Mama of the Month

In Search of “Mamas on Bedrest”

June 8th, 2012

We need mamas on bed rest to share their stories! It saddens me to say that we don’t yet have a mama of the month for June and we’re already at June 8th!! Mamas, other mamas and the general public need to hear from you.

I understand that for many mamas, once they are done with their bed rest experience, they’d just as soon forget that it happened. Heck, who wants to remember the isolation, the worry, the aches….The baby is here, safe and sound and healthy and that’s what most mamas want to focus on. But it is vital that you share your experience with other mamas who are currently going through the same thing. It is one thing for a mama on bed rest to receive visits and comfort from family and friends. It’s another matter entirely for a mama to hear “her story” from the lips of another mama. It’s in those moments that a mama often says, “She really knows how I feel and what I am going through.” That type of confirmation, that validation that what you are going through is real, it is hard and that there are people there for you who understand exactly where you are and what you are feeling is priceless!

But I am asking for your stories for another reason. As I make the transition from Texas to Boston, I have begun meeting with birth professionals, hospitals, organizations and interested folks to begin integrating Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond into the area. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who have no idea what it is like to be on pregnancy bed rest. (Quite frankly, there are many physicians who are unaware of the more “personal side” of the very bed rest that they prescribe!)  They say, “Wow, I had no idea that this was happening.” Then when I relate the numbers of women who are prescribed bed rest each year, the problems that can arise for both mamas and their babies and how there is little to no support for mamas, I really get their attention, and often the question, “Why is this the first that I am hearing of this?”

It’s so true mamas. We all know about the “Octomom”. We know about the family of quintuplets and we have watched them grow up through the years. Then there is Jon and Kate Plus 8. We hear amazing stories about Siamese twins and their remarkable surgeries to separate them. But we never hear about the mamas. Behind each of those amazing baby stories, there is the story of a mama who struggled and did all that she could do to bring those babies into the world. But for some reason, mamas on bed rest don’t make the news. (For that reason I can’t say that I blame octomom for “going public”.  Crazy as I think she was for having all those babies, her story has been told-even if it isn’t a bed rest story!) There are cable channels running “birth stories” all day long, but rarely do those shows focus on the mama-her feelings and emotions.

So mamas, we want to hear from you! Share your stories with other mamas on bed rest, birth professionals and the general public. We need to let others know what a mama on bedrest goes through-the physical and emotional demands, the demands on family and home responsibilities and the stress that a high risk pregnancy places on a woman’s job and career. It needs to be out there. Please make your voices and your stories heard!

Mamas on Bedrest: Meet Jennifer Spencer our May 2012 Mama of the Month!

May 4th, 2012

Incompetent Cervix is, unbelievably, the medical term for what put me on bed rest for nine weeks, which makes it sound like my cervix showed up to do the job and just couldn’t figure it out, like a terrible intern. I was irrationally terrified of any age-related complications that might come with having a baby at 34, not of having a short cervix. Because you never know how long your cervix is until you find out it’s too short.

Before bed rest, my husband and I were almost always “on.” Between networking events and political fundraisers and 14 kinds of tweetups every night, we were rarely home. Social media is my profession and my passion, and it’s pretty impossible to turn yourself off when you love what you’re doing. I knew we’d have to slow down for the baby, but never expected to have to come to a screeching halt. I thought I’d learn to appreciate the forced slow down and make the most of the time to reflect on my priorities, consider new strategies at work, and maybe even learn to knit. I had high hopes that I would handle bed rest with dignity and grace. Not exactly.

My husband prepared a day’s worth of healthy meals in a cooler and left it by the sofa for me every day. One day he forgot to pack a fork for me, and I tiraded for an hour. I would scream obscenities at the FedEx delivery driver who insisted on ringing the doorbell multiple times before dropping the package on the porch. I threw things at the TV when I’d see pregnant women in cute maternity workout clothes. I cried every single day.

But I did it. I stayed flat all the time, sitting up only to eat and walking only to the bathroom. And I checked in with other bed rest mamas online, cheering them on, letting their support carry me when I needed a boost. I reminded myself how lucky I was to have a job that restructured my duties so I could still work full time, to have a husband who learned to make incredible salads so I could keep eating healthy, and to stay pregnant week after week.

At 23 weeks, I went on bed rest. At 26 weeks my cervix hovered around 1.9 and stayed there until 32 weeks, when I was allowed to get up. I was weak, my belly was huge, but I was walking again and my baby was incredibly active and healthy. At 37 weeks, my water broke and Eli arrived at 7 pounds, 8 ounces, and happy, healthy, and strong. Now he’s almost 6 months old and I can’t believe how lucky we are to have such an easy going baby, and such a fun, amazing person in our lives.

Most people associate physical feats of the human body with activity, but bed rest is amazing, too. It’s an incredible sacrifice to make for someone you haven’t even met, and it is ridiculously difficult. But it’s survivable, and ultimately the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

Mamas on Bedrest: Meet April’s Mama of the Month, Jennifer Breedlove

April 4th, 2012

I love hearing how mamas cope with bed rest. Each story, while strikingly similar is also uniquely different. Each mama finds a way to cope, stay strong and do what she must to “keep her little bun (s) in the oven.”

April’s Mama of the Month is Jennifer Breedlove. Jennifer is a mama of 4 and endured 11 weeks of bed rest while pregnant with her now 15 month old twin boys. Here is Jennifer’s story.

I was put on bed rest at 25 weeks for preterm labor with cervical shortening.  I was hospitalized and got magnesium and sent home three days later.  Four weeks afterward, I went back for a check up (I had been seen at two week check up, with no cervical changes) and I was dilated to 5 cm in preterm labor again!  My first twin was breech so at 29 weeks, they kept me in the hospital for preterm labor and advanced cervical dilation.  I stayed at 5 cm for the next seven weeks and ultimately got induced!  My ob said he’d never seen anyone stay dilated for so long without complications.  I was on bed rest with our twin boys for eleven weeks…56 of those days on hospital bed rest!

I had a goal each day and became a creature of habit.  I am very active so I was shocked when I was put on bed rest!  I immediately started a bed rest exercise program and when I became inpatient, a physical therapist designed a program for me that I would do every day (most times twice daily).  Like most moms on bed rest, I felt alone, afraid for my babies and angry that my body was going into labor too soon.  I Just prayed for each day to stay pregnant and at 36 weeks, I was induced and gave birth to two healthy boys!  Praise God!

To mamas on bed rest I say stay positive, take help from whomever offers and have a daily goal.  I got reacquainted on Facebook and looked forward to my two other children and husband to visit.  Thankfully, my mom was able to visit me ever night and eventually, I got wheelchair privileges  to get some fresh air.  It’s been a rough year but we’re finally adjusted to our new life and I ran my first marathon within eight months after their birth to celebrate our health.

Andrew and Joseph were born on January 30, 2011.  Drew was 5 lbs, 6oz.  Joseph was 6 lbs, 2 oz.  Perfect little men who walk now!