To my mamas on bedrest, I’ve been where you are.
I’ve laid on the hospital bed, hooked up to monitors listening to the soothing rhythm of my baby’s heartbeat.
I have stared at the ceiling while cradling the soft swell of my belly, whispering “you will be okay.”
I too, sat at home, worrying about finances because I couldn’t work.
I know what it’s like to stare at an unfinished space hoping your baby will stay put until it resembles a baby room.
I was 26 weeks pregnant when my cousin, who happens to be a Labor and Delivery nurse, urged me to go to the hospital after I told her I had some spotting.
Aside from the constant heartburn, the body aches, and the fatigue, I felt fine. However, I knew what loss felt like, my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage.
I was standing in the middle of a dollar store in Brooklyn and looked at the text message from my cousin in horror, “The hospital? Is it that serious?”
Maybe, I realized, it was.
I contacted the OB/GYN on call and by the time the office called me back, I was a blubbering mess. I could barely describe my symptoms, I was crying so hard. I was convinced I was going to lose a baby, again.
I was admitted into the hospital over Easter weekend. Once I heard the baby’s strong heartbeat, I was slightly mollified but still skeptical. Turned out I was actively contracting and two centimeters dilated.
It was preterm labor.
I was in the hospital for a few days but it felt like a lifetime. None of the doctors could tell me why I was at risk for early labor. I dissected every movement I made prior to my hospitalization; was it my fault?
I was discharged home a few days later bedrest which was, for me, was worse than being in the hospital. I was all alone while my husband was at work and my constant companion was my mounting fears. I worried about the baby, not working, and our finances. I googled everything and stalked pregnancy boards like a jealous boyfriend. The worst part was not knowing what was around the corner. I had no idea if I was ever going to return to work or if I was going to go into labor early, so I kept packing and repacking my hospital bag.
I went back to work for almost two weeks before I was hospitalized again, that time for 11 days.
For better or worse, I was slightly more prepared during my second stay. I had my hospital bag, laptop, and a few books. I was almost 32 weeks at that point. I even had hubby bring in some comfort food so I would get a break from the monotonous hospital menu. I also learned how to hoard food and the little juices so I would always have a snack nearby.
To stave off the loneliness, I forced myself to walk the halls and interacted with the staff and the other mamas stuck in there like me. Hearing their stories made me feel less alone and in some instances, fortunate.
When I was discharged home, I had a strengthened resolve to keep the baby in until full-term. I stopped feeling guilty for being home and threw my energies into keeping us healthy.
As someone who had long prided herself on not needing anyone, bedrest exposed my vulnerabilities.
When my mother offered to clean my apartment, I had to swallow my pride and welcome her in. Although it was hard to watch her cook and clean for me, I appreciated her for coming even though I could not voice the words.
Being on bedrest gave my husband and me the pause button we needed to prepare for parenthood. Amid the frenzy of getting ready for a newborn, it reminded us to make time for what really matters, to get back to just us.
Bedrest also taught me the first lesson of motherhood: making sacrifices you might prefer not have to make—bedrest, lost sleep, saggy tummy skin. But sacrifices that are inherent in the process of becoming a mother to a precious little human.
Every time I look at my son’s chubby face, I am reminded of that. It doesn’t always look pretty or easy, but it’s worth it.