Two years ago my twins spent 4 months in the NICU. It was a long journey and going to the hospital every single day for 4 months is an emotional feat in itself. My twins were discharged 2 weeks apart, and the day my Elizabeth could finally leave, I wanted to run home and never look back. If only it was that easy.
As much as I never wanted to step back into the hospital again, it just wasn’t possible. Since being discharged, we have had a few hospital stays due to lung issues and surgeries. Some of the stays were expected and some of them were not.
Running through your house trying to pack for an unexpected stay is challenging and also scary. Your mind will be racing and it’ll be a challenge trying to get your thoughts together. Whether you are getting ready for an expected stay or packing on the fly, here are 10 ways to prepare if you are returning to the hospital after a NICU discharge.
- Pack your little one’s pillow and or their favorite blanket. There is something about letting them sleep with something familiar that helps them get a better night’s sleep.
- Pack a bag of toys. Many hospitals have toys for children to play with and that’s great. If you are at the hospital alone with your little one, then you may not want to leave their room long enough to find them a toy. I know my daughters never want me to leave them. Just pack a bag and bring it with you. Sometimes if I know in advance we are headed back to the hospital, I’ll buy her something new and give it to her at the hospital.
- If your baby loves a certain vibrating chair or small swing bring it with you. I know this sounds kind of silly, but if you can fit it in the car bring it along. My daughter had to go back to the hospital shortly after discharge from the NICU because she had a hernia. I brought her favorite vibrating/soother chair along, and it was certainly a life saver.
- Bring their favorite snacks with you. Hospitals do have a cafeteria but if you have a picky eater, a hospital stay isn’t a time to try new foods. You will want to give them what’s most familiar and what you know they will eat. Remember to check with their doctor or nurse first to make sure they do not have any food restrictions before giving them something to eat.
- Pack all of your necessary chargers. That includes cell phones and tablets. You’ll have phone calls to make so you will want your phone to stay charged.
- Pack a bag of clothes for you and some clothes for them. If a hospital stay is unexpected and you are throwing clothes together quickly for yourself, pack clothes for your little one too. You will want them to have clean clothes to leave the hospital in. Slippers always come in handy too.
- Hospital stays are not the time to wean off of a pacifier or the bottle. You can fight that battle when they are good and healthy again.
- Bring along a list of current medications and their doctor’s phone numbers. If you find yourself at a hospital that is not your regular hospital this will be good to have with you.
- If they listen to music when they fall asleep at home then bring it with you to the hospital. You want to try to get as close to their routine as possible.
- Don’t forget your toiletries. Hospitals usually sell toothpaste, toothbrushes, and hairbrushes but they can be expensive. If you need it in a pinch it’s convenient, but if you have time to pack your own toiletries it will be better on your wallet.
Going back to the hospital is always a stressful and scary time. If it is last minute, knowing what you want to grab ahead of time and being a little prepared will make it a little easier. If any parents out there have any other tips please share them in the comments section. We are here to help each other and any ideas are always helpful.