I will never forget the day I dragged my exhausted body into the doctor's office expecting to hear that I had cervical cancer. A few years before, I had been diagnosed with cervical dysplasia, a precursor to cervical cancer, and had always feared being told I had full-blown cancer.
For several weeks I had been feeling fatigued, my abdomen felt full, and my menstrual cycle had lasted 13 days. I had mentally prepared myself for bad news, so you can imagine my shock when the doctor said, "Mrs. Brown, it is not a tumor; it is a baby. You are seven weeks pregnant!" After suffering three miscarriages and then struggling for over four years with infertility, I had finally become pregnant.
I thought nothing could knock me off the cloud I was dancing on, but I was wrong. The elation I felt at knowing I had a little life growing and thriving inside me was soon dampened by the deflating news that I had a low-lying placenta and would need to stay on complete bed rest until my bleeding stopped. I wasn't particularly happy to have to stay in bed for 24 hours a day when I wanted to be out shouting my good news to anyone who would listen, but I was prepared to do whatever was necessary for delivery of a healthy, full-term baby. At that time I didn't know exactly how much I would be expected to endure. At around three months, my bleeding stopped and I was allowed to resume a fairly normal life.
I was approximately 18 weeks along when I began having contractions. I would be out walking and would feel my abdomen tighten up into a hard ball. Naively, I thought this was the baby moving about. My doctor told me I was having preterm labor and ordered me back to bed.
My Serta and I remained inseparable for another four months. So how did I fill those endless prone-positioned hours? In the beginning I looked at it as a vacation from life. I indulged myself in all the things I had never had time to do. I watched all the talk shows (Oprah became my best friend) and read everything on the best sellers list. But then, like a rained-out camper stuck in a cabin, I got stir-crazy.
I wanted to walk through the mall, make my own meals, drive my car, go to T.G.I. Friday's and eat an entire Oreo Madness by myself! I began to miss my old life and my freedom. I only became more resentful when friends and family would call and recount their days. I knew they weren't trying to be cruel, that they were trying to help me feel involved, but I was jealous. I felt like screaming, "Do you know how lucky you are to be up and walking around? Do you know how miserable it is to lie only on your left side, to feel sheets cutting into your skin and leaving permanent creases on your arms and legs? Do you know how horrible it is to be denied the opportunity to carelessly saunter into Starbucks and order a Double Mocha Latte?"