April 10, 2009,
A.T. asks from Puyallup, WA on April 07, 2009
Friend's Baby in ICU- How Do I Best Support Her?
My girlfriend just had baby #3 on Sunday. He is having some complications and they are meeting with the surgeons tomorrow. I have the start of a cold, possibly allergies. As much as I want to be there to support her and see the baby(she put me on her list to have access to go see the baby), I don't want to put the baby at a higher risk with my germs. How do I be supportive from afar when I know she needs me there? I appreciate your input, thanks!
Z.A. answers from Seattle on April 07, 2009
Some general ideas:
- Phoning (even if she can't answer, if she checks her messages the "Heya Love, I was just thinking of you and wishing I didn't have this stupid cold so I could be there with you. Call me if you have the time and energy. Otherwise, know I love you!!!")
- Call the NICU/PICU and ask one of the nurses to see what/if you can send anything
- Sending Lunch (the hosp will have a list of restraunts that deliver to the hosp)
- Sending Flowers (ummm...these aren't allowed in many NICU's/PICU's...but if you send them to her home, she'll get the thought without the hassle of having to drive them home)
- Volunteering to pick up clothes/toiletries and drop them off with reception so you don't share your cold.
Depending on your level of friendship
- If you don't know already: Talk with her or her relatives to find out if this is going to be a huge financial burden for your friend. If so, you might organize a drive/event/bakesale/what-have-you with her or your church/school/neighborhood etc. to help them cover expenses. Even with insurance (especially so with some, not so much with others) NICU & Surgeries can run into thousands of dollars. If either is having to take time off work it can make is worse. While most people would never want to take a check from one person, having it be a community outpouring changes the ball-game.
Caveat for most of the above:
I'm one of those people who likes to be left alone at time of crisis. Loved from afar. I like to know that people are thinking of me...but I quite frankly don't want to be bothered by them when I'm busy trying to keep from losing my mind. When i have the time, I call and unload on those few unfortunates I turn to on a regular basis to vent/cry/get distracted by/bounce ideas off of.
Some people are like me. Others crave the opposite and feel abandoned/alone when friends keep their distance. If you haven't been with this friend through a crisis before, you might want to start out slowly and gauge their reactions.
Bless you for your kindness, and KUDOS!!!! to you for not taking your cold to the NICU/PICU. I wish more people had your common sense.
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J.C. answers from Portland on April 08, 2009
My son was premature and spent his first month in the NICU. He was our first, so it was a bit easier to manage, but many families there had older children and it was very tough on them.
You are right to stay away from the baby until you are fully healthy (I'm also a nurse!) so my advice would be to try and help her manage her outside life while her son is in the hospital. Insist if you have to! We are sometimes odd creatures and feel bad or guilty about accepting help from others. She will appreciate this more than you can imagine.
Offer to run errands, do her grocery shopping, if her other kids have activities that they need to be taken to, be their chauffer. Visit HER in the hospital lounge, bring her good coffee or tea, lunch or dinner, anything to give her a break from hospital food. Ask if the older kids can come spend the night at your house and/or include them in your Easter plans. Your friend probably doesn't have time to do Easter baskets or Easter egg hunts right now.
Your friend needs to be able to fully concentrate on her son, but it's really hard when you have other children. You want to be at the hospital ALL of the time, but you don't want to neglect your older children.
My prayers go out to your friend and her family. I hope that her son is healthy and home very soon.
2 moms found this helpful
J.H. answers from El Paso on April 08, 2009
You've gotten some great advice so far. The thing that helped me the most when my son was in the ICU after he was born & needed heart surgery was having meals made so I didn't have to take the time to cook or eat out all the time. There's just something nice about a home-cooked dinner after a stressful day. Or even making sandwiches or something she can snack on at the hospital since the cafeteria food usually sucks.
The calls are nice but make sure she know you don't expect her to call you back. We got tons of calls/e-mails from family & friends but couldn't call back since they didn't allow cell phones in the ICU & we were too drained emotionally from relaying the same story over & over. The hospital social worker can help tell her about setting up a Care Page online so she can update it so that people can check there instead of having to call all the time. That really helped us & it gave me an outlet to vent. If you'd like more info for her, let me know.
In short, just let her know you're there for her & ask if there's anything in particular she's having trouble with or needs. You're a great friend for asking about how to best help her! Tell her that there is a whole online community thinking about her & wishing her & her child well.
1 mom found this helpful
N.Z. answers from Portland on April 08, 2009
Let her know your fears about the germs. Then offer to cook, help out at home, whatever it takes to make things easier for her to be with her baby. She'll know you care.
1 mom found this helpful
J.W. answers from Seattle on April 08, 2009
This is her third baby, this Momma needs a few sets of extra hands at this time in her life, even if her new baby was trouble free. By all means, make meals and deliver them. Make things ahead and freeze them for her, so when she wants to put the meal on the table she can pull it out of the frig or freezer to cook and serve.
Help with the laundry. Take her other two kids to a movie, rent a movie to show at your house to entertain her older kids and yours. Make sure that things are ready for her to bring baby home. Ask if there's anything you can get ready for her.
Go get her a bubble bath, a nice shampoo and conditioner, body lotion... to help her unwind and be ready for the next day's list of things to be done. Most hospitals have a chair side massage vendor, get her a gift certificate for one. It will help her relax and let go of some of her tension.
She's spending her days at the hospital, record her older kids on your cellphone and send it to her, be it a video or multiple pictures. So she can see that they're okay. A journal and a nice pen for her to write down her thoughts as she watches over her baby. It will give her place to vent and reflect.
I would not go to the NICU with any type of sniffle, sneeze, cough, ache or pain. These little people are fighting for their lives in a sterile environment, adding adult size viruses is too much for them. Besides, with all the nurses, docs, immediate family members.. that room gets pretty crowded.
Above all, don't forget Dad. Dad is going thru many of the same emotions and tensions that Mom is. Dad's believe they can and should keep harm away from their family and this was beyond his control. Dad's need some TLC as well. So the meals, the babysitting, kid activities will be quite helpful, useful for him. But he also needs an ear, a shoulder, a friend... and as much as you may think you can do this, it really helps if he can vent and talk with a man-friend. If this is your husband, then arrange for them to have some one on one time without the kids and you around.
This is a difficult time for them, their emotions are all over the scale. Thank you for being a great friend to this family.
1 mom found this helpful
T.R. answers from Portland on April 08, 2009
I didn't see this suggested on my quick scan through the answers so I thought I'd share my 2 cents.
I had a friend (actually just an acquaintance) who's little one was going through chemo. I emailed those I knew in our networks and those that didn't know her at all, and asked them if they would be willing to contribute to a housekeeping fund. We raised over $500! It was amazing how many people pitched in. It made a big difference. Far beyond what I could do on my own.
You could also organize an every-other-night delivery of food to their home using her and your friends, family, etc.
Anything you do will be appreciated, but if you can be an organizer of many, you will have a greater impact than what you could do alone.
Best wishes to your friend, and to you.
1 mom found this helpful
S.S. answers from Portland on April 08, 2009
You have gotten some great advice and I can only reiterate things. My youngest daughter was born 3-1/2 months early and spent the first 3-1/2 months of her life in the NICU. I had people call, email, make food, and a few came up to visit. Just making it known that you are there her for her emotionally is huge. Even I didn't go up to see my daughter if I was even remotely sick and would wear a mask for a while afterwards. They are fragile, precious beings that need to be protected and I'm sure your friend knows that. Let her talk to you about the hard stuff (and it's HARD), her fears, the joys, whatever - it's important and sometimes you may not want to hear it, but if you can, please do.
Best of wishes.
J.C. answers from Seattle on April 08, 2009
Oh bless you both for wanting to really help and for NOT sharing germs --- what a good friend you are, A.--
. Thirty-three years ago my boy was in an ICU --- ( he's fine- God be praised) -- and here's some ideas:
1. Do something nice for her older 2 --- send over a pizza if they like that - or send in some not-too-sweet treats or some little but fun toys
2 Make something wonderful for her to have for breakfast, lunch or dinner -- you can make something that has to be cooked- so wont' carry any germs --
3 Take something to the hospital staff that are caring for her and the baby--- these people become instant angels and to help her care for them would be so kind
4. if you know what her tastes are- a music cd??? ( I don't '''' speak'' i-pods, sorry- dont understand em)
5. Tell her daily that just as this week we ''walk'' with
God in His great gift to us --- so you walk in prayer with her as she moves - one step at a time.
I'll certainly '' put you and yours'' on my prayer list.
aka- old Mom