The following is a guest post by Jennifer Degl, author of From Hope To Joy: A Mother’s Determination and Her Micro Preemie’s Struggle to Beat the Odds
In spite of my good intentions,
bed rest and I were not friends. In fact, we were enemies. My happy mood didn’t
last long: I started to become depressed and slightly insane. I say “slightly,”
but my husband and those closest to me would probably use the term “totally
I was placed on pregnancy-induced bed rest at 17 weeks gestation due to a hemorrhage that almost took my
life, as well as my unborn daughter’s.
There were three more of those to follow, and each was worse than the
first. This was all caused by 100% placenta previa that ultimately turned into
People told me that being on bed
rest was a gift. After all, who wouldn’t want to hang out in bed all day, with their meals
served to them on a platter and their husbands taking care of all the
I am not a stay-in-bed person. I wanted to be a part of my
children’s lives, not watching from the sidelines. Actually, I couldn’t even
watch from the sidelines because I was stuck upstairs in my bedroom. I couldn’t
attend one soccer game, and it was my middle son’s first season playing soccer.
I couldn’t go to one hockey game – or anything else for that matter. This was the
first time I had ever missed anything in
my sons’ lives. I felt like a prisoner. I missed everything that my three boys were
doing outside of the house, and I could not stand it!
Being on bed rest was the
hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure. Ever. I know how totally ridiculous that
sounds, but up until this point in my apparently “charmed life,” this was the
worst for me. It was not in my plan. I hated it.
my parents, my in-laws, and my best friend kept repeating the same refrain.
“It’s temporary, try to relax,” they said.
it,” they said.
guaranteed to be over no later than September 2nd,” they said. That was my due date. But, I was put on bed
rest in mid-March and September 2nd sounded like two years away!
All I wanted to say to them – and did say to some – was, “Shut the hell up!”
My husband and I argued – usually
about how he was parenting the boys – and then he would shut the bedroom door on
me. I was helpless then because I couldn’t get out of bed. I wasn’t about to do
anything to put my baby in danger and he knew it. He won every time. I felt as
if I were being tortured, and he was my tormentor. It sounds foolish now, but
that’s exactly how it felt to me then.
My mother came to the house
every day after work to watch the kids and do all the laundry. My mother-in-law
prepared dinner for the family and delivered meals to me in my room – while
everyone else enjoyed dinner and one another’s company downstairs at the dining
room table. My father and father-in-law shared responsibility for taking the
boys to soccer, hockey, piano, boy scouts, and any other thing they had going
on. My best friend did almost everything
else for me: She ran countless errands, and listened to me scream and cry. My co-workers were incredible: They created a
schedule, and once each week, a different teacher prepared dinner for my family
and delivered it to the house. I was touched by their generosity and kindness.
Our church (which is also where my sons attend school) also arranged a dinner
drop-off once a week.
Who would complain about this?
As I look back on my
time on bed rest, I realize I learned some incredible lessons from the experience. In the past, I’ve
had friends who were put on pregnancy bed rest for various ailments. I actually
looked down on them. I used to think, “Give
me a break. You’re just going to lie around and do nothing?” How
ungraciously judgmental of me! I realize
We can never know how
someone else is feeling unless we’ve walked in their shoes. I took my family
and friends for granted. Instead of being grateful for their help, I was angry.
It was almost as if I blamed them for the fact that I felt imprisoned. I
certainly took my sadness and anger out on them.
With the gift of hindsight, I can see how fortunate I am to
have had – and to still have – all their unconditional love and support, and now it’s my turn to pay it forward. If I find that someone
else is ever in need, I will happily
hope to step up to the plate and return the favor.
My daughter was born at 23 weeks in May of 2012, weighing just
1 pound and 4 ounces (575g) and spent 121 days in the NICU at Maria Fareri
Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, NY. Her
name is Joy and she is one amazing little girl.
Aside from some minor lung issues, one would never know she was so
premature. Joy loves to chase around her three big brothers and is as happy as
You can learn
more about Jennifer’s pregnancy and Joy’s incredible struggle to survive by
visiting www.micropreemie.net and you can
also purchase a copy of From Hope to Joy: A Mother’s Determination and Her
Micro Preemie’s Struggle to Beat the Odds, from both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.