Any parent would prefer to be just about anywhere else with their child than the hospital. As grateful as we are that they exist (and are largely free for Canadians), the feelings of fear, impatience, and discomfort are magnified 100 times over when the patient is your baby (which they automatically revert to, even if they are 12, when you feel they’re in pain.) Whether an emergency has arisen, or it’s something routine, no trip to the hospital is small, and it can be very taxing emotionally. I recently had the misfortune of taking my son to the Children’s hospital, as well as watching a huge number of kids in the emergency ward while I was there having hurt my knee. It was a stressful couple of weeks, let me tell you, but I learned a few things. I hope that by offering you a few coping mechanisms, you might survive the experience a little more comfortably than I did.
If you have to go to the emergency room, you pretty much have to leave immediately. That already sets you behind the 8-ball in terms of preparation for long waits and boring beige walls. Of course, the best offense is a good defense, so taking a moment every day to plan for the unexpected might really save you some stress later. In addition to having your child’s health card/ insurance card with you at all times, here are a few things that should be in your diaper bag or back pack:
· FOOD: Pack something, I cannot express this enough. It could be a long time until you’re seen, even for just a scheduled doctor’s check up. A hungry child can result in any number of melt-downs, plus eating is a good boredom distraction. Hey, a few puffs, even if they aren’t hungry, won’t hurt them.
· Toys or books: While some waiting rooms are equipped with items for kids, you might wind up in a triage, exam, or other medical area that is not. Having a fun, interactive activity will really help lessen the loud ticking of the clock. Since you never know if you’ll be waiting 20 minutes or 4 hours, multiple small pieces for quick, new distractions are best.
For Surgeries and Longer Stays
When you have a planned treatment or procedure that will certainly take hours of your time, taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of junior. There could be extended periods of time in which you are by yourself, or left alone with an equally nervous and irrational spouse! When you are with your child, comfort and a sense of ease is important. You might be freaking out on the inside, and that’s totally fine, but try to be brave on the outside. Somethings that might help include:
· Comfort items for the family: If your child has a blankie, a soother, or a stuffed alligator – you need it now more than ever. Make sure you put it right by the door or in the car the night before, so that you don’t forget it. For yourself, wear loose, comfy clothing. You’re not there to impress anyone. If you’re sitting in a small waiting chair for multiple hours, or climbing in to a hospital bed with your child, you need to be comfortable!
· Distraction items: As always, you’re going to need toys, but they need to be mentally involving for longer periods. For toys, something with buttons or multiple functions is best. Books with more than one story, or items to find and count will last longer. A stuffie is good for comfort, but will grow old fast unless you make it sing and dance! This applies to mommy, too. Bring a book, and maybe a charger for your phone if you’re going to play games.
It’s a hard fact of parenthood that you can’t protect your child from everything, but you can be their rock and support. It hurts to know that my son saw a hospital room so early in life, but the feeling of holding him in recovery, and being there for him as he healed is a bonding experience I will always remember. Sometimes the trials of raising a child are the most rewarding. To feel pain and suffering and come out the other side stronger as a family is an amazing thing. I would have given anything to have taken the pain for him, but I felt it with him, and we recovered together.