You feel yourself freeze as you stand there. The white walls had become synonymous with wails and whimpers of babies and children, and the fast-paced walk of people in colorful scrubs had become dizzying. You hold your breath for a minute in a futile effort to stop yourself from smelling the strong odor of antiseptic permeating the air.
You put up a brave front as you struggle to fight the war waging inside you. You hold your little one as his warm body snuggles close.
Your baby is sick and you feel powerless. Although not all parents experience this the same way, that first hospital trip (and stay) can be daunting and scary for first-time moms and dads. The fear of the unknown is enough to weaken the strongest of us. But this does not mean you cannot prepare for it.
Get help to get there. Bring along your partner, a friend, or a grandparent. Another adult who can help you deal with the situation through moral support or simply someone who can get you to the hospital. Having a trusted person by your side will help keep you sane and focused, and even get you that steaming cup of coffee when you need it.
Answer and ask all the necessary questions. It is your right and obligation not only to answer all the questions that the doctor will ask but also to ask all the vital questions. There is no better way to help your child than by cooperating with those trying to help. Assert and keep yourself informed of your child’s condition and never hesitate to ask about things you don’t understand.
Stay with your child. Hospitals will seem like another planet for your child, and the sight of nurses, doctors, injections and other “alien” technology may scare them, so you need to be there with your little one. Reassure your child the best way you know how so you can make simple procedures such as temperature-taking easier. If hospitalization is necessary, ask about visitation hours or whether you can stay overnight if you can.
Get your parenting gear ready. Ready a baby bag. No one can predict when you need to rush your baby or child to the hospital. Just as you prepared a maternity bag for the delivery, prepare a baby bag for situations like these. Stock it with a warm blanket, extra baby clothes, a feeding bottle or two, and all the other baby (or kid) necessities. You can even put in toys or books to keep your child entertained when hospitalization is necessary. We know children get bored easily, and this can distract their attention from playing with whatever hospital equipment is at their bedside. Keep your phone with you. In the haste to get to the ER, you may forget what could be your only mode of communication, so keep this gadget in your pocket or your bag. As scared as you might be, you need to call people: the boss, the insurance company, and the school. Prepare health insurance papers and extra money. Be sure that the necessary papers are always ready and that you have cash or credit with you. Preparing these things even when they are not needed will save you a world of trouble and worry.
Most importantly, remember yourself. Eat, rest, sleep, and accept help. Do not forget that you also have to take care of yourself. You will be of no use to your child or your family if you’re sick too. You are just as important.
Hopefully, no child will have to go through a bad first hospitalization experience, and if hospitalization is inevitable, you can do something to make it a more positive experience. As with everything else in the parenting world, being calm and ready will help you and your child get through almost anything.
About the author Glori Surban is a nurse, and a freelance writer, who has met her fair share of hysterical and confused moms as they bring their children to the ER. She hopes that she can share information that will empower parents, especially the first-time ones, in times of need. She is passionate about discovering and learning more about her introverted personality in her blog, Crazy Introvert, and hopes that in doing so, she will be of more help to those around her.