Today Kristina is 33 weeks into her pregnancy. She’s also ten days into being on bed rest. A week and a half ago, we went to the doctor for our regular prenatal appointment and Kristina’s blood pressure was elevated, her legs, feet, and face were significantly swollen, and she had gained almost ten pounds since our last appointment. All of these changes were sudden and the nurse taking her vitals expressed concern because together, they are often symptoms of preeclampsia. When the doctor came into see us, the first words out of her mouth to Kristina were, “you’ve had better days.” Then she asked if Kristina was still working and when Kristina said yes, the doctor replied, “you’re done.” Fortunately, Kristina’s lab work showed no protein in her urine which means that she does not have preeclampsia. However, the doctor told us that we needed to stave it off before it became preeclampsia and so she placed Kristina on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy.
I sat there watching Kristina process this news and seeing the frustration and anger wash over face as she started to cry. Kristina is a dyslexia therapist for sixth graders and although it is an extremely challenging job, Kristina is excellent at it. She loves her students and cares about what happens to them. Beyond that, she cares about her school and fulfilling her obligations. One of her first reactions was guilt because she felt she was leaving her school in a lurch where they would have to find a long-term substitute for her (a particular challenge given the specialized nature of her job) two months before they originally planned and on essentially no notice. This reaction, her thoughts turning immediately to others rather than herself, is one of the many reasons I love Kristina so much and am constantly so impressed by her.
As the appointment ended, the doctor sent us to the hospital at which Kristina will be delivering so that they could monitor her blood pressure and do some blood work. The doctor told us that the results of these tests would dictate whether Kristina would be experiencing bed rest at home or in the hospital. At the hospital, Kristina’s blood pressure settled down, and her blood work looked good, so we were able to go home after only a couple of hours.
We spent the next five days at home with Kristina bored out of her mind, but trying to rest as much as possible. We checked her blood pressure regularly, and it looked good. Her swelling all but disappeared, and she lost most of the ten pounds she had gained (it was all fluid). Last Monday, we went in for a follow-up doctor’s appointment and the doctor was pleased with Kristina’s progress. We hoped that progress would mean that Kristina would at least be cleared for some very light activity, just enough to stave off the boredom. Instead, the doctor said that continued bed rest would help to keep Kristina’s situation stable, especially because this time there was protein in her urine. Once again, the protein levels were low enough that Kristina does not have preeclampsia, but rather gestational hypertension. However, gestational hypertension can often develop into preeclampsia. As a result, we will be seeing the doctor weekly for the rest of the pregnancy, and Greyson will likely be arriving about 2 weeks early via induced labor.
Before I go further, I want to clarify something. This is my blog, not Kristina’s and so for the most part I focus on how I’m handling my circumstances, and how I see God working in those moments. However, there will be times when I am writing about something that affects Kristina far more than it affects me. This is one of those posts. Bed rest is hard. It may sound fun, but it’s not, especially for someone as active and determined as Kristina. Yes, bed rest makes my life a little more complicated too (and I’ll talk about that some more later) but I’m not the one who feels trapped in boredom and loneliness in a bed or on a couch. So as I talk about what bed rest means for me, I want to acknowledge what it means for Kristina who has a far more difficult task ahead than I.
Yet, I have been struggling to find balance as we have started this bed rest journey. I recently wrote about what a blessing it is for me to be able to set my own work schedule because it allows me to be there for my family whenever I need to be. And that is true now as well. I have been able to stay home or work from home in the past 10 days so that Kristina did not have to spend all day, every day alone and unable to go anywhere. Yet, as anyone who works from home with family members there can tell you, it can be distracting. So I have to find a balance between working from home so that I can be there for Kristina and actually accomplishing work.
For the first six to eight months of working for myself, Kristina was often uncomfortable when I worked from home or took time off because she was concerned I wasn’t doing enough to grow my business. This could cause a little bit of tension at times, as I wanted her to trust that I knew what I was doing and that I wouldn’t put our family’s well-being at risk with laziness. And the reality is that in the early stages, even when I spent a lot of time on business development, I just didn’t have enough work to fill a full 40-hour workweek. But now, as I am a little further into this, I have more meetings, and more work I need to accomplish each week. So on Thursday, I spent most of the day out of the house trying to get things done. When I got home, I found that Kristina had felt abandoned and lonely because she had spent the entire day alone, bored, and unable to leave the house. Something that just a few months ago would have made her cringe (me staying home all day) now is something she craves.
For me, this means navigating the balance between caring for my wife and yet still continuing to work hard and provide for us and our soon-to-be larger family. And this is probably the hardest part of Kristina’s bed rest for me. Most people think that extra chores, or having to wait on your spouse so that they can stay off their feet is the biggest challenge, but most of the time I enjoy serving Kristina, and for the last year, in a lot of ways, my job has been less stressful and tiring than her’s, so I already did much of the housework anyway.
In the end, this is probably good practice for when Greyson arrives, because I know that in those first 12 weeks, as Kristina is on maternity leave, I will want to spend all my time here with them. But I won’t be able to do that. I will have to go to work and accomplish things so that I can provide for them. The flexibility that I am so grateful for, can also be a curse when it provides me with opportunities to shirk other responsibilities that I don’t enjoy as much as spending time with my family. I know that many challenges accompany parenthood, and for the most part, I am excited to face them, but finding the balance between providing for my family, and being present with and for them may be the most difficult challenge awaiting me.