How to survive hospital bed rest

I have officially been in the hospital three weeks. My perspective is not the same as many others I know who have been bed bound because, well, I’m not sick. I’m not battling a disease or fighting off infection or recovering from a surgery. I feel really good. The part of this process I am struggling with is knowing I will not be going home anytime soon, and when I do, life won’t be the same.

So if you happen to find yourself, like me, stuck in bed for weeks or maybe even months, here are some of my tips for making the most of bed rest.

First, create a schedule or routine. Mine changes if I happen to get a visitor besides my family or have unexpected medical things that have to get done (like an extra ultrasound). I try to stick to it so I don’t feel like I’m wasting my day.

My amazing pour over from Tribo Coffee

I wake up, force myself to get up out of bed, and wash my face and brush my teeth. Then I turn on the news and make myself a cup of coffee. I have to ask my nurse nicely for hot water to do so, but its worth it. My husband bought me amazing pour overs so I don’t have to drink the watered down hospital Folgers. I also have an Ember mug that keeps my coffee warm, so if I’m interrupted, I can still enjoy my coffee after everyone leaves. The mornings have lots of interruptions between vital checks and medications and doctor check ins and baby stress monitoring. After Good Morning America wraps up, I turn the T.V. off, pick a playlist on Spotify and do a craft until lunchtime, or until I finish. After lunch, I usually read or color until my husband or father in law and son come to visit. They usually hang out until dinner time. We often go for walks or if the weather isn’t great we just color together in my room. Sometimes we do dinner together, sometimes I eat the hospital dinner and they eat at home. After they leave I’m usually pretty bummed and wishing I could go with them, so I binge watch happy T.V. to distract myself. Once the nurses come by in the evening I make a cup of tea and once its empty, I make myself turn off the lights and go to bed.

Showing off my son’s and my artistic skills.

Second, do the little things that make you feel human.

I always shower in the morning and put on a minimal amount of makeup. It’s usually just concealer under my eyes and mascara, but it makes me look so much more awake. I take the time to moisturize and use belly butter on my bump. If I am feeling really motivated, I will blow dry my hair too. I try to clip or paint my nails once a week. These little things make me feel less like a baby making zombie. And yes, it feels insane to basically say, “do basic self care and hygiene!” But when you don’t have anywhere to go and your only responsibility is to ‘drink water, grow baby’, sometimes its hard just to wash your face or get out of bed. I also have my own butter and coffee creamer. Every hospital has a different set up, but I have a small mini fridge that I can keep some snacks in. Having my coffee taste like mine is HUGE. I order a lot of my snacks through Whole Foods PrimeNow, so if you’re in a bigger city, see if it delivers to your area. It saves your family a trip to the store and you get exactly what you want and not the weird brand your person decided was ‘better’.

Third, make your wardrobe work for you.

My failed attempt at trying to take a picture of my cute pants, but because I am pregnant and have NO balance, I tipped over. Don’t tell my nurse.

One pretty great part about being a long term antepartum patient is that I don’t have to wear a hospital gown every day. I have chosen to live life in compression socks, compression yoga pants (the fear of blood clots is real y’all), and basic maternity t-shirts. The compression socks are a non-negotiable with my doctors. I chose to order cute ones from Amazon rather than wear the 1940’s style, thigh high, nude colored hosiery offered by the hospital. The nurses like them and they’re doctor approved. Old Navy, yes the partner company to the Gap, actually has amazing maternity basics online that aren’t expensive. Plus, a lot of their pants have fit options for your belly based on what trimester you’re in. (WHAT A CONCEPT!) I also have plenty of house sweaters my husband is nice enough to rotate out for me as they get messy. A house sweater, for reference, is a sweater you own that is super comfy and probably well broken in that is socially acceptable to wear in your HOUSE but not really in public. You own them, I own them, one probably used to be your partners but you stole it, they’re a necessity.

Fourth, talk to someone outside the hospital every day who isn’t your partner or parent.

I am a very social person who thrives on contact, so I like talking to lots of people. However, there is something to be said about having someone who you can talk to who will give an outside perspective to the world and doesn’t have any responsibilities for your care. They’ll help keep you centered and remind you of the life outside your immediate circle.

Fifth, create excuses for positivity.

Countdown the days until a milestone, or a visit from someone important, or a holiday. Do things you can be proud of. I’m pretty crafty, a lot of people aren’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create something worthwhile. Youtube and Pinterest are pretty infinite in terms of ideas to keep you occupied and how to’s. Ask the volunteers to go on walks. There are lots of young college students wandering around eager to refill water and would love an excuse to not stock nursing supplies. I was gifted a coloring book with positive quotes. They take forever to color, but sometimes just reading through the quotes themselves helps.

I am very lucky that I have a really positive and supportive village. People who have known me a really long time know that I wasn’t always a consistent ray of sunshine. I think over time I trimmed out the people in my life that weighed me down and surrounded myself instead by people I wanted to be more like. They’re all happy, and positive, and choose to be inspiring and motivating. The older I get, the less tolerance I have for things that weigh my heart down. So I’m hoping by keeping up with the positive ways I’m getting through this, I can help someone else do it to.

Links to buy the things:

Coffee pour overs: https://www.amazon.com/TRIBO-Single-Serve-Portable-Specialty-Roasted/dp/B07B8P7247/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=tribo%2Bcoffee&qid=1553730059&s=gateway&sr=8-2&th=1

Ember Mug: https://www.amazon.com/Ember-EMBFJ-CM171000US-Temperature-Control/dp/B07D93QWXG/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=ember+mug&qid=1553730311&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1

Maternity compression pants: https://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=417966012&cid=1129586&pcid=1053229

Compression socks: https://www.amazon.com/Compression-Socks-Women-Men-Travel-20-25/dp/B07JQXDZLV/ref=sr_1_20?keywords=compression+socks+women&qid=1553730205&s=gateway&sr=8-20

Basic maternity tops: https://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=434926002&cid=1096124&pcid=1090999

Inspirational Coloring book: https://www.amazon.com/Inspirational-Colouring-Book-Everyone-Fearless/dp/1640010734/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=positivity+coloring+book&qid=1553730758&s=gateway&sr=8-4

The reality of bed rest in the hospital.

I am usually one to do a lot of writing and sharing. I am a very outgoing person. While I think I’ve done a lot of sharing pictures recently through Instagram or Snapchat, they’ve mostly been the result of starving for human interaction. I haven’t wanted to share what the reality was of why I was in the hospital or what I’m actually feeling. When people ask how I’m doing I just respond with “I can’t complain!” or “Just stir crazy!” Which might just be me psyching myself out of feeling the really negative feelings that come with being by yourself 20 out of 24 hours of the day.

I have officially been in the hospital 17 days. The goal is for me to be here 84-90 days if all goes perfect.

My husband’s family and many of his close friends are nearby and thankfully they’ve helped with our son and brought things to keep me busy. I’ve read plenty of other blogs about hospital bedrest and helpless husbands who can’t cook or do laundry. I read about a woman who had to make phone calls to schedule dinners brought to her husband. I am extremely thankful that I have a self reliant husband who can take care of everything, to a fault. He is not the type to ask for help or admit he might need it. However, I think he’s doing an exceptional job finding balance, or at least putting on a great front for my sake.

People who know me really well know I am a can’t stop, wont stop personality. So in the past 4 months when I had a small uterine hemorrhage (which I was told not to worry about and would heal like a bruise), moved to California, transferred my teaching credential, and started a new job, it didn’t occur to me to slow down. We had lives to start over and damn it, I didn’t have time to lose. My pregnancy with our first son was a BREEZE. What did I have to worry about? Even after I was in the hospital, I put in grades in my gradebook to make sure my students knew I was still there for them. So after my campus cut off all of my log ins, I had a couple days of “Well… what the hell do I do now?” It’s also been a heart breaking emotional struggle to know the parts of parenting that were my job are now being taken care of without a problem and I’m not there. My son’s needs are being met, and he’s happy. He even has a new fish named Spunky the Fish and loves him. My job now is to sit. Drink water. Sit. Pray. Piddle with crafts. Sit. Drink water. Eat. Wait for my family to visit. Sit. Drink Water.

My view most of the day, complete with fun compression socks that I’m required to live in. Tuesdays and Saturdays are Fixer Upper marathons on HGTV.

Female bodies are pretty amazing. We’re biologically predisposed to do whats best for the growing human inside us, and my body told me to pump the breaks. Amniotic fluid is measured in an index I don’t understand but normal is between 8 and 18, below 5 is considered minimal. At our anatomy scan I was at a 3. At the point we came to the hospital about 4 hours later, pretty much 0. This is medically called oligohydramnios. They confirmed my water had broken and I would have to stay until delivery, which could be any moment, even now. I was given an IV of fluids, a number of antibiotics, and put on a contraction monitor. I was 22 weeks and 4 days. I was told they couldn’t do anything for baby if he was born until he was at least 24 weeks. They kept asking us if we wanted to terminate. It was not a good day. It was not a good week.

One of my 20 minute monitoring sessions. The number on the left is baby’s heart rate, the big number on the right is the contraction level, the little number is my pulse.

The good news is that this past week at my 24 week update my AFI (amniotic fluid index) was 4.6. Baby Owen is measuring average for his gestation now and is head down. I am now not attached to anything in terms of IVs or monitors, outside of 20 minutes twice a day they record baby’s heartbeat and my contractions, which have been normal. I can wander around my room now and shower when I feel like it. I did get two steroid shots to help baby’s lungs develop. The only medication they give me is really for pregnancy maintenance. Cameron takes me on wheel chair rides so I can get sunshine, fresh air, and ice cream. Colby rides in my lap and leaves me souvenirs of whip cream or popsicle drips. For the most part, I feel really good! However, because I am at a high risk for infection, I won’t go home until after I deliver.

There wont be any nesting. No rebuilding of our first son’s crib or washing of his onesies in Dreft so I can huff baby scent. No unnecessary trips to Hobby Lobby to set up the nursery. I’m not reading big brother books to my son at night in the rocking chair to help him get ready for the baby. I’m missing my best friend’s baby shower in Texas. Which means it will also be even longer before I can hold my other bff/college roommate’s new baby that was born in December. We wont take family photos for mother’s day like I wanted. (I insist on family photos for mother’s day every year because getting Newetts to take any photo is an act of Congress). I can’t be where I feel like I’m needed. I’m not doing my jobs as a mother or wife. I’m not working. I’m sitting. Drinking water. Praying. Piddling on social media. Sitting. Counting the hours until my family visits. Crying. Drinking water. Sitting. Counting days until friends visit. Drinking water. Sitting.

It could be worse. This could have been over 17 days ago, but it isn’t. Baby is growing and making improvements every day showing no signs of trying to make his entrance. This is HARD, but I keep reminding myself that I have a village of amazing people that have shown me that long hospital stays are no big deal. Steroid shots can be cake. (I don’t have to give myself any of the shots… major kudos to my people who have to inject anything into themselves.) I know NICU warriors who spent months driving back and forth and now have happy, healthy children. If they can do it, so can we. My husband has been incredible and puts up with my Amazon PrimeNow orders, and goes out of his way to make me feel loved and to bring pieces of our normal life to me. Yes, I really want to go home. I really, REALLY want to go home, but someday these 84-90 days will feel like a blink, and I’ll be at home in our bed with all three of my boys and all of the negative won’t be what I remember.

The view of the harbor from the window outside my door. The nice nurses let me have my coffee out there in the mornings.