You never expect your baby to go anywhere else when they are born, apart from in your arms or in a cot beside your bed. You never really plan on these types of things.
I certainly didn’t when my first born went into the special care unit; actually even the hospital wasn’t expecting her to be spending her first days of life there either. I remember her jumping the queue and taking a twin’s bed, a Mum who was meant to be induced had to wait a little while longer, because our tiny bundle took the bed.
It was when I had my third baby (second to go to special care), that we had the more intense stay. Both though meant confusing times. I thought I would share with you some tips we found that could have helped us both inside and outside of the unit.
It will be the least of your problems, but unfortunately if and when you go home, it could cause problems…Car Parks, a lot of the hospitals have private firms and they are pretty strict with their paring rules. Some hospitals offer money off vouchers or even free ticket if you have a long stay minor – this will include a premature or sick newborn. Ask one of the admin team, nurse or onsite car park offices for details. It can become really expensive; we worked out had we made it to the 100 average stay, the car park could have cost us more than our car insurance!
Maybe see if you have friends or family who live nearby, some people rent drive space for a lot cheaper than car parks too.
There is often a waiting list for these facilities, you don’t always get told about them; get your name down on the list as soon as you are able to. They are helpful to have so that you can be closer to your child.
You really do need to keep your strength up when spending time in the hospital, it is hot and exhausting; so getting decent food and drink inside of you is as important as feeding your child. We found ourselves sourcing junk food, because it was easier; quicker. Living on takeaways or sandwiches wasn’t ideal. The hospital restaurants are either don’t have a lot of choice or is expensive, many hospitals have well known shops, and cafes but aren’t always the cheaper versions. Have friends and family put together healthier picnics, a lot of the family kitchens have microwaves or resources to reheat things like leftover homemade cottage pie; even if you’re staying at home and visiting daily rather than staying, having people help cook goes along way.
It is very difficult trying to rest in the circumstances, you need to make those all-important bonding days count; but you also need to replenish your energy; the heat of the wards are exhausting, get fresh air, take a break; even if it is to do one lap of the grounds. Your child needs you to be rested. But don’t feel forced to leave the unit either, do what you feel comfortable with in leaving your baby.
Okay, so I get to the parenting bit. One thing I regret massively is not asking enough questions; of course we asked some – but we didn’t question or second guess what the health care professionals were doing. You CAN get a second opinion, especially if your first answer wasn’t clear enough; it is so scary and so confusing. Have a note pad to jot questions that come to mind when you are away from the hospital – typically that happens a lot. Jot the answers too, you can always return to them later if everything seems a mess.
Finally – most importantly
Remember that baby, that child is YOURS; there are so many times where that is forgotten, where you are forgotten as a parent. If you are unsure of something, then speak up you are your child’s voice, you are there to get to know your baby and love them. It is so hard watching while the world cares for your baby, but don’t ever be made to feel like they’re not yours. Talk to your baby, if you’re having communication difficulties with the staff, the charity BLISS are good for advocating for parents. The staff are doing their best; but remember so are you.
Take each and every single day as it comes. Remind yourself you are raising a miracle.