Kate, who is working on bed rest put it, she’s learned that “No.” is a complete sentence.
3) If there’s a special occasion you really, really want to attend (like your son’s birthday party), ask the doctor if you can go and sit in a reclining chair like this one (my friend, Julia, picked up mine at the local Big 5). It’s a bit humiliating, but worth it.
4) When you head out for doctor’s appointments (which I “get” to do twice a week), remember what a hairbrush is. Bonus points for remembering what a makeup brush is too. If you have to go to the pharmacy on your way home, you’ll feel better if you don’t look homeless (at least I’m assuming…I’m afraid I didn’t follow this advice last week).
5) Invite your social life to you. Friends going out for a birthday celebration? Invite them to stop by for a drink on their way out or dessert on their way home (thanks to my friends who were willing to skip a night out to hang in with me!). Or see if they’ll consider doing takeout to keep you company on the couch. I’ve done both and really, really enjoyed spending time with friends and feeling like a part of things.
3 Ways to Ask for Help
1) Just say yes. If someone offers to make you dinner, run an errand or take your kids for a couple hours, graciously accept and know your whole family will benefit from it. (And if you have trouble asking for favors, hire help. We’ve had our part-time nanny working full time and it’s created a bit of stability for the boys.)
2) My friend Melinda suggested this and I’ve been terrible about it, but it’s brilliant. As you’re lying in bed, make lists of things you need from various stores (e.g. grocery store, Target, Trader Joes). Then if a neighbor calls and says they’re heading to TJ’s, you’re prepared and ready to accept their help. And be sure to have plenty of cash on hand so you can reimburse people right away.
3) If your bedrest is going to last awhile, keep a list of the people who have offered to help so you don’t have to ask the same people for favors the whole time.
The bottom line is being on bed rest definitely comes with its challenges. But a few small adjustments can make things much more bearable. (At least that’s how it feels at this point…ask me again in 3 weeks!)
My friend, Stacy, sent me this Babble article last week that has some other ideas. I’ve also connected with a great resource on Twitter: KeepEmCookin.com. It turns out a number of my friends and readers have been in this situation before as well. What tips or stories do you have share?