We experienced a major first for our family last week, but unfortunately it was not for something fun. This time, it was our first ER visit that resulted in an extended hospital stay for one of the boys. Baby Brother (just 13 months old) was admitted to our local children’s hospital and we spent more than double the amount of time there than when we was born.
To say that it was stressful would be an understatement! When we entered the ER and found out his fever was 105.3, I was so scared! For more on why/how we ended up there, you can read about Baby Brother’s hospital visit here. And, unfortunately, the diagnosis ended up being MRSA! Even with a biology background, I wouldn’t have known that when we headed to the hospital. But, MRSA might not always look like what you think. So, it’s important for ALL parents to be aware of this and how serious skin infections can be! Be sure to check out the post on my cautionary tale about skin infections!
After experiencing this unfortunate first with an unexpected ER visit and extended hospital stay, I thought I’d share a list of tips for parents going through a similar situation. It’s NOT a fun place to be and I firmly believe there is nothing more stressful than having real cause to worry about the health of your child! But, I think there are a few things you can do to ease the stress just a bit.
- Listen to your gut & be your child’s best advocate. No one at that hospital knows your child better than you! When you have that nagging feeling that something isn’t right, make sure you get seen. Ask questions and continue seeking help until you get an answer that feels right. You’ll know when you get it. I was an anxiety-ridden wreck until about 2 hours after we got to the ER, had met with two doctors, and decided (with the Dr.) on a treatment plan that seemed right. Immediately after that (even before he was better), my anxiety was lessened tremendously – just knowing that we came up with the best plan for him lifted a huge stressor.
- Don’t go to the ER alone! Whether it be with both parents, spouse, significant other, family friend, grandparent, etc., I highly recommend that you have someone else there with you. Depending on the severity of the issue and your emotional state, it can be hard to focus on everything that needs to be done. You’ve got questions to answer, paperwork to fill out, and of course, a sick/injured child to take care of. So, make sure someone else accompanies you!
- Grab a few things before heading in! If it’s not a life-threatening situation (meaning you have an extra minute or two) and you think there is any chance you might be admitted to the hospital, grab a couple of things before you head in. Based on what was happening with Baby Brother, I had a gut feeling that we were going to be admitted. So, while my husband loaded the baby into the car, I grabbed a few things like an extra change of clothes for him, a few snacks and his sippy cup, my hairbrush & toothbrush, and my cell phone charger. Someone still needed to bring up additional items to us the next day, it was SO nice to have a few things from home right away.
- Ask for help! Don’t be afraid to ask friends, neighbors, family, your church, etc. for help. Whether that be having someone do updates for you, people to watch the other kids, making meals for you, etc., just ask people!
- Take a break if you can. It’s amazing how draining days in the hospital can be. After about 48 hours straight in the same room, I was able to take a break (while Daddy stayed with him) and leave the hospital for just a couple of hours. It’s amazing how rejuvenating that was for me!
Have YOU had an extended hospital stay with a child? What tips do you have for parents?