To follow up on my post from yesterday, about how amazing my mother-in-law was a year ago today and about how we were surrounded with well-wishes and gifts, I am dedicating this post to a list of good bedrest gifts. Some of these are from me, some are from my very unscientific poll on a board for bedrest mommas (board bedrest mommas?). If you're a momma from that board, thanks for your ideas! I hope I represented you well.
- Staying in touch! This one is huge. Make regular appointments to call or stop by. (Make appointments so that I'm in my street clothes when you show up, because most days, I'm probably in pjs all day. Can you blame me?) Actually show up when you make appointments. Seems like a no-brainer, but really, when you're as ... stuck... as we are, it's nice to know what to look forward to, and if you don't come, we'll probably notice. And it might just sting.
- Set up skype time, texting dates, or telephone dates at a regular time every few days or week
- TV shows
- Favorite takeout menu with a gift card to that place
- A fluffy pillow or three. Maybe even a body pillow if I don't have one yet
- Crafting kits (if she's into that sort of thing -- knitting, crocheting, etc.)
- Soduku puzzles or crosswords
- If cool weather: Snuggly blanket, homemade slippers or fuzzy socks, robe, comfy sweatshirt
- A calendar with positive messages and special notes when goal weeks come, so that the person can keep track or mark it off. Big goal weeks, incidentally, are 24, 28, 32, 34, & 37. Viability, greater chances... and I can't really remember what the others are for, because I never got there. 37 marks the front end of full term. I think 34 or 35 marks a time in which you could have the baby and if the baby was doing well enough, you might be able to avoid the NICU altogether.
- If I have older kids: arrange care for the older kids. Best yet, coordinate care with a bunch of mutual friends so that I don't have to think about it
- Send random texts or memes or humorous messages -- things that say you're thinking about us, but that remind us of the world beyond our bedrest room.
- Thank you notes (with stamps)
- A journal or notebook to keep track of things
- Funny, light reading. Not baby reading necessarily, something to take our mind OFF the baby for a bit
- Audible books or books on tape. Sometimes we just want to close our eyes and rest
- Favorite CDs
- A cup with a lid and a straw. Hard plastic, not disposable. Maybe even a cute pitcher to go with it, with a spout so that I don't have to have gravity on my side to get water for myself.
- If I like flowers, get me flowers. But please no floral arrangements that look like they're from a funeral home. And wait for the cute baby floral arrangements until I actually have had the baby. It's better that way. [My side note: my favorite bedrest floral gift was the rose given to me by another mom on bedrest. A huge plus was that I could plant the mini rose, and each year it gives me a few more blooms.]
- Potted plants are great!
For the hospitalized:
- Fresh fruit
- Healthy snacks
- Favorite desserts [see a theme? hospital food stinks most places. having to eat it for two days is fine, two months is terrible.]
- Call an hour before hand, say "I'm going to [name of favorite restaurant], I am bringing you dinner, what sounds best to you?"
- Visit. Plan to do something at the visit besides feeling sorry for us or talking about how it stinks that we're where we are. So, bring a game or a movie. (Side note: see oxytocin rules -- this probably doesn't apply to your bedrest friend, but it might.)
For those at home on bedrest:
- Practical things. Come over and do laundry or dishes. Don't ask, just tell. If you asked me, I would have told you I could deal with it myself, even when I couldn't.
- It's really really great if you can take my kids somewhere fun. If I don't know you well yet, though, don't ask yet. Same applies if my kids don't know you well yet. It's an overwhelming enough time for them already. Start coming over and helping out here at home so we get to know you first, then volunteer to take my kids to the back yard or the park. It'll be a lot less awkward for all of us if I know my kids know you (and your kids, if applicable) first.
- Bring easy to prepare, freezable meals. If we can't use them at that moment, they WILL be used over the next few months. Invaluable. (Maybe ask for food aversions before you cook though.)
For after the second trimester (or at least after 24 weeks):
This has to be separated into another list for two reasons. First, there's the "baby isn't viable, but we've painted the nursery pink" reason. A year ago today -- when things got really really bad, I was glad I didn't have much at home specially purchased for the baby. It could have been very very bad if I had lost my baby (very real possibility) and then come home to reminders of our past dreams. So, until 24 weeks -- maybe stay away from this list. And then, second, see my oxytocin rules. Granted, this only applies to the extreme case of preterm labor, I really haven't heard of many people having this particular issue, but it's good to keep in mind. Best be safe before viability.
- Help paint the baby's room, help pick out paint colors.
- Help put up baby gear, wash windows, clean the room with a deep clean, etc.
- Sit with me while I "internet shop" for a new baby registry
- Put together an at-home baby shower for me. Clean the house and set up the living room with no help needed from me, so all I have to do is come out and lay on the couch and enjoy a small group of my closest friends. Make sure there's lots of water for me.
One HUGE thing I learned last year: Those that are the most in need of help are also those with the fewest resources to ask for it -- be it lack of mental reserves, social stamina, or just the friends/support to contact. So, DON'T say "let me know if I can do anything to help," because if they really really need you, it's also a point where it's really really hard for them to know how or when to contact you to tell you. They're already too pulled. They don't have the reserves to ask for help. Picking up the phone SEEMS like a small thing, but it's not. It means finding a number, making sure you're sane enough not to break down in tears, making sure you're okay mentally if they say "no," and making sure your older kids aren't crying. I rarely took someone up on a "let me know if I can..." offer, and it was always exhausting and overwhelming to call.
So, instead, say "I will be coming by on Friday with some food. Save me some dirty dishes, because I'm watching your kids and washing your dishes when I drop by. If Friday doesn't work, maybe I could come by Thursday instead?"
And here's another blog that gives even more good bedrest ideas. Thanks, Virginia's mom!