We were recently in hospital with Miss 22 months and it was the worst experience of our whole lives.
The experience of having an extremely sick child is indescribably horrible. After going through this first hand, I now know exactly how to support other parents in the same position. Here is my advice:
Are they sleeping in the hospital room with their child? Do they or their baby require any extra pillows or blankets from home? Does a nursing mum have her breastfeeding pillow?
Whether it's a short or long stay in hospital, it's nice to be as comfortable as possible.
Is either parent staying at the hospital and are they being provided with meals? When you've been in hospital for a while, there's nothing better than a home cooked meal, your favourite snacks or being brought a coffee and cake. Is their child eating? If eating is a problem, you could offer to bring some of their favourite foods to entice them.
Sometimes a fresh perspective really helps. Our bub was refusing to eat and drink. She had no energy, so we were basically in bed 24/7 where I was offering her food and drink. Then her dad brought in a highchair and laid her snacks on the table as if we were at home. It was something I couldn't think of in my sleep deprived haze, but it made a world of difference.
Every situation is different, but for me after having no sleep and not moving from our bed for a week prior to going into hospital, I sat there feeling like a bleary eyed mess. I felt like a zombie and my needs were very basic. I had two day old mascara on, so I just needed someone to sit with bub while I had a quick shower. When babies are sick, they usually only want mum or dad, so if it was me visiting a friend with a child in hospital, I'd try and take something along that may be special to that child to give mum or dad a five minute break.
Our room didn't have windows that open so maybe mum or dad just need some fresh air. Cabin fever gets real in the hospital. Especially for parents who have had no sleep for weeks and can hear their own or other children constantly crying. It gets hard.
Care packages or car park vouchers can be great alternatives to flowers or soft toys. Sick children often sleep a lot and if mum or dad can't watch TV, then a book or magazine could pass the time. You could also take delicious treats, mini toiletries or check if they need any fresh clothes.
Also, parking at the hospital can be expensive. Offering to help with parking could make the world of difference to a family.
5. Be sensitive
Whether a parent is in hospital or not, prior or after- having a sick child is incredibly horrible. They will be beyond exhausted. So it's best to be as mindful as possible when speaking to them and remembering what a hard time they are going through.
I'm a first-time mother and I've found that I can't go out with my son without somebody giving me advice on how to raise him. There seems to be a general assumption that new parents have no idea about children, and it is everybody's duty to share their wisdom.