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Locked Down: When God Puts the World on Bedrest

Locked Down: When God Puts the World on Bedrest

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had a rare complication at 24 weeks.  I had a placental abruption that placed my life and my child’s life at risk, and I had to remain in the hospital on bedrest until my child was born. I had no idea that this was the beginning of a 12-week stay in the hospital.

This was before we had smart phones and streaming services like Netflix.  I had no ability to work remotely and had to take a leave of absence from work.  I tried to make the hospital my home, so friends and family decorated with photos and a potted plant.  One terrifying medical complication transformed my life from a life of freedom and independence to a life that required me to rely on others for everything.

As you can imagine, my hospital stay was anything but relaxing.  I was monitored multiple times a day, and I had 23 ultrasounds.  I constantly worried, “what if my child dies?”  Then I agonized over what would happen even if he lived because I knew that there was a high likelihood of serious, lifelong complications.

During the past month of sheltering in place, I have thought about those 12 weeks often.  I learned a few lessons during that time that have helped me now.

Sometimes you just feel things, and you do not have to understand why.
When I became sad and cried, people would ask me if I was depressed.  Did I need antidepressants?  Was something wrong with the baby?  I wanted to scream, “Everything is wrong!”  There was never any one reason that I was emotional.  Did there need to be a reason?  Was it not reason enough that my entire world had been turned upside down?  Did I need to explain the trauma of thinking that I had lost my baby? The entire experience was terrifying, disappointing, frustrating, and hard.  I mourned not having a “normal” pregnancy.  I had my baby showers in the hospital.  I did not get to decorate the nursery or even pick out the crib.  I did not know if bedrest even helped, and I longed to be independent and free.  I missed my friends and family, and I was overwhelmed.I am experiencing many of the same emotions now.  I am afraid of a virus that I cannot see and do not understand.  I hope that staying at home is protecting my family and community, but in the end, despite my best efforts, I will not be able to control what happens.  I am mourning so many events and milestones in our lives that have been paused or cancelled. I am exhausted from carrying the mental load of a full-time job, homeschooling three kids, and trying to have a healthy home.  These emotions often sneak up on me.  I go for a run and burst into tears.  I take a bath, and I am overwhelmed with anxiety.  Sometimes I just feel things, and I do not need to explain why I feel the way I feel.

Nature nurtures the soul
After 6 weeks in a hospital room that faced a brick wall, they moved me to a new room with a view of trees.  Just seeing trees gave me hope.  Eventually, the hospital arranged for me to go outside in a wheelchair and visit my dogs.  As I sat in the warm sun with my two Labrador Retrievers at my feet, I felt peace and hope.During the first weeks of this crisis, I worked non-stop.  I was confined to my house, and I felt like a prisoner.  I eventually started going for walks and runs outside.  This time outside did not fix everything, but it reminded me that life goes on.  Flowers are beginning to bloom, and birds are laying eggs.  As new life springs up around me, other trees fall in a storm and die.  No matter what is happening in the world, there is some comfort in knowing that the cycle of life continues.  The world is so much bigger than I am.

It is ok to be crazy.
After a few weeks in the hospital, I started to go crazy.  One night, I finally told my doctor that I needed to get outside.  Within an hour, my husband was wheeling my entire bed out of the hospital.  As he wheeled me down the hall, people looked at us as if we were crazy.  I think they thought that we were making a break for it.  We found an empty parking spot in the parking lot, and he backed my bed into a parking space.  As we looked at the night sky, we laughed so much about how ridiculous everything was.  To this day, that is one of my favorite memories with my husband.  For an hour, I felt like we were doing something outrageous, and even though I was in a hospital bed, I felt more normal than I had felt in weeks.There is nothing normal about disrupting every routine in your life.  Some people are losing their jobs, and many are isolated and alone.  Many families need space from one another, but they have nowhere to go.  It is ok to feel crazy because the world is crazy.

Do not pressure yourself to find meaning in the middle of a crisis.
We never found out why I had a placental abruption.  Many of my friends and family speculated.  Did I work too hard?  Did stress cause it to happen?  Had I been injured?  Did I have a rare medical condition? If I could not understand why this had happened from a medical perspective, maybe there was a lesson God was trying to teach me.  Was God punishing me?  Was there some greater meaning that I was failing to grasp?I learned many lessons from my time in the hospital, but the lessons came much later, even years later, after the crisis had passed.  There is enough pressure now, without the added pressure to understand why this is happening and what you should learn from it.  For now, I will take comfort in knowing that there will be a time for understanding and finding meaning, even if that time is not now.  “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV).

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Beth Gianopulos

Beth Mabe Gianopulos is a pastor’s wife (“PW”), a lawyer, and a mom of three amazing kids. Beth is married to Michael Gianopulos and is passionate about serving others at their church and mission organization, Project:Re3 (www.projectre3.org). Beth lives in Kernersville, North Carolina. Read more from Beth at www.pwlawyermom.org.

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