A Word of Encouragement for Mamas on Bedrest

November 3rd, 2010

It’s so nice when life affirms you!

Today, I had the sweetest surprise when I walked into my dance exercise class. One of my former prenatal/post partum exercise clients was there with her beautiful daughter. Milbrey began prenatal fitness training with me at the beginning of her second trimester and continued until just days before her due date. She had her daughter Morgan on her due date via an uncomplicated vaginal birth. Today was Morgan’s 5th birthday.

I became overwhelmed when I saw Morgan and my own emotions at seeing her surprised me. The last time I had seen her was shortly before her first birthday. She was a wide eyed baby, full of wonder and scooted herself as fast and as far as her chubby little arms and legs would carry her. Today she is a beautiful little girl with a head full of  blond curls, bright blue eyes and an expansive vocabulary for a 5 year old. She is expressive and fearless and considers herself “one of the ladies of the class.” She was all decked out in her favorite pink dress for “her day”.

Looking at this adorable little girl I couldn’t help but to marvel, “Wow, I played a role in this little girl’s entry into this world”. Now granted, her mama did most of the work; curtailing her work hours as an attorney, eating well, exercising…Yet, it encouraged and heartened me to think that by taking my classes, by entrusting me to show her the best ways to move and stay fit during her pregnancy, this mama kept her body toned and fit. She had a quick and uncomplicated labor and delivery. And she continued to take care of herself post partum in my Mommy and Me classes. Yes, my role in this little girl’s life and that of her mother’s was small. But seeing my work manifested “in the flesh”, felt as if a voice from up above was whispering in my ear, “Well done. Your work is not in vain.”

Seeing Morgan gave me the shot of encouragement that I needed today. Sometimes when you work in a field that is not well known, not really considered significant enough to mention and generally overlooked, it’s easy to feel like what you do doesn’t matter. It’s hard to make people aware of how difficult it is to be on bed rest for weeks on end. So many people think that mamas on bed rest are lounging in luxury, lucky to be off work and able to “rest” for the bulk or remainder of their pregnancies. They know nothing of the angst that a mama on bed rest feels, questioning whether or not something she did is the reason that the life of her baby hangs precariously in the balance. People who are uneducated about bed rest know nothing of the aching and discomfort that occurs as a result of being in bed, especially if you can only lay on your left side, for days on end. People who are unaware of the bed rest situation are equally unaware that working mamas who go on bed rest do so typically without pay and at the risk of losing their jobs if they are out more than 12 weeks.  They know nothing of the families that struggle to take care of the day to day activities with little or no support and who risk financial ruin because mama is on bed rest. No, bed rest is not a luxury. Bed rest is not fun or relaxing. And bed rest is most certainly not something any woman would fake so that she can “have some time off”. (Yes, I actually had someone tell me this because they did not believe that pregnant women deserved paid maternity leave!)

But to the mamas on bed rest who may read this blog I say this to you. Hang in there. Continue to do your best. Lord willing, its all going to be okay. I know some of you are doing your best to fight unwanted contractions. Some of you are doing all that you can to stay calm in the hopes that it will help lower your blood pressure. Some of you are hanging on by a thread-literally! Your cervices are so effaced that the only thing standing between your baby and the outside world are the threads of your cerclage. But again I say to you hang in there. You are doing great.

When all is said and done, many of you will give birth to healthy babies. Some of you will give birth to babies that will struggle at the outset, but will get stronger and grow on their merry ways. For some of you, this journey won’t end as you had expected or hoped. Your children may be significantly premature with major health challenges or your babies may only grace us with their presence for a few moments before returning to be with the angels.

Mamas on Bedrest you have undertaken the monumental task of bearing a child (or children) and unfortunately due to the luck of the draw, your road is the one less taken (and certainly not chosen!).  But I hope for you, as it happened for me today, that one day you see the culmination of all your efforts and hear that still soft voice that tells you “Well done. Your work was not in vain.”

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