Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Read All About It - Take 2!

I just realized that you couldn't actually access the lengthy article that was in our local paper without subscribing to the Spokesman Review. Sorry about that! Here is a cut and paste copy of it:

Spokesman Review, May 28, 2007

By the time you read this, Ashley Potter may have given birth to her second daughter. Why should you care? You'll understand after reading the Spokane speech therapist's Bedrest Boutique blog.

Posting to the site has helped Potter endure nearly four months of bed rest — much of it in the hospital she refers to as Sacred Heart Hotel — by giving voice to her frustrations and fears while keeping her connected with family, friends and online supporters.

Bedrest Boutique illustrates how useful short-term blogs can be for chronicling life's important and memorable moments. It's also a compelling read, a potential resource for other women facing difficult pregnancies and, as Potter put it, "a journal for me to look back on."

After only 20 weeks of pregnancy, she launched the blog Feb. 1 with a post that was no less harrowing for the humor she injected into it. "I got some bad news today at my ultrasound hearing," Potter wrote. "I went in to have some measurements taken, and got sentenced to bedrest at the local prenatal correctional facility (hospital). My initial sentence: charged with a misdemeanor violation of the Incompetent Cervix Rehabilitation Act, found guilty, 3-4 month term in hospital, no chance of parole, no bail."

More details soon emerged. With an abnormally short cervix endangering her pregnancy, Potter had it reinforced with stitches. Combined with bed rest, this cerclage procedure can help prevent midterm miscarriages.

But Potter didn't dwell on the medical particulars. Instead, she detailed the emotional ups and (mostly) downs of having a vital life so suddenly restricted, and for such a scary reason.

In 114 entries over the 111 days until she had her cerclage removed last Tuesday, Potter gave readers regular progress reports on how she was coping with the monotony, boredom, nervousness and sometimes brusque medical care familiar to women in her condition. Husband Jonathan and 3-year-old daughter Holland helped keep her strong.

On Potter's first Sunday in the hospital, Holland said, "I don't want to go to Mass with you, daddy. I just want to stay here with poor old mommy." (Potter later wrote of putting pigtails in Holland's hair, "It's amazing how something so simple can bring such pleasure.")

When Jonathan learned his office was visible from his wife's room, he started turning the lights on and off in greeting. One day he surprised her with a wheelchair-load of scrapbooking supplies.

Connecting to the outside world was important as well. Two readers shared their bed-rest baby stories after Potter put out a call for support on a particularly down day. She also tapped into a network of other women who have gone through high-risk pregnancies at Sidelines.org and even started e-mailing with a June 19 "due-date buddy."

On the other hand, "I don't think I have even picked up a book since the computer was turned on 13 days ago," Potter wrote early on in her ordeal. "I haven't had quiet time to reflect … I never would have thought I would have issues with 'balance' while being laid up in a hospital."

Though they may be time bandits, bed-rest blogs are emerging as a small subset of online pregnancy diaries. Sites similar to Potter's include Blessed with Two, Stop the Ride and Team Menace. Read them if you want inspiring insights into the resiliency of the human spirit.

Drilling Down French Soil, French Soul is another blog by an area woman chronicling an important stage in her life. Carol Price Spurling and her family are leaving Moscow, Idaho, in August to spend a year working on organic farms in Europe.

Spurling, a writer whose work has appeared in The Spokesman-Review, will be sharing many tales of memorable meals if her site's address is any guide. It's gastrosabbatical.blogspot.com.

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