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When Your Baby is Sick: The Practicalities of Hospital Life

Right after we found out that we would have to admit Elvie to the hospital the first time, I stood in front of her bag and thought, “What on earth do I put in here?” I’ve never cared for a baby in the hospital, and even when I’ve visited others’ sick kids, I’ve never paid a whole lot of attention to exactly what was in the room that they might have brought with them. So I asked my friends on Twitter and got a ton of helpful responses.

As we worked our way into our stay and both amassed more stuff in Elvie’s hospital room and figured out a daily rhythm, I realized that this is foreign territory for a lot of parents, and just like us, many of them dno’t have much time to prepare for the hospital stay. As I contemplate our next hospital stay, I recall what we figured out immediately and what took time, what I wish I had a handy guide to help me sort through. So this week I am going to be posting about some of the practicalities, some of the things I wish I’d known in advance.

The tweet I wrote only asked about what to bring for Elvie, and that’s the most important thing of all, in my opinion. You need to know what you should bring to keep your baby fed and comfortable for the time between checking in and when the hospital amenities kick in. There are also personal items that you will prefer to bring from home and things that will help keep your baby as comfortable as possible. For example, it’s nice that the hospital provides all sorts of linens, but I personally never got over the scratchiness of the baby blankets.

You’ll also need to know what to bring for the parent who will be staying at the hospital. If both parents are dividing the time, or both staying some of the time, there are certain things that can be shared and certain things that it’s nice to have for each person. I’ll also factor in considerations about getting work done and whether or not you can get home to use your own shower.

While this will differ from hospital to hospital, it’s good to know the rhythm of  a typical hospital day. I’ll be sharing what ours were usually like, both when it was a typical day and when it was a day with one-time tests and scans going on. I’ll throw in some tips for passing the time when you don’t know how long it will be until someone comes in to whisk your baby away to the next procedure.

Finally, especially for adoptive parents, I’ll detail what we did to promote attachment while in a hospital setting. We couldn’t cocoon as i’d planned, keeping Elvie within our own four walls and away from lots of new people and experiences. We reached what I think was a really good compromise, which served our purposes of giving Elvie as much stability as possible while teaching her that we were her family.

I’m really excited to get this started, and I hope you’ll check back in each day this week if this is something useful to you or someone you love. If you have additional questions about our hospital stay which don’t seem like they’ll be covered in one of my four topics, please leave me a comment, and I’ll try to address anything I’ve missed in one of the other posts. Above all, I want to be helpful to other parents who may experience the same things with their babies. Hospital life isn’t fun by any stretch of the imagination, but it can be made easier, and I hope I’m able to show you some small ways we were successful at doing just that during Elvie’s two hospital stays.

Read more of our family story on Finding Magnolia.
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Keep up with our latest family happenings on Facebook.

More on Babble:
The Unexpected Gifts of Elvie’s Unexpected Hospital Stays
Coming Home, Again
What All Our Hard Work Has Accomplished

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