Preparing for a new baby can be stressful. Between all of the “Must Have” lists and unsolicited advice, it can be absolutely overwhelming to figure out how to best get ready for a new arrival. Despite all of this, I truly felt that I was prepared as I entered my last trimester. All of my baby gear was transferred from the attic to the nursery. I had a few showers to stock up on diapers, clothes, and bibs. Heck, my hospital bag was even packed early. But I completely underestimated the stress of leaving my daughter at home while I went to the hospital.
I admit, my situation was not the norm. I was battling severe preeclampsia for the second time. Most women go to the hospital, birth a healthy baby, and return home 2-3 days later. For my second birth, I spent a total of ten days in the hospital, and I wasn’t able to properly prepare our family ahead of time. I was barely able to kiss my daughter goodbye as I walked out the door, headed for the Antepartum Unit. While she was able to visit me a few times, this was the longest stretch of time we’d ever been apart. Add in her anxiety over my health and my ever increasing blood pressure, and we were both pretty stressed.
Here’s how we handled it…
Obviously, it wouldn’t be appropriate to explain to my 4 year old the ins and outs of severe preeclampsia. That would only add to her concerns. But we explained to her that sometimes mommies have to go to the hospital for a little while before they have a baby. This was a reason she could understand. We shared the explanation with our close family members and her teachers, so everyone was on the same page.
Early on in my bed rest stint, we agreed to keep our daughter on her normal routine. Once I was hospitalized, my mom stayed with me. This allowed my husband to maintain the usual daycare, bath time, and bedtime routines, and keep some form of stability in our daughter’s life.
Technology was a godsend during my hospital stay. We incorporated a FaceTime call during bedtime every night. I was able to participate in prayers, a bedtime story, and hear about my daughter’s day before she fell asleep. This also helped to comfort her and know that momma was okay.
The transition from one child to two took a little more coordination in our family than most. But we made it through my bed rest, a NICU stay, and now having two children at home. It took a little while to adjust to our normal family dynamic, but I would say we’re even stronger now.