Inside Baby and the Not-Bummer Summer
June 2, 2014 10:01 AM   Subscribe

With ~10 weeks to go in my pregnancy, some health complications are keeping me and my husband close to home and eating bland food. Have kept us there for quite a while already, actually. How can we keep from going stir-crazy, especially at a time when I would love to be out and about?

My hospital-grade gallbladder attacks, and the constant worry about when the next one might hit, have already cost us the ability to plan anything ahead of time. Now I'm potentially looking at surgery -- or a long wait until I can have surgery, then attempt to recover with a baby underfoot.

I just feel so hermity and self-pitying. I try to get the occasional massage or pedicure, but it feels like most of the positive things I could look forward to -- much-needed distractions from OMG BABBY TERROR -- are being taken out of my control.

--We don't feel like we can pre-plan anything, including day trips and potentially a family baby shower in the next state. We wasted $450 on a botched trip to see the Arcade Fire. These kinds of things were supposed to be rewards for surviving a tough winter and all of my previous health crap, as well as celebrating this time in our lives before the kid comes, and they've gone right into the shitter.

--I've had to cut out fat and (a lot of) dairy, such that I eat the same two boring sandwiches and protein smoothies all the time. That takes out ANOTHER "reward," especially here in town where we enjoy a great restaurant culture and/or fabulous potlucks and BBQs.

--And THEN I have spent so much time taking it easy that I have long since worked through all of my comfort viewing and reading. There are only so many episodes of "Rehab Addict" on On Demand.

I have also been very reluctant to socialize with people other than our downstairs neighbor. It's hard to talk about the fact that oh yeah, my pregnancy is going absolutely great except for this CRIPPLING PAIN and non-enjoyment of anything. Hell, it's hard to talk about pregnancy, period. I don't feel like much of my own person.

I'm looking for any suggestions for things my husband and I could do that could liven up our summer that are close to home, or maybe short trips we could take on the spur of the moment if things seem to be going decent. We are in Madison, WI and could probably drop a little money on things if needed (god knows we haven't used it except for the nursery).

Or, you know, any words of wisdom. I feel like I'm practically on bedrest when I'm really not, and it's a tough limbo to be in. (For reference: the baby is GREAT, and I have no restrictions other than diet. I am a slow-moving vehicle, though, and not very physical right now.)

posted by Madamina to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Kiddie pool in the backyard, big sunglasses, tropical mocktail, and a book you're very excited about reading even if that means it has zero redeeming intellectual value.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:08 AM on June 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

Have you checked out It's a community and resource for women on bedrest. I was on hospital bedrest so couldn't do anything, but there were women in similar situations who were looking for ideas to while away their time. Good luck to you, and congratulations!
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 10:10 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Is there a pool nearby that you could use? The bigger you get the more wonderful it will feel to be in the water.

Board games? Chess? Card games?
posted by mareli at 10:10 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Visit friends in Milwaukee.
posted by desjardins at 10:12 AM on June 2, 2014

I would have your friends and family throw you a shower at home. There's nothing wrong with it, and that can give you something to look forward to.

Can you have friends drop by to hang out with you? Perhaps make them in charge of entertaining you, either with card games, or board games.

Get a little hibachi or barbecue and grill your protiens outside. You can take lean chicken breast, or salmon or trout (in foil) out there. I think barbecue just adds to yumminess.

Make sauces with ginger and tumeric. These are two things that are delicious and good for your digestion.

Rice is easy, steamed veggies, big salads, all are lovely things to eat in the summer and very simple to put together. Ginger dressing is really refreshing (there are low fat versions out there.)

Hang in there, it seems like forever, but you can do it!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:13 AM on June 2, 2014

Ugh. How awful, my sympathies.

Sometimes it helps to feel like you're getting something productive out of your waiting (aside from the baby, of course). Learn a new hobby! Brush up on a foreign language! Think of this time as being 10 weeks of study time, during which you will develop some new weird skill.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:15 AM on June 2, 2014

Do either of you like board games? I know it's still an at-home thing, but you could also take one to a nearby park or something like that. In case the phrase "board games" makes you cringe, please know that board games have changed a lot over the years - no more Risk or Clue. ;)

For two players, I recommend Jaipur, Agricola: All Creatures Big & Small, Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert, Takenoko, Carcassonne... Tsuro is fun but a bit limited - if that interests you, try Tsuro of the Seas instead, I understand it is a bit more fun. Forbidden Island/Desert are cooperative games, and if you've never played one of those, I encourage you to give a try because it is so different from a competitive game.

I haven't played them, but I gather Dominion, Ticket to Ride, Splendor, and Rivals of Catan (2-player version of Catan) are good, too. If you do Ticket to Ride, get Ticket to Ride: Europe - it apparently is an improvement over Ticket to Ride.

I second the idea of learning a language. Learn together - there are millions of online resources for any language you want to try. ASL might be fun, then you could teach it to the baby. :) is a good place to start from what I understand, and with ASL you'll be able to get loads of DVDs from the library.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 10:24 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

short trips we could take on the spur of the moment if things seem to be going decent
So, daytrips that won't cost you anything if you have to back out: the zoo, a museum, House on the Rock, etc. Don't buy tickets ahead of time for anything.
posted by soelo at 10:38 AM on June 2, 2014

We've had to miss a few things because of pregnancy related illness, too. It really sucks! What we're doing now is only buying tickets day-of for shows etc, even if it means paying more via stubhub or some other reseller. I hate feeling obligated to go do something because we've spent the money even if I've not feeling well and/or feeling guilty about wasting the money.

My husband has also worked really hard to make our outside area really nice (we don't have "yards" so much where we live). So when I'm feeling on the better side of things we'll hang out outside, make iced tea or lemonade, listen to records, and he'll run to the store for something to grill. We don't buy much food in advance anymore because I never know what's going to be palatable on a certain day and I hate wasting.
posted by tealcake at 11:04 AM on June 2, 2014

Oof, that does sound tough. I'm sorry. I'm trying to think of what I'd do in your position.

- Binge on going to movies in the theatre. They're delightfully overly air-conditioned in the summertime, which is going to feel amazing, and heaven knows it's no mean feat to get to the movies post-baby. Bonus: something to discuss afterward?
- Is there a nice outdoor pool nearby? I could very happily pass an afternoon soaking in the shallow end while people-watching.
- I'd force my sister-in-law to come over and teach me cribbage and chess until I could easily beat her.
- I LOVE the idea of learning some useful baby-related ASL!
- I could lose myself in playing The Sims or similar games for about a month straight if I had the time. Got anything like that?
- I'd tidy up and organize my phone and computer files and photos in advance because you're about to start adding dozens of photos a day and it'll be great to have a "system" all set up and ready.
- Do you like crafty projects at all? When I was pregnant, a good friend made me a scrapbook-y photo album for my baby's first year. I personally hate to scrapbook and she knew this, so she did ALL the painstaking assembly work up front so that all I had to do is enter my baby's name and a few pertinent details here and there, print a handful of photos and insert them, and boom, finished baby book. When does that ever happen?
- This seems like a good time to tackle some sort of media "project" that you always intend to but never get around to doing, like working through the BBC's top 100 books list or watching the best 10 silent films in history or whatever. Even if you're not really feeling it and have to slog through, it'll probably feel great when you're finished.
- Sitting in a shady outdoor space with an icy summery drink (and your feet in a cool bath if possible) is a really great idea. Even if I'm not doing much, I always feel like I've experienced summer to a much greater degree if I've spent a big chunk of time on our deck.
- Can you do a little container gardening, maybe? Having bright flowers in little pots on our front steps and window sills brightens my mood far more than it should.

Hang in there!
posted by anderjen at 11:37 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Gallbladder pain is the worst pain I have ever felt. I really feel sorry for you. I have had some MS flareups followed by high dose steroid treatments that make me very ill with gallbalddery attacks. Very painful and hard to eat like you are describing. The recovery can take two or three months before I am back on my feet.

Things I do to keep me from going nuts:

Up my channels on my cabal subscription so I can watch better TV - Invite my friends over who do not have said stations for group viewing.

Book group - we all read a book and get together and talk about it or a focus on children or baby lit...that could be fun - reading your fav baby books to each other.

Have friends over and talk about all the stupid shit going on in the world and among our other friends (i know that is bad but sometimes it is so much fun)

Have friend take me for a drive....I live in a beautifully scenic area so the drives are always soothing to me.

Have a massage at home....really, really nice.

I talk on the phone a lot...3-4 thousand minutes a month.

My friends know that I may have to cancel or change the plans at the last minute due to pain, vomiting or passing out from the pain meds, but they come over anyway and do the dishes or whatever, and wait for me to resurface.

So my solutions for getting through tough times like this are all very friend dependent which may or may not work for you. Spending to much time alone results in me being overly focused on my misery so I do as much as I can to include others.
posted by cairnoflore at 11:42 AM on June 2, 2014

Go to the movies! I have a seven week old and man do I miss going to the movies.
posted by lydhre at 12:17 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, pregnancy is so overrated, and it's such a taboo to talk about it.

Do you get any exercise? Maybe riding a bike, or swimming can be good for you. During my first pregnancy, various pains were killing me, and my mom said I should stay home and safe so no harm was done to the baby. Luckily, an aunt recommended me a physical therapist who got me doing mild exercise every day, and it really helped. Walking was horrible and I'm allergic to chlorine, so for me, the solution was a 20 min bike-ride every day and gentle work-outs at the therapist's once a week.

In the same vein: don't sit too much. Sitting makes it worse. Or rather: sitting in easy-chairs make it worse. Sit on a stool with your legs apart or on a chair turned the wrong way. Sit on an exercise ball. Lie on your side. Stand up with knees bent. Stand with your elbows resting on the kitchen counter when you read or watch tv/movies. It's a bit counterintuitive but it really worked for me.

Also, I couldn't eat anything I normally liked. I did eat sorbet ice in abundant quantities - again the therapist told me not to worry at all, and she was right. I also liked most vegetarian food and fish if not spicy (and no onions), and I bought a vegetarian cook-book. This would work well for you was well, I think. I didn't have gall-bladder problems then, but I do now. The pain.... I can't even imagine combining this with pregnancy.
I suggest the River Cottage vegetarian book for inspiration.

I read a lot, but I deliberately avoided books about pregnancy and childcare. I read novels, of course, but also political books and biographies. It helped me to think about something completely different, and it was also helpful for me to be able to talk about other things than my pregnancy with friends and family. Because a lot of people really resented the fact that I *hated* being pregnant.

In the end, it became a blessing for me: the moment our baby was born, I felt better, which added to my feelings of joy and love. I literally went from feeling miserable and sick one minute to feeling almost completely normal the minute after! A family friend had suggested this while I was pregnant: when I said I felt miserable, he said it was far better to be unhappy while pregnant and relieved when the baby arrived than the other way around. I thought it was a bad joke, but unfortunately, he spoke from experience.
posted by mumimor at 12:18 PM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Not exactly the same situation, but I spent last summer indoors with a particularly badly broken leg with surgery, couldn't walk for 3 months, lots of PT, and all told took about 9 months to get back to a normal life. (Of course, I didn't have a baby at the end of it, but boredom, depression, feeling isolated was a big part of it.)

I enjoyed watching those super dramatic dramas, Breaking Bad, Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead, but I reached a point where watching more TV just made me more depressed. It was like I could turn off my brain for an hour, which was nice, but at the end of it, I was in the same situation.

I think you should take up a craft. I knitted. All you need to get started is a pair of needles, ball of yarn, and youtube. It can be enjoyed outside or inside. You can do it by yourself, or you can probably find knitting circles at a local craft store. You can stop it at any time and take it with you. Same with drawing, origami, embroidery, crochet, beading.

I found it very nice to learn something new and create something, rather than thinking about all the things I couldn't do. It also gives a nice default topic of conversation. I've never been really good at that polite lying kind of conversation. "Hows the leg doing" is supposed to be answered with "better, thanks for asking!" not: "nothing's changed everything still SUCKS!". I could suddenly answer with "not much has changed, but did you see this awesome baby sweater I made?" (Which is a much more compelling topic than "Did you see this shit that the real housewives of whatever pulled in the 2010 season finale?!")

I'd also suggest finding a forum or group for people going through the same thing as you. You can learn good tips, and generally commiserate with a sympathetic crowd.
posted by fontophilic at 1:18 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

In the end, it became a blessing for me: the moment our baby was born, I felt better, which added to my feelings of joy and love. I literally went from feeling miserable and sick one minute to feeling almost completely normal the minute after!


Know that it ends. Know that you get your body and your physical autonomy back. Within days of giving birth, my horrible back and pelvic pain disappeared, I could get off the bed again without doing complex rolling maneuvers, my acid reflux vanished. I'm probably forgetting other miracles. But I felt much better pretty much instantly.

I was pregnant in the dead of an impossible winter, too. So forget hiking or taking a walk, my two favorite exercises. Everything looked like part of a hellish ice planet and felt like it too. I actually sat quite a bit, though my baby was posterior so maybe sit on a yoga ball instead of an easy chair like I did.

A friend of mine had warned me how weird the end of pregnancy was. She spent most of it rereading the Little House books, which sounded appealing. I decided to reread all my childhood favorites, ostensibly in order to prepare myself for sharing them with my daughter. In a roundabout way, this led me to a weird, three month obsession with American Girl dolls. I spent huge chunks of time on doll forums and by my 37 week was waddling out in the snow to take photos of dolls. Okay, this was pretty weird. But I don't regret it at all. Find ways to indulge yourself and do things that feel warm and fluffy. TV is a good start but books and hobbies that you wouldn't normal feel free to indulge? Go for them.

Maybe write letters to your baby about what it's like being pregnant, because that might be interesting someday. Even if it's just "OMG this is so terrible." She might someday find comfort in that.

What I do regret is travel. I felt pressured to take a "babymoon" and was a miserable preggo peeing every ten minutes. I also had an out-of-state shower in my 9th month and we both know how that went. People are all "your life is going to eeeeend! Travel! Go to concerts!" Never mind that doing those things SUCK if you're having a rough pregnancy.

So yeah. Snuggling with your husband at the movies or on the sofa. Long baths. Letters to baby. And dolls. Or your favorite, fluffy, non-doll but non-demanding guilty pleasure hobby.

but really dolls.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:32 PM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Olbrich is my very favorite thing to do when I'm starting to come out of morning sickness hibernation and still feeling sick and lonely and grumpy. I bring a book, find a nice bench, and just sit and smell the flowers and feel part of the world. I seriously can't begin to tell you how much this helps my mood.

Another thing that might be nice for you this summer is the outdoor concerts there or at the Capitol -- your monotonous diet would maybe be a little less depressing if you got to eat it on the lawn with live music.
posted by gerstle at 2:08 PM on June 2, 2014

Marshmallows and liquorice are both gallbladder friendly, I found. Acid reflux friendly too. If you don't have acid reflux too, though, a gallbladder friendly diet doesn't have to be bland. If you do I'm so sorry. I've been there and it's really depressing. Salting your food more for flavour can help (unless you have high blood pressure of course).
posted by kjs4 at 6:04 PM on June 2, 2014

Wow that sucks I am so sorry to hear this.

The best thing you could do for yourselves right now is to fly in a beloved friend or relative to come and help you and keep you entertained. My sister came to help us do Christmas last year when I was sleeping in a hospital bed in my living room and it was awesome. It was the highlight of my two months in the living room, even though I could only use one arm and one leg, was constipated with hemorrhoids, and got knee pain in the good knee so I was screwed standing or sitting. Good company makes a difference, fly it in. The locals are overburdened.

I also learned python, did chair yoga and meditation, bought a crap ton of aromatherapy oils then mixed potions for any real or imagined ache or pain, and stewed in my misery. I will advise you to check page counts before ordering books as the 1400 page python tome was an unwelcome and useless surprise. Meditation and breathing exercises are most useful. You can practice those outdoors without too much effort since you indicated that you are capable of leaving the house. Aromatherapy is a less useful diversion for pregnant women but teaching yourself self massage is nice. You'll need reaching aides such as theracane and cushions /bolsters.

For treats order every conceivable variation of herbal tea under the sun, a nice rooibos vanilla is almost like dessert. Kind of. Your flown in friend should be able to go to farmers markets with you / for you to round out the seasonal treats. Fresh fruit and vegetables are here and it's all delicious. Now is the time to spend ridiculous amounts of money on heirloom everything.

To be honest though it is going to be miserable and it will suck. Just do what you can day by day to get through it. By next summer this will all just be an unpleasant blur, in five years a couple of anecdotes. Hang in there and survive.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:33 PM on June 2, 2014

Why in the world are your doctors leaving your gall bladder in? Seriously, it needs to go pregnant or not.
My friend just had hers out at 24 weeks because of very similar symptoms and the concern that it would go toxic....get another medical opinion, please.

PS This too shall pass....although it seems have great suggestions above.
posted by OhSusannah at 2:49 AM on June 3, 2014

Check out your local library. Looks like they've got everything from movie showings to knitting groups to book discussions. Great time to become familiar with it before you start bringing the little one to storytime. You could even learn a language through them as several folks suggest.
posted by carrioncomfort at 9:44 AM on June 3, 2014

Oh gosh, I remember feeling very much the same way the last month or two of pregnancy. It's been mentioned, but I found that playing computer games like Skyrim or the The Sims a great distraction - it felt a bit more purposeful than just watching TV. Also, keep moving as much as you can handle locally - little walks, just sitting outside in the backyard with iced tea, whatever. It really helps so much with the cooped up feeling. Otherwise, this too shall pass. Eventually. Even though it seems endless.
posted by annie o at 2:11 PM on June 20, 2014

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