Part II will focus on material things that can help a family when their loved one is hospitalized.
1. Food. This is a HUGE one. It seems so simple yet it is the number one thing for us. When we were in the NICU, the last thing on our mind was eating. But our families were bringing us food, bottled water, snacks. It forced us to not only eat, but to take a short break. And while taking a break from being next to Luca was not what we wanted to do, it was totally necessary to stay sane. And if eating meant I had to leave to go find food somewhere, and choose what to eat, it was just too overwhelming. It was so nice to get a call on my cell phone from someone saying "I have dinner in the waiting area - come eat." Some suggestions for types of food to bring:
- pasta (although you can only have pasta so frequently - so try to mix it up)
- healthy foods like salads (it is so hard to eat healthy on the go, so it was easier if someone brought it to me)
- snacks like a bag of clementines, already cut up apples, bite size carrots, granola bars, grapes, mixed fruit
- sandwiches or the fixings for the family to make their own
- stuff that can be reheated quickly and easily
3. Send something to say you care. Send a card. Send a care package. Send anything to let the person know that you are thinking about them.
4. Care packages. We loved them. We received packages that were super helpful during our stay. During the NICU period, I sat and pumped while I read through magazines that had been sent in a package. On the day of Luca's transplant, I sat with all of my family and friends and we did sudoko puzzles. I have a book of crosswords from a bloggie friend that I carry with me for hospital visits. Another friend got me a cute makeup bag full of small toiletries for when I stay at the hospital. You can walk into Luca's hospital room on each of her visits and know how much she is loved by the amount of cards and little mementos people have sent. Another friend gave me a notebook to keep track of everything I was learning, to keep track of what was happening each day, to write down my questions, to keep the business cards from each of the doctors (I still use that notebook all the time).
5. Offer help once everyone is back home. I have always heard that when a loved one dies, the loneliest and hardest part is after the funeral is over. That is kind of the same now except not a funeral. It seems like when Luca was the sickest and in the hospital, everyone came together to help and we were bombarded with support. Then she came home and that help diminished a lot. Yet, she was still sick. We were exhausted and super busy. Once we came home, some awesome friends continued to show their support. They brought us dinners. They came to visit. They came over and did some laundry for us. They ran errands. They continued to be there.
6. Surprise them. We were staying with people who I consider family. One day I came home and there were a couple new shirts sitting on my bed. I had been so busy at the hospital, I had not had time to get some shirts that fit my nursing-size boobs. And it's not like these were fancy schmancy shirts - just a couple of plain shirts from Old Navy. But I started crying. It was exactly what I needed yet didn't have the time to recognize it. Another time, someone dropped off a bag of our favorite coffee. I thought of them with every cup we drank. It made me smile.
7. Ask them what they need. This one is so simple. But just asking the question is helpful!
What would you add to this list?