My sister-in-law just gave birth at 24 weeks to twins. How can we be helpful and supportive from across the country? What can we send that might be helpful? Are there any sentiments that can be unintentionally hurtful?
Would like advice from moms with micro preemies
This thread has some useful information in it-- http://www.mothering.com/community/t/591876/what-we-wish-our-family-and-friends-knew-about-having-a-preemie-nicu-sick-infant
The thing that I hated most was being asked when my preemie was coming home. I was asked hundreds of times. Believe me... if I knew when he was coming home I would have been shouting it from the rooftops. Every time I was asked it reminded me that it was going to be a long time before I brought my baby home.
As far as being supportive from a distance.. I would have LOVED if someone would have gotten me a gift for my baby. I felt like no one wanted to give us anything because they weren't sure if he was going to survive. There are several people on etsy.com who sell micro preemie hats. Find out the rules at their NICU though first. Some are allowed to bring clothing in and some aren't. Gift cards to the hospital coffee shop or nearby restaurants would have been nice too. We pretty much shut down during the NICU stay and didn't do normal things like grocery shop or cook for ourselves.
Thanks for the reply. I read through the thread you suggested and it really was very helpful. We have a better idea of *how* to be careful and *what* not to say. I would love to give her babies gifts, but the situation has become more complicated. Sadly, one of the babies passed
Should I make one gift or two? Would including the angel baby in gift giving honor his memory or trigger trauma for the parents? By giving only one gift to the baby in nicu, would it feel like we have forgotten his brother? Is it better for us to just do nothing and stay away? Or would that be hurtful too?
I know it's a really delicate situation, and we just want to do the right thing by her. I really would appreciate any advice from anyone who has "been there".
How very hard for them :( I think it would be nice if you sent two gifts. I am sure they will have some sort of keepsake or memory box full of all the things from their son's hospital stay. I'm not sure what kind of gifts you were planning on making, but I think if I were this mama I would like to have something other than medical stuff in my keepsake box.
I'm so sorry to hear about your family's loss.
Absolutely give a gift to the twin that passed. I know with twins people often give 2 of something- this might be a better situation to give 2 different-but-equal gifts. Maybe a stuffed animal type toy for the one who passed and an outfit for the other. Or a mix CD (do people listen to CDs anymore?), one for each twin, each a little different. And I would agree for gifts for the parents: gas cards, VISA gift card, or maybe a box full of easy to eat snacks like nuts, granola, dried fruit, and a little bit of chocolate. Also, a nice cotton bathrobe is always a good gift because it's perfect for skin to skin and for when baby comes home and you never make it to getting dressed.
Would including the angel baby in gift giving honor his memory or trigger trauma for the parents? By giving only one gift to the baby in nicu, would it feel like we have forgotten his brother? Is it better for us to just do nothing and stay away? Or would that be hurtful too?
I had 24-week twin boys. They're 16 now. I'm so sorry to hear one of your nephews didn't survive.
I cannot say for sure how I'd feel about losing a baby, although I had many occasions to think about it. I do know how much it hurt when mine were in the hospital and all the friends who had been so excited during my pregnancy just seemed to vanish, when I most wanted to feel I wasn't alone. And I didn't have jerky friends. Really. I understood later that they just didn't have any idea what to say and were afraid of making it worse. On top of it, the babies' father and our parents all had very different, personal reactions to the stress of having such sick babies and worrying if they might die. We weren't much help to each other, so it would've been doubly nice to have someone outside that innermost circle, to just be with me.
So, absolutely don't "do nothing and stay away". Visit if you can. Don't make your sister host you in her home right now, but it'd be nice to go to the hospital with her and see her children. Take her to lunch or go on a walk. At least call, every few days, for a while. Maybe she'll just want to be quiet and listen to you chatter. Or she may want to share all the details. After all, medicines, treatments, technology and statistics are probably the biggest things on her mind, right now. Ask about both babies - so she knows it's OK to talk to you about them. But beyond that, don't feel responsible to decide what she should talk about. There's not a right or wrong, here. Follow her lead.
Try as hard as you can not to give her platitudes. If she is spouting her own platitudes (which some people certainly find comforting), then by all means agree with her, however ridiculous it sounds. She's grieving. But I really hated hearing trite, pretty, oversimplified things that were somehow supposed to make me feel better, when I was in the middle of a complex, scary situation. My children might die and if they lived, they might have serious disabilities I wasn't sure I'd be capable of dealing with. A sweet little saying just seemed so silly, in the face of that, even though I knew people meant well.
You might tell her you know there aren't any magic words to make things easier, but you care and want to be there for her. And if she is really discouraged, you need to assure her she'll be able to handle whatever she must deal with. She doesn't have any choice and besides, she's strong. If she doesn't think so, those of you who love her will be there to help her, until she realizes it.
If you're making a gift (like a blanket), you should make one for each baby. There is no reason to fear bringing up painful thoughts. She is thinking about him anyway. Let her know she's not alone in that - you thought of him, too. He meant something to other people in the world, however brief his life.