If You Do Just One Thing Today

“If you do just one thing…” It’s a phrase I’ve taken great comfort in ever since reading the marvelous column about this in Real Simple magazine, back in the day when I was a devotee of the mag. At the time, it just really helped me to focus my swirling mental list of stuff that I was stressed about accomplishing, whether it be in the apartment, my social/family life, or at work, and usually, all of the above at once. I could grab one task out of the chaos, focus on it, finish it, and move on to the next one.

It was quite a transition to go from working woman to mother, and a stay at home mom, at that, especially because it happened quite suddenly in my case. Two and a half months after getting hitched, we learned that we were expecting. And within 2 weeks of that, I was on bed rest until our little honey was full term. Given my pre-term labor, all I could do was “nothing”. Except, that is, cerebrally prepare for motherhood. But for whatever reason, I seemed incapable of even mentally preparing for a baby, much less adapting gracefully to this sudden new stage in our life. I didn’t have that 7-9 month transition period to bid farewell to the working world, ease into marriage, and work out the logistics of welcoming new life. When a discerning friend later empathized, “you didn’t have the mental energy. You were exhausted even as you lay there.” I was greatly comforted because then suddenly what seemed like 7 months of slovenly-ness was clarified into a very simple state of letting my body rest so that we could have a healthy baby. Nothing more, but also nothing less. Continue reading

Prayers from an Elderly Lutheran that Worked for this Roman Catholic

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My first bed rest obsession was all the worry and research that goes along with wanting a good and safe labor and birth experience. I spent hours fretting over all the tubes I didn’t want going in me while having contractions, how they would for sure lead to a c-section, how the baby would probably have major health issues, and how the surgery was going to forcefully impose MORE bedrest, just at the time when I could be freed from it by giving birth. I read and researched, hired a wonderful doula, watched the second The Business of Being Born documentary (I do recommend it!), talked with my doctor about my plan for a drug and induction free delivery, and worried some more. Continue reading

Bedrest Bright Spot: a True Story

Darkness. Darkness is what I remember. Darkness and your dainty, surprisingly gentle hand on my fragile belly. I don’t remember at what exact point during that 7-odd months of bed rest that you called. I remember that it was relatively early on, and I remember trying to sound cheerful, trying to sound ok on the phone. But I felt only darkness, and I knew I should accept your offer to come pray over me and the little baby, even though I didn’t want to see anyone. Actually, I didn’t want anyone to see me. I was so lonely, that I wanted to see people. But I felt so frightened and sad and guilty and mad, that I didn’t want anyone to see me. Your initiative in showing kindness and concern won over my porcupine heart, and so I agreed to let you come that evening.

The room was dark because the wall of apartment windows was too far away, even in the summertime. The world was far away as well. It was just me and my insecurities on a faded and stained dark green old futon with black metal arms. You came and propped yourself on the side of the futon that had the least amount of space available, closest to me. It was dusk, I think. But it didn’t really mater. That darn room was always dark.

You greeted me and we talked for just a couple of minutes, and then you stretched out your hand to my belly. I instinctively drew back at first. That darn belly was so prone to contractions (you see, I had pre-term labor for 7 months), that even my cuddly, gentle husband couldn’t touch it without producing one. Even standing – standing often induced contractions. But your hand, your hand was different Julie. It was warm. It was warm and soothing. Surprising, for such a slender one attached to one of my most vivacious friends. You prayed quietly, but out loud. A few sentences that I tried to agree with and pray along with. I was not entirely sure I could mentally assent to it all, but I looked at your hand. I could see that. And the effect of that warm, gentle hand went straight to my soul. My memory is poor and mostly I remember the darkness. But I remember your hand, and it’s feeling on my belly. You were really the first to hold the tiny baby who we would later name Rebecca.

You finished the prayer and looked up at me with that half shy, half expectant, good humored smile. I have come to love your smile. That smile, your warm hand, and the darkness is what I remember clearly.

Actually, the darkness is not clear. Not all of bed rest was darkness, and this was not the only bright spot during that time. But it is one of the few that I remember today, and it is one of the few that I remembered as I went through it. As much as possible during that time, when I remembered your visit, I tried to convince my foggy self that this was evidence that I was loved, that God was there, that my baby would be ok. I must confess that my mind was weak and blind, so that little argument didn’t go very far. But when I did remember the feeling, the feeling of your warm hand holding my little baby, I was comforted by an invisible sun.

Rebecca is 2 now. A vivacious, sweet gift. I hope to tell her often of her honorary Aunt Julie, and how she first was held. It’s a pretty great story to start off life with.

I love you Julie. Thank you for coming,

Mary Clare