Author Topic: Bedrest  (Read 759 times)

Offline sgale

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« on: December 17, 2008, 06:38:54 PM »

What does one do with oneself, when told to do nothing?

What does it mean, “to do something with oneself”?  Should you have a goal?  Is “passing the time” a real goal?  Should one attempt to improve oneself in some way, mentally or spiritually?  Is it acceptable, given the circumstances, to surrender to the passing of time?  Must there always be a point?  Is the passive act of gestating enough?

She surveys the room.  It is small, made “homey” in an institutional way with strategically placed cabinets that hide the suction, oxygen, blood pressure equipment.  It has its own little fridge, the front marred by a large yellow sticker reading “patient food only”.  As opposed to what?  Petrie dishes?   Corrosive chemicals?   McDonalds quarter pounders?

She has been put here, essentially, in order to stay pregnant.  The problem is not placental, she is told.  “It’s a cervical issue.”  Her back hurts.  Her butt is numb.  She has become addicted to cranapple juice, the processed, hospital variety.

Deprived of the routine tediums of everyday life, she misses them.  Housework, chores, grocery shopping, activities normally hurried through impatiently or thoughtlessly, now take on such profound importance.  A sense of accomplishment, of progress, of successful management of life.

It seems extreme, this suspending of one life for the benefit of another.  Rendering one person helpless for the protection of a smaller and even more helpless person feels like an extravagant waste of resources.  Is it terrible to admit thinking this?

It’s a gift, of course, looked at in another way.  When else is one told “relax, we’ll take care of everything”?  The last time you were on a plane?  First class, maybe.  An invitation to idleness.  Some women would kill for it, so she’s told.  The question still remains:  what does one do with oneself?  She feels the need of a goal.  Besides the one that landed her here.  Maybe she should try to use the time constructively.  Start to learn a language, meditate, commence upon an extensive and eloquent correspondence.  The goal of “passing the time” doesn’t seem like much of a thing to strive for.

She waits for things to happen.  She cannot cause any happenings herself anymore.

She is allowed to shower.  It has become the ultimate defining event of the morning.  There is no disguising the institutional nature of the bathroom, but under the water, with her eyes closed and the familiar smell of her own shampoo, it doesn’t matter.   She does her hair, puts on mascara.  It gives her the illusion of purpose.

Back in her bed.  The bed.  She definitely has a love-hate relationship with this bed.  It is hard.  The pillows are hard.  The sheets are scratchy.  It is narrow.  She is alone in it.  It also has some bells and whistles.  It has buttons that raise and lower the head and foot, changing it from a marble slab to barca lounger in one easy motion.  It has its own TV remote and speaker attached to a long cord snaking around behind her head.  It even has its own stewardess button.  If you press the big red spot on the remote with the picture of the retro nurses cap on it, a disembodied voice comes out of the wall behind you and asks your bidding.

The book she is currently reading was randomly chosen from the solarium down the hall from her room.  Score one on the side of “passing the time”.  Its sole purpose is just this.  There is nothing educational or edifying about it.  Ah, but it does its job beautifully!  Her mind is taken away, free to wait without thought.  TV would do the same thing, but she hates the continued reality check inserted by the commercials.

Sounds float into the room from the hall.  This is a post-partum floor as well as, well, pre-partum.  Newborns cry, older siblings run up and down the corridor chased by fathers.  She does not mind these noises.  They remind her why she is here.

The clock reads 2PM.  She is proud of herself.  She has not achieved anything today, but the fact that she has successfully “passed the time” up to this point feels like an accomplishment.  The baby is one day older and still safe inside.  She herself is not yet mad with boredom.

It’s really the selfishness of it all.  Days spent focused almost solely on one’s own entertainment.  Surely not by choice but still… others must take up the slack.  It was her choice to get pregnant, after all.  Some would say the sacrifice of giving up your independence and body to sustain another life is the ultimate in un-selfishness.  It doesn’t feel like this.  It feels like laziness.

The nurse comes in with a large beeping machine topped by a flat screen computer terminal.  She has been expecting it, could hear it coming down the hall, hoping it is for her.  Belts are put around her belly, pink for baby, blue for uterus.  It takes a minute for the computer to boot up.  Her hospital number is entered.  A round flat probe is pressed to the top of her belly.  Another is placed lower down and to the right.

She has learned to settle into this time.  Now that medications have stopped the contractions, she no longer stares anxiously at the monitor screen.  The baby’s heart rate can be heard as a quiet “tok-tok-tok”.  She doesn’t need the occasional scratch of interference in the sound to tell her when the child moves.

There is no reading, or writing, or talking, during this time.  Idleness and boredom are morphed into quiet observation.  The need to “do something” is suspended.  The “tok-tok” of the heart brings the abstraction that is her child out into the room, making it concrete, giving it form.  How is it one can develop such a fierce attachment to a sound?  The room, her bed, the various detritus of idleness scattered about, are temporarily pleasant and comfortable.  Only here does she get to “see” her child in this way.  She closes her eyes and floats on the sound, a rare and precious time spent present in the moment.

The nurse returns.  Too soon, the hour is over.  She is, as always, surprised by the silence and emptiness of the room when the monitors are removed.  Leaning back, she surveys her choices.  Books?  TV?  Dinner?  Inside her, the baby moves.  The head is down, the feet tucked up under her ribs.  The events of this day are passed.  There is nothing now but to wait for the morning.  They might let her shower again.

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Bedrest
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2008, 01:21:33 PM »
Let me guess you wrote this an hour before they brought in the monitor on the third day, ha
I was board to death, not from your story but from the feelings you created, lol do tell this was you for real, yes?
If not I still think only a mother would appreciate the long hours of boardom more.
Being a guy I can only say i smiled throught the whole thing feeling your pain.  ;D