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Lending a hand to moms on bed rest

| Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, 2:19 p.m.

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My sister is 25 weeks pregnant and was just put on bed rest. She is able to work from home, and they don't have any older children or pets.

My brother-in-law asked that we all come around when possible on lunch hours, nights, and weekends to help keep her company. Our aunt made a schedule for people to stop by complete with bringing meals.

I feel like I don't understand this. My sister isn't supposed to move around a lot, but my brother-in-law is surely capable of making dinner and doing laundry. I'm fine hanging out with my sister but doing it on a schedule just feels weird.

Is this normal? It feels like everybody is freaking out but I Googled it and bed rest is super normal.

-- I Don't Understand

It's not uncommon but it is extremely isolating, so scheduling visits might seem a little over the top but it makes a lot of sense. That way she doesn't have five people dropping in for lunch on Tuesday followed by zero human contact besides her husband for the next 20 days.

It's easy to look at the meal schedule also as over the top, but a closer look reveals its pragmatism as well. People will be dropping by but your sister can't actually host them -- she's resting. Her husband presumably will be at work during lunch hours, yes? So he can't feed the guests either, or the patient. So it makes sense for people to “self-host” by bringing something, and to keep your sister from having to get up to feed herself.

Even if these weren't justifiable in practical terms, I'd still say just to let it slide and follow any instructions only to the extent you can endorse them. By that I mean, sign up for the number of visits you think you'd generally make on your own, without being told to, and bring only what you'd normally bring, not what you're told to. Adhere to your principles without spelling out that that's what you're doing.

Re: Schedule:

It sounds like the aunt made the schedule without even asking people when they're free or what they're able to bring. If my sister were on bedrest I would gladly visit her and bring her whatever she needed, but I would absolutely push back against someone telling me I had to do it on their schedule.

-- Anonymous

It didn't even occur to me that the aunt assigned times to people -- because how would that even work? Who's available to pay a visit just because you assign them to be? The only care-schedules I've run across were created and managed by one person but based on sign-ups by volunteers.

Re: Bed rest:

If you don't understand, imagine this: You can't get out of bed for the next 3 to 4 months. Would you like people to visit you and help your husband with the share of the cooking you usually do, or would you like them to ignore you because your plight is one that thousands of others have shared?

-- AmyinCA

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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