A Stitch in Time: Part 1
How many of you enjoyed being pregnant? The massages, going to yoga, shopping for maternity jeans, going to the baby shops to grin inanely at little clothes, sharing a secret smile with other mums as they passed by with their prams, feeling happy when someone gives you a seat on the Tube, and just generally indulging in the experience.
What if you couldn’t do any of that because you had to spend your entire pregnancy in bed?
One of my dearest friends is at the beginning of a very difficult time. She’ll be writing about her ordeal for us here as it happens to her, mostly just to keep herself sane, but also because I promised her that the readers of this blog would be a lifeline for her. She needs support, encouragement and positive comments. I hope you can help.
I bring you part one in the story of Jane*, an amazing tale of a mother’s love and strength.
This is the first day of the rest of my life. True for everyone, but very fitting for me on this specific occasion.
Today begins my pregnancy bed rest. I will effectively be on house arrest for at least the next 9 weeks and 1 day, and probably much longer. I have been advised that I am allowed to be on my feet for no more than 4 hours a day. That includes going to the toilet, showering, getting lunch etc, so basically not very much. The rest of the time I have to have my feet up.
What brings me here? Well, I am 14 weeks and 6 days pregnant. On Monday I had an operation that put a stitch in my cervix. You see, when I was 23, I had stage 1ai cervical cancer that was treated by removing some of my cervix, unfortunately not leaving enough to naturally carry a baby full term. Along with the stitch I have to help relieve pressure on the cervix by effectively sitting on my bum for the next 9 weeks.
To many women the excuse to put your feet up and get other people to do the chores sounds like bliss, but I already know it’s not going to be that easy. I am someone that relishes being busy and being under pressure by trying to fit everything into my life, and I do everything I do to the best of my ability. Now I have to learn how to do nothing to the best of my ability.
I work in finance for a global organisation and I LOVE my job. I work 50-60 hours a week, and thrive on the pressure. I am very social with a large friendship group. I love to run and do yoga, and most importantly, I have a great relationship with my husband, which until now has consisted of lots of socialising, eating out, holidays etc. So as you can probably tell this is the biggest change of my life.
You might think that all that would have to change anyway if we were planning a baby, and you’re right. But when the baby comes I will definitely not be complaining of not being busy, it’s just how to fill the 25 weeks between now and then…
So this is how I plan to do it. Today, I am going to do the following:
- start this journal
- write a list of everything I can do over the next few weeks to fill my time
- finish watching Black Swan which I started in hospital
- spend time with my mother-in-law who is here for the next few days looking after me and one of my best friends, Zoe, who is popping round to visit later
- buy a tray table online for my bed
- complete my maternity exemption form
- plan the next few weeks out in terms of who will be around and when, so I understand which days will be the loneliest and hardest
- let those people I’ve not contacted yet know that I am out of hospital and open for visitors!
So, I’ve started my house arrest as I start my workday: planning what I’m going to do for the next 12 hours. Maybe if I approach the next 9 weeks this way, it won’t be so bad. What is critical for me is to keep a positive frame of mind. I want to look back on this time and to think, “Wow, wasn’t I strong!”
Unfortunately, that didn’t start so well yesterday when my husband and I had a row about how we were going to manage the next few weeks. My husband is a Director of a company and works incredibly hard. On a good day he leaves the house at 7.30am and returns at 7.30pm, but if there is anything going on after work or he goes to the gym, this means getting home at 9pm or later. I thought we’d agreed that he would try and work from home twice a week in order to help me and keep me company. He said only 1 day was realistic AND he didn’t want to stop going to the gym (normally 2 nights a week), meaning on those days I’d be on my own until 9pm when he’d come in and flake out.
I feel like I am sacrificing everything, so it seemed incredibly harsh. From his point of view, he was just trying to keep some ‘normal’, ensure he was still doing his job to the best of his ability and keep sane. It took three discussions before we could each see the other’s side; the first two ended in my tears of frustration as we couldn’t agree. We compromised that he would work from home once a week, and on that day go to the gym, and try and leave early once a week to go to the gym and be home no later than 7.30pm each day. This still leaves me on my own 4 days a week, 12 hours a day… Gulp.
I get it. If I am off on sick leave for longer than 12 weeks, I won’t get paid and we have a huge mortgage. We can’t risk my Husband not putting in 110% into his job. It’s more crucial than ever that he succeeds and keeps bringing in the bonuses, etc. I am going to try my hardest not to get frustrated with him wanting to put the bread on the table.
Also, I understand he wants to keep going to the gym to keep some sanity and I won’t begrudge him that. I just know how difficult I would find being on my own from the time I get up until 9pm each evening. I know it will be worth it all in the end, when we have a little person who is half of both of us.
But the immediate future seems very daunting at the moment. I need to keep smiling and keep positive thoughts. I’ll keep you posted on how I get on…
*Jane is a pseudonym.