Women’s Mental Health

Mamas on Bedrest: How to Climb Out of “A Pit”

July 5th, 2013

It’s the day after the 4th of July and I”m coming out of an emotional “pit”

nausea-thumbI did not do my Wednesday video blog this week. I was feeling physically lousy-PMSing, not sleeping well, worry, anxiety…  I have been feeling overwhelmed with my move from Texas- not knowing where some of my things are (in boxes here or in transit), managing remodeling projects on my house in Texas remotely, and just wanting to feel settled and being anything but settled and secure. I woke up and my brain literally did not have the mental bandwidth to put anything together. So as was once my custom, I began berating myself and telling myself all the reasons I suck. And as one would expect, I felt worse. Then I took a step back and asked myself, “What’s wrong with me? I feel as if I’m going crazy!”

First and foremost, I was tired. I had been averaging 5-6 hours of sleep and that just isn’t enough. I’m sleeping on a sofa bed at my parent’s house and while I am eternally grateful for their generosity and hospitality, I miss having my own space and being “the lady of the house.” I have been managing remodeling projects long distance on my house in Texas and that is just plain stressful. I want this all to be over, to be settled and to be moving forward with the next phase of my life.

Does any of this sound familiar?? As I tuned into what was irritating me, I realized that the pit I am in is not unlike” the pit of bed rest”. Life events are happening, my body is reacting in ways that are not helpful and I am less able to cope. I am not in control. I feel anxious over what is going to happen and those around me don’t seem to understand what I am going through.

Now don’t think that I am trying to minimize bed rest. Bed rest is a bear, and as one mama put it, “it’s like doing hard time in the slammer!” But when we fall into an emotional “pit” the steps to get out are pretty much the same-no matter if that “pit” is bed rest or life changes.

How to climb out of “A Pit”

1. Acknowledge you are in a pit. 12 Step Programs say acceptance is the first step towards healing (paraphrasing). If you accept-or as I say acknowledge- what you are feeling you can address the feelings and start the healing process.

2. Don’t judge yourself for your what you feel. Your feelings are your feelings and they are neither right or wrong. They simply are. Do we judge our children for crying when they are disappointed? Of course not! So let’s use a bit of that same compassion on ourselves.

3. Ask for What You Need to Meet your needs. For me this was easy. I was tired and that fatigue was accentuating my PMS symptoms. So I asked my mom to watch my kids for the night and I got myself some extra sleep-9 1/2 hours to be exact. I felt loads better!

Identifying your needs while on bed rest can sometimes be challenging. Is it a task that needs to be done such as  the laundry? Is it a physical need such as is your body is achy and needs relied? Do you feel lonely? Taking a moment to tease out what is causing you to fall into the pit, you can then figure out what “lifelines” are needed to help you climb out of the pit. Mamas, What do you need? Who can meet this need for you? Ask them. You will most likely be pleasantly surprised at how willing people are to do tasks for you. The key, be specific!

4. Enlist Allies. This is most critical for Mamas on Bedrest. Bed rest is really hard-both physically and emotionally. As many of you have so aptly stated, if someone has never experienced bed rest or if they’ve not known a woman with a complicated pregnancy requiring bed rest, they may not know how best to support you. They may (without guile or malice) say inappropriate things.  Find and hang with those people who understand (or are at least able to sympathize with) your situation.  A shameless piece of self promotion-join our facebook community. We are over 600 mamas strong and we share tips and information about surviving this bed rest experience. Sharing your feelings with people who truly know what you are feeling takes away many of the “freakish” feelings many Mamas on Bedrest experience. (And just for the record, I did call a good friend and shared with her what was going on, how tired I was and she too agreed that I needed to get some sleep!)

We’re all going to experience ups and downs and perhaps fall into  emotional “pits”, but we don’t have to stay there. Use these 4 tips as your lifeline and pull yourself out of any pit in which you find yourself!

 

Mamas on Bedrest: “I Spent $47,000 in 10 Weeks!”

May 20th, 2013

In this podcast, we hear from former Mama on Bedrest, Rebecca Buscemi. Rebecca has a remarkable story of incidental injury that lead to 10 weeks of bed rest, depression, manic spending, bankruptcy and now a successful business. Rebecca shares with us her “cover ups” and how deeply she hurt while on bed rest and yet no one suspected and she never divulged the truth. She shares the pain of depression so deep that she has no recollection of the early months of her daughter’s life. Her pain and “spending to soothe” resulted in bankruptcy for her family and $47,000 in debt that extended to her parents. Rebecca pulled herself back from the brink, started a business and now,  nearly 5 years later, is once again financially solvent.

Mamas on Bedrest: No Failure Only Perfection

April 22nd, 2013

Good Morning Mamas!

I have a good friend who is a doula and she is passionate about what she does. She recently attended a birth that lasted over 36 hours and although it resulted in a beautiful, healthy baby girl, the new mama was saying-out loud and in the presence of her daughter-that she was a failure because she had succumbed to an epidural and she was sorry.

My friend  immediately reminded this new mama that there was no failure in this birth. This mama held in her arms a beautiful, full term, healthy baby girl. She had endured 36+ hours of labor and had indeed pushed her daughter into this world via a much desired vaginal birth.  She was in no way a failure because after some 36 hours this mama reached the end of her physical rope and consented to and received an epidural.  In viewing her use of an epidural as a failure, this mama discounted all of her intense  and yet beautiful labor and delivery.

We humans are peculiar creatures. I believe that we are the only creatures in the animal kingdom who can get caught up in our one shortcoming that we discount the other 99 things that we do right! I don’t know this woman, but I do know that she had an uneventful pregnancy, was term at the onset of labor and just gave birth vaginally to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. She worked, toiled and labored for 36+ hours. She did it all. It was only at the very end that she needed a bit of assistance and she received it. For that one tiny (shortcoming) this woman saw herself as a failure.

Mamas, I know that many of you may read this and think,

“She’s complaining because she had an epidural?? Well, I can show her failure! I’m here on bed rest and at risk of losing my baby! The most basic and most natural of things for a woman to do, to become pregnant and to deliver a baby and my body has betrayed me. I am a failure as woman.”

These may not be your exact words, but am I close? How badly have you “shred” yourself because you are on bed rest? How many times have you believed and/or called yourself a failure because you ended up on bed rest? How many of you feel betrayed by your bodies? Feel broken or less than a woman?

I hear you. I see you. I feel you. I hurled many of the aforementioned statements at myself when I lost my 2 pregnancies and as I struggled to have my daughter. I felt completely broken and useless as a woman. Who or what was I if I couldn’t have a baby? That is what women do, make babies! While I was very conscious of the fact that many women lead very full lives without children, I also knew that this was often by choice, not by circumstance. I wanted to have children and it felt as though the universe was playing a painfully cruel joke on me.

When my friend told me about this birth, giving me graphic details of the labor and delivery as well as this post partum self depreciation and how she responded, it really drove home to me that there is never failure in pregnancy, labor and delivery, only perfection.

Every birth is perfect and that includes the “good and ethereal transformative” experiences as well as the bad and really ugly! I have no idea what will happen in the life of this new mama, her baby girl, her husband or her mother. But the fact that they are all there at that “serendipitous” moment makes it exceedingly clear to me that there are lessons to be learned.

Sometimes, when I allow myself, I play a little round of “What If?”  What if I had gotten married younger? What if I had not miscarried? What if I hadn’t had uterine fibroids or luteal phase defect-the causes of my miscarriages. What if….?

Perhaps if I had gotten married younger I wouldn’t have had the problems that I had. Maybe. If I had not miscarried, I would have 2 entirely different children as each miscarriage preceded one of my children. While I am sure that I would love any child that I had, I really can’t imagine not having the kids that I have now-quirks and all! And if I hadn’t had all the problems that I have had, I never would have started Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond. I never would have been seeking answers for what was “wrong” with me, how to fix it and how to help other women avoid the pitfalls that I faced.  So for all of my failures, I have had bountiful success and joy!

Mamas, it’s perfectly normal to be disappointed when things don’t turn out the way you expect. But just because the outcome is unexpected, doesn’t mean that you are a failure. Every pregnancy, labor and delivery occurs in its perfect time, place and sequence. What you may be regarding as failure may in fact become your greatest triumph! In pregnancy as in nature, there is no failure, only perfection.

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My daughter and I one day after her birth, 2002

Easter 2013

My son, daughter and I on Easter Sunday, 2013

Please share your comments in the section below of how you can see the perfection in your situation. Even if you can’t imagine the perfection now, how are you looking forward to it?