By Jennifer Degl

In spite of my good intentions, bed rest and I were not friends. In fact, we were enemies. My happy mood didn’t last long: I started to become depressed and slightly insane. I say “slightly,” but my husband and those closest to me would probably use the term “totally insane.”

I was placed on pregnancy-induced bed rest at 17 weeks gestation due to a hemorrhage that almost took my life, as well as my unborn daughter’s. There were three more of those to follow, and each was worse than the first. This was all caused by 100% placenta previa that ultimately turned into placenta accreta.

People told me that being on bed rest was a gift. After all, who wouldn’t want to hang out in bed all day, with their meals served to them on a platter and their husbands taking care of all the housework? Me!

I am not a stay-in-bed person. I wanted to be a part of my children’s lives, not watching from the sidelines. Actually, I couldn’t even watch from the sidelines because I was stuck upstairs in my bedroom. I couldn’t attend one soccer game, and it was my middle son’s first season playing soccer. I couldn’t go to one hockey game – or anything else for that matter. This was the first time I had ever missed anything in my sons’ lives. I felt like a prisoner.  I missed everything that my three boys were doing outside of the house, and I could not stand it!

Being on bed rest was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure. Ever. I know how totally ridiculous that sounds, but up until this point in my apparently “charmed life,” this was the worst for me. It was not in my plan. I hated it.

My husband, my parents, my in-laws, and my best friend kept repeating the same refrain.

“It’s temporary, try to relax,” they said.

“Deal with it,” they said.

“It’s guaranteed to be over no later than September 2nd,” they said.  That was my due date. But, I was put on bed rest in mid-March and September 2nd sounded like two years away!

All I wanted to say to them – and did say to some – was, “Shut the hell up!”

My husband and I argued – usually about how he was parenting the boys – and then he would shut the bedroom door on me. I was helpless then because I couldn’t get out of bed. I wasn’t about to do anything to put my baby in danger and he knew it. He won every time. I felt as if I were being tortured, and he was my tormentor. It sounds foolish now, but that’s exactly how it felt to me then.

My mother came to the house every day after work to watch the kids and do all the laundry. My mother-in-law prepared dinner for the family and delivered meals to me in my room – while everyone else enjoyed dinner and one another’s company downstairs at the dining room table. My father and father-in-law shared responsibility for taking the boys to soccer, hockey, piano, boy scouts, and any other thing they had going on.  My best friend did almost everything
else for me: She ran countless errands, and listened to me scream and cry.  My co-workers were incredible: They created a schedule, and once each week, a different teacher prepared dinner for my family and delivered it to the house. I was touched by their generosity and kindness. Our church (which is also where my sons attend school) also arranged a dinner drop-off once a week.

Who would complain about this? Me!

As I look back on my time on bed rest, I realize I learned some incredible lessons from the experience. In the past, I’ve had friends who were put on pregnancy bed rest for various ailments. I actually looked down on them. I used to think, “Give me a break. You’re just going to lie around and do nothing?” How ungraciously judgmental of me!  I realize that now.

We can never know how someone else is feeling unless we’ve walked in their shoes. I took my family and friends for granted. Instead of being grateful for their help, I was angry. It was almost as if I blamed them for the fact that I felt imprisoned. I certainly took my sadness and anger out on them.

With the gift of hindsight, I can see how fortunate I am to have had – and to still have – all their unconditional love and support, and now it’s my turn to pay it forward. If I find that someone else is ever in need, I will happily hope to step up to the plate and return the favor.

My daughter was born at 23 weeks in May of 2012, weighing just 1 pound and 4 ounces (575g) and spent 121 days in the NICU at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, NY.  Her name is Joy and she is one amazing little girl. Aside from some minor lung issues, one would never know she was so premature. Joy loves to chase around her three big brothers and is as happy as can be.

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