24 weeks pregnant facing bedrest!
September 9, 2012 8:40 AM   Subscribe

24 weeks pregnant, facing bedrest and woefully underprepared for the birth of this surprise baby. FMLA, bedrest and c-section questions inside.

Anon due to medical/work questions. Throwaway email: surprisebabby@gmail.com.

I am 24 weeks 5 days pregnant and entered the hospital Thursday with heavy bleeding and frequent painless contractions. I had two shots of Terbutaline to reduce the contractions which worked but not long term. They did work long enough to slow the bleeding substantially, although ultrasound showed one more large clot that will probably pass soon. I've been on magnesium sulfate for about 36 hours, being weaned off by half a gram per day. I've had a rhogam shot and two beta methazone shots for baby's lungs, along with two rounds of antibiotics for group b strep. I am now stable (not in labor) and baby is tolerating all of this very well. 

I have been aware of this pregnancy for exactly one month, so I'm feeling a little behind in preparing. I have some questions about FMLA and disability leave, preparations for possible bedrest, and general HALP BABBY! type questions. 

First up, my husband and I WERE trying for a baby- I was on metformin to regulate my cycles but mostly what it did was mask my early pregnancy symptoms, of which I had very few (no vomiting, 2-3 instances of mild nausea). I had heavy bleeding in my second month, which I assumed was either a menstrual period or the irregular bleeding I experience with PCOS. Otherwise, I have felt perfectly normal, and a metformin followup visit brought the pregnancy to light when I was 21 weeks along. I have a bicornuate uterus and I am at risk for pre term labor and breech positioning. 

My questions:
I just faxed off my FMLA paperwork on Wednesday. I understand the whole procedure as it relates to a normal or mostly normal birth--but if I am released from the hospital this week on bedrest and required to use FMLA to cover that, I will be expected back at work two weeks before my due date, if I am lucky to keep baby inside for that long. And if she's in NICU, I am  not about to want to deal with TPS reports. I have short term disability (which has to be taken consecutively with FMLA) and long term disability, which I haven't had much chance to look into. I want to have all my ducks in a row before I talk to HR. (I am based in Minnesota, company HQ are in New York.) I guess if I'm put on three months of bedrest, I still want my twelve weeks of postpartum leave, too--knowing that my company is not necessarily obligated to provide this. (I know they value me, a lot, but no one is irreplaceable, especially when they're asking for half a year off.)
- Could long term disability apply to my situation, leaving short term and FMLA for post-birth? I will use up most of my sick days on this hospitalization and have only a handful of vacation/personal days left. What other questions should I ask HR?
- It might be possible to work from home if my doctor is okay with it. My company generally doesn't like people to work from home, but I'm willing to ask for it. What other questions should I ask my manager?
- I like my job and was planning to return to work--but we don't NEED me to work to maintain something close to our standard of living, even with the added expenses of a baby. Insurance is through my husband's job. At some point, should I just consider quitting if they can't or won't work with me on leave? Is there a way--and would it be ethical to do this--to get the six weeks paid disability (and any long term that qualifies) used up before I officially quit, just for that extra bumper of savings?

Possible bedrest
- my doctor has indicated that I may need to go on bedrest or modified bedrest. We have a lot of friends and family around to help, but they will need direction. What do I tell them to do?
- I have read the other threads on not going crazy while on bedrest. Additional ideas are welcome! I already play an MMORPG, quilt, read, and have podcasts lined up. Any other tips?

- I need some help prioritizing my baby-prep tasks, especially if I'm going to be taking care of them from bed. We don't have: a pediatrician, car seat, names picked out, nursery furniture, baby items, wills/living wills, etc. I do have an amazing, supportive, and about to be totally overwhelmed husband, and the aforementioned family and friends. My biggest priority upon getting home is packing a proper hospital bag for our next visit, so I won't have to send him home piecemeal for more socks and underwear and stuff to read. Beyond that--pediatrician? Wills? Please help me prioritize and delegate! 
-well before I was pregnant, it was important to me to have a natural, medication- and intervention-free birth. I struggled with taking met to increase my chances of getting pregnant because it felt like cheating. Now, of course, I've already had much-needed interventions and am preparing myself for the very likely possibility of a c-section (she won't have much room to turn around due to the shape of my uterus and I understand that ECV is generally not recommended for high-risk pregnancies). I am very scared of having a c-section--everything from the epidural to hemorrhaging on the table afterwards. Please point me toward some c-section positive resources. Also, any questions for my doctor regarding bedrest, pre term labor, or c-section I may not have thought of?

Thank you for reading this far! 
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For the FMLA stuff, you don't need to have your ducks in a row before you talk to HR, this is what HR is for. Here is the main thing about FMLA, you don't get to decide if you are on an FMLA leave, if you are off work for reasons covered by FMLA then you are on FMLA leave. So there is really no way to take a medical leave now and still get 12 weeks of FMLA leave after the birth.

Both Long Term and Short Term Disability are methods of pay, not leave statutes so basically they pay you while you are on FMLA. Long Term Disability usually kicks in after at least a 30 day waiting period (sometimes 60 or 90 days) but getting the details on this is what HR is for.

You need to be in contact with HR and with your boss throughout this process, especially if you are going to want more than 12 total weeks of time off. Another, possible, complication... You say HQ is in another state, are there at least 50 employees in a 75 mile radius of you? If not then you don't actually qualify for FMLA anyway, though many companies still act as if you do in order to be nice. Again, this is why you should talk to HR, really most of us WANT to help.
posted by magnetsphere at 9:15 AM on September 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

You seem to have things figured out pretty well already. I'm going to skip the work-related questions because I'm not qualified to answer them.

You need a car seat to leave the hospital, so that's a good priority. Having a pediatrician picked out beforehand is also extremely helpful since they will do a hospital visit and in our case caught an issue with our baby that led to early, easier treatment. Bear in mind that we picked out a pediatrician sight unseen with one recommendation, so whatever works. Other things can mostly be acquired by your crazed husband after you leave the hospital so are one tier lower. You don't need much for a newborn other than diapers and a place to sleep.

My wife had an epidural and was fine, I came out from a c-section on my tiny mother 33 years ago and both of us were fine, and it was her second c-section. I would say, make sure you are comfortable with your physicians and birthplace; that's probably the most important thing.

Having a baby is a great adventure and you never know quite what will happen. My best advice as the father of a six-month old is to embrace flexibility and remember that the outcome which produces a healthy baby and healthy mother is a good one.
posted by selfnoise at 9:17 AM on September 9, 2012

In terms of bed rest and help, what I would suggest is the following:

Get a ship-to address like at Mailboxes Etc ASAP. Do your baby shopping online, get stuff delivered there so you don't have to get out of bed to answer the doorbell. Discover the joy that is Drugstore.com and Diapers.com.

In terms of volunteers, pre-birth you're going to need people to pick deliveries up and to basically follow your commands: to launder, fold, put away, assemble, etc. Pick people who will be compliant with your wishes and who can hear the words "I know you have a way of doing this but because I can't do for myself right now what I really need is people who will do it the way I want it done." Hire such a person if needed; bedrest is debilitating in more ways than one.

After the birth, you might really benefit from a meal delivery rota. Take your supportive friends and have them sign up for meals while you are still in the hospital. Make organising that one friend's job. Be clear that people coming to see the baby need to help, not just hold the baby.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:26 AM on September 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

If you are in California you will also have CFRA and PDL rights (longer leave for pregnancy)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:38 AM on September 9, 2012

I don't know technical details of FMLA/disability leave, but it's certainly not unethical to quit after taking them. You have something very serious happening in your body - it's not like you're avoiding work so you can go play the slots all day. Plenty of people encounter a medical situation that requires work leave, then realize they aren't ready to go back at the end of the leave.

Baby items - if you do end up on bed rest, take a laptop and a credit card to bed with you and enjoy some retail therapy. There really isn't much you need for a newborn, and nothing that can't be ordered from Amazon (sign up for Prime or Amazon mom or something that gives you free fast shipping so you can efficiently meet stuff needs that you identify once you're home). The internet is overflowing with adorable cheap soft lovely baby onesies and gowns and socks and booties. Order them.

Get whatever car seat you like the looks of - they all meet safety standards. I picked the green and black one and it looked great in my car.

Our baby's doctor did not visit her at the hospital. Hospital staff peds took care of her exams there, and she didn't meet her long-term family practice doctor until office visits after we brought her home.

You do need to pick a doctor, but you don't have to agonize about it. It might be nice to talk to the doctor before the baby's born just to make sure the doctor isn't some kind of freak, but if you can't get in, you can't get in. Get recommendations from your local mamas Facebook group (every town has one, right?), from mothering.com forums or babycenter.com forums or from friends or from your midwife or whatever. Don't agonize though - if you do a little research about breastfeeding, weight gain, foreskin care, vaccinations [whichever of these apply], you'll know what to look for at the office visit and you'll know if you aren't satisfied with how the baby's doctor behaves, and then you can try someone else.

Picking a name - again, you don't have to agonize. You'll get there. You can definitely agonize if you want, but some babies aren't named until days after they're born, and they often grow up to be lovely people, and a year from now anything you pick will probably turn out to have been the perfect choice.

Highly medical birth - I am asking my mamas community for c-section support resources. Plenty of mamas have c-sections that are medically required and there should be a lot of online support for you. There's a chance your kid will be in the NICU, so familiarize yourself with that lifestyle, which can be pretty weird.
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:55 AM on September 9, 2012

Seconding what DarlingBri said: Do your baby shopping online. If you know people are going to give you things, or if you have people willing to give you hand-me-downs, make sure they bring them *to you.* But you really can buy everything online.

If you've got the funds, and especially if you don't have much other support, I recommend looking for a doula in your area who does both birth and postpartum work. Make sure you describe your situation up front; a good doula will be happy to support you through this whole thing. They will come meet with you at your home. An experienced postpartum doula should be willing to come help you out prenatally as well.

My son wasn't named for a week and a half after he was born. Drove my parents insane, but it was important to us to be really happy with whatever name he chose. Don't sweat that one too much.

You will ultimately handle this fine -- you sound like you're an intelligent, on-top-of-things kind of person who's going through a strange time. You can do this. I encourage you to take advantage of every possible means of support -- this is when you should have your friends and family step up. Giving them concrete things to do helps ("Will you come over and walk the dog?/Help my husband paint the nursery?/Mow the lawn?").

Congratulations on the pregnancy. I hope everything goes well for you and your little family.
posted by linettasky at 10:06 AM on September 9, 2012

PS: If you are wondering what you might want to have on hand, I made this list for my sister. I haven't looked it over in a while but I think it has everything except clothes. You need onesies in a range of small sizes, mittens, hats and baby laundry detergent like Dreft. If you can score 2nd hand infant clothes off friends that's ideal as they basically just get peed, pooped and spit up on. Then you can set someone to laundering them :)
posted by DarlingBri at 11:02 AM on September 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

My state, Oregon, has a separate family leave law, which means covered employees can take up to 12 weeks maternity leave that is separate from any medical leave needed pre-birth. But really, if you work for a big corporation, just ask HR. They generally are experts on this very complicated law and they'll give you the best answers.
posted by purenitrous at 12:20 PM on September 9, 2012

For the FMLA, I think you are going to just have to talk to HR, and possibly someone with the state - there may also be state specific issues/laws to take into account.

Baby Prep:
A lot of the things you haven't done yet can be researched/purchased online. I'd make a list of projects and then a list of tasks w/in each that can be done by you or delegated to someone else and an optional deadline (i.e. you can research carseats, husband can install and take it to be checked by whomever does that in your area. Deadline whatever makes you comfortable, given that you may have complications, etc. maybe a month or 6 weeks ahead of your due date.)

Everyone has different priorities on how ready they need to be for the baby to arrive, but as people have pointed out babies need very little in terms of 'things' when they are born. So do what makes you feel excited and less anxious, and don't worry about the other things. I did a ton of baby online shopping in the weeks after my c-sect with my first child, when I was too tired and exhausted to accomplish much more. And we didn't order any nursery furniture (except a crib) until maybe 6 months in when we knew what we wanted. Decorating has been a work in progress. A friend did suggest to get a stroller ahead of time, and I was glad I did, even though I had planned on wearing the baby, the c-sect recovery made that difficult for me.

If I was on bedrest I think one of the hardest things to deal with might be the nesting urge. It hit me at about 28 weeks with baby 1, and I've already started it with baby 2. I wasn't that into decorating a nursery until after our son was here, but all the sudden I could see filth all over our house that I couldn't imagine bringing a baby into (cleaning out the refrigerator, etc., lots of purging of items in common areas, etc. Just something to think about, you might alert your husband that you may suddenly need to direct him to do some organizing, decluttering, etc.

Doing a will is a fabulous idea that most people ignore, but again, it's something you can research on the couch, depending on how you do it may require a visit or two to a lawyer's office.

I was a very last minute planner with baby 1. If you are looking for activities to keep you occupied there's lots of learning you can do - I'll give another rec for Dr. Karp's book/ DVD the Happiest Baby on the Block. The dvd is great and only takes 30 minutes, basically covers the same thing. If you plan on breastfeeding, you might watch some videos, etc. to prepare.

Our local mommy's board was soooo helpful to me, nth-ing the suggestion to find some support online. I learned a lot about peds, the different hospitals, etc. You may also be able to find some parents to me classes you can attend even on bedrest with help from your husband.

I am also 24 weeks pregnant with baby 2 (not on bedrest). Baby 1 was an emergency c-sect after a very, very long attempt at a natural delivery. I have a terrible anxiety thing about needles and surgery, was petrified of the thought of an epidural, etc. , so I can sympathize with your concerns about the c-sect. Here are some ideas to help you manage:
- make sure you completely trust your medical professionals, if you don't have complete confidence in the dr, now is the time to find someone else. The same with the hospital if you have options. Find a local mommy's forum, etc. research the hospitals, and if you're bed rest allows it, sign up for a tour (in our area, these get filled up quickly)
- you can make a birth plan for a c-sect just like you can for a natural birth. For me, I wanted my husband to be there, I wanted to hold the baby (I ended up being too week, but I got to see him) and I wanted to be able to start breastfeeding as soon as possible. I don't remember the details, but we had to negotiate some things with the nurses on duty i.e. they allowed my husband and new son to be in the recovery room with me and to start bf-ing shortly thereafter, although the nurse on duty did not want to. My husband had to really negotiate with them, our doula couldn't intervene for him, but she prepped him on how to do it, etc. So it pays to thing about what you would like, compare that to what the hospital will allow, or puts at the discretion of the nurse, so you know what things you can advocate for.
- I purchases some relaxation/guided meditation birthing podcasts that I would listen in the weeks leading up to the delivery. Even if I do a scheduled c-sect this time I think I'm going to try and find something similar, general relaxation techniques, etc.
- As far as complications on the operating table go, I know people that have had serious complications from both natural birth and csect. Knowing that giving birth is not without risks, but that most women and babies I know have done fine helps me manage my anxiety.

The only thing I was going to add is with a baby due at the end of the year, maybe working on end of the year non baby tasks while on bed rest - any tax stuff you usually do in January, holiday cards, gifts, etc. I'm going to try to do as much of this as possible end of Nov/early Dec.

Hang in there, good luck, hope all goes well for you!
posted by snowymorninblues at 12:53 PM on September 9, 2012

As you are married, you really don't need to worry about wills right away. Your child and your stuff will by default go to your spouse if you die. It is a bigger concern for divorced or single parents, or people with unusual family situations, or people with a ton of money.

Amazon two-day ships EVERYTHING. There are few baby things you need faster than two days, even once the baby has arrived. (I had friends whose baby surprise-arrived 8 weeks early, before they even had carseats. Local Target and lots of stuff shipped from Amazon, and they had most of the stuff before they left the hospital!) Most of the things you need faster than two days you can get at a 24-hour pharmacy.

I was a supernova of terror about my first C-section (which I found out was necessary at 38 weeks and had done at 39 weeks) and it was fine. It was great, even. The hospital staff and the doctor were great. I didn't feel like I missed out on a single thing with my baby; they showed me the baby as soon as he arrived, took him over to a bassinet that I could see from the operating table, the nurses made sure to stand so they didn't block my view, the anesthesiologist took pictures for me with my camera, my husband got to "trim" the umbilical cord, and once he was all cleaned up they let my husband bring him over for me to kiss him and touch him with my one free hand. Then my husband and the baby went off to the nursery. The whole surgery took about 45 minutes, around 40 of which was the stitching up. The baby-removing part is FAST! My baby was born at 3:30 and I was breastfeeding by 5:30. The only thing I felt I missed out on was my husband and I had done all the birth classes and were ready for him to coach me through the delivery and we felt like we missed out on that bonding experience. But we got over that quickly and him helping me stay calm through the supernova of terror when I found out I had a C-section and being there for the surgery and taking the baby to the nursery was all just as good, just different than we'd planned. My husband was able to be with me the entire time, except when they actually wheeled me to the surgical suite, he had to wait until they got me all transferred to the table and then come in. Not sure why, but it was only 2 minutes or so.

Memail me if you have C-section questions. I have now had two, one surprise and difficult, the second planned and easy, and both went really well.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:02 PM on September 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you have the advantage of not having to work, always put the well-being of you and your baby over work. In fact, you can go ahead and put the well-being of you and your baby over everything. As women we're socialized to put other people's needs first, but you have to get out of this mindset now.

I'm only mentioning this because you put a lot of emphasis on "doing right" by your job. Your job will be fine. They're not the fragile, dependent little creatures who need you the most right now.
posted by bleep at 1:39 PM on September 9, 2012

Sounds to me like the priority level would be:
1. Packing the bag for your next hospital visit and sorting out your HR needs/FMLA
2. Everything else can be done on an as needed basis and most likely could all be done after the baby is born if you didn't have time to do it before. People have noted this above but a baby doesn't need to have a name, a pediatrician, or a will that mentions it when it is born, that's all just stuff that's nice to have done ahead of time if you can.

You can have whoever would be arranging your baby shower be responsible for helping you ensure the gifts get to you. If your baby happens to be born in the next 10 weeks, it will most likely have to stay a while in the NICU. The NICU stay can be estimated as roughly the amount of time from the birth until the due date, although a very early baby could stay even longer and a later premature baby could stay a shorter time. So you would not have to worry about having a car seat or baby furniture at the ready the day the baby is born.

And for goodness sakes, don't feel like you 'cheated' by taking metformin to have your baby. It angers me that the current peer pressures in motherhood could make people feel guilty for using the medicine they need to treat medical problems they have been diagnosed with. If you had pneumonia, would you feel bad about taking antibiotics because your body couldn't fight off the infection itself? I hope not! It isn't your 'fault' you have PCOS and needed metformin to treat it, and it isn't your fault that you will probably need a C-section to keep your baby healthy, and I don't want you to waste one moment of time feeling any shame about it!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:52 PM on September 9, 2012 [6 favorites]

If you do end up on bed rest, check out http://www.sidelines.org/. They provide volunteer phone- and email-based support for bedresting mamas, and supposedly it can be really helpful.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:15 PM on September 9, 2012

I have no advice on the insurance stuff, Australian here, but get that sorted now. Otherwise:

1. hospital bag (including basic clothes for a premmie)
2. carseat (go the absolute best you can and as awesome as the capsules that convert to carriers are, it takes a lot of strength and manoeuvring to get them in and out and post-c-section is not a time for either of those things)
3. paediatrician
4. pump if you want to breastfeed - hospital ones can be awesome though. You just might want one at home.
5. sleeping arrangements (we coslept and didn't need a cot for a long time, but you may want a bassinette to go in room when the come home - a lot of friends with premmies preferred that arrangement)
6. clothes and nappies and whatnot

Distant 7 and onwards - nursery decorating, all that jazz. Even names can wait (it took six weeks to name my nephew). But when the baby comes home it will need a safe way to travel, clothes, nappies and food. And probably medical care at some point.

If you're looking at prams, make sure you get one that can rearface so the baby can see you while you're out. And maybe check out slings for carrying - I know a lot of c-section mums can have trouble with that early on though.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:20 PM on September 9, 2012

I'm in Minnesota and I love babies! MeMail me if you need someone to run around and get stuff for you.
posted by Coffeemate at 6:37 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you do give birth soon, as others have noted, your baby will be in the NICU. The NICU will have Neonatologists and specialist nurses and the transition to pediatricians will come further down the track.

My wife had a C section and was down in the NICU to see our son the next day and has recovered no problems at all. YMMV of course, but all in all ours was a positive c section experience that was, in all honesty, ecclipsed buy the emergency nature of it and the dramatic circumstances with my son.

My baby boy was born at roughly the same time (25 weeks 6 days) and spent 3.5 months in the NICU. Its an incredibly intense experience, theres not a lot that can prepare you for the ups and downs of being there a long time.

Ask the medical team what the likelyhood is of you giving birth soon, and if its above 80% or so ask if a tour or information on the NCIU is appropriate. With our situation, it was pretty clear (my wife was in the high risk pregnancy area for 5 days before they were forced to deliver our boy) - we got a very quick tour which prepared me about 0.5% for what was to come, but at least it was some preperation.

Memail me if you want to see pictures, I kept a site that has pictures from birth (at 25 weeks, 812 grams) until now, of if you just want to chat.

A note for your both of you... during that time I kind of went a bit crazy trying to be the strong one, balancing my wife recovering from a c section, my son in the NICU, my family and friends, all the different things I needed to do... you will both need to take care with each other and you both need to have people to talk to and vent to outside the situation.

I also asked a question about NICU so if it does look like going down that track see here

Be thinking of you guys.
posted by Admira at 8:47 PM on September 9, 2012

As Admira says, if your baby is delivered soon, s/he will be spending time in the NICU until the due date. So getting home ready for the baby, at the earliest, is about three weeks before your due date. And the only thing absolutely necessary is the car seat. Onesies and diapers can be bought on the way home, in a pinch. So do some planning, as you have time and energy, but don't worry about what you're not getting to. You've got some time to get your home ready, spend more time getting yourself ready, and feeling ready.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:12 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had a surgical delivery (c-section) with a 2 week post-mature baby. This was after induced labor, and pushing. I spiked a serious fever shortly after going home and went right back to the hospital. Be fierce about who examines you and handwashing & gloves. Check out the hospital's infection rate. My son is grown up and healthy, so, while the post-partum infection was really Not Fun, we ended up fine. Birthing classes didn't prepare me for the surgical delivery, at all. I wanted a low-intervention birth; it didn't work out that way, and it's really just one more thing about having a baby - give up on things being a particular way; babies turn your life upside down.

Get recommendations for pediatricians; the nursing staff should be a good resource. You need a carseat, diapers, onesies, a few blankets, and a baby thermometer at home. These are easy. A will is useful, not critical.

Talk to HR; they're required to tell you what you're entitled to. Don't worry about your employer; this is a cost of business for them.

Good luck with you baby; mazel tov!
posted by theora55 at 9:27 PM on September 9, 2012

Dump everything you don't need to be doing for the next 4-6 months at least, not just to your duedate.

Either you'll be on bedrest and anxious or your baby will be born early, and with NICU visiting and recovery and bringing baby home - this is not the time to juggle extra commitments. Go through your to-do list and off-load as much as possible to friends and family. And not your husband - you want both him and you to be able to concentrate on the essentials.

Don't quit your job outright, but definitely prepare to handover so that when/if things get too much you can walk away and not feel guilty. Write down your tasks and whatever, and make it clear to your office that you cannot take on more work. I was timing between medication that made my head spin so that I could answer work emails, and it was insane. I wish I had done the handover, but I think in retrospect I was in denial about how ill and limited I was on bedrest.

It's a great idea to order and arrange everything online, and have a friend be your send-to address for packages/returning stuff so you don't have to schlep around. You can get just about everything you will need online.

I had an emergency c-section at 30 weeks, and in some ways it was easier. The recovery bites, but like labour pains, you forget it fairly soon. It was also freeing in that I didn't have to make a hundred labour decisions - it was more "please make sure we both live". I had a will, and that helped, plus I had spoken to my husband about our other kids and what-if scenarios. It might be helpful to write a letter to your husband and baby for the worst case scenario, if that takes away the anxiety. Or you might prefer to never think about it - and frankly, in a modern hospital, the risks are way way down. Do you trust and like your doctors? Unlike in a vaginal birth, a c-section requires doctors, and that was key for me being less freaked out. You almost certainly won't be completely knocked out. I was awake the whole time, and my husband was with me. If it's pain you're worried about, talk to the anesthesiologist about the epidural proceedure.

Every extra day inside roughly means two fewer days in the NICU. You have a very very good chance of coming home with a healthy baby in a few months. It will seem like forever, but it isn't.

Half-Baked is a slightly rude but raw and true story about being an NICU mom. Her blog is fabulous, but the book really really helped me feel less alone.
posted by viggorlijah at 9:40 PM on September 9, 2012

Oh and The Preemie Primer was the book I ended up referring to the most during the NICU stay out of a stack I bought. Solid clear and sympathetic writing.

Also - I am a terrible photographer, but my kids are decent so I have good shots of the baby. Now is actually a fabulous time to get a good camera and learn how to take good shots, which you can do on bedrest. That's something I wish I had done when I had that chunk of odd inbetween time.
posted by viggorlijah at 9:44 PM on September 9, 2012

If you end up needing to lie in bed for a lot of time, it would be a very good idea to have some exercises that you could safely do while there. I don't have any specific links, but there are many good routines for bed yoga, yoga for pregnancy, and such. There is a LOT you can do to keep your body from turning to painful mush even if you need to be resting a lot. Maybe your doctor or a physical therapist can suggest some resources.

As for the ethics of disability benefits: be honest (no deception or withholding known, relevant facts); find out what the terms of your company's coverage are; and don't waste any time feeling guilty about using the benefits you legitimately qualify for. That's why they're there. You worked hard to earn them, and they are part of your compensation.
posted by Corvid at 3:36 PM on September 10, 2012

I don't know anything about bed rest but I note that you've only known you were pregnant for a month and if you are feeling overwhelmed or even ambivalent, that is totally normal. I really wanted to be pregnant, and yet when I got the news it still took some time for the news to sink it. So if you are feeling any of that, just give yourself some time - a lot of time - to adjust to these huge changes in your life. Also know that the hormones can really take you for a roller coaster ride.

Re FMLA - I think you've received good advice above. Definitely talk to HR. I think FMLA - if available to you - will keep your job for you if you are absent 3 months this year. And the disability will be what pays you. But your employer may be more generous than you think, or than it has to be, particularly if you are valued and because of your special circumstances. I'd ask, and make a case for why you need extra time. Also remember to save some "sick leave" for after the baby is due for sick and well baby visits etc.

As for what to do now:
- figure out your leave
- pick a pediatrician so they an visit the baby in the hospital
- research and buy the basics for the nursery if possible - there are lots of lists on the internet (including on metafilter) of what the bare minimums are. If you memail me, I will send you my list and favorite products. Along those lines, you could buy the Baby Bargains book - it's quite helpful for choosing baby products.

Regarding a c-section. I was also hoping for a natural birth, but after a long labor ended up with a c-section and I was thrilled. The baby and I were healthy, through the miracle of modern medicine. My recovery was certainly harder than if I'd had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, but much better than if I'd endured delivery the way things were going. It wasn't what I wanted, but it was more than fine. Before I went into labor I didn't like the idea of an epidural or a catheter. Let me tell you, part way through labor those were the *least* of my concerns. Healthy baby, healthy mama = all good. I'd take advantage of bedrest to educate yourself about c-sections (and the NICU as mentioned above).
posted by semacd at 9:39 AM on September 11, 2012

Mod note: From the OP:
Thank you to everyone who posted suggestions here, especially the c-section success stories. On Wednesday, I delivered a tiny, healthy 25-week baby girl via emergency c-section. She is in a level III NICU with some of the lowest complication rates in the world. So far, she is doing really well, hitting the milestones that her carers have set for her and certainly she is safer than she was gestating during an abruption. I am also recovering well - stiff and sore from surgery but with zero regrets. Work is managing just fine without me, I imagine - I never did have time to send them a list of my projects but I'll get to that in a few days and they are happy to work with me on leave at this point.

Additional NICU resources would be much appreciated, and of course I will be searching the archives here on AskMe. Another thank-you from the bottom of my heart for those of you who shared your stories - I thought of them when I was laying on the operating table and they helped.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:28 AM on September 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would second the suggestion that you read Half Baked; the NICU bit is really the entire second half. On top of that, please make sure you are getting a lot of professional, psychological support. This all sounds rippingly traumatic, and that doesn't change because you are pleased with the ultimate outcome.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:37 AM on September 15, 2012

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