Bed rest during pregnancy is not uncommon and it can be rough. When I was 7 weeks pregnant with my third baby, I broke my leg. The break was bad and required orthopedic surgery. Of course, because I was pregnant and wanted to stay that way – I had no anesthesia during the surgery or pain killers afterwards. For 7 weeks following the surgery, I couldn’t stand, walk, drive, or work. I was also throwing up several times a day from morning sickness. And I had two small children (ages 2 and 4) and a husband who worked always.
It was maybe not the funnest period of my life. And truthfully, my family struggled through it.
But there is always a silver lining, right? And though the circumstances of my convalescence were different from regular pregnancy bedrest, the lessons I learned are (I think) pretty universal.
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Everybody got a mommy appreciation lesson. 1 of 7Like every mom, I had times where I felt unappreciated and taken for granted. I sometimes wondered what would happen to my family if I just stopped doing all the stuff I always did for them. But when I suddenly did stop, some amazing things happened. First, their eyes were opened. And that part was great.
But what happened second, was that my own eyes were opened. And that stung a little. I had been doing way too much, and I was doing a lot of it wrong. I was really invested in being right all the time, instead of just asking for help. I walked around thinking "you people have no idea how much I do for you" and acting like a martyr, instead of treating my husband like the partner he was and seeing that my kids could do more for themselves.
photo credit: Photostock.
I learned what my marriage was made of. 2 of 7Winston Churchill said, "It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required." When I suddenly went down for the count everything fell on him. He had no warning and he just had to pick up the pieces and deal. Life unfortunately throws curve balls sometimes right at your face. I learned our marriage could take a curve ball to the nose and survive. In fact, it got better.
But I won't lie. The first few weeks were awful for both of us. I know now that while his first reaction may not be what I want or expect, that I can count on him to come through for me and our kids. That both us will do what we have to, sometimes with a snarl but usually with smile. And that's OK, because this is real life and sometimes real life is snarly.
photo credit: Photostock.
My kids started to do more for themselves. 3 of 7We hired a teenager to come for an hour every afternoon to help me with the kids. This teenager was the oldest of five children and that girl saved my bacon. Because in her family, little kids pitch in at an early age. She had my two tiny kids folding and sorting their own laundry. She was shocked that my almost 3 year old expected someone to help put on his jacket and shoes.
It was life changing. I had not realized how much they were capable of doing on their own. It totally altered my parenting perspective which is now largely defined by what that she taught me. Because in her family, out of necessity or design, parents did not do things for kids that kids could do for themselves.
It's ironic because at that time, my biggest peeve as a mom was my childrens' insistence on doing it all themselves. "NO! I DO IT!" they'd yell at me, and then proceed to take 25 minutes to put on their shoes as I impatiently glared at them. I learned to be patient and see that their stubborn insistence to do for themselves was actually a good thing in the long run.
photo credit: Photostock.
I learned who my friends were. 4 of 7Knowing who your friends are is a blessing, but it can sometimes feel like a curse. There will be people who you would swear on a Bible would be there for you when you need them. And they're just not. So I had a choice: I could change my expectations of them to better reflect the reality of our relationship or I could move forward without them. Either way, I was better off.
But I truly believe that for every person who didn't come through for me, another surprised me by providing support in a meaningful (sometimes small) way that I hadn't anticipated. I just needed to be smart enough to see it.
photo credit: Ambro.
I finally got enough sleep. 5 of 7This may not sound like a big deal but it had been almost five years since I'd slept through the night. Being well-rested was... wonderful.
photo credit: Danilo Rizzuti.
There was real value in things being quiet and slow — just for a little while. 6 of 7Normal life moves at a very fast pace. It's also very noisy and the work never seems to stop. For just a little while, my world got very small, quiet and slow. Here's an admission: I thought I would love it but I hated it. I was bored. I felt claustrophobic and isolated. I hated being alone with my own thoughts. But it was good for me. Because it occurred to me that if being alone with my own thoughts was making me that uncomfortable, something was wrong.
photo credit: Marin.
I got a whole new perspective. 7 of 7As I lay in bed five years ago, my leg searing from pain and my stomach churning from morning sickness, I spent a lot of time wondering why this had happened to me and frankly, feeling really sorry for myself. I guess that's normal. At the time, it all seemed so unfair. I cringe now, not for the pity party but because it took me a little while to figure out that it wasn't just happening to me. Because there wasn't a just me anymore. I'm now a WE. My husband had to carry all the weight that my broken leg couldn't hold. My kids had to adapt to a mother who couldn't carry them at all. But we did adapt. And we are still a WE.
And I got better. One day, the doctor told me I could walk. Just take off the boot and walk. And drive. You're fixed! And that same day, I looked at the sky and realized that Spring had come and gone. And it was early summer, and my first trimester was over - and so was the puking. And the sun was warm and the breeze felt wonderful. And I got my life back. And I appreciated it as I never had before.
And there are a few more things I still carry with me. I (briefly) knew what it meant to be really sick. To be disabled and need a wheel chair. I know what it means to be entirely dependent on those around me. To really, really need help. And I will never look at the world the same way again.
photo credit: Grau Razvan Ionut.