Monday, September 1, 2014

Pregnant and Bedridden: Relishing Life’s Simple Pleasures


            Life's simple pleasures.

           When you’re pregnant and bedridden—flat on your back, with nothing to do and nowhere to go—simple pleasures are few and far between. When they do come, they become so much more than simple.
            The final Sunday of January, 1997, promised to be a good, light-hearted day, as Chris and Parker propped their big yellow San Diego Chargers bolt on the entertainment center and initiated a tiny, robust cheering section in a corner of my room. Even though our beloved Chargers had a rough Super Bowl appearance, the game excitement elevated my spirits. Immensely. So immensely, in fact, that I was actually concerned about exciting myself right into premature labor, since I can view a football game with as much intensity and emotion as any die-hard Green Bay Packers’ fan. (Well, maybe not quite that much intensity, but you get the picture.)
            The Chargers’ performance waned—as did our rural television reception—and I was saved the emotional and physical agitation of a good, head-to-head clash. Instead, I was relishing the delicate warmth of sunlight spilling through the open door, and the cool January breeze drifting tenderly across the room, its alighting fingertips awakening my famished skin. I think I lay slumbering comfortably before the final clock minutes fizzled out.
            With the door open, I could finally view the rolling landscape beyond our home that proudly displayed glistening green lushness recently acquired from the winter showers. Oh, how I longed to stand outside with my face turned toward the sun, with its warmth infusing and recharging my stiff, brittle body. How I ached to run through the glorious panorama, hair flying, liberated and unconstrained.  
            But I wasn’t physically liberated or unconstrained. Not yet, anyway. The romp through the harkening vista would have to wait. For now my imagination had to suffice.


            The following day found the intermittent periods of pelvic pain and weekday loneliness return. And it continued. Often, having exhausted all of my daily activities, I’d lie in bed feeling lost and alone, staring catatonically at the silent radio or a blank television screen. Eventually, though, I started sleeping better through the night, and the anticipation and fear of darkness-driven panic dissipated. I thanked God profusely for even the tiniest bit of relief from the nightly horror.
           Then came a another godsend of blessings. My friend, Nancy, initiated foot massages during her noontime cleaning and feeding visits. Besides helping me relax, I can’t tell you what kind of effect simply being touched had on me emotionally, physically and spiritually. Forget the fact that one of my major love languages is touch. Just having someone’s hands contact my body in a gentle, loving way was medication to my soul and a barbiturate to my strangled nerves. Such joy!
            The skin on my legs and feet had developed a malnourished, reptilian appearance, and my feet had long since gone numb and tingly from the lack of stimulation. My legs no longer resembled the carefully trained, shapely limbs of an athletic woman, but protruded like skinny sticks encased in excess flesh. Dr. Landry had prescribed lying prostrate toe pointing to avoid blood clots. Absolutely NO leg lifts. Just toe pointing. The only time I lifted my legs was to scour them with my electric razor—a practice that became increasingly difficult as my pregnancy advanced and the razor’s blades dulled. Even the vibration on my thighs started irritating my uterus. So, to alleviate unnecessary irritation, leg shaving had to be conducted in little blocks of time on small patches of leg. My lower appendages started feeling more like partially used sandpaper sheets than silky smooth gams.
            One weekend morning I allowed myself a risky, resplendent luxury, though, when I allowed Chris to fill the bathtub with warm water and place a chair next to the tub so I could briefly languish with my feet and ankles soaking in the warm, soothing liquid. My atrophied legs shook as I carefully—manually—lifted, then lowered one foot at a time into the placid water. Five short minutes was all I allowed myself to splurge. Five minutes.
            It seemed more like a glorious hour.     
            After the soak, Chris gently scrubbed my toes and calves with a sponge, returned me to bed, then carefully dried and lotioned my flaking limbs. (Yes, I was in desperate need of an industrial strength exfoliation!) For a brief thirty minutes, I felt as though I’d been airborne to heaven. “When I hit that thirty-six week mark, I’m going to treat myself to a shower,” I proclaimed to Chris with confidence. 
            “Whenever you think you want to try it, I’ll help you,” he responded with a smile.          
            His heart and attitude appeared to be softening. Maybe that’s because he’d gotten a really good look at my withering legs for the first time in three months!
            At that moment I was deeply grateful for the simple feet and toes stimulation.      
            And the heavenly pleasure of my husband’s warm and gentle touch.


NEXT WEEK: Perched at the top of the roller coaster, awaiting the drop…

Until next week,

Thanks for joining me!