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If You Must: Caring for Yourself When Baby Needs Extra Care
In my last post, one of the things I mentioned was important to making the baby more comfortable in the hospital was taking care of myself. If I am worn out or overwhelmed, it’s much harder to tend to Elvie’s needs. In the hospital, with people coming in and out of the room at all hours, with procedures happening sometimes at a moment’s notice, it’s tough to keep a clear head. What follows are seven strategies I use to stay sane during my baby’s hospital stay so I can do a better job taking care of her.
Rest when you can. Sometimes when we are having a slow day or a slow moment at the hospital, I feel like I should be accomplishing things. I think it’s pretty normal to have a little stress surrounding how things that normally get done on my watch are getting done while I am staying with Elvie, but it is important that I use the energy I have to focus on Elvie’s needs. I do my best to find moments to just be restful.
Do things that are not baby or medical related. This can be part of how I rest. If I don’t particularly feel like dozing off and potentially being awakened by medical staff, I make a point to do something that is unrelated to hospital life or Elvie’s care. Sometimes this means I read something funny on the internet. Sometimes I flip through a glossy magazine. Other times I might browse my favorite clothing sites online, for me, not for the kids. It give my mind a little break.
Get outside! Because we live close enough that I can go home and shower each evening, I have a built in time to get outside. But if you have to stay at the hospital, this can be as simple as just crossing the street to get a cup of coffee instead of going to the hospital cafeteria. Some days I need to do a small outing in addition to my usual trip home to shower. If the day is particularly stressful, simply stepping outside can lower my stress level considerably. The photo above is of the view behind the nearest coffee shop; I can get coffee and this refreshing view all at the same place.
Don’t stress about keeping up with the things you normally do. This is easier said than done, and runs the gamut from replying to emails in a timely manner to eating well. It’s okay to let things go. For me, letting go of being conscientious about what I eat has been a huge help. I normally avoid certain foods in order to avoid adult acne, but I gave myself permission to just eat what sounds good, and it’s been awesome. I know I will get back to my normal ways when the hospital stay is over, so I don’t need to worry about it now.
Get a good night’s sleep once a week. On Saturdays, Jarod takes Zinashi to soccer and then brings her back to the hospital, after which I take her home and get to sleep all night long in my own bed. I go back to the hospital feeling refreshed. This can be challenging for single parents, but if you trust the staff of the hospital or there’s someone else you trust to stay with your child just once a week, I highly recommend recharging in this way.
Treat yourself. Having a baby in the hospital can be expensive, but there’s nothing wrong with doing something small to reward yourself for a job well done. I’m personally a fan of the pudding parfaits in the hospital cafeteria, eaten slowly and with great satisfaction, but I also like picking up a new lip balm or some nice smelling lotion when I’m out on other errands. It’s good to remember that even though the focus in mainly on baby’s healing, taking care of myself is important, too.
How do you take care of yourself when your baby needs extra care?