Whenever I exchange pregnancy war stories with someone, (also known as the Mommy Friend First Date script), there is a mixed reaction when I reveal that I spent the last two months of my pregnancy on bed rest. Some women are envious, others think lying down 24/7 is a particular brand of torture. Truth is, it’s both.
1. Excitement (Week 1). You’re tired, your ankles are swollen and your lower back hurts. Having a doctored ordered excuse to kick up your heels and let your partner take full control of the cleaning/cooking/pets and kids sounds pretty freaking good right now. You can stop feeling guilty about not doing that pregnancy yoga DVD, and you’ll finally get to watch Breaking Bad again from the beginning.This is going to be awesome.
2. Entitlement(Week 1-2). Bed rest is like a fabulous extended spa weekend. You feel like a celebrity as friends and family come to visit you on the regular, bearing gifts of pretty pajama sets, yummy snacks and offering to paint your toe nails. You mention getting a bell to ring for summoning your husband. He laughs this off as a joke. You were not kidding.
3. Boredom(Week 2-3). You’ve reached the end of the internet, and there’s nothing good left on Netflix. All your admirers have gone back to their own lives, so you turn to online pregnancy forums seeking companionship. This is a bad idea, as you inevitably get into an argument on the comments board about vaccinations/breastfeeding/cosleeping and get all worked up with no one to vent to. Eating while laying on your side causes horrible heartburn, so not even snacking brings you joy. You begin to count down the minutes to your hourly potty break, just to have something to do. Getting wheeled into the doctor’s office for your weekly visit may result in hysterical crying as you are THAT excited to breathe fresh air and interact with other humans.
The following stages can strike at any time after week 3, may happen simultaneously and will continue until the birth:
4. Panic. The baby is coming, and you feel like you should be doing things to prepare, like painting the nursery, washing clothes or packing a hospital bag. Since you can’t, you act like a dictator by ordering people around and get frustrated when they aren’t done exactly how you wanted. You read everything you can find on the internet about bedrest, which ranges from articles that say bedrest does nothing to nightmares full of bedrest pregnancies gone horribly wrong.
5. Pain. Everything aches. Your left hip is painful enough to evoke frequent tears from constantly laying on it. Oddly, this will be more painful at night than during the day, making you reverse your sleep cycle. Now you lay awake all night thinking of all the things that could go wrong during the birth. You constantly wake your partner with your shifting around, or you wake them intentionally to share your anxieties. Learning to adjust to little or no sleep is a great skill for new parents to have, so you tell yourself you’re just training for life post baby.
6. Longing. Similar to the “birth amnesia” phenomenon, post birth, you will forget the icky bits of being bed logged. Inevitably, one day when your toddler is fussy, or running circles around you while you chase his naked butt with a diaper, you will think back and wish for just one more day when you could lie around with zero guilt and no responsibilities.