Gifts Ideas to Help Parents with a Baby in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
Having a child is a wonderful gift. Sure, there are costs involved, but oh, the wondrous perks that come with it! When there is a problem and baby ends up in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the cost suddenly starts to climb. There are so many things that can nibble away at your finances like little mice; gas money, parking, food … All of these unexpected expenses can be stressful.
For friends and family members who want to help, but don’t know how; here is a short list of things that my husband and I desperately needed when our daughter was born premature and ended up in the NICU.
Note from One Parent
"I would have loved it if someone would have brought us a bucket of KFC."
I'm sure this doesn't need explaining :-)
We were exhausted and on the go almost non-stop. When we did stop, we were so stupid-tired that we didn’t have the energy to make food.
Having something on hand that was ready to eat or microwaveable to reheat was a blessing. We thanked whoever provided it for us with every sleepy bite. Meals that could be easily packed to bring with us to the hospital were also a great boon since the cafeteria was so expensive.
Meal Replacement Bars and/or Drinks
Sometimes, we didn’t have a chance to stop for a meal, so having a supply of meal replacements on hand kept us up-right and mobile. We found that Glucerna was our favourite. It is lactose and gluten free and their flavours are delicious.
Between meals or in the middle of the night when a full meal would be too much, we turned to healthy snacks such as:
- Trail Mix;
- Sesame Snaps; and
- Dried fruit.
They were easy to keep in my purse for travelling, as well.
I recommend a Walmart Gift Card simply because they carry just about everything for a reasonable price when a NICU parent has to run out and get affordable baby things or supplies for themselves. Here are three reasons we loved Walmart:
- We were from out of town and made several trips to the nearest Walmart to get hygiene and other supplies we'd forgotten to pack. This saved us from having to make a 2 hour drive home (and then another 2 hour drive back);
- This was our first baby and with her early arrival, there were still a lot of baby basics we hadn’t bought for her yet;
- When we had time to make food, we were so tired that we lived off of Hungry Man dinners, rice crackers, cheese and lunch meat all from Walmart.
Other gift cards that would be of use:
- Visa gift card for incidental purchases;
- Gas card, especially if the parents need to travel a fair distance;
- Phone card to save on cell phone costs;
- Gift card to whatever fast-food restaurants are located in or near the hospital.
If the parents are from out of town, a gift certificate or pre-payment to the motel the parent's are staying at is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Although the hospital staff was wonderful enough to find ways of letting us stay at the hospital a few days longer, we still had to find somewhere affordable to stay in town until baby was released. Someone generously covered 4 nights at the Rotel for us and it saved us a lot of stress knowing that we had somewhere to sleep near the hospital. By the end of that time, we knew we only had to foot the bill for 3 more nights in town before we could take the baby home. That was a lot less stressful financially for us and we are still extremely grateful to the person who covered our Rotel stay.
Hospital Parking Pass
It can get extremely expensive paying for parking at the hospital. We had to cough up $13 a day for 11 days which was huge strain on our budget. We weren’t familiar with the hospital, so we didn’t know they sold week and month passes until we’d been there almost a week. Since we didn’t know how long the baby was going to need to stay in the hospital, we were reluctant to buy a pass ... but it sure would have been wonderful to have get one within the first few days of our arrival.
If a group of family members or work mates chip in for a parking pass, a huge burden would be removed from the parents.
We washed our hands over a hundred times each in that first week. The hospital soap dried out our skin so much that my husband’s hand split and bled on the second day. Mine held out until the third day before cracking. One of the nurses told us that the same happened to most of the staff at the NICU. One of the nurses at the desk was kind enough to give us a bottle of hand lotion to help us survive. Something non-greasy with no perfume - it was perfect.
Having clean clothes to wear made a big difference in how we felt, so when my mom arrived at the hospital with a bag full of laundered clothing, we were extremely grateful. Having clean undies and fresh-smelling socks helped us feel normal and calm, even though so many things were uncertain. You'll be amazed by what freshly laundered clothing can do for a person's emotional balance.
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© 2012 Rosa Marchisella