What I Wish Everyone Knew About Bed Rest

Bed rest. Sounds fun, right? No work. No chores. No responsibility. A doctor’s order to basically put everything you love and hate about “adulting” on hold. I instantly thought back to sick days as a kid, watching “The Price is Right” in pajamas, while my mom took care of me, doling out medicine, and the occasional Wendy’s Frosty if my sore throat was bad enough.

Ahhhh…bed rest. Sounds perfect, right? No stress, no worries, just me, and the time I never seemed to be able to find while working full time with a toddler at home. Boy, was I wrong.

Here’s the thing about bed rest…it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

bed restI can almost hear you from here. You’re echoing the same sentiments many of my well-meaning friends and family have repeated to me ad nausem. 

  • “I’d KILL to be off work!”
  • “You get to stay home ALL day? I’m SO jealous!”
  • “Think of all the fun things you can do — and the places you can go!”
  • “You’ve got to be LOVING all this ‘me time’”. 

Here’s what I wish everyone knew about bed rest:

It’s not all fun and games. You’re put on bed rest because some part of you isn’t well. In my case, I blacked out at work while walking down a hallway. I was six months pregnant. While my miracle rainbow baby was fine, I was left with a concussion, dizzy spells, rapid heart rate, and difficulty breathing. The concussion kept me in bed most of the first few days of my leave. I couldn’t see clearly out of one eye. My daughter’s daily symphony of laughter, squeals, and tantrums physically hurt my head. I slept most of those days. I didn’t shower. I couldn’t read because my eyes couldn’t focus. The lights and sound of the television hurt my head. I was home, sure…but being held captive by, what appeared to be, a never-ending list of symptoms that couldn’t be treated medicinally, because…well, I was pregnant.

As the concussion symptoms lifted, I was finally able to tackle that binge-worthy Netflix list I had been dreaming up. You know, all the things you don’t get to watch when you have a toddler who insists on hosting her very own Bubble Guppies Marathon every second she’s awake? I indulged in things like Hamilton, and cheesy over-the-top reality shows in total silence, without anyone asking me for anything, or reminding me what time Sunday/Monday/Thursday night football started. Since expending any sort of energy usually resulted in a rapid heart rate, and a major dizzy spell, I was OK with just surrendering to my medical fate, laying on the couch, and living every college kid’s dream of absolutely zero responsibility.

But eventually, the glamour of all of that wears off, and it’s quickly replaced by a number of emotions that didn’t quite seem to make their way onto the doctor’s prescription pad. Among them? Fear. Guilt. Loneliness. Frustration.

Fear that the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and that appointment after appointment turned up virtually no answers. Fear that whatever the problem was, would somehow impact my pregnancy or delivery. Visions of miscarriages, stillbirth, fetal abnormalities, and birthing complications danced through my head. Fear that this could all happen again. That the very condition that put you on bed rest could get worse, or that the next episode you have, could be far more traumatic. I was constantly worried that every step I took would lead to my next fall, that every trace of dizziness was a sign I would soon blackout. I was {and am} afraid of doing much of anything, driven in large part, by a fear of doing harm to myself or the baby. Those fears only compounded an already crippling level of anxiety caused by the harsh realities and unknowns of COVID-19. 

Guilt over any number of things. I still had to take my daughter to daycare every day, because I was unable to care for her with my health being the way it was. It ate me alive that I was sitting at home, off work, unable to care for my child. Guilt, that as I’m sitting at home, my husband is still working full time, and then coming home to pick up the slack I couldn’t wrap my own arms around while I was home all day. Guilt that I’m not getting a full salary, that he’s pulling the bulk of the weight. That all this is happening with three months until my due date. Guilt that I couldn’t be that “on the go” mama I always was, that dinner wouldn’t always be ready, or the bed made. Guilt, because as the time went on, I felt more like a burden, confined to the couch, unable to contribute much, thanks to an ailment that wasn’t always easy to see, but always present. So is the…

lonelinessBeing on bed rest is isolating enough, now try being on bed rest during a high-risk pregnancy and a national pandemic. I was {and am} afraid to leave the house out of fear I may black out again while driving or walking around a store. And I’m afraid to have people come over, because of another invisible enemy, COVID-19. That means the friends and family that would stop by to help take my mind off things, keep me company, or just lend a hand around the house are all slightly out of reach. It’s like you’re living on an island. The most exciting parts of your day are when the mail comes, and whenever you have a doctor’s appointment. Let me say that louder for the people in the back. You’re actually excited by doctor’s appointments because it gives you an opportunity to get out of the house, interact with people, and do something with purpose. 

frustrationFrustration that you’re now just a shell of the person you used to be, and that this “world of opportunities” is now very much limited to what you can successfully complete on a couch or in bed. Frustrated that tasks that used to be so simple and second nature, are now completely off-limits, or take you eight times as long to complete. Frustrated that you can’t be the wife or the mother or the friend, daughter, cousin that you used to be. Frustrated that the world around you has basically been put on hold, and there’s nothing you can do about it and no way to speed it up. 

But not all the emotions are bad. Perhaps the weirdest part of all of this, is that despite everything, part of you is always thankful. Thankful that something worse didn’t happen before you were put on bed rest. Thankful that you’re still alive to go through all those emotions, and that your unborn child is along for the ride. Thankful for advanced medicine and its ability to find, diagnose, and treat these medical issues. Thankful for understanding employers, and for a partner who is more than willing to pick up all that extra slack you’ve been so worried about. Thankful for extra time with the ones you love, even if you’re not always feeling your best for every second of it.

And thankful for all the people in your life, who immediately understood the many facets and phases of bed rest and everything you’re going through.  The people who realized it wasn’t some sort of extended vacation, but something much deeper than that.  And the people who loved and supported you just the same, without ever having to read a blog post like this one.

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Sarah T
My name is Sarah, and I'm a full-time mom to one tiny human (Cecily) and a fur baby (Riley). I live in Lansing with my Air Force Veteran husband, Chris, and work as a news anchor for the local FOX affiliate by night. I am a black widow to houseplants near and far, love trying new recipes (haven’t sent anyone to the hospital yet), and have no fewer than 99 craft projects (and 98 Pinterest fails) in progress at any given moment. My life is a comedy of errors, and I'm inviting you along for the ride. You can follow me at “Running on Coffee, Chaos, and Creativity” for all my latest musings, craft projects, and how-to videos.

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