Hospital stays with children

There’s nothing more heartbreaking than when your kids are sick or hurt and end up in hospital. Some time back, Miss V spent four days in hospital as she was very unwell so I thought I would share some ideas and tips that you may find helpful for a successful hospital stay.

  • Try to stay calm and in alignment. You know your child better than anyone, YOU are their best advocate. Ask for a social worker to support you, they are fabulous. Out of our entire stay we only had one little incident where I got a bit out of alignment and ended up in tears (I’d had less than 3 hours broken sleep in 48 hours so I wasn’t the most resilient I’ll admit) at some comments by a nurse. She likely didn’t mean them they way I took them but still. A social worker was called and she was an angel. A fellow autism mama, she had a private chat with me, really listened and backed me up 100%. She sat with me while speaking to the nurses and paediatrician and very firmly said that we would be taking xyz options due to Miss V’s autism diagnosis and that these were not negotiable (eg having IV fluid instead of nasal gastric tube, that v would be in my lap facing me for the time it was getting put in, that the procedure take place out of her room so her room stays a ‘safe space’ etc). The social worker also made a valid point that although medical staff may know the theory behind diagnosis such as autism, they haven’t ‘lived it’ so you need to make your child’s specific needs/challenges known.
  • Bring food from home to have on hand. The only food Miss V ate in 3 days was the roasted chickpeas and date caramel balls I’d bought with us plus orange ice blocks. Which brings me to my next point…
  • Relax your expectations and ‘normal’ standards to a certain extent. We are primarily organic and plant based eaters so having ‘fake orange’ ice blocks was not something Miss V has ever had or what I would buy for us, but she ate them in hospital and who cares because she was EATING! Miss V became a tv addict over the last 1.5 days we were in hospital as she was more alert but wasn’t up to the stickers, colouring, activities I had bought for her. We don’t generally watch tv at home but we sure did in hospital!
  • Routine. What routine?! Try to stick to your general flow (eg bath and book before bed) but only if your child is up to it and who cares about routine! You can always re-establish it later at home when your child is well. Miss V slept almost continuously for the first 2 days then 5 hours the 3rd day plus 12 hours overnight. You can always re establish a routine when you get home, your main priority in hospital is getting them well. If they want to sleep- let them! Their little bodies are trying to heal. You are going to be interrupted by doctors rounds, nurses observations plus tests constantly, it’s unavoidable so just relax into it. 
  • Bring some items of comfort from home eg their pillow or special comfort sleep item, sensory item, favourite book/toy etc. I also bought our essential oils as Miss V asks my to rub her tummy with oils when it’s sore and we use them for everything (think lavender peace, on guard for germs, lemon grass to pep us up etc). Nearly every person that walked in our room commented how beautiful it smelled and how calm our room was. .

My last point is try to stay positive and believe everyone is trying their best. I did not go into ‘fear’ at any point and my alignment only got a little wobbly once. Every single member of staff from the orderly who walked us to imaging to the nurses to paediatric doctors to the surgical team to the sonographers, admin staff etc were lovely, caring and amazing. We had a private room right down the end which was quiet and amazing. The bed was comfy (thank goodness they didn’t try and give us a cot or Miss V would have freaked, she’s never been in a cot!). The food was good once we picked our menu, we hardly waited for anything. So many good things happened in our time in the hospital.

When you focus on the good things the little bumps don’t matter so much like you had to physically ask for tissues, towels, the sheets to be changed after 3 days as they had Nurofen etc on them, or that some paperwork details were incorrect on file and one nurse might have had a bad day which resulted in one little incident. The silver lining the way I see it, is I got four solid days with my baby girl, no outside worries or stresses, time didn’t matter. I didn’t cook or clean. I just loved my little girl, wrapped her up, co-slept, breastfed her constantly it seemed in the last two days of our stay and was at peace, loving and connected with her. Nothing is more important than that.

Sending so much love to anyone going through illness right now. xx

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