Bed rest. That is the newest development in my pregnancy story. My only job between now and the birth of our child is to stay still, preferably by laying on my left side, and keep calm until the baby is born. High blood pressure and gestational diabetes have led to this prescription. I’m allowed to sit up a little, go to Sunday school, drive myself to the doctor once a week, and even go to a wedding this weekend (as long as I’m one of the first guests to leave and I only stand and walk when absolutely necessary). I am NOT allowed to do laundry, dishes, cleaning, unnecessary walking, or eat too much sugar or carbs. I am to stay home, watch my diet, and remain calm.
The first weekend I had to endure bed rest, I thought I might lose my mind. I’ve spent the last 30 weeks or so resting a lot, but for much of that time I’ve at least been able to prepare simple meals, keep up with the laundry, and get groceries. It was hard to do those tasks, but at least I accomplished something. Weird pains, back problems, swelling, and so forth plagued me, making me question why anyone does this to themselves willingly. Amazingly, since I’ve been confined to the couch, most of that has gone away. I lay here feeling pretty good, blood pressure and sugar in check, struggling not to get up and get a few things done. There’s a baby coming into this house and there’s a lot that still needs to be done! But when I do get up, I’m immediately reminded of why I’m laying down. High blood pressure doesn’t FEEL good. If I want to feel good and have a healthy baby, I have to deal with the stillness.
I’m an independent, get-it-done kind of person. My parents still tease me about my favorite phrase as a toddler: “I do it myself!” Apparently an independent spirit is built into my DNA. I dressed myself in backwards and mismatched clothes, refused to crawl until after I had learned to walk, basically potty trained myself, and so forth. Always in a hurry, always sure I could handle the task, and ready to push past anyone who might try to slow me down… I moved to Nashville when I was 22 years old, with no job or relatives or friends, determined to make a life for myself. I was tired of living under the shadow of my rock-star pastor father and wanted to experience life on my own. In the thirteen years I was on my own, God really dealt with my independent spirit. Not only did I want to be independent from others, but I wanted to be independent from Him. I tried to love God, but I didn’t really trust Him to take care of me. I was pretty sure I could handle my life better than He could and I learned the hard way that I’m prone to make a big mess of things.
A few years ago, something changed inside me. All the trying and fighting and independence suddenly felt like a huge burden I was carrying alone. Through a series of events that might not have seemed to be a big deal at the time, I learned to let go and let God take care of me. I learned that He is trustworthy. To let God handle things for me wasn’t to place too big a burden on His shoulders. I didn’t have to apologize for needing God. All I had to do was relax and He would make a way. When I lost my job and had no prospects of employment, God reassured me that He would provide for me. And He did. I had everything I needed and more. I began to understand what it meant to be cherished and loved, and in turn I became able to accept the love and support of those around me who I had pushed away for so long. Many of my walls came down and I became a grateful receiver.
I had no idea that God was preparing me for marriage and family life, but then I got married and moved away from all I had built for myself. I quit making an income and had to rely upon my husband to provide for us financially. Our pre-marriage counselor, a man who has often been the sole provider in his family, blew my mind when he told me that many men are honored to provide for their wives in this way and see it as a way to rescue and be the conquering hero. Even though I was capable of providing for myself, he suggested I gratefully receive Rick’s support and allow him that boost to his ego. When Rick agreed with him, I whispered a prayer for God to help me trust my husband and to still my fears, and He did as I requested.
I moved to a rural community where stores aren’t open “normal” city hours. If I needed cold medicine after 9:00 p.m., there was nowhere within a 12 mile radius to get it. But amazingly, my mother-in-law lives right down the road and often had what I needed. How strange to suddenly rely on parental figures to provide what I needed after so long in a place without family. I had a hard time asking, but she delighted in helping and another wall came down.
And then I got pregnant. I had enjoyed keeping the house nice and preparing hot meals for the man who was supporting me. It was my job as his wife to find ways to make him happy and have our home be a place he enjoyed walking into and hated to leave. Soon I could do very little of that. Constant vomiting and sickness turned me into a needy, whiny wife who demanded he drive fifteen miles away to pick up whatever specific food I was craving, then promptly threw it up and couldn’t stand to look at what was left. Through even that, my husband chose to became more of a servant to me. He cleaned up my vomit and learned how to use our new-fangled appliances, did his own laundry, and kept the bathroom clean. When the daily vomiting stopped, things got better. I was able to pick back up some of my previous responsibilities.
And then I was put on bed rest. I have been humbled, then humbled some more, than humbled some more after that. Here I lay, feeling fairly decent at this point in the pregnancy (as long as I’m laying down), and watching as others step in to care of me and the things that concern me. My sweet mother-in-law has taken over laundry duty – ironing, washing, folding, and helping me get all the new little things ready for sensitive baby skin. Rick’s parents have made sure we have meals, groceries, and supplies. Other friends have brought us meals and helped ease the monotony by spending time with us. The nursery walls have been decorated and the house is free of dust, thanks to Rick’s friends who have been so welcoming to me. We’ve received countless gifts for our new baby from friends and family, helping ease the financial burden of preparing for this precious child.
My husband has shown me love and devotion in more ways than I can count. After working long days in the fields, he comes in to serve me. He keeps the dishes done, sweeps the floors, brings me medicine and snacks and whatever else I think I need. And after all that, he still looks at me with love in his eyes. He encourages me when I’m down and reminds me that I’m doing important work while I lie here feeling useless. He tells me I’m beautiful and that I look just right, in spite of my feelings to the contrary. (It’s hard to keep up with a normal beauty routine when you have to lay down all the time.) My love for him grows daily and I’m continually amazed by this wonderful man God gave me.
Being taken care of is a gift I am trying very hard to appreciate. It’s a struggle not to be the strong one who everyone else can look to for strength and support. It’s hard to lie on the couch while someone else dusts your furniture and folds your laundry. And yet it is a tremendous blessing. God has blessed me with a network of beautiful people who have become His hands and feet to minister to me. I’m grateful and humbled by their support and embrace. Lastly, it makes me wonder why I ever felt the need to do it all myself. I placed such an unnecessary burden on myself for so many years and I’m forever grateful that God made it His business to lift the burden and teach me another way.Read More