Looking down the barrel of 14 weeks on strict bed rest hadn’t been in my plans. Saying au revoir to work was the easy part. The recent stress was part of the reason I was in this predicament in the first place. (Unfortunately the stereotype of French offices being lax and lazy didn’t apply in my case.)
Keeping my butt glued to the couch for three months straight would be much harder. But that was the condition in order for me to be released from the hospital after going into preterm labor with my second baby at 25 weeks and 3 days.
“This is serieux, Madame Lesage,” the French midwife said. “No moving around or your baby could be born early. No walking, no lifting, no housework. Nothing.”
My son, Leo, now 18-months-old, had been a preemie. I knew from experience that I needed to take her warning seriously, lest my baby fall out while picking up a baguette from the neighborhood boulangerie.
And speaking of my first baby (and picking things up), I wouldn’t be allowed to carry Leo until I was off bed rest. Papa would have to take over the majority of his care. That broke my hormonal, sensitive heart. But what choice did I have? Our second baby needed to cook a little longer and the best guarantee of that happening was for me to park my booty on the sofa and chill. Something this energetic workaholic was not known for.
“Welcome home, Maman!” my French husband shouted when I returned from the hospital.
“Maman, Maman!” my French-American son chanted as he cheered at my much-anticipated arrival.
I settled in on the couch as Leo came over to investigate the situation. He patted my belly, which had gotten noticeably larger in the past four days since I’d been gone. He poked my protruding belly button and said “Boop, boop.” All was normal, just bigger.
Then he noticed my legs and feet were covered with some weird, black stretchy material—compression socks. Since I wouldn’t be moving much, I needed these contraptions to reduce the risk of blood clots. To their credit, the French at least offer the stockings in a thigh-high, lacy-at-the-top, midnight black variety, as opposed to the nude pantyhose your grandma would wear. As if I could possibly feel sexy with my huge belly and fat butt firmly planted on the couch. But I appreciated the notion.
Leo poked and prodded at the socks, giving them a puzzled look. He tickled my toes and pinched the fabric at the arches of my feet. There was some correlation between these socks, Mommy’s belly, and her absence the past few days. His young mind couldn’t quite figure it out (hey, I was still wrapping my head around the news myself), so he settled for resting his head on my lap, facing my belly.
All the better to keep his eye on it.
Fast forward 13 weeks and my beautiful baby girl was born at 38 weeks and 5 days with no complications. Looks like Maman was better at putting her feet up than she realized! Bed rest had been bearable, my son and I had found activities we could do together (like reading the same book 100 times), and my compression stockings reminded me I would one day feel sexy again. In the meantime, I’d settle for time spent with my two healthy babies, followed by relaxing foot rubs from my husband.
Bed rest had been a success.
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