Sash with oxygen and NG-tube.
As some may know, our littlest man has just returned home to us after a 9 day stint in the Royal Children’s Hospital. 3 days prior he had been coughing through the night but then seemed better. Than the fever started and then he stopped eating. After he failed to have a wet nappy in 8 hours we took ourselves off to emergency at RCH and after a lengthy wait for a bed were admitted to the Sugarglider ward. Thankfully, whilst things got a lot worse, they also got better and Sash is bouncing and babbling beside me as if none of this has happened. Meanwhile I thought it was useful to share some of our practical lessons.
1. Bring in your own bedding ASAP. The new RCH is freezing and the hospital blankets just don’t cut it. In addition, the shock you may experience with your child in hospital will also drop your body temperature. Half way through I asked for my own quilt and pillow to be bought in and it made the world of difference. I was warm, I wasn’t tangled in millions of hospital blankets and a little bit of home was with me in the ward.
2. Be nice to your team- especially the nurses. You’re an anxious parent, the nursing staff understand that, but that’s no excuse for giving them a hard time. They love children too- it’s why they went into paediatric nursing- so they’re doing the best for your child and have all the experience that you don’t. Forming a bond with your nursing team is really important as they see your child over an 8 hour shift and the doctors depend on their opinion as they only drift in for 10 minute examinations. Our night nurse was a savior and worked with me to track the early signs of Sash’s respiratory distress which meant many tests had been performed before ICU were called in.
3. Use the volunteer staff. When you’re in there by yourself it’s hard to get the simplest things done, such as have a shower or grab some lunch. The volunteers are able to look after your baby whilst you do these things and after a stressful night having a shower (or having a brief cry in the shower in my case) will keep you sane.
4. Take family and friends up on their offers. I’m an independent woman so this one was a hard lesson to learn- but having the mothers take home our washing and returning with clothes that matched was great. They also did all the washing at home so the boys were kept going too. Very important, unless your husband is talented- ask your mum to pick out the clothes. Dave picks= his tracksuit pants, black bra, white old t-shirt. Mum’s picks= comfortable leggings with shift dress with matching underwear and I felt presentable.
5. Incorporate siblings. The new RCH is a great play ground for all siblings-each ward has a play therapist and fully equipped play room (games, paints etc), the playground is great, there is a two storey aquarium and of course the meer cats. We had Oscar in every night for family dinner and then I went and played whilst Dave stayed with Sash. AT home I would usually read to Oscar in bed- so we continued this in the hospital.
6. There is no shame in leaving the room during procedures. Sash had to have a nasogastric tube inserted twice during his visit. Whilst it was essential and didn’t cause him harm- it is invasive and frightening to watch. If you don’t want images of your child screaming whilst they insert the tubes then opt out and let the medical staff do their job. Your job is to step in and comfort once it’s done.
I hope that none of you find yourselves in the RCH- but if you do I hope this a helpful guide that limits your stress a little.