When I was 22 weeks pregnant with my first daughter, I started feeling strong cramping in the middle of the night. Even though I thought it was just a normal ache from pregnancy, my husband and I decided to play it safe and go to the labour and delivery ward at the hospital to get checked out. At 8:00am I sent a text to my boss to let her know I would probably be in a little bit late to work, and then got comfortable in my hospital bed. 

Fast forward 12 hours later, I was still in the hospital in that same bed. The day had gone much differently then we had expected. When I was checked they had found out that I was starting to dilate, and immediately rushed me in a wheelchair downstairs to get an ultrasound. We then came back upstairs and waited anxiously to hear from the doctor.

Thankfully, everything was fine with our baby, but the doctors were quite concerned about my cramping and dilation. Two days later, after much testing and discussion with my doctor, it was recommended that I go on bedrest until I was at least 34 weeks pregnant, when there was less risk of complications. We felt scared. We felt helpless. And we were unsure of what the next few months would hold. 

If you knew me before bedrest, you would know that I did not know how to relax. Even into my pregnancy I was working full-time at a fast paced job, completing a masters program, going to the gym daily, and trying to maintain a busy social life. The idea of stopping everything to lay on a couch for 4 months was terrifying to me. I didn’t know who I was outside of these roles.

In the book ‘A Man’s Search For Meaning’, Victor Frankl recalls his time in a concentration camp. He talks about the horrors he seen in this camp, and the many men who lost their lives. He believed that the people who survived were the ones who found meaning and purpose even in the most difficult of circumstances.

My husband reminded me of this book during my time on bedrest. I reflected on the question:

“How can I find meaning in this difficult circumstance?”

Here are some pieces of meaning and purpose that I found.

This difficult time allowed me to develop meaningful relationships

Before ‘Bedrest Jess’ she very independent and did not rely on many people to get by. ‘Bedrest Jess’ had no choice but to rely on family and friends. This was an amazing learning and bonding experience!

My mom came up and stayed with me every Thursday for 4 months. During this time we were able to bond and I learned so many things from her that I had never known before. Bedrest allowed me have the time to develop a deep meaningful relationship with her, and I will always be thankful for that. Other family members also were so helpful, and would take the 1.5 hour drive to come visit, bring meals, or clean my house. For those of you who took that time, thank you.

My friends were amazing during this time as well. Sending care packages, trying to teach me to knit, bringing over books, and coming for peppermint tea and m and m’s.  If I had not been on bedrest, I would not have had time in my busy schedule to sit down with all of you and connect before having our daughter. I am thankful for bedrest because of this time I was able to spend with each of these amazing friends.

My church family was also so supportive during this time. Even though I was not able to attend church while I was on bedrest, I never felt more connected to this community. In the hardest most stressful moments, when I was worried that something was going to happen to our baby girl, I knew that there was a community of people praying for us, and am thankful for that.

If you are going through a difficult time in your life, allow yourself to be supported by others. Find meaning, gratitude, and purpose in the way that others love and support you in your life.

This difficult time allowed me to learn what it means to be a mother

When we called my parents to tell them the news, my mom told me that this would be my first experience of being a mother. Being a mother means that you have to give yourself up for your child, in order to do what is best for them. Anytime I felt frustrated or sad by the fact that I was stuck on the couch, I reminded myself that another life depended on me doing this. Now that I have my healthy and beautiful baby, I would do it all over again for her in a second. Every day of my life is now spent caring for her, and I am thankful that I was able to learn the importance of that when I was on bedrest.

If you are going through a difficult season, think about what lesson you might be learning. During every difficult season in our lives there is a lesson that we can learn. Mine was how to give myself up for another person. What are you needing to learn right now?

This difficult time allowed me to grow closer to my spouse

When you are stuck on a couch for 4 months without the ability to do anything, you really learn to rely on your spouse. I feel that for most, this could make or break the relationship. Without getting too mushy, I was so thankful for Scott in those moments. I truly believe that this season allowed us to strengthen our relationship before having a newborn baby (because there was definitely a whole new set of challenges once we had our baby….hello sleep deprivation!).

Having this time allowed us to spend so much time together that otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to do. I learned to rely on him and allow him to help me when I was struggling. Scott was there for me through every step of the pregnancy, always watching out for me, making sure that I was safe and that I had all my needs taken care of.  Later on in my bedrest when I was allowed to sit, he would drive me around town for an hour or two just so that I could have a change of scenery. I wouldn’t have been able to eat if I didn’t have him to bring me dinner and make sure that breakfast and lunch were within reach before he left for work. If that is not fully relying on your spouse, I don’t know what is!

How can the difficult moments in your life bring you closer to your loved ones? How can these times help deepen and strengthen the relationships with the most important people in your lives?

This difficult time allowed me to be grateful for what I have

Every single week that went by during my pregnancy, I was thankful that I was still pregnant and that our baby was still growing well. I was so grateful for a safe place, great health care, and amazing family and friends. Each day I was able to wake and be so thankful for what I have. Now that I have our amazing daughter, and she is healthy and well, I am even more grateful every day for her!

It can sometimes be hard to remember that there are great things going on in our lives during our difficult times. What can you be grateful for during your difficult season?

This difficult time allowed me to have the time to take a course

Since I was on bedrest, I wanted to use my time to do something productive. I was able to take a course on behaviour that I had been wanting to take for a long time. Taking this course gave me a reason to use my brain and this filled my days with purpose. I talked about this previously in this post, if you are interested in learning more.

What can you learn during your difficult time? Is this season giving you space to learn something new and develop your talents?

This difficult time allowed me to help others going through difficult times

This is the final piece of purpose I wanted to share. When I was going through bedrest and the feelings of being scared and frustrated, I hoped that once I had our daughter I could help others who also may be on bedrest or struggling. This is why I am writing this blog post, and is one of the reasons I started the blog in general. 

How can the difficult situation or season that you are going through help others? 

Take home message

Today will probably be one of the only times I get this personal on a blog post, but since I believe that I went through this time in my life for a purpose, and want to share this experience with others who have gone through difficult times as well. I truly believe that God placed this challenging time in my life for a reason, and even though it was incredibly difficult, scary, and full of moments where I felt helpless; I believe that this experience was also one full of learning, growth, and purpose. I am happy to report, that after all of this, our daughter was two weeks overdue. 

I am also very mindful that although this was difficult, there are far, far, more difficult things that people go through every day. I am only sharing my story as one example of a way to find meaning in a difficult time. If this is something that you want to read more about, I highly suggest reading the book I previously mentioned, “A Man’s Search For Meaning”. Here Frankl talks about his real life nightmare of concentration camps, and how through the most difficult circumstances he was able to find purpose and meaning. This book is definitely one that everyone should read!

No matter what your difficult time is, there is meaning and purpose to be found. Throughout our scary experience with being pregnant, along with other challenges we have faced this past year, we have found that trying to find meaning and purpose in these difficult times makes it much easier to cope with them.

If you are going through something challenging, consider asking yourself the following questions:

  1. How can I be open to others support and encouragement?
  2. What can I learn through this difficult season?
  3. How can I grow closer to my loved ones during this difficult time?
  4. How can this time help me develop my talents and gifts?
  5. How does going through this hardship allow me to help others?

Since my time on bedrest, I have reflected on the verse “Let all you do be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14)”. I feel that in my difficult time I was shown so much love, and it is my hope to give out this love to others now. If you are going through a hard time, try and find meaning and purpose in it. It doesn’t mean that the time will not be painful and difficult, but it will make it easier to overcome.