Today CCEF.org features a guest blog writer, CCEF student Jennifer Fountain. Here she shares wise ways to care for those who have a child in the hospital.
You get word that your friend just had a baby. But mixed in with the excitement and rejoicing is trepidation and concern: the sweet baby was born prematurely. You want to help and be a blessing, but what can you do? With all the tubes, wires, doctors and medical terminology, sometimes caring for couples with a baby born prematurely or in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can be quite daunting. My husband and I know because we were on the receiving end of others’ care when we delivered our triplets last year.
Our babies were born at 32 weeks, 8 weeks premature, and spent 30 days in the NICU learning to feed and grow. During this time, we practically lived in the NICU. And though we were overjoyed to finally meet and love on our babies, we discovered life was nothing like we had anticipated. It was a whirlwind of emotions—both crushing and exhilarating. It was a daily, and sometimes hourly, fight to trust God and keep perspective. We were consumed with being near our babies and learning to care for them. This meant that a lot of things fell by the wayside. And this is where our church friends and family stepped in! Everyone wanted to help, visit, and know what they could do to ease our burdens. Here are some of the many helpful ways we were served, as well as ideas others have shared with us:
- Give gift cards to restaurants near the hospital. (We received gift cards from an anonymous friend every two weeks for months! This was especially helpful since we ate out lunch and dinner every day for the month they were in the hospital.)
- Drop off a hot meal or a freezer meal for the rare night they are home.
- Give them a “normal” night out with movie tickets.
- Clean the house.
- Offer to do laundry.
- Drop off fruit, snacks, and water bottles to take to the hospital.
- Offer rides to and from the hospital—without expecting a conversation or to see the baby.
- Coordinate a prayer team. Get a list of prayer requests from a close family member and ask people to commit to praying for specific items or specific days, then share with the couple so they can see how the body of Christ is lifting them up in prayer.
- Give gas gift cards (hospitals are sometimes far from home).
- Provide childcare for older children, or rides to and from school and activities.
- Help finish the nursery for the baby’s homecoming.
- Take care of yard work.
- Coordinate pet care.
- Help connect them with parents online for help, encouragement, ideas and support (like the Grahams Foundation).
- Check to make sure they’re receiving pastoral care.
- Provide a notebook or a journal to write memories and prayers.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. There are many creative ways to provide loving care and counsel for families. How have you been loved well in times of need?