Have you ever wished you could just take a break from “life”? Some call it a sabbatical, other cultures call it holiday, and in the U.S. we call it vacation. How long would you take? Where would you go, what would you do, and who would come with you?
Imagine at 20 weeks 5 days pregnant (with your “rainbow” – pregnancy post-miscarriage or loss) you are told to take a “break”. Because your water broke way too early. And the odds are you will go into labor at any moment with a baby who has no chance of surviving. You are married, have a 3 yr old daughter and lead a company. Sure, at first bedrest seems like a great idea. Time to let others wait on you, yes please! Then you realize this will be your life for the next 3 1/2 months/14 weeks/98 days if you “make it” all the way. And yet, in the grand scheme of things, it’s such a short time.
Guess what? Life doesn’t stop around you.
This is how it looked for me. From Feb 15, 2015 to March 5, 2015 (2 weeks 5 days), home bedrest actually wasn’t that bad. I could see my family everyday. Friends brought over yummy food. My job was still the same and I performed the activities I could from home. I began the pPROM regimen (see http://aapprom.org/ for details). Downloaded apps to track everything and created the list of things I would need to make my hospital time comfortable.
The health community believes “viability” begins at 24 weeks gestation. Until then, even high-risk doctors will not advise you to do anything differently other than “take it easy” if your water breaks (technical term is pPROM – preterm premature rupture of membranes, water breaking prior to 37 weeks). Well, I’ve never been one to let life happen. Knowing Jesus asked us to give action to our faith, I did just that. I studied every internet article I could find. Celebrated the success stories. Printed pregnancy affirmations. Wrote out affirmations and scriptures on 3X5 cards. Joined the closed facebook support groups. And prayed and asked others to pray.
Due to inclement winter weather, my husband and I decided to make the 3.5 hour trip to the hospital a few days prior to 24 weeks. You read that correctly. I would be staying 3.5 hours away from my home and family for the remainder of my pregnancy. We took our 3 yr old daughter to our friend’s house to stay for a few days. Walking out their door, I realized for the first time my life would not look the same for a while.
“Thriving on Hospital Bedrest” is a different topic I will cover on a separate post. So allow me to press the fast-forward button for 61 days. Those 61 days were a new, very different life, with its own challenges, fears, hopes, despair, and faith…always faith. From March 5, 2015 to May 5, 2015, I lived in Little Rock, AR. And in my “plan” I should still be there. In my plan, today (5/16/15) I’m 3 days away from a scheduled c-section or induction. In my plan and written as a goal on my hospital dry erase board, Kyleigh would be born at 34 weeks and weigh 5 lbs. She would spend time in the NICU and then we would take her home.
And yet, today I’m at home in Bentonville. I came back here 11 days ago. With my husband and my 3 yr old daughter and a huge hole in my heart.
Over these 11 days, I’ve learned to be a parent to a preschooler, a wife and a friend again. I’m learning even though she doesn’t have the words to explain it, my 3 yr old is adjusting. She’s slowly letting me be her mom again instead of just the person she takes a trip to go see weekly. She’s learning I’m not going anywhere. We are learning to support each other as a family of 3 in a whole new way. We are showing greater grace and kindness than we ever have before.
I constantly remind myself if I had a newborn at home I would not expect to have a clean house, run errands, etc. My body needs me to act as if I do. My husband has graciously asked me to pace myself as well. My work (which is completely different than before I left for Little Rock) is unbelievable supportive and accommodating. So some days I wake early and some days I wake late (never past 9, I do have a 3 yr old!). Some days I fix myself something to eat and some days I drink a premade protein shake. Some days I just sit and listen to music. Some days I don’t shower. Some days I take a nap. Some days I go to bed at a decent time and most nights I can’t sleep.
13 days post c-section, I’m slowly moving easier and still taking ibuprofen to stay ahead of the pain. My breasts have finally realized there’s no need to house milk for a baby who’s not here to drink it. I am slowly reaching out to others to be a friend to them and in turn let them know it’s ok to be mine. It’s still easier to text or facebook message. If you ask how I’m doing, I have no idea what answer I will give you or what answer you will be comfortable with hearing. A simple “thinking of you” says “how are you”. The (…) of an unanswered text or message is a brain tug-of-war of thoughts. Will they answer me? How real can I be? Will they share with me like before? Do they know I’m different and yet I’m still the same?
Today was the first Saturday of no out of town family and the end of my daughter’s first full week back at school. We have watched a movie, some of her shows, listened to music on Pandora (see video featured in the post), sat at the kitchen table and ate fruit & yogurt, played (well she played and I sat in my lounge chair) outside with bubbles and she pushed her baby dolls in her stroller. Now it’s nap time for her and writing time for me.
I’m sitting in my living room, typing and talking to my husband. He makes me laugh. Most of the time I think he makes himself laugh too.
In the next couple weeks, I start checking items off my “back to life” tasks. Massage, hair appointment, doctor appointment, pedicure, teeth cleaning, lunch with friends who “get” at least part of this journey. Self-care appointments.
Still If I could pick a different path, I would. I would pick to be big, uncomfortable and pregnant. I would pick to be “living” with a baby in the NICU. Life just doesn’t work that way and it’s not fair. Yet, God knows the “plans” He has for us. I’m seeing a tiny glimpse of them everyday.
Wishing you Grace for your Journey – Misti