Recently my friend was put on pregnancy bed rest because of some complications. Hearing her struggles made me wonder how on earth I'd ever be able to do that - sit on a couch all day every day for days, weeks, even some moms do it for MONTHS at a time! I don't think I could do it. I admire every mom who has ever had to go through this.
Being the friend of a woman on bed rest is a challenge, too. Trying to figure out just what I could offer for support was interesting because as a friend I wanted to help, but wasn't sure what to do. I guess the answer is easy: EVERYTHING and ANYTHING! Moms stuck on couches need all the help they can get.
Here are a few things YOU can do to HELP A FRIEND who is on bed rest:
First of all, you KNOW your friend will tell you that she's all set, she doesn't need anything. To which you will smile, tap her on the shoulder and say, "You can repay me someday, but right now I'm your friend who is here to help because you are stuck being a couch potato. So just smile and accept it and ask me for whatever you need, because otherwise I'm doing it my way."
*Keep in touch - Frequent phone calls, text messages just saying you were thinking of her, and emails and Facebook hellos are always nice. Keep her in your thoughts. Send her silly, encouraging comments just to make her laugh. If she's nearing the end of pregnancy, keep a tally mark or update her with "20 more days, you can do it!" type comments.
*Don't shut her out. If you have stuff going on in your life, tell her! Keep her updated like you regularly would. You aren't bothering her, in fact you probably are helping occupy and sidetrack her mind for a little while, away from whatever negative thoughts she was having. So tell her about your day at work and how annoying your boss is. Text her a picture of your yard sale find or your kids' playing the sprinkler. It's all good. If she can't hear it right now, she'll let you know, so otherwise just keep her updated.
*Listen. She may be angry, upset, frustrated, disappointed. So do what you can to help her by listening, just be there. Don't offer solutions unless she asks. Just be a friend.
*Send her cards, emails, letters. The old fashioned kind that are fun to open.
*Make a care package of magazines, fun items like shopping to do list pads or face masks from the $1 section at Target, journals, nail polish to paint her nails, etc.
I made my friend a package of some of these items, including a journal titled "AWESOME" where it had prompts inside to answer questions about all the awesome, wonderful, happy things in her life. I thought that was good when she was stuck in a not-so-awesome situation. Focusing on the positive is better than being stuck in the negative.
*Feed her - Nobody can pass up some homecooked muffins or even store bought pizza. It's all perfectly wonderful when you can't get up to cook for yourself. If she already has a toddler running around, try to send over some snacks for the kiddos, too, like fruit salad or cheese and crackers. Remember when sending food, make sure it's in a throw-away container, not something she has to remember to have someone wash and get back to you.
If she's near the end of pregnancy, she probably wanted to make some meals and freeze them. So ask her for the recipes, pick up the ingredients, and help her get some food cooked and frozen for when baby arrives.
*Cross stuff off the list. She probably has a list a mile long of things she needs to do, she's a mom, of course she does. So whether that is drop that dress off at the dry cleaners or pick up her son's new sneakers at the store or take a kid to a doctor appointment, or even just hang that new picture frame... go over and offer your services. If she's near the end of pregnancy this could include picking up stamps to send thank you notes after a baby shower, or helping her sort through baby clothes and put diapers into the diaper caddy in the nursery.
*Go play - If she has kids, offer to go over for an hour to play with the kids. Take them outside or even just keep them occupied inside while she talks to you or naps. If I'm a mom of a toddler who is stuck on bed rest, I'm going to be TOTALLY worried about my first baby, feeling guilty that I can't be the one changing his diaper. So go take that stress off of your friend's shoulders and do the playing for her.
I included in my friend's care package I sent her some stickers for her to use with her child, as well as some tattoos they could put on each other.
*Go over every day or at least a few times a week during the same time where something needs to be done. For example, if she has kids in school, offer to go meet the kids off the bus, get them inside and having a snack, homework started, before her partner arrives to take over after work. Or go over each night at bed time. We all know bed time is the worst, terribly challenging on a good day ... now imagine being on bed rest. So go over, do bath time (that's super fun with kids anyway!), get the kid into pajamas, and help mom read her stories before you put child into bed. It won't take more than an hour of your time but will be a lifesaver to your friend.
Here's for YOU, Couch Potato!
If you are the unfortunate one on bed rest, here are a few ideas I came up with and texted to my dear friend while she was on bed rest.
I know how badly you want to get UP off that couch... but you have a big important job to do right now... You are building a baby! You can either be up whipping up dinner and cleaning the floors so it looks great in your house, or you can be sitting growing a lung, making a heart beat strongly and helping a life come into the world. You are doing an amazing sacrifice. Be strong. You can do this!
My friend told me she was stressed about people coming to drop food off and help her out while she was on bed rest. I told her those people were not looking at her house, they are looking at her to make sure she's OK. But if you are worried about this, too, then call a friend you trust to come over and clean up a little. They won't mind, promise!
Another thing, I know this sucks. It does. You did not plan on spending your pregnancy this way. And if you have a child already this is even more difficult to manage, I am sure. I cannot imagine having to learn this lesson so early on while pregnant, but here goes ... this is the lesson with having two + kids ... Somebody always has to wait. Someone's needs always have to come first and also be put aside. Not put aside forever, but for a few minutes. And THAT'S OK. You are a GOOD mom for doing this, not a bad mom. Don't feel guilty about having to sit on a couch while your toddler needs you. It's OK. The older one survives and probably won't remember this anyway. And you do what you have to do. That's what love is all about - sacrifice and choices.
YOU CAN DO THIS.
Here are a few things to keep YOU occupied while sitting on the couch.
*Make an Amazon wish list for items for Christmas and birthdays, things your child needs/wants, you and partner want
*Finish up the baby shower registry online
*Make a honey-do list for things you want your partner to try to tackle around the house. This can be a "please do soon before baby comes" list, as well as items that are long term.
*Clean out your email inboxes. Delete things, print things, etc.
*Make a time capsule. Get a mason jar or some other container. Take pieces of paper and write a memory from this year on each individual paper. Put papers in the jar and don't open until New Year's Day :)
*Call to make appointments ... annual eye, doctor, dentist, etc. appointments if you have not already.
*Pinterest! Plan your child's next birthday parties. Find cute crafts you want to do when you're able to.
*Update address book
*Organize mail and papers on your desk
*Update music on your iPod or make CDs to have music in the car
*Clean up your computer desktop... delete old files, organize icons
*Search online for new blogs to follow
*Update your cookbooks and recipes.
*Make lists of ingredients you need to buy at the store to make new recipes
*Research baby names
*Make a Christmas list of gifts you need to purchase
*Make list of people you want to send Christmas cards to
*Organize kids' books. Have someone put them on your lap on the couch. Get rid of duplicates. Organize by author, type of book, whatever.
*Organize your photos on your phone, computer, etc. Delete bad ones. Put into folders. Better yet make some albums, print some photos for frames, and make photo books. I love Shutterfly.com for this!
*Clean out your purse. You know there's always junk in there, get to it!
*Organize your coupons. Go to Wal-Mart.com and Target.com to print new coupons.
*Paint your nails or at least file them.
*If someone can come over to help you, ask them to go through your child's toys while child is napping... show you each toy and you decide if you want to keep or donate because it's no longer used. Do the same with your kid's clothes.
*SLEEP. REST. SLEEP. RELAX. When else will you get this much time to just sit?! Try really hard to enjoy a little bit of this. While laying there roll your ankles, stretch your legs if you can, and move your arms around. Keep hydrated. And enjoy some chocolate treats. It's all OK.
YOU CAN DO THIS.
Soon, all this waiting, sitting, will be worth it :)