10 helpful things people did for us in the NICU and the text that made me cry
I can’t think of a more stressful time in life than the two months our son Finn was in the NICU. Not only was our new baby in the hospital, but we had a two-year-old at home, I was healing from a c-section, and my husband Will had just started up his own business.
How on earth did we manage all of this? Well, thankfully, we were not alone. From little gestures to huge sacrifices, people helped us. So if you’re looking to help a family with a baby in the NICU, or if you have a baby in the NICU and you need help, but you don’t know what to ask for, here are 10 ideas that helped us:
- Smoothie packs: Our hospital did not allow food in the room with our baby, Finn, so my sister-in-law made smoothie packs in zip lock baggies that I could just blend and take with me to get some nourishment while sitting in the room holding Finn.
- A gift card to a restaurant near the hospital: Will’s aunt and uncle sent us a gift card to a pizza place nearby, it could have been a quick take-out, but Will and I ended up sitting down for lunch together, talking over some big decisions we had to make, and actually looking at each other.
- Childcare: This was the text that made me cry. My mother-in-law and three sister-in-laws had divvied up three weeks for who could help watch our two-year-old, James. We didn’t always have to utilize it, but knowing there was someone we could call gave me such comfort.
- Meals (and beer): we had a meal train set-up for us and people from our church, friends, and even my old job brought food by. (You’re probably noticing food was a big one for us!)
- Going out to lunch: A few times I broke away from the hospital to have lunch with a friend or my mom. Sometimes I was crying to them, other times just enjoying the sunshine, but it was good to get out of the hospital and talk to someone besides his nurses and doctors.
- Rides: After my C-section I couldn’t drive so a couple friends helped get me to and from the hospital. Not to mention it saved me a walk from the parking lot, hunched over, holding my belly.
- A gift: After a big, healthy baby is born there are usually gifts of flowers, balloons, and champagne—it is not the same when your baby is rushed to the NICU. Gifts that were helpful, or beautiful, or both showed me people cared and that they were celebrating this life with me. This was part of the inspiration for Finn the Panda.
- Photography: This may not be for everyone. A friend of mine who had planned to do some maternity photos came to the hospital and took some pictures of Finn and me instead. It was on a good day for him, I actually got dressed and put on some make-up, and I love looking back at them now. As hard as it all was, it was the start of the life of someone I love more than anything in the world and I want to remember every part of his precious life.
- A clean house: Along with cooking, this fell to the bottom of my priority list. My mother-in-law would come by and pick up the kitchen, throw a load of laundry in, and help pick-up to make our home more peaceful. She also hired a service for right before we brought Finn home.
- Words: Encouragement, acknowledgement, congratulations, sympathy… our baby was born and I needed that acknowledgement of his life; I also needed recognition that it sucked he was in the hospital, fighting for his life, and that nothing went the way we planned. The right words at the right time healed my heart.