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When Your Baby is in the Hospital

A few weeks ago I wrote looking for advice on how to prepare for our infant son’s hospital stay. He was headed in for open heart surgery and we simply didn’t know what to expect.  Now that we’ve been through it, and our son is well on the road to a full recovery I have some advice of my own.

1) Prepare to be unplugged and give friends and family a heads up that this will be the case. The ban on cell phone use on the 8th floor of our Children’s Hospital was fairly strictly enforced, which meant my husband and I each had 1-2 windows a day when we could be connected to the outside world, leaving inquiring loved ones in the lurch. Yes there is a land line in the room, but no one ever used it.

2)Plan for more babysitting support for siblings than you think you’ll need. We had planned for a babysitter to be with our daughter on the evening her brother had surgery, but we neglected to consider that at 4:30 the next day, the doctor might want to have an important meeting with us. Thank goodness we had a back-up plan in place.

3)Bring some of your child’s favorite foods. Of course the hospital has food, but our son wouldn’t eat much while in the hospital. If we had brought some pumpkin muffins, fig newtons or some of his other go-to treats, we would have had a better idea if it was the food or his mood that was causing the problem.

4)Be prepared for the worst sleep deprivation of your life. Sleep when your baby sleeps — take this directive much more seriously than you did during your maternity leave. If your child is mobile or a light sleeper, this is especially important. You absolutely MUST plan to switch off with your spouse, with one sleeping at home/hotel one night and the other at the hospital.

5)Bring one more change of clothes for yourself than you thought you’d need. Without going into too much detail, just let me say that when you’re holding a baby who has a catheter, chest tube, and a million IVs, there’s a good chance you’ll get slimed.

6)If you are given a chance to visit the ICU or tour the floor of the hospital where your child will be cared for, do it! It’s much easier to see your baby all hooked up to everything if you’ve already seen someone else’s baby in the same state.

Finally, good luck and best wishes for good health.

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