My Guide to Helping Families with a Child in the Hospital

Before I continue our story I want to share more on how you can help. In the last few years between NICU, RSV/Adenovirus/Pneumonia stay, and this most recent round of hospital time, it has occurred to me most people don’t know how to help.

Most people ask “Let me know if I can do anything”, or “how can I help?”, but when you’re a frazzled parent with a kid in the hospital the answer to these is pretty much always “I don’t know”.

So how can you help and be more specific? (the local list)

1- Provide food!! There are lots of ways to do this. But remember hospital food sucks and is expensive. Ways to provide food vary widely: provide home cooked food, provide gift cards to places near hospital (bonus if they deliver), provide gift card for the REAL coffee place inside the hospital (at Children’s in CO this is Dazbog), pick up groceries, share those extra breakfast burritos you weren’t going to finish (seriously a neighbor did this for us and it provided 4 meals for Dad who was going back and forth). Food needs are just as important if not more so upon return home. We may have a full fridge but everything it has spoiled! My neighbors were awesome and set up a meal train (literally there’s a website called mealtrain.com that sets up the calendar and lets people sign up to bring you food). I had never really heard of this before and it has saved us big time with all our follow ups. Yea we had time to make it to the grocery store but not to actually cook.

A very lovely fresh meal! I feel so blessed after so many people have brought us home coked meals. This last one was from someone I had only met once and didn’t even realize was a neighbor!

2-Watch/care for pets. It’s always hard with a kid in the hospital to make sure your pets are fed and let out. Even if it’s the bare minimum – food, water, toilet – this is a huge help.

3-If the family has other kids, take them somewhere fun that’s not the hospital. Be it a sleepover with your kids, a movie, a park, anything – get them out and playing and show them they are still loved. My son may not have siblings but I do and I watched my cousin’s siblings go through some rough times while she was in the hospital. Getting siblings some fun time makes a world of difference.

4-Clean! One of the oddest things that never crosses my mind until I’m in the midst of it is how much we need a clean home when when get to be home! The piles of laundry, the musty smelling sheets, the filthy floor, the pile of dishes that are weeks old, etc. One neighbor came by while I got wee man down for nap and swept and vacuumed the whole house and finished up dishes I had started. Another neighbor sent over their 2 oldest kids after school and it was awesome. They mopped, cleaned toilets, helped fold laundry, cleaned a nose-print covered window, put away the now clean dishes, demolished my need to shred pile in the shredder, played with the wee man while I did a few chores they couldn’t, wiped down all our door knobs and light switches with disinfectant wipes, and all the while claimed it was more fun than the chores their mom gives them (seriously they are welcome back anytime!).

5- Visit us in the hospital – but bring goodies! What I really mean is we would love to see an adult that isn’t medical personnel, but we would also love a clean set of clothes, a treat for us parents, some socks, maybe a hairbrush and toothbrush. When we were in the hospital during the pneumonia stay our friends brought us one of those cube boxes full. It had a giant stuffed sloth for wee man, some magazines appropriate for both adults and wee man (Nat Geo, a cooking one, and some other adventure one), sweatpants that were big enough to fit either mom or dad, food snacks like apples and clementines, a few books for wee man (favorite is still Never Feed a Yeti Spaghetti), and the best part was the avoCATo fuzzy slippers with grippers on the bottom (still my favorite and I still take them to the hospital). The box itself was also fun and covered in sequence that you can brush with your hand to change how it looks. Super entertaining.

Sloth as big as wee man! Thanks friend! (PS – check out her blogs at PicklesAndUnicorns and LightningPickles)

So you’re not local, but want to help? What are other options?

DONATE! There are so many ways to donate that mean a lot to us families with kids in the hospital, even if it never reaches us directly. There is always the option to donate money directly but that’s not the only option.

You can donate food and supplies to programs like There With Care that provide families with food and supplies for their kid. So when we were in the NICU they provided not only weekly bags of food, but a “baby shower in a bag”(bag of items from clothes to toys to blankets and soap etc that one would typically get at their baby shower), a pack of diapers, a NEW car seat, and a NEW pack’n’play!

Children’s Hospitals are always in need of new coloring supplies and non-plush toys. These fill activity rooms and provide entertain for thousands of kids. Some even are gifted to the kids struggling so they have something new and special that is theirs.

Donate time! AKA – volunteer. I don’t think there is ever a shortage of volunteers – either at the hospitals or programs that help with transitions home.

Blood and Plasma! Yes this is life saving! Right now I know our Colorado Children’s Hospitals are in CRITICAL NEED. They need ALL blood types and plasma. 1 blood donation has the potential to help up to 5 children.

And of course FOOD! You don’t need to be local to help with food. Gift cards these days can be sent electronically and a lot of places that deliver can take orders online – so yes someone in Florida can have food delivered to a family in Colorado.

I’m sure there are other ways you can help a family with a child in the hospital. My biggest thing, is don’t ask a vague “how can I help” question. Instead be specific, and volunteer what you can do.

Another and Another: the ever growing list of therapists

This one is for all the special needs mommas (and daddy’s) out there.

When you have a kid you never think of needing any sort of therapy for the child in their first few years of life. Yea maybe when they’re older they’ll fall and break and ankle and need a little physical therapy after. But that’s really all you consider.

When you’re told you’re at risk for pre-term labor, no one tells you ANYTHING about what that really means.

When you’re in the NICU they kinda mention you might need to continue therapy outside the hospital. They mention that maybe in a few years some disabilities might appear.

But no one tells you of the reality.

In NICU therapy is often just the simplest thing such as touch

Therapy starts in the hospital. Then again as soon as you can manage to set up services when you get home.

We started with just occupational therapy (OT). Then a few months in it became apparent that more help was needed. So add an early childhood education specialist (ECSE).

Working with our first home OT on tummy time that works with reflux

Now it’s being noticed that major motor skills are lagging and uneven. While OT can work on this, she really needs to focus on sensory issues and fine motor skills. So add physical therapy (PT).

As we keep working on eating more solid foods we’re struggling with allergies and sensitivities along with simply getting enough calories from solids so we could wean. Now we not only need to see an allergist we add a pediatric dietician.

Working on being ok with new textures in the mouth

So now we have four different specialties coming to our home. Some weekly, some every other and some sporadically.

We’ve finally got a kid who’s doing great in major motor skills- walking and just about running. But his verbal vocabulary is almost non existent. No “momma” “dadda” here. Though we know he can. He likes to tell the dogs to “sit” ( which more often sounds like shit 😂) and I’m pretty sure he’s trying to say “this”. He communicates- just not with words. So here comes speech therapy.

And all the while we’re on a waiting list to see a specialty team that works with children with developmental struggles. Who knows how long that will be or what other list of therapists they will have to add. (Are there even anymore specialties???)

Oh and nope we haven’t hit that few years mark. This all before the age of 2.

So to all you others wondering how to do it. Hang in there. You’re not alone.

One more for cuteness. Working on balance with PT

Slow Down

It’s ok to slow down.

It’s ok to slow down, especially when you’re feeling off. Hormone shifts can do that. So can lack of sleep. Or maybe you just didn’t eat enough.

You don’t necessarily feel bad- just not great.

It’s ok to slow down. We’re runners and that tends to be hard. But it’s ok to slow down.

So today I made peace with the treadmill. I want to start logging more miles but I’m still feeling off. So slow and easy – very easy.

Slowing it down can be helpful. It helps you make sure you’re breathing. Gives you time to feel every inch of your body. Check in with yourself about how it’s really feeling. Allows you to focus on form. All of these things lead to being a stronger less injury prone runner.

So again I repeat : it’s ok to slow down

Don’t compare your slow. My slow may be different than your slow. That’s ok. Focus on your own slow. Also know that today’s slow may be different than tomorrow’s. Again that’s ok.

Want some ‘sciency’ reasons to run slow. Check out The Happy Runner by David and Megan Roche.

Biryani aka Yummy Indian Goodness

Since y’all asked here’s my recipe real fancy style 😂

Recipe:

Sauté veggies (chopped small) of choice – I used zucchini, yellow squash, carrot, onion, and orange bell pepper this time – and nuts (cashews or peanuts 1/4 cup to every 2 cups veggies) and raisins (1/4 cup to every 2 cups veggies) in olive oil with curry (2 tbs oil and at least 2 tbs curry per every 2 cups veggies)

Separately cook white rice to sticky (basmati rice works great but any white will work) 2 cups per every 2 cups veggies

Separately cook meat of choice (optional) here I have 1.5 lbs chicken thighs to about 8 cups veggies

Mix all up and eat

Can drizzle plain yogurt on top if desired

Mac’n’Cheese

In honor of my website working again I decided to share about Mac’n’Cheese!!

Oh yea that’s right. Cheesy delicious goodness.

I haven’t been able to eat dairy for over a year. After having recently weaned (more to come on that later) I celebrated by making Mac’n’Cheese from scratch…

Bye bye boxed stuff – the pressure cooker wins again!

Ok seriously this is the best Mac’n’Cheese I’ve ever had

And super easy

Toss into pressure cooker:

1lb medium pasta shells or small elbow noodles

2 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp ground mustard seed

8 oz chopped mushrooms (optional)

Just shy of 4 cups water

Cook on high pressure for 4 min

Let decompress on own

Then mix in:

1 cup milk

4 oz cream cheese until it’s melted

Then:

12-16 oz cheese blend (I chose a Mexican cheddar blend) by handfuls as it melts

Top with or mix in:

Green onion to taste

A cooked meat of choice (optional bacon or chicken are great choices)

Enjoy!!

And ditch the boxed stuff…