So, I had twins three months early. They were in the hospital for two months. When they were about to come home, I had words of wisdom instilled on me from another twin mom- “ASK FOR HELP. TAKE THE HELP. WHATEVER YOU CAN GET, TAKE IT!” These are words to live by ladies… words to live by.
I wish immediately after delivering, I had started asking for more help. I was insistent that I escorted every guest down to the NICU, that I jump right back into work a week after delivering and continue life as normally as possible… except life wasn’t normal. I had a huge scar across my stomach, was taking high doses of pain meds, had the mental and emotional stress of having two babies in the NICU and still trying to maintain my responsibilities in life (full-time job, keeping up our home and taking care of three pets).
This sense of pride that I had in doing everything myself was very, very stupid. I repeat- VERY STUPID. I don’t know what got into me other than there was so much in my life that I could not control that I liked to continue to do the things I knew how to do- my job, paying the bills, cleaning my house, walking my dog, etc. It gave me a sense of stability but also just loaded on a stupid amount of stress to each day. My focus should have been on those babies but instead, it was on those babies plus a ton of other smaller responsibilities that I convinced myself had to get done.
If I could do it all again, I wish I had asked for help and taken the help that was offered. Since then, I’ve also been asked many times what would have been helpful for us, as family or friends have known others who have infants in the hospital currently. For me, the twins were in the hospital almost sixty days and in that time, I wish I had:
Visitors during the week (I often sat alone in the afternoons or our parents and my sister would come by. We appreciated their time there but it would have been nice to had different visitors to help pass the time.)
More human contact outside the hospital. I’m sure people felt like they would be interrupting us but it would have been nice to receive more texts, calls, greeting cards and emails. Every day was like ground hog day for us. It would have been nice to have people meet us on a Saturday night outside the hospital and get dinner together for something fun today while we had the “free babysitting” (this is how the nurses would refer to themselves!)
A Cleaning Service (I continued to clean my house until the babies came home and a dear, dear family member offered to pay for a service for us for a while. It was the BEST GIFT EVER!)
An Amazon Prime account (Every new mom needs one of these. It’s a must have! If you want to be the new favorite, purchase one of these!)
Food (Deliver some groceries or pre-made frozen meals to their home. These are great to throw in the microwave after a long day at the hospital when you have no energy to cook. If you really want to go all out, deliver a hot meal you just cooked. My good friend’s mother has repeatedly dropped off the best chicken pot pie all cooked! It’s the best surprise- thanks Peg!)
Gift Cards (Gift cards to local delivery restaurants or places to eat near the hospital are so helpful! It’s an easy gift to purchase and goes a long way in helping to make sure the parents are eating well!)
Someone to help with our pets (My mother in law was great about taking our dog for walks or bringing him to daycare so he could get out of the house for the day. It’s tough to manage two new humans and your animals when you spend so much time in the hospital. I also felt super guilty leaving our dog home all day so this helped ease the guilt too! This is even more important if parents have other children at home while babies are in the hospital)
Help with the laundry (The laundry would build up until my husband and I were forced to do it when we got home from the hospital at night and should have been relaxing or sleeping. This would have been a godsend)
Help with snow (My husband was forced into snow removal alone because I was either pregnant or post-surgery that whole winter. It would have been great if someone could have dropped off salt or sand and helped clear a safe path to the car. My dad stepped up big time in this area and thankfully it was not a brutal New England winter that year!)
Help with baby prep (We used our “free time” to prepare our home for our babies. We built cribs, changing tables and bassinets. We put together swings and bouncy seats. We washed bottles, nipples and pacifiers. We put every piece of clothing or bedding that our baby would touch in the washing machine with Dreft. These things are all very time consuming and having some help is great (especially from experienced parents!)
Family and friends often offered to “help” but it never felt okay for me to accept with a simple offer. My suggestion to those that really want to help- don’t take no for an answer from a new mom. Show up with a frozen meal and leave it on the front steps. Offer to do very specific things like take the dog out for a walk or clean up the kitchen if you stop by. If you bought baby clothes for the new arrivals, offer to throw in a load of baby laundry so it’s all clean. Tell me you’ll be mad at me if you receive a thank you note for this gift! Bring over practical gifts, like gift cards, cleaning supplies, diapers, hand sanitizer!! Help do a little manual labor, especially for new C-section moms. It is so hard having a baby (or two) in the hospital and it is mentally draining. We need the help…even if we don’t know it yet!