How colouring in helped me survive my pregnancy

How colouring in helped me survive my pregnancy

Contributed by Mater mum Renae

During the early stages of my second pregnancy I was told that I was 3 cm dilated and there was no chance of my baby surviving. Fortunately my doctor decided to put a stitch in and sent me up to Mater Mothers’ Hospital. I spent six weeks on level 9. Those six weeks were the longest, scariest and most depressing of my life. Midwives, doctors and therapists all tried to connect with me. But I was in a fog of depression and uncertainty.

I was unable to focus on anything they were saying, let alone participate in any of the activities that the therapists insisted would help me get through my hospital stay … I wasn’t myself and I can honestly say that I wasn’t the nicest person to be around.

So when I found out I was pregnant with baby number three I planned for the worst—another lengthy stay in hospital. At 25 weeks my worst case scenario came true. I was determined not to go through the same depressive state this time around. I knew the only way I was going to hang onto this baby for longer was to stay positive and mentally strong. In order to make that happen, I knew the importance of occupying my mind with activities that made me feel good and provided an outcome—something I could show for all my time in hospital and my time away from my kids at home.

The occupational therapy staff at Mater Mothers suggested several activities for me to do, but nothing really connected with me at first. I had never attempted any of the activities before, nor did I feel I was creative enough to try. I spent many nights in the first couple of weeks fumbling through the craft cupboard making "thank you" and "I love you" cards for my family and friends.

It was during a cooking class that one of the occupational therapists mentioned that they had books of beautiful pictures, if I wanted to try colouring in for adults. I looked at the books and discovered that these pictures were more beautiful than the thousands of dollars worth of art that hung on my walls at home. I decided that I wanted to paint these pictures—even though I had never painted anything before in my life.

It didn’t take me long to realise that whilst I was painting I wasn’t thinking of anything at all! I was listening to my music and focusing on the colours I was using. I realised that I could spend a whole afternoon and sometimes a whole day on this activity and not focus on how long I had been in hospital for … how long until I got to go home … or worrying about mine or my baby’s health. Just several hours of nothing!

All I needed to do was be aware of all the activities the occupational therapy department had to offer, and just dive in and allow myself to be creative. The pieces of art I made will be a family treasure. They will be a constant reminder of just how much love I have for my children and just how lucky and thankful we all are to be here and healthy.

Whether you’re stuck on bed rest or simply need something to take your mind off the stress of pregnancy, I highly recommend looking into some of the amazing activities that the occupational therapy department has to offer. For me it was colouring in, but there are so many great activities and staff to help you through.

I hope to one day show the occupational therapy department just how much of a role they played in me having a healthy and contented baby—and becoming a happy and healthy mother too.

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