It seems like every time I flip through a parenting magazine, I see some kind of “Top Ten” list for expectant mothers. Most of them addressing what to bring to the hospital for the birth of your child. Socks, chapstick, snacks, cute baby clothes… you get the idea.
I thought I would start a top ten list for those of us who find our children still at the hospital, way past their initial introduction to the world. Some of us have children that practically live in the hospital. Some of us have children that keep regular appointments for surgeries, procedures, treatments, etc. If this isn’t you, pay attention still. Bookmark this page for future reference. You just never know when it might come in handy. This will not be a list where item number one is toothpaste and item ten is a hair brush. Lump those all together, people, and tell me something I don’t know.
Top Ten Things To Take To The Hospital
(with elaboration because I like to be thorough)
1. The obvious- Change of clothes for parent and child, toiletries (The hospital usually has a few things if you forget something like toothpaste. It will just be some strange brand that you’ve never heard of), perhaps your own pillows and favorite stuffed animals/blankets.
2. Layers- Temperature varies within the hospital. You can freeze in x-ray and be sweating in the cafeteria. I’m sure that it’s a third temperature outside on the breezeway. If you are wearing short sleeves, bring a zip up jacket or sweater. If you are in long sleeves already, a good item to have is a puffy vest. The puffy vest has been my favorite item this time around. Our room is temperate, but walking outside or to the cafeteria, I need something that keeps me warm without making me hot. Also, I like driving in a vest because I don’t feel like my arms are restricted, like I do in a coat.
3. Cash- You do not want to appear at the cafeteria register with a tray full of food, only to find they are cash only. OR you don’t want to be without cash, finding the cafeteria closed, and your only option a vending machine.
4. Food- Speaking of food, you may just want to bring your own snacks (or even meals). Our hospital gives us meal tickets, so the cost of eating at the hospital is minimal. However, I don’t want to have to leave the room and schlep to a different floor every time I need a meal. I also don’t want to go get cookies and Coke to munch, just because it’s conveniently placed near the nurses station. The cafeteria will tempt you to eat a steady diet of fried chicken, cheeseburgers, pizza, and french fries. With a snickers bar and coffee for desert. Sure, they serve salad, turnip greens, and other such healthy items, but the fresher the item is supposed to be when served, the sketchier it looks in a buffet line. Fries would look good sitting under a heat lamp for a week. This is a key point. Don’t eat junk. You are going to feel bad from stress, lack of sleep, and being sedentary in a hospital room. Your body will be all out of wack. Don’t feed illness with fried foods and sugar. I am compromising today and bringing lunch from home, but eating dinner in the cafeteria. Lunch is baked chicken, spinach, and brown rice. I know how it was prepared and where it came from.
5. Your laptop or other electronic communication device- Keep in touch with people without having to field calls all day. You can easily shoot out an email to your church secretary, best friends, and family members- all at the same time. I dislike rehashing the same details all day long. I also really dislike ending a tiring day by having to call about 5 different people to give them an update. Facebook and blogging can be very helpful to keep everyone in the loop while you maintain your sanity.
6. Your Bible or other reading material- There will be times when your child is snoozing, and you don’t want to watch one more re-run on TBS. Please spend your “free” time wisely. Study your Bible. Read quality literature. Do your own writing and journaling.
7. Entertainment for your child- Some hospitals have a Child Life staff that provides endless videos, craft supplies, and toys. Some hospitals have music therapists that roam the halls. Some hospitals…. do. not. have. anything. After surgery, your child may not feel like doing much except watching TV. If you are in for something minor or routine, your child may be anxious to do something productive, like make a craft or play board games.
8. Medications and supplies from home- Even if the hospital is supplying needed items while you are there, it helps to have medicines for reference (they will ask you to recite the list of name/milligrams/times per day quite a bit), and your child may prefer your diapers/catheters/supplies from home. It’s one less thing to make them feel weird and out of place. If you have orthotics, bring them just in case. Bring some type of easy-access clothing for your child to wear when they are able. Anna was given a Disney Princess Snuggy (those blankets with arm holes), which has been perfect for the hospital. She can just put her arms through it while sitting in bed, and wear it without having to fasten anything or pull anything over her head.
9. A plan- Come with a plan. Make sure you know who is going to be in the hospital and who is staying home with your other children (or who is going to work). Try to rotate. Go by your strengths- not what you feel obligated to do. We found out long ago that I need to go home every night and sleep in our house with the rest of the children. I do not sleep at the hospital. My husband, on the other hand, can sleep through a tornado. Which is great, because if an IV line gets kinked, the beeping monitor is much more annoying than a tornado. I stay home at night and then get the other children up and dressed in the morning. A friend or relative comes to stay with the children while I drive to the hospital and take the van to my husband so he can go to work. After work, my husband comes home to put our other children to bed. Then a relative or friend sits at the house while he drives back to the hospital so I can return home for the night. Our other children need to see at least one parent once or twice a day. Being able to see both of us during the course of the day keeps things from falling apart at home.
10. Research- you can bring this in printed form, or just mentally. Do your homework. Whatever you are in the hospital for- chemo, a broken arm, croup, orthopedic surgery- know everything you can about your procedure. Find out what people in California do in your situation. How about Florida? Minnesota? Canada? Europe? You should feel like the treatment you are getting is the best solution to your health challenge, period. Make sure you learn proper medical terms. Be able to say, “My child is having bi-lateral de-rotatation surgery for tibial torsion,” not, “They’re going to cut Bobby’s foot off on both legs, and then put it back together all straight like. His legs are kind of crooked-y right now.” Have I explained procedures in those kinds of terms before? Yes. But not to my doctors and nurses. They will take you seriously (ie. listen to your concerns and suggestions) if you sound like you know what you’re talking about. And don’t just sound like you know what you’re talking about. Actually do know what you’re talking about. Throwing around terms and acronyms can get you in trouble if you don’t actually know what you’re saying.
Now. Let’s make this interactive. Post a comment and let us know what’s on your top ten list for the hospital. It may help others that are in a similar situation.