Bed rest and the Cocoon of Nausea

Note: I don’t really want to turn GoKarlmans into a pregnancy blog, but this is where our lives are at right now, and I found reading about other people’s pregnancies to be helpful. This post is written in the hopes that it, too, may help others. Or at least help pass the time. And don’t worry— as of the writing of this post, I am in my second trimester (15th week!) of pregnancy, and doing much better!

“To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children…” Gen. 3:16 (NIV)

When God said there would be pain in childbearing, I thought He meant only at the end, during the delivery. I didn’t realize it could start from THE VERY BEGINNING. True, some women might have a pregnancy that’s all sunshine and roses,

But this is not one of them.

Almost immediately after my fall, I began feeling intense nausea. It’s like now that I knew I was pregnant, my mind and body saw no reason to shield me and threw me wholeheartedly into a flood of symptoms. I didn’t have “morning sickness” per se as I wasn’t throwing up, but dizziness and queasiness stretched out sticky tendrils and enveloped every part of my body tightly—morning, noon and night. It was like being trapped on a Zipper ride for 24 hours, every day. It was the cocoon of nausea.

THIS is the Zipper.

And then about three days after I fell, I did throw up. Spectacularly. It happened after I managed to choke down a carrot. And almost immediately after vomiting, I started bleeding. Yup, down there.

Bjorn and I hustled to the hospital where I had the horrific experience of being yelled at by the doctor (blog post on that later. For reals.). But we also got to see the baby for the first time and heard its heartbeat. It was still in the womb. I was 5 weeks pregnant.

I was given a shot of progesterone in my hip, and prescribed Duphaston three times a day. I was also ordered to be on bed rest—complete bed rest. A week later when I saw a different doctor at a different hospital (no way was I gonna stay with a guy who yelled at me), she also recommended it. I would be on bed rest for more than a month.

Now bed rest doesn’t technically sound like a terrible thing; after all, what’s so bad about getting to lay around in bed all the time, especially for me, a champion sleeper who has been known to snooze 12 hours a day, and stay in bed longer, when allowed?

But bed rest + cocoon of nausea + broken foot turns out to equal TORTURE. Everything I thought I was good at — eating, sleeping, reading — turned against me. The nausea made it hard to eat. No longer could I eat everything I wanted, not only due to pregnancy diet restrictions, but also because I was sickened by eating anything twice. My sleep patterns became disrupted and I could only sleep for 3 hours at a stretch — at the most. I couldn’t read, watch or type anything to distract me, because reading or watching stuff on anything that remotely resembled a screen for more than a few minutes made the dizziness and nausea worse. My busted foot made it hard to move, even if I wanted to; but most of the time, I just had enough mental and physical energy for curling up on my side.

These symptoms continued to hound me until about the end of my 13th week of pregnancy, but the good news is that it DOES end (usually) with the onset of the second trimester.

Besides waiting it out, here are a few other stratagems I found helpful:

On dealing with bed rest:


Look at baby animals on Pinterest. No seriously. A friend of mine gave me this tip, and lo and behold —when looking at baby animals, I could look at screens longer and my mind was distracted.

Listen to free audio books from LibriVox.org. There is a caveat: Some readers are definitely worse than others. I’m looking at you, Mark Smith. I know you know that the common pronunciation of  “domain” is “doe-MAIN,” not “DOE-main,” and that you’re doing it just to be “special.” (Of course this means that I must put my money where my mouth is and become a reader myself. I’m looking into it. Really.)

-Get furniture with wheels on it. I will never underestimate the importance of casters again. Our ottoman with wheels made getting up to go to the bathroom infinitely easier. Now, wherever we may move next, I hope to always have at least one piece of furniture that rolls.

-Listen to upbeat, positive, soothing music. I will be forever grateful to the Heritage Singers YouTube playlist. Oldies really are goodies. They got me through some rough times, no joke.

-Sing. Really. Although in my condition it was more like “bullfrog croaking its death tune.” Whatever. The older and more familiar the song, the better it made me feel. I especially liked singing, “With Jesus in the vessel you can smile at the storm.” Also, “troubles burst like bubbles.” But I could only remember the first line. Still all good.

-Talk to people. Even though I didn’t have the energy for long conversations, I always felt immensely better after short chats with people. Iif you’re not up to having people visit you, talking on the phone/Skype is still uplifting. It’s easy to become and feel isolated when you’re on bed rest and feeling miserable, but retreating into yourself is probably one of the worst things you can do. Reach out.

-Find something to do with your hands. Knit. Crochet. I recently came into possession of some modeling clay and I was reminded how much I love to play with clay. I wish I had thought of it sooner.

On dealing with nausea:


 -Invest in straws. Did you know that you can still drink while laying down in bed? It’s true, although you have to prop your head up with pillows and lay on your side, but it’s entirely possible—with a straw. Drinking small sips through a straw made it possible for me to stay hydrated through the nausea.

-Suck on ice chips. I don’t know why, but doing this makes me feel less nauseous.

-Eat small meals every 2 hours. It could just be a cracker or a half a banana. But eat something. It sounds counterintuitive, but after a while I realized that the onset of nausea was a signal that I should eat.

-Eat through the nausea. It sounds impossible, I know. But when I didn’t eat, I felt worse.

-Ginger ale is your friend. The ginger and the bubbliness worked to soothe my tummy. The shot of sugar energy probably didn’t hurt, either.

-Sour foods seem to help. I have a pregnant friend who is living on green mangoes right now. My preferred food was green apples. For some protein, I would sometimes eat them with a dollop of peanut butter. Natural yogurt is also good. Pro Tip: Don’t buy yogurt with fruit already mixed in. It has too much sugar.

-Cry (sometimes.) That sounds weird, doesn’t it? People keep telling me to be happy and positive, because my emotions affect the baby. But when you’re on bed rest, anxious and worried about the baby, feeling like the wrath of God has come upon you, it can be hard to keep a stiff upper lip. I had a pastor tell me that tears can be very cleansing. And he is right, they can be. After a good cry, I felt relieved and better. However, I don’t recommend doing this all the time, only once in a while.

If I missed anything, please feel free to add it in the comments. Of course, what worked for me may not work for you, but I hope this helps someone out there on the Internets.

And to my unborn child: I want you to know you are worth all of it. (Yes, I am laying on the maternal guilt early. 🙂 )

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3 thoughts on “Bed rest and the Cocoon of Nausea

  1. This was a very honest description of what early pregnancy can be like and I am so pleased that you have entered your second semester and feel better. I agree with what you said ” the baby is all worth it” and I hope the rest of your pregnancy will be smoother.
    Best wishes. Keep your courage up but a little cry now and then may help to clear the air and let go of your distress.

  2. Great tips Jammie! I will have to remember that one about baby animals on Pinterest. That’s probably good any time. I hope you continue to feel better.

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