Today’s blog post is a bit different. A few months back I received an e-mail from a new entrepreneur, Rennard Watkins, asking if he could interview me for his podcast. At first I was surprised. Few men ask to interview me about Mamas on Bedrest. But because I like to help others out (as so many people have helped me get up and running!!) and I love ANY opportunity to speak about Mamas on Bedrest and raise awareness of what happens to women who have high risk pregnancies and the whole bed rest experience, I gladly accepted. I had forgotten the interview until I found an e-mail from Rennard and followed up. Lo and behold, here is the interview and I am sharing it with you all.
I will warn you up front, this has much more of a business/entrepreneur tone to it, so it is not exactly geared towards Mamas on Bedrest. But I wanted to share it with you to inspire some and encourage others to see what can become of your high risk pregnancy experience. When I was having my children, I was so stressed and so worried all the time and I just couldn’t find support and an outlet for all of my emotions. That is what moved me to start Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond, to be a place, an outlet for other mamas going through difficult pregnancies to find support, information and a community of people who know EXACTLY what she is going through. I also want to take a moment to encourage you to check out the work of other “former” Mamas on Bedrest who have taken their bed rest experiences and turned them into platforms from which to share experiences, expertise and support for other women.
Parijat Despande– Parijat was a “former” mama on bedrest and gave birth to a very early preemie. She is a psychologist by training and is utilizing her skills and expertise to support women going through difficult pregnancies as well as families and couples experiencing stress. Parijat is also the founder of MySahana, a mental health non-profit raising awareness about mental health issues in the Southern Asian community. Be sure to check out her website for fantastic information, resources and if you would like to take advantage of her expertise.
Jennifer Degl – Jennifer is also a “former” mama on bedrest who gave birth to a micro preemie. Jennifer chronicled her journey in a diary the day that she gave birth to her daughter, and that diary account has become a book called, “From Hope to Joy: A Memoir of a Mother’s Determination and Her Micro Preemie’s Struggle to Beat the Odds”. The book is available at Amazon.com as well as on Barnesandnoble.com. Check out Jennifer’s website for other information about being a preemie parent and preemie parent support information.
Rachel Blumenthal – Rachel chronicled her bedrest journey in her book “One Recumbent Mommy: A Humorous Encounter with Bedrest”. This is a wonderful read, and though told with humor, it shares some pertinent truths and tips about being on bed rest that mamas on hospital bed rest may want to note. Rachel also wrote a wonderful children’s book called “Wherever I am, I will love you still” which shares about bedrest from the perspective of her young son. This is a great book to get if you have young children as it gives a good description of what it is like for mommy to be away in the hospital and waiting for baby brother or sister to come. Both books are available on Rachel’s Website as well as on Amazon.com.
These are but a few of the examples of what has become of a bedrest experience. If you are a former Mama on Bedrest and a member of this community, and have turned your bed rest experience into a creative endeavor, please share your story. We would love to support you, cheer you on and be inspired by your work.
And now, here is the interview on, with Rennard Watkins! Please be so kind to go to iTunes after listening and share a comment. That will help Rennard’s online presence and boost his podcast ratings!! Thanks so much!
Good Morning Mamas!!
The Austin/Round Rock March of Dimes March for Babies was this past Saturday, March 9th. It was a wonderful event with over 6000 participants here in the Central Texas area. There were several corporate groups, hospital groups, families and yes, little ole me, representing Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond. It was fun to be out mingling with all the families and learning about what is being done by the March of Dimes to support families of Preterm infants. It was also really interesting to hear the stories and as you’ll see, meet beautiful little ones who fought tenaciously and made it! It is also very sobering to meet families who are walking in memory of their precious babies.
When I was leaving the event, they announced that this particular walk had raised about $280,000, but there were still monies coming in so that number is sure to climb. How fantastic for Central Texas families! I also know that a few other Mamas on Bedrest were walking in their areas. Former Mama on Bedrest Parijat Deshpande was walking out in Silicon Valley California with her family as the Ambassador family for that particular walk. Charisse Mora Medina was (or will be) walking in Southern California. I also know that KeepEmCookin and Better Bedrest both support the March of Dimes March for Babies in Maryland.
I also want to take a moment to thank those of you who graciously donated to our March for Babies campaign. We raised $205 dollars for the Central Texas March for Babies and I am very grateful for your support on behalf of Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond.
And just to give you a little taste of what the walk was like, I collected the photos that I took into a short video montage. Enjoy!!
We all know bedrest is a beast, but we endure it with the ever pressing hope that at the end of the journey, we’ll end up with a healthy baby. Sometimes the journey ends up not quite how we expected. We deliver and our baby has to be taken into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for special care. Even though all proceeds positively, it’s a tough pill to swallow that after the many weeks on bed rest, you actually have to leave the hospital without your baby. While most mamas on bedrest know that they have a higher than normal risk of delivering a premature infant, few are prepared for the feelings that ensue when they are discharged home from the hospital and their babies must remain. Many mamas describe a feeling of grief, a void and feeling like they didn’t really succeed in having a successful birth outcome. All of these are very valid feelings.
As a mama who had to leave the hospital without her baby, it was really hard to be wheeled down to the pick up circle in front of the hospital, all my personal items and flowers beside me, and no baby in my arms. And I was lucky. My daughter (a late phase preemie born at 36 w, 6d) only remained in the NICU for 5 days beyond my discharge. But it was still hard to walk into my house and to see her room all ready and to see the cradle and changing table in my room and for her not to be there. During those 5 days, I made the most of my time, created a routine with my husband and the order, quite frankly that feeling of control is what got me through.
Structure your days: Every day I got up, dressed and prepared a bag for the day full of snacks and supplies (breast pump tubing, bottles, breast pads, maxi pads and other personal items) and my husband would drive me to the hospital so I could be there by about 9 am. Once I arrived, I assumed most of my daughter’s care. I would weigh her, feed her, change her and weigh her again. Then I’d hold her and rock her, talking to her. My mother had come down to help out, so she would come to the hospital with me and we would take turns holding my daughter. While my mom held my daughter, I’d pump. I pumped every few hours and by the time she came home, we had enough stored breastmilk to take up nearly one quarter of our freezer. Occasionally during the day I’d take a nap in the rocker, but generally I hung out with my baby, holding her and caring for her as much as the nursing staff allowed. My husband would typically pick up my mom and I at about 7pm and he’d bring us home. I’d eat and pump and rest, my mom taking care of me, while my husband would go back to the hospital and hang out with my daughter until about midnight. We repeated this schedule daily until we brought my daughter home.
Now I am sure that many of you are thinking,
“Well that’s just fine for you. Your baby was only in the NICU 5 days beyond your discharge (10 days total). And you didn’t have any other children at home.”
To this I say, “You are absolutely right!” But the point I want to make is that when your child is in the NICU, it’s stressful. Many mamas feel as if the nurses are bonding more with their babies than they are! Personally, I was kinda pissed at the nurses at first. They held my daughter before I did. Although they had whisked her by me when she was first born, the NICU nurses were the first people my daughter really “saw”. I knew intellectually that they were doing the best possible for her, but frankly I was jealous. I wanted to be doing everything for her. I WAS HER MAMA!!! And as the days went on, and I was able to do more and more for her myself, those feelings of jealousy gave way to gratitude as I realized those nurses really were doing the best things for her at that time.
Get support: I live in Texas and my family lives in Massachusetts. My mom came down to visit and take care of me. It was a HUGE help. While she really didn’t do much (a few loads of laundry, made sure I ate, helped me move about comfortably), her presence meant more than I can say. She was there when we learned about a lot of my daughter’s lab tests. While most of them were negative and my daugther was progressing nicely, the anxiety that arose each time the neonatologist arrived was stiffling and each day that he said my daughter could not go home, mom was there to comfort me. Also, although I didn’t have other children at home, having my mother present would have enabled me to be with my daughter without having to worry about the care of my older children at home. Do what you can to have folks present to support you. Its invaluable!!!
Take Advantage of Available Services: Many hospitals offer a wide range of services to families with infants in the NICU (Social service consultations, assistance at home, getting medical devices and equipment for home if they are needed, counseling for parents if needed and so much more!). While I didn’t need many of the services offered, I did take advantage of the lactation consultations. My daughter had trouble breathing and that is why she was in the NICU in the first place. But she had difficulty breathing while nursing. The lactation consultant gave me tips on good positions in which to hold her comfortably, how to make sure enough of my breast was in her mouth to stimulate the milk let down reflex, and how to best help my daughter to be able to breathe while nursing.
Be present for all tests and ask questions about the results: There are a million and one tests done to make sure that your preemie is progressing and developing. As much as possible, BE PRESENT WHILE ALL OF THEM ARE ADMINISTERED!! There were a couple that they tried to tell me that I had to leave the room to have done. I refused. You have the right to refuse and be with your baby provided it poses no health risk to her or compromises the test. Speak up! And be sure to get full reports on all the tests and ask questions of the neonatologists when they do their rounds and present the test results to you.
Be patient: All babies go home. Some, like my daughter only spend a few days in the NICU. Other babies spend weeks to months. Whatever the duration of your baby’s hospital stay, know that they are getting the best possible care. And know that each day that they stay in the NICU is further preparing them to be home with you. One of the worst things that can happen is to get your baby home and for them to have some sort of complication that causes you to rush them back to the hospital. Be patient, allow the NICU staff to do what they do, and with time and grace, your little one will be home to stay!