Tips for Your Child’s Unexpected Hospital Stay

I’ve mentioned it before, I’m a complete “Type A” planner. I LOVE setting goals and planning how I’ll achieve them. Sometimes, the planning is more exciting to me than the actual accomplishment. So, it should come as no surprise to you that I would spend my afternoon on New Year’s Eve planning my goals for the year and texting with my friend about said goals. Specifically, I was agonizing over determining my “word for the year” and had given myself the deadline of 11:59 p.m.. Looking back, I find this completely humorous because no matter how much we want to plan in life, there are some moments we can’t plan for or expect. You would think that as a mom of triplets, I would have learned this by now, but I’m still a work in progress. Later that same evening, I found myself ringing in the New Year with my youngest (I think I can still call her that even though it’s only by a matter of minutes) in the ER of Children’s of Alabama. This exciting New Years was then followed by a four-night hospital stay due to an infection and surgery.

Fortunately, we live in a city where access to a wonderful hospital facility is easy in times like these. I pray you never find yourself needing it, but just in case, here are some tips I learned firsthand during our hospital stay to help you.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

If something a doctor tells you is unclear, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Their job is to help you make the best decisions for your child, and this can’t be done if you are confused about information. Ask, ask, and ask again if necessary. Also, don’t be embarrassed to take notes or have another trusted set of ears there to hear information. 

Advocate for Your Child and His/Her Needs

This may not be a problem for you at all, but my personality does not like to seek any special treatment or attention whatsoever. It is important to remember that whether your child is a young toddler, like mine, or old enough to speak his/her mind, your number one job as a parent is to advocate for your child. I knew that everyone working with us in the hospital had my child’s best interests at heart. However, I also understood that I know my child best and needed to speak up and request things on her behalf. Asking for a third beverage choice in an hour because there was a slight chance she might actually drink this one? No problem! And you know what? The nurse was just as happy to bring the third beverage as she was the first.

Take Care of Yourself

I cannot stress this one enough! If you don’t take care of you, there’s no way you will have the energy to take care of your child. I don’t mean getting your beauty rest in a hospital room because, let’s be honest, that’s pretty much impossible when you’re worried about your child. What I do mean is to be sure you’re caring for the basics like drinking plenty of water and eating when possible. Remember those sweet nurses whose sole job is to care for your child’s best interest? Part of that is taking care of you as well! Don’t be afraid to ask them for a cup of water or a snack if you need one. I also had my husband bring me some granola bars because I didn’t want to leave my daughter to seek out food or snacks.

If Possible, Leave the Room

This was good for both me and my daughter. Getting out for a stroll around the hospital for a change of scenery was a simple morale booster for all of us. I have to give props to my husband for thinking of this one. What little kid doesn’t enjoy a ride in a wagon? Also, check with your nurses to see if there’s an age-appropriate playroom to visit. When my daughter was feeling better, we took her to play in the toddler room, and she was so thrilled. 

Accept Help from Others

Take this advice from a completely independent personality: let others help you! It blesses others when you allow them to help you in a time of need. When you refuse to accept this help, it robs them of the joy they would receive in blessing you. Let them watch your other children so the sick one can have support from both parents. Accept meals so you can focus on your child’s needs instead of your own. Put a friend or family member in charge of updating others about the status of your child. You do not have to do something that would stress you out, but do allow others to help you in any way you would find beneficial. 

I’m sure you’re still wondering if I ever finalized my word for the year. I actually did! It is “content” which I feel is off to a great start. Hospital stays can put a lot of things in perspective for you, and I feel content knowing that no matter how much I plan, I am right where I need to be. 

Have you experienced a hospital stay with a child? What helped you handle the difficult experience?

 

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