Today marks World Mental Health Day and at some point, during our life, we all suffer from some sort of mental health issue. 3 weeks after the birth of Charley in 2015 she became critically ill and we spent 10 days in the hospital praying we would walk back out the door with her. It was an extremely hard being in hospital but it was only once we were back home that the effects of those 10 days and the realisation we nearly lost our baby hit me. It’s taken me over 2 years to write this post as it draws me back to the very dark place #Postnataldepression once had me held in. Like any type of depression or illness you can never truly say you are rid of it just you are a #Suvivour and hope that by talking about it you could help someone else in your position. I want to put a positive spin on today so this post is for any parent like me who searched for what to do during the endless hours of not knowing in hospital.
HOW TO COPE WHEN YOUR CHILDS IN HOSPITAL
We all pray that our child will never have to go into hospital. We hope they will go through childhood with the need for no more than an occasional plaster, but when it does happen and God Forbid you are facing some very dark hours, I want to give you some practical advice. Two years ago my 3-week old daughter Charley-Rose turned purple and stopped breathing. She was rushed to the hospital where over the next 24 hours she rapidly declined and was put into critical care. She had more tubes coming out of her tiny arms than she had veins and her face was fully covered by breathing apparatus. Charley was diagnosed with Bronchiolitis and the excess mucus caused by the infection not only blocked her airways it caused one of her lung to collapse. We where told we had a very sick baby and the next 24 – 48 hours were critical. This was my ‘ dark hours’, sitting next to a baby that had barely been out of my stomach more than a couple of weeks and being completely helpless to what was going to happen. I sat for hours on the internet looking for comfort from parents who had been through what I was now going through but sadly all I could find were horror stories. My story has a happy ending as thanks to a NeoNatal Specialist who happened to be covering another doctor Charley was put onto some specialist breathing equipment designed for premature babies and given a strong steroid that helped clear her airways, within 24 hours she was fighting the infection and happily after 10 days of hell she was able to breathe on her own again. I now have a very healthy, happy 2-year old causing havoc around the house. My hope is that if you are reading this and have a child in the hospital then I can offer you some hope and practical advice to get through the day. I have enlisted the help of a few other parents to give their first hand advise as well.
- Drink as much fluid as possible and eat small frequent meals. This is not the time to diet and if you can manage 6 chocolate biscuits and 4 cups of tea during the morning then do it as you need to keep your energy up.
- If like Charley your child is put on nill by mouth but you would normally breastfeed tell the hospital straight away and they will provide you with a breast pump to express and a fridge to store your milk in.
- Don’t worry about getting in the way of the Doctors & Nurses. At every change of staff, i introduced myself and stood next to them as they talked about Charley’s progress.
- Wear clean clothes every day. This may sound strange and probably the last thing you will think of but a pair of fresh knickers and some comfy pants made the hours of sitting there a bit more bearable.
- Have a wash. I couldn’t leave Charley so refused to go have a shower but a flannel wash and brushing my teeth in the sink next to her bed was a happy medium
- Get someone to bring you in some breakfast bars or biscuits. There were several nights I woke up and couldn’t sleep and felt sick with hunger.
- Take some vitamins. Lack of sleep+lack of decent food can make you feel very run down and you do not need to fall ill.
- DO NOT, I Repeat DO NOT listen to other mums on the ward who offer you advice. They are not medical professionals and their opinions can cause more harm to you than good.
- Let people come and visit. I tried to be brave and cope with just me & hubby at the hospital but my time would have been so much easier if I had allowed my mum to help support me.
- Keep positive.Don’t let the dark thoughts take over. Even when it looks like the worst it only takes 1 act of fate ( like a stand-in DR ) to change things.
- If you feel like the effects of the stay in the hospital have left you with anxiety then speak to your doctor, your health visitor, your friends. Speak to anyone that will listen as the more you speak about it the more help you can get.
- Always ask for a second opinion if you are not sure the right decision has been made. My daughter was nearly discharged when she had pneumonia in both lungs. We were told it was a mild chest infection. Luckily, a second doctor had a look at the x-rays and told us it was more serious than the first doctor had said and she stayed under observation in hospital for a few days – Bek
- I think the biggest thing is to be there for each other, having someone to cry to and worry with. Someone else who is totally on your team – Victoria
- My daughter has been in the hospital so many times since she was one year old. Sometimes in high dependency all due to the hospital not listening to me. You need to be strong for your child, it’s hard and I broke down a few times but if you know you are in for a while try to make it homely, bring blankets and maybe your own cup. It all makes a difference. – Rebecca
- I would also say to take each day as it comes especially if your child is intensive care as it can be quite a rollercoaster. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and even though it may feel like you can do very little for your child, just being there and letting them know that is important in itself. Don’t be afraid to accept help from friends. We had some lovely friends bring us food and it made such a difference! – Louise
- Earplugs. It’s so hard to sleep at night with all the noise! I’ve been with nearly all of my children in a hospital and spent more than my fair share there. There’s nothing really that helps but if your friends and family are supportive and can bring in snacks, money and reading material that helps, and someone to take over – Jenny
If you feel like you are suffering from any type of mental health issues whatever the cause maybe then contact your doctor or health professional or if you want to talk to someone confidentially then get in contact with MIND – The Mental Health Charity – www.mind.org.uk