My first four babies were perfectly healthy, textbook pregnancies and births.
I guess you could say I got cocky.
When I was pregnant with number five, I made up for it with a three-week stay in the hospital on bed rest. And I learned a lot -- namely, that it isn't like you think it is. There are four main things people don't know about bed rest, and I really wished they did when it was me stuck in the hospital.
(Note: My bed rest was of the hospital variety, so I can only speak from experience about that. I read up a lot on bed rest while I was incarcerated and I know a lot of women do it at home, camped out on the couch with a cooler full of snacks and their toddler for ALL DAY until their partner comes home. I don't even know how that works.)
1. I miss my family more than I miss you.
Of course I welcome your visit -- we're friends, right? And if you want to bring a movie and order a pizza that doesn't come from the hospital cafeteria, that'd be awesome. But do you know what I really want? My family. I need them like a preschooler on a long car trip needs the bathroom.
I haven't spent one second alone with my husband since I got in here. I'd love it if you'd stay with the kids for a few hours so he can come in and see me by himself.
Also, I'd love it if you'd drop one of the kids off to spend some one-on-one time with me. When I was on bed rest, most days Phillip did bring everybody to visit me -- but with four kids packed into a little hospital room, they couldn't stay very long before getting bored and fighty and claustrophobic. That was hard.
2. Forget about me -- I'll be fine. It's my family who needs help.
I might be a little bored, but I'll survive. My family is in crisis mode. They're scrambling to cover for me, and my poor husband is trying to do both of our jobs without any advance warning at all. (And our closest family lives 1,500 miles away.) This is a five-alarm logistical nightmare.
We had a supportive church community that brought my family meals. Do that. We had great friends who had the older kids take the bus to their house after school. Do that, too. My stepmom ended up flying out to help for a week. If you can, definitely do this. Or give the kids a ride to soccer, or pick up some milk and bread at the store. Any little thing you can do for the family helps.
3. Please understand that this isn't a vacation. If you say so, I might rip your face off.
Some people -- not many, but some -- are under the impression that being in the hospital on bed rest is actually restful. One hundred percent of these people have never been on hospital bed rest. Trying to sleep alone with weird noises and lights and nurses waking you up and an IV port digging into your arm every time you try to get comfortable turns you into a zombie by day three.
I know things just slip out of our mouths sometimes, but try really hard not to refer to this as "time off" or "vacation" when you come to visit me in my 10' by 10' cell. I've been on vacation before, and trust me, this ain't it.
4. I'm an emotional basket case, and I'm not always ready to see you.
The worst part of bed rest isn't the boredom (the kids call the computer desk chair in our house "Mom's Chair," so believe me when I say I'm perfectly capable of occupying myself all day using the hospital's Wi-Fi connection). It's the emotional roller coaster that's really getting to me.
Doctors telling me different things on different days + missing my family + feeling like my kids' lives are going on without me + all the regular crazy-hormones from just being pregnant = one hot mess.
So I'm not always going to be company-ready. Yes, it's true that I'm not going anywhere, but still call first. I might be having a really bad day, and not feel up to visiting with you. At the very least, tell me when you're coming so I can brush my hair before you show up. Also, knock. That's just good manners.
A year and a half later, it's still weird to drive by the hospital and think, "I used to live there." But we made it. The baby and I are both fine, after a somewhat traumatic delivery and recovery period (me) and a rough start in the NICU (him).
We're really grateful to all the friends and church members who helped us out during those difficult weeks and months. Go be that friend for someone else!
Jenny Evans is a writer, a perfectionist, a night owl and a Mormon mom of five who makes jokes at her own expense and blogs about her messy life with a houseful of kids at Unremarkable Files.
You can also visit her on Facebook.