Life Lately, pregnancy

What It’s Like Being on Bed Rest {34-Week Pregnancy Update}

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Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving yesterday! We’ve been down at my mom and stepdad’s for much of the week since Matt got an unexpected extra day off of work (which we were soooooo grateful for, esp. considering the circumstances!). We’ve spent the last few days enjoying delicious food, playing Cover Your Assets (one of our favorite card games), decorating gingerbread houses, having some great conversations, and just really enjoying the time together, especially the joy of watching our kids experience the magic of childhood with playing out in the snow, giggling with cousins while playing hide-and-seek, and getting excited about sleepovers at Grandma’s.

This year, I was also especially grateful just for the fact that we were able to make it to our family’s Thanksgiving celebration at all.

My usual doctor’s appointments are on Thursdays (and we’re now doing weekly, just because of all the preterm labor), but this week I went in Tuesday due to the holiday. I was in a state of extremely high anxiety when I went in because of everything that had been going on over the last week and a half, and I basically had a meltdown in my doctor’s office.

But let me back up a bit, to give you context.

I posted two weeks ago with a general pregnancy and family update, and a basic summary of that post is that I was told to basically go on bed rest as much as possible, was scheduled to get steroid shots for the baby, and given an as-needed medication to take whenever contractions started picking up. I also had a cervical check that showed I wasn’t quite dilated to a one and 60% effaced already.

Well, the week after that post, everything picked up considerably. I had had my 33-week appointment on a Thursday and had planned to get my steroid shots on Saturday and Sunday morning, but with how much my body kicked up the contractions Thursday night, I ended up going in Friday morning. They monitored the baby and me for an hour before administering the shots, and while the baby looked great throughout, the contraction monitor WAS registering many contractions over the hour, just not anything in a regular pattern (for background, when we had gone in for our emergency appointment at 31.5 weeks, the contraction monitor hadn’t picked up anything).

Even though my contractions were “on the verge,” I was told that the hospital couldn’t really do anything until they’d normalized into a regular pattern, so I was given the shot (wow, that thing burns!) and sent home. Symptoms continued over the next day, and my doctor told me that I’d better start taking the medication I’d been given for contractions around the clock, instead of as needed. I got the second shot that next day too and just tried to take it as easy as I could (a fact made much easier by the fact that it was a weekend and Matt was home, but a fact made a bit more complicated by the fact that we were hosting our Friendsgiving that day). Luckily, that day (Saturday) contractions finally started to really ease up once again, and I was able to fully enjoy our Friendsgiving celebration, even though it got frustrating to not be able to basically lift a finger to help.

And here is a great place to talk about this concept of bed rest for a second.

My doctors aren’t officially calling it “bed rest” because the term/idea is largely going out of practice, at least as far as I understand—enough research and evidence has come up that shows bed rest to actually have the potential to cause as many problems as it prevents (such as blood clotting issues), so my doctors have always been careful to phrase it as “taking it easy” and “regularly getting off my feet.”

But in my head, it’s still bed rest.

And let me tell you, the version in my head of what “bed rest” would look like and the reality version?

Not at all the same thing.

In my dream version, bed rest involved long periods of quiet in my dark bedroom, actually sleeping. And when I couldn’t sleep, I would sit (always in bed) and read. The worst part (in my head) of bed rest would be the boredom.

The reality version of bed rest somehow seems to involve even less sleep than before, largely because sleep seems to have become the ever illusive dream at this point in this pregnancy. And reading only seems to happen when it’s just me and the kids at home, because when I have help around (which thankfully has been a lot), I’m sitting on my couch throne like a very round dictator, telling everyone what to do and where to put that clean Pyrex pan and where the onions are located.

But the dictatorship only extends so far as the realm of the couch edge because the second I stand up—to grab that book that’s five feet away or help that preschooler with just one tiny thing on the floor–I am sternly reminded that I’m supposed to be taking it easy and putting my feet up and all that.

Whoever thought it would be so exhausting to do nothing?

Maybe not everyone will understand me in this, but bed rest is kind of my worst nightmare—I like to feel useful, I like to be a go-getter, and I like to be largely self-sufficient. So when I have to ask my husband or friend or neighbor or mom to grab me that cup that’s literally six steps away or get me something to eat or change that reeky poopy diaper that even I would recoil at, it’s deeply humbling.

It’s also made me deeply grateful.

Something I’ve noticed in my life is that I’m often unaware of the extent of my support system until it’s given an opportunity to be tested. And over the past couple weeks, I’ve been pretty astounded at the goodness and strength of mine, from neighbors offering to take Raven on play dates, to meals showing up at our house, to my mom basically putting everything she can on the back burner so that she can drive up to our house and stay as much as she can (or let us stay at their house as much as we can).

It is humbling to be the one on the constant receiving end of so much service, but it has made me feel pretty darn thankful this Thanksgiving for just how much we’ve been given.

Back to the original narrative, though.

So I basically got put on bed rest, I’m taking the medication for contractions around the clock. And then I start noticing that that medication gives me really terrible side effects and that my anxiety has shot through the roof—I’m having meltdowns with my mom, with my husband, at the doctor’s office. I’m trying not to constantly Google how far along I am and what problems we’re going to run into if the baby comes at 32w+4d. Then I Google the medication I’ve been on constantly on one of my regular 2 AM wanderings throughout the house (because I can’t sleep yet again), and even though I’m just looking it up to see if my side effects are normal (because Matt has basically forbidden me to look up medical info because it stresses me out, ha ha), I see all sorts of warnings and Pregnancy Class C medication signs, and I go into a little fear spiral.

By this point (this was early this week, like this last Sunday night), contractions have eased up enough I’m comfortable going off the medication until my doctor appointment on Tuesday, just because I’m nervous about what I read, and the side effects were getting unbearable.

So I go into the doctor’s office on Tuesday. I’m terrified to have another cervical check, because I felt like that was one thing that sent me into the more intense contractions for 48 hours the last time. I’m terrified NOT to have an internal check because I’m supposed to be going out of town for the next few days, and I’m nervous about being so far away from our hospital if something happens. I feel better since having gone back off the contraction medication and only taking it as needed, but I’m worried that my decision to do that might have meant that the baby will come sooner.

The doctor comes in, and I just lose it.

Here’s something I’ve learned about myself—I’m a bit of a control freak. I like to feel like I’m in control of myself and the general circumstances of my life, and one of the worst things to feel for me is to feel like I’m no longer in control of myself–my thoughts, my actions, my feelings–especially. So having meltdowns in doctors’ offices?

Not my favorite.

Somehow my doctor knew just what to say. She talked about worst case scenario (what if the baby comes today?) and best case (the baby is full term). She talked me off the ledge about the medication and reassured me that she supported my decision to go back to taking it as needed and that it also wasn’t doing any harm to me or my baby, though the side effects were unpleasant. And most important?

She told me that if the baby comes early, it’s not my fault.

I had no idea how much I needed to hear that.

My control-freak self had somehow equated that if the baby came early, it would be because I failed on something—I didn’t take it easy enough, I stopped taking the medication when I shouldn’t have, I was stressing out so much that my anxiety was causing my body to go into labor.

But when I was reassured that at this point, I had done and was doing everything I could do about the situation and that everything that happens next would just be the way things were going to go anyway, it felt enormously liberating.

In fact, I haven’t cried since (and I was running up quite the little streak there for several days).

So my doctor checked me to see how far I’d progressed so we could make our Thanksgiving plans. And I was at a 1+ (nearly a 2) and 80% effaced. We decided together that I was fine to go down to stay with family as planned, and we came up with a hospital/backup hospital plan for whatever might come up.

Today, I am 34 weeks along, and I don’t know what’s going to happen. I could still make it to 37 weeks, or we could need to head back home today. I had to take the as-needed medication this morning, but I’ve been staying off my feet and staying hydrated.

Whatever will be, will be.

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