NICU Mamas

Updated on December 21, 2010
J.B. asks from Denton, TX
36 answers

What are some of the most helpful things that a friend could get you, or do for you while you have a baby in the NICU? Need some ideas just to let her know we are there for her and her husband.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the comments, and great ideas. They will be there at least 10 weeks as baby was that early so they are in for the long haul. Sending prayers every day.

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K.S.

answers from Dallas on

I didn't read all the other responses, but here are my thoughts. My twins were in the NICU for months and here are some things that helped me.

1. Calendar and a nice pen. It let me write down little positive milestones each day. It really helped me cope and try to stay on the positive. Hallmark has some blank baby calendars but you could get whatever.

2. Small basket of healthy snacks for the mom to leave up at the hospital - granola bars, peanut butter crackers.

3. Frozen dinners for home.

4. Gift card for lunch at a nearby fast food place to grab lunch while at hospital

5. Offering to run small errands.

6. Just a nice phone call to offer support and not asking when the baby will come home. Even if you don't get a call back it is so nice to know people are concerned.

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C.T.

answers from Dallas on

The day it was time for me to leave the hospital without my baby was the worst moment of my life so far, but 2 of my close girlfriends(who had had babies in the NICU, too) had left me the most thoughtful messages on my cell phone. It was something small, but made the ride home easier.

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H.E.

answers from Dallas on

Go clean her house, stock her kitchen, bring them meals AT the hospital, give them gift cards to grab dinner on the way to/from the hospital, make a little sign with the baby's name that can go on the baby's incubator, offer to babysit any other children they have, pack a tote bag with magazines and quarters for the vending machines and snacks and bottled water to take with them to the hospital. These are the things they do not have time to do, and I'd imagine would mean so much.

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L.B.

answers from Dallas on

I did not read your other responses, but here is my thought. Both of my children were in NICU. I think ot really depends on what your goal is. I know the best gifts were the ones that helped me accomplish my day to day (because all I wanted to do was stay with my babies) Errands that had to be done, meals for when I came home (so that I didn't have to do them), a cleaning gift cert. b/c I didn't have time to do that. Most of the time, babies that are NI are preemies and the mom either couldn't prepare b/c of bed rest or didn't have time to prepare and does not have everything needed at home for a baby. Or, even pop in the hosp. and take her for lunch in the cafeteria or leave if she will. I know I missed a lot of meals b/c I didn't want to leave until someone basically told me to. It was also just nice to have a friend there to sit with. Remind her (if she is like that) that she has to keep herself strong, rested, and nourished or she won't be at her best for the baby.

Hope this helps.:)

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R.N.

answers from Dallas on

When my son was in ICU people had given us quarters for for the machines, money for food in the cafateria, snacks ,drinks for my other children, toys for them, lots of words of encouragement, people showed it by cards or visiting, and they watched my other children for me so I could be up there with my youngest.

C.M.

answers from Dallas on

My son was in the NICu for 4 months. Food: frozen meals for home, gift cards for out, even easy snacks from the grocery store for the pantry or fridge.

House cleaning! Having someone come in to clean and do laundry.

Babysitting! People really want to help at first, but after that, in months 2+ people tend to go on with their lives and forget that you are still in this struggle. Make sure if she has kids that someone is always calling and asking if they can help, it SUCKS to always call people and feel guilty for asking for help.

GL!

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A.B.

answers from Fargo on

Foods that can be frozen and taken out as needed was huge for my husband and I when we had our baby in the NICU. Someone to watch your other child (if you have any others) while you're visiting the NICU. One of the best things for me, was a couple friends took me out to dinner at a near-by restaurant. It was adult conversation, time out of the NICU, and a good meal. Just let them know you're thinking about them and make sure they know they can ask for anything...just knowing that someone is willing to help out with whatever you need is comforting and helps you make it through.

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R.B.

answers from Dallas on

I got my friend who's son was in NICU gift cards for restaurants that were withing walking distance from the hospital, I also got her a gift card for gas and then just a visa gift card she could use there in the hospital cafeteria. she said the gift card for the restaurants were great because she got to get out but was still so close to her baby, she said she didn't feel bad about leaving to eat.

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T.M.

answers from Dallas on

FOOD!! Our baby was in the NICU for a month and when you get home LATE the last thing you want to do it cook!

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T.S.

answers from Dallas on

I don't know how long it has been since your friend left the hospital, but one of the best things anyone did for us was drive me to the hospital. I had had a C-section with my twins and couldn't drive and my husband had to return to work. We were 45 minutes to the hospital and I appreciated so much my friends and/or their husbands driving me to the hospital late morning and then my husband would come there after work and see the girls and then we had dinner and went home. Very hard to go home from the hospital without your little one(s) in your arms. So nice of you to think of them.

One other thing if your husband is friends with the guy, then have him ask how he is. Sometimes people forget it is hard on the Dad too. He often times has to return to work and then go to the NICU and come home and it is a long day of working and worrying about baby and Mom.

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M.C.

answers from Dallas on

Extra cell phone minutes! Offer to call her cell phone company for her and make arrangements to move her to a higher plan and let you pay the difference for one month. For probably a $20 upcharge, you could save her hundreds of dollars in extra minutes. When my 8 yr old son James was in the ICU, my husband and I were with him 24/7. Our cell phone was our lifeline to the outside world and was constantly in use with people looking for updates and wanting to pray with us. The phone bill was the LAST thing on our minds. After he passed away. were hit with a $900 bill. The extra minutes would have been covered by upgrading to a new plan costing $20 more but the phone company would do nothing to help us retroactively.

Blessings to your friend and her family...

M.

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V.A.

answers from Dallas on

Been there Done that in 1977. My first son was preemie and hooked up to (I think) everything in the hospital. Bring food. Extended hospital stays are a budget-breaker. Bring company-in other words-yourself-adult conversation-a shoulder to cry on. Help the parents find clergy if they don't have a minister/pastor. Having a child at death's door (and NICU is just that) is a very lonely existence. YOu as a friend can only go so far. And try as you might, and I know you will, these parents are in this together by themselves. If you don't feel you are helping, don't blame yourself. It's just the nature of the beast. May God bless the child, it's parents, and you...

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T.B.

answers from Dallas on

When my son was in the NICU I really would have loved a couple of things but no one ever offered. We don't have family near by so we had to rely on our friends who didn't offer anything or even come to the hospital when my son was born.

During my first week home when I wasn't able to drive, I would have loved if people would have offered to drive me to the hospital to see my son. My husband worked so that he could take time off when our son came home. So I'd have to wait til Karters 9pm touch time day before I was able to see him. That was a horrible long wait.

I also would have loved if people would have offered to bring us food. Anything from dinners to desserts would have been awesome. When you have a NICU baby, thinking about cooking is the last thing on your mind since you want to spend as much time at the hospital as possible. We lived on fast food during Karters 25 day stay.

I wish people would have called me more to check on us. I needed to know people cared about us. Instead that didn't really happen much. We felt so alone during that time.

If someone would have offered to come clean our house or do our laundry that would have been awesome.

So that are just a few of the things that would be on wish list if it happened again.

I hope your friends baby is healthy and will be going home soon.

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C.A.

answers from Dallas on

It depends on which NICU your friends' baby is at, but the very BEST present I got was parking vouchers for Baylor Dallas so I could go see my baby whenever I wanted and not have to worry about parking. The food ideas on here are good ones too!

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L.P.

answers from Dallas on

Take them dinner or gift cards for places where they can eat near the hospital or get take away. Our younger son was in the NICU for 2 weeks, we had an almost 3 yr old son at home too. The best thing a friend did was to organize meals for us for a month.

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L.W.

answers from Dallas on

preparing meals, cleaning the house/doing laundry, mowing the yard... servicing their vehicle.... gathering the bills and tossing out junk mail...

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R.C.

answers from Dallas on

Our son spent 3 1/2 months in NICU a little over a year ago. I agree with the gifts everyone has mentioned. We rarely had to worry about food, someone came in once a week to do the "big" cleaning, family helped with laundry, etc. We were very fortunate!

A few other ideas - depending on how early the baby is, she may not have had time for a baby shower. While the NICU provides most things for them, they will need preemie clothes, maybe a stuffed animal to put in the crib (we used ours to show people how much our son had grown), a going home outfit, and lots of the basics for when they do come home (diapers, wipes,etc). Have they had time to prepare the nursery? Offer your time to help with that.

I also got gift certificates for mani/pedi, massage, etc. While it is hard to leave the hospital, the parents will need some time away. Again, a lot of this depends on how long the stay might be.

As everyone has said, sometimes the parents will just need to talk, or maybe not talk. There were days where I just wanted someone to talk to me about anything BUT the NICU. Hopefully, the NICU has a support group, but if not, please contact me. I would be happy to share our experiences, surgeries, etc. and tell her that we now have a happy, healthy 17 month old boy!

R.

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H.G.

answers from Dallas on

We were blessed to have friends give us gift cards to eat at restaurants that were close to the hospital so we weren't worried about that burden of eating out and knowing there was food at our house. Another good idea would be to offer to clean her house so she wouldn't feel bad about that when they get home. You could also do a gift basket with the gift cards and snack items to allow them something to eat when they were wanting a quick snack.

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L.B.

answers from Dallas on

J. -

My daughter spent 8 weeks in the NICU at Cook Children. We appreciated just hearing from people and knowing that they were praying for us and our little one when we were exhausted. From a tangible standpoint, the cafeteria food and restaurants around the hospital got old fairly quickly. It was nice when friends visited and brought a snack or dinner. The food was a nice, but it was also wonderful to be able to visit with someone besides the hospital staff and other parents, too. (This may vary, depending on how critical the infant's condition is.) Lastly, if the family has other children or pets, you might offer to help with them to take away some of that burden. In any case, know that your friends are grateful, even if they are too tired to show their appreciation very well. :o)

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B.C.

answers from Dallas on

Help with food/restraunts.

Our daughter was in the NICU for 5 months, and visiting her meant a lot of eating out. Almost $600 a month! Could have really used some help in that arena. Also read a few books, but only because I was off work and staying in a "hotel" room at the hospital, after that, no time for reading. Food and Gift certs to restaurants near the hospital would have helped the most. (and gas cards I suppose, we live 80 miles RT from the NICU)

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C.F.

answers from Dallas on

I would help with meals, cleaning their house and maybe laundry.....more than anything lots of prayer

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M.S.

answers from Dallas on

Meals delivered to the house. We had 2 churches bringing us lunch and dinner. It was awesome. I felt really guilty taking it at first but it really was helpful. Sometimes people cooked and sometimes they went to Boston Market or something.

Also, if she is breastfeeding/pumping milk storage bags, breast pads, ice packs to carry the milk in a cooler with. When you have a baby in NICU you are pumping 8 times a day. You build up a TON of breast milk in storage. It's awesome!

And if the baby was this early by surprise it's really helpful to have someone help get the baby's room ready. It helps keep your mind off the fact that your baby isn't home.

We also got a $40 gift card for Wendy's. It seemed funny at the time, but I used it!

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M.A.

answers from Dallas on

We had twins and one was with us and one went to the NICU. Meals were a huge help for us because the last thing you are thinking about is making meals (this was our biggest help and comfort). If she had a c-section and can't drive for 6 weeks perhaps a ride to the hospital to visit her baby or to go to the doctor would be nice. Most importantly just be there when they need you to listen or hug. You may not have any answers but you could just listen. They are lucky to have friends like you in their lives.

I hope that there baby is able to come home soon healthy and happy.

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B.L.

answers from Dallas on

My little one was in the NICU for 3 weeks. It seems like when you bring yoru baby home right away people coem righ tover to bring meals and help around the house and dote on the baby. When I didn't bring my baby home with me I guess people didn't realize I still needed help with those things. I basically felt forgotten. There was no excitement over the baby (because no one could visit him) and no one came by to see me because there was no baby there. I had a very difficult recovery from the long labor and I could not do anything. I couldn't even visit my own baby more than once a day. Because of this you can imagine the state of my house and we ate fast food a lot. By the time I brought him home so much time had passed that everyone was already "over it". Don't get me wrong I have wonderful friends adn my family was exstatic and still are to this day. But to answer your question:
Bring a meal over (even a frozen one for them to use after the baby is home) or offer to clean or run errands.

Ask to see pictures of the baby and ask about the progress
Give them an opportunity to vent and cry, i tis so hard to be away from your baby. Tell them you can't wait to see the baby.

Offer to give rides to the hospital for visitation. I was not able to go when my husband was at work because we share a car adn I was still not able to drive myself yet. Or go adn sit with them in the waiting room to show your support.

Communicate that you are praying or thinking good thoughts.
The most important thing is to let them know you haven't forgotten about them.

Plan a "sip and see" for people to come over and meet the baby after it is finally brought home.

Feel free to send em a personal message if you woudl like some more specific information or advice.

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A.C.

answers from Dallas on

My friends prayers were our biggest help. Next was calls of concern. Then some friends daughters drew get well cards for our baby, which I keep in her baby book. I appreciated gift cards to restraunts near the hospital so I could run and get a nice dinner while they did shift changes and head back to the hospital. I enjoyed having people visit and was allowed to take one visitor at a time back to see her, but some moms may not like to go through that process over and over so call before coming to see the baby.

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K.F.

answers from Dallas on

I know for us...meals was a big one. We would get home and not even want to prepare something for ourselves. If they have other children offer to babysit since the kids can't come into the NICU. Other than that just encouragment since it is a VERY stressful time. Good luck to your friend!

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D.A.

answers from Dallas on

Hi J.! Our twins were born at 25 weeks and the one gift we received, which is the one I do for my friends going through similar life events, was a snack basket. Everything from lifesavors and gum to peanut butter crackers, individual bags of pretzels, animal crackers, etc. I put mine in a basket and the nurses let us have at our twins 'area' so it was always there!

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D.M.

answers from Hartford on

I agree with the other mamas - restaurant gift certificates were great! The last thing I wanted to do was cook (or even go grocery shopping so I could cook!) The restaurant gift certificates my husband and I received allowed us to get away together for a little while and was a huge mental stress reliever.

I also like the recommendation of a gas card if the family is traveling back and forth to the hospital (we were really close by).

Finally, if the baby is a preemie, the family more than likely doesn't have preemie clothes. Once the baby is close to going home, you may want to find out if they have enough tiny-size clothing and preemie diapers.

You are so considerate for thinking of your friend. The other thing you can do is go visit! I loved showing our baby off but just had to coordinate the number of visitors at one time. I knew it was hard for my friends to see my son with lots of tubes, equipment, etc. but as a new mom, I just wanted to show him off like every other new mom. Often I would go for a short walk or drink in the hospital cafeteria afterwards which was a nice break. That's another option - best wishes!

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M.B.

answers from Omaha on

Wanted to give you a little information about our new journal and how it helps parents and siblings cope with the birth of a premature baby. We have included 'A Letter to My Baby', 'Family Tree' and more family support pages in our new 72 page journal and Preemie Baby Book, please take a look as I know you are a huge advocate for the cause. 
We are working towards a common goal and would appreciate your support. Our journal is available through Amazon retail at:. http://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Williams/e/B004G0E4PC/ref=n... but is also available for NICU's to carry as a stand alone for their preemie guests.
We offer half off directly through our distributor and printer, at $12.49 per book. Each book, blue or pink, carry the same 72 pages inside of full color, fill-in journal. It is a book that sets parents up for a true expectation of the NICU, as well as being a baby book for premature infants for the future. It is graphically illustrated and beautiful. Please take a look and recommend to others in your profession as you see fit. For more information, visit our site at www.thepreemie.com or www.miraclebebe.com for detailed information.
Thanks for your time, and all the you do. Together we are bringing awareness, resources, and celebration in the moments of prematurity through healing.
'A Journey to Home, A Preemie Baby Book and NICU Companion Journal'

72 Pages

Full Color
Fill-In
 Journal
Size:. 8"x10"
Link:. http://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Williams/e/B004G0E4PC/ref=n.... http://www.thepreemie.com

Website:. http://www.miraclebebe.com

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A.R.

answers from Wichita Falls on

easy fast fix dinner and breast pump with a sharpie marker if mom is at home if still at hospital just stay with so that when the nicu says that she can go down she has someong to take her to nicu right aways some hospitals will not let mom go by herself. other than thatthe thing that helped the most was knowing that my church and friends were praying for me and my baby. DONT LET HER WATCH ANY SHOWS WHERE THE BABY IN NICU DIES.... when my now 5 yr was innicu i was up latea nd watched a rerun of a ER episod the one where carter loses his baby and i had HORRIBLE dreams that night and probly drove the nicu nurses crazy calling all night

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R.L.

answers from Dallas on

My son spent three long weeks in the NICU at Baylor Frisco. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated I am sure. What I found most helpful were the calls, emails, etc just letting us know that people were praying for us and there for us. It's amazing the support you feel! In addition to that, the meals were very helpful too. A few people offered to run errands for me - Babies R Us, Target, etc. Our baby came 6 weeks early so things weren't quite ready! Those errands were very helpful! You are a great friend to put so much thought into this.

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M.M.

answers from Dallas on

My daughter was in the Cardiac ICU at Children's for the first 5 months of her life. One of the greatest gifts my best friend gave to me was a home cooked meal. At that time I had to stay at the hospital 24/7 and was eating only hospital food. It was one of the best meals I ever had. Personally, I made really good use out of a notebook. In it I would keep track of everything that happened on a calendar (i.e. what the baby weighed, what medicine was started or stopped, SATs, procedures). I also kept all the information I was getting from the hospital and social workers. I got some plastic sheets that hold business cards and asked every doctor that came in or other professional for a card so if I remembered a question I had for them later, I knew how to get ahold of them. Because of my daughter's condition, I kept it up for the 1st 2years of her life. I made sure I had notebook paper to write any notes or other important phone numbers down and I knew where to look for everything when I needed it most....in the Bella Bible we called it. I would also advise you to have your friend get in touch with Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) (the social worker should know how to get ahold of them) involved now so that the baby isn't left behind. If this stay in the NICU will be a problem that will be ongoing throughout the baby's life (my daughter had a heart/lung defect) then I would also suggest contacting Social Security to see if the baby qualifies for Social Security disability. With disability comes Medicaid and even if you have insurance, Medicaid will pick up what insurance doesn't cover. If your friend just needs some encouragement or has other questions, I can be contacted at [email protected]____.com family was told almost everyday for 5 months that she wasn't going to make it and now she's a vivacious, beautiful, terrific 3 year old. I will say some prayers because I know for a fact that they do work. Take care.

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R.L.

answers from Dallas on

Hi J.

Honestly while my girls were in NICU the best gift someone could give me was coming up there with me and sitting with me. Maybe bring them lunch or dinner...but NICU can be such a lonely place especially for the mom.

R.

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K.Z.

answers from Appleton on

just family and friends to be there for you and to have empathy for what you are going through. It is harder than what you would expect. Also, a friend of mine came every few days and picked up my dog and walked him for me. Another friend, drove me to my appts and back and forth to the NICU.

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K.H.

answers from Dallas on

the best things that people could do for me was to mow my lawn, or go to my house, & wash & fold clothes etc. or to babysit my other child. meals certificates are great but people were always bringing me food. we would only go home long enough to shower or for one of us to sleep so housework went undone.

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A.D.

answers from Tyler on

I agree with other moms gift cards to eat would be great. My daughter was in the NICU for 5 days after she was born and after I was discharged we stayed at the hospital as hotel stay so we could go and come as we wanted. Also visits from friends were always nice we were so stir crazy. Also knowing our other 2 children were well taken care of was a huge relief to us so that is always something you could do if they have other children. I hope your friends baby is able to be out soon.

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