What would you do if you had to spend the last month of your pregnancy in the hospital for constant monitoring?
Like, actually living there. I’m talking about eating, sleeping, and showering. Saying goodbye to your daily routine and the comforts of home. Leaving your loved ones behind for a sterile, lonely hospital room.
Having lived through it, I can honestly say that spending the last month of my pregnancy in the hospital was the longest month of my life. Thankfully, we are built to survive, and I was able to ride it out and make the best of it (with a lot of tears, chocolate bars, and Netflix).
My identical twin baby girls, Emmy and Mae, are thriving today because of our long-term hospital stay. I’ll be forever grateful for the care we received during this time, but I can’t ignore how mentally difficult it was for me.
And when I say difficult, I really mean hiking-Mount-Everest-level difficult.
Yes, it was that challenging.
The intensity of not knowing whether they would survive was a feeling I could never prepare for. The constant worry, nonexistent privacy from nurses and doctors coming in and out every hour, impending major abdominal surgery (C-section), COVID visitor restrictions, and reliance on hospital food was enough to almost drive me crazy.
But I made it through! And you could, too.
Here are my 10 best pieces of advice for surviving having to spend the last month of your pregnancy in the hospital:
Leave your room
Go for a walk each morning and evening if you can. Walk the hallways or do laps outside and listen to music or a podcast that you love at the same time. I listened to Nora Roberts audiobooks (dorky, I know). Walks help clear your mind and improve your perspective, and the exercise will make your postpartum recovery easier. If you can’t walk, ask for a hospital volunteer to take you sightseeing in a wheelchair each day. It’s that important to get out.
Buy a cheap, portable jigsaw puzzle table online and bring it with you to the hospital. I also had murder mystery logic puzzle books and crosswords. They help pass the time. (Warning: you may earn the reputation as “the puzzle lady” and you may find nurses working on your puzzle while you’re out of your room.)
Create a routine ASAP to make the time go by faster.
Make your room feel as homey as possible. I brought a quilt for my bed, put plants on the windowsill (not a bouquet of flowers – potted plants last a while and give you something to take care of), hung photos and my son’s artwork on the wall, and set up my bathroom countertop like home.
My therapist encouraged me to cry regularly to help release all the worry I was holding onto (and had been for 6 months at that point!) There will be challenging stages ahead (NICU time, bringing newborns home, raising your children for 18+ years, to name a few…) and crying releases stress so you can be ready for the next stage.
Find one! Thankfully, my therapist was able to meet with me using video chat and she was incredibly helpful during this time.
Bring a chair into your bathroom for phone calls. Nurses, doctors, cleaning staff, med students, and residents will be coming into your room throughout the day and sometimes you just need a dang minute to yourself! I held multiple work meetings and had therapy sessions in my bathroom. You’ll hear people knock and come into your room… ignore them. Take that time for yourself. Trust me, they’ll be back later.
Enjoy food! Choose the highest quality food available to you and enjoy some dessert each day (if it’s safe for you!) Use food delivery apps to order yourself meals when you get sick of the hospital food.
Find a way to ask the nurses (kindly!) how they can visit you the least amount possible. For example, I hated being woken up at night so I asked for a schedule that would allow for the most sleep at night possible. With this, my daily NSTs (Non-Stress Tests) were always at 6 am, 2 pm, and 9 pm.
Try to look at the big picture
Shop online and have baby supplies delivered to your home, plan a vacation, plan a party for the following season… plan anything fun! I started planning a beach vacation for the following year… super ahead of time but I needed something to look forward to. I pictured my babies at the beach in little sun hats, which always made me smile.
Days spent in the hospital are going to feel long and you’ll feel like you’re never going to be home again, but know that you will. You will feel like a bada** momma when you get through these crazy hard stages and you will love yourself for it. Know that if you’re trying your best, you’re doing exactly what you should be, and you’ll get through it. Having to spend the last month of your pregnancy in the hospital isn’t fun, but bringing home my healthy babies made it all worthwhile.
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