Poll

In this situation, what is the right amount of contact?

Visit this weekend...unless she clearly says no.
74 (51%)
Text 1x/day
40 (27.6%)
Text 3x - 4x/week (every other day)
23 (15.9%)
Text 1x/week
4 (2.8%)
Text only in reply to her texts
4 (2.8%)

Total Members Voted: 95

Author Topic: Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?  (Read 6816 times)

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Arila

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Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?
« on: May 16, 2014, 02:59:53 PM »
3.5 weeks ago, my friend had a baby at 30 weeks (normal gestation is 42, for those of you, like me, who had to look it up). Her family is all across the country, and we are fairly close friends. Her father came out for the first week or so, and her husband had a short amount of paternity leave.

I saw her husband last Saturday and I knew he had a bad cold by the way he sounded and the dayquil he was popping. I suspected that he would be banned from the NICU. Her father's gone back home.

I have been trying to walk that fine line between being available to/interested in my friend and her new little one and giving them room and not being pushy. I have offered non-specific "Is there anything I can do?" help, as well as specific "Would you like me to make some casseroles, or let the dog out some times?" help. She has expressed several times the desire not to be a burden, or turn into one of “those” moms who bores people with her baby (thusly, why she has not been updating something I could watch passively, like Facebook). We are close enough friends that we visit each other’s houses even when they aren’t “company ready” and her husband helped mine put up our biiig xmas tree, so not just formal social acquaintances.


Last night, she told me via text that the little one had been having very scary episodes of trouble breathing, and she has been there in the NICU all alone  since her husband was too sick to be allowed near the baby. I told her she could call me at any time and I would be there and how sorry I was that she was alone for that. She said at the time that she was so emotional, she just couldn't get the words out. I feel guilty - that maybe if I had been checking in more frequently she wouldn't be initiating a request for help, but responding to an offer (which might be easier).

Have I really been doing the right thing by staying away? Should I be checking in more frequently (we talk most via txt)? What is the “right” frequency of unprompted “thinking of you” type texts?

TootsNYC

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Re: Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2014, 03:04:15 PM »
I think you haven't done anything wrong. But I also think your friend has -now- sent up a distress flare.

When you get off work today, call or text her and say, "I miss you, and I keep thinking of you and the baby, are you at the NICU, can I swing by and hang with you a minute?"

Spin it as something for your own benefit, and make a specific offer that doesn't sound like a big inconvenience for you. Feel free to lie through your teeth ("I have 45 minutes to kill..." / "I was on my way for this errand in the same neighborhood...") if you think it will make her more likely to accept the offer.

You can ask to get a general sense of when she will be at the NICU, use that info to time your offer.

amylouky

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Re: Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2014, 03:09:49 PM »
I think you haven't done anything wrong. But I also think your friend has -now- sent up a distress flare.

When you get off work today, call or text her and say, "I miss you, and I keep thinking of you and the baby, are you at the NICU, can I swing by and hang with you a minute?"

Spin it as something for your own benefit, and make a specific offer that doesn't sound like a big inconvenience for you. Feel free to lie through your teeth ("I have 45 minutes to kill..." / "I was on my way for this errand in the same neighborhood...") if you think it will make her more likely to accept the offer.

You can ask to get a general sense of when she will be at the NICU, use that info to time your offer.

POD, to all of this. Ask her what she wants for dinner, she's probably tired of hospital food. Not sure if you'll be allowed in the NICU with her or if she feels comfortable leaving, but I'd be just taking a short break to have a meal with a friend would help a lot.


cicero

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Re: Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2014, 03:12:38 PM »
I agree with toots about what has happened up till this point.

Is she in the NICU all day/night? it sounds like she really needs you now. she said to you that she was just too emotional to even make the call to you. Me - personally - if i know she is at the hospital, I would stop at the hospital when you can (whatever time you can spare - once a day, twice a day, every other day etc) and text her when you are there - "I'm in the hospital lobby. Do you want me to bring you up a coffee or some soup?"

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camlan

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Re: Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2014, 03:15:26 PM »
I don't think there is any one right or wrong thing to do in circumstances like these. I suspect both parents are so tired/worried/confused/concerned/panicked that they don't know what they need or want, either.

Would you even be allowed in the NICU? Depends on hospital policy, but I was only allowed to view my nephew through a window for his first 4 months in NICU.

Because you are good friends, maybe you can take charge a little. Make a casserole for their freezer and then call them up. "I've made a dinner for your freezer. What night this week would be good for me to stop by and drop it off?"

Or since her husband can't visit the baby right now, call him and invite him over for dinner tonight. Send him home with a casserole.

Maybe make plans to meet your friend at the hospital and take her for a cup of coffee. She's probably not willing to leave the hospital during the day, but many hospitals now have small coffee shops where the two of you can chat, but she can be reached in case of an emergency. But again, you take the initiative. "Friend, I'm free Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons this week. Which one is best for me to stop by the hospital and take you for a cup of coffee/high tea? Or I could bring subs/ice cream/burgers in for you. I need to see you to make sure you are okay."

And during that chat, tell her exactly what you've told us here. You want to help, but you don't want to overstep. She should feel free to ask for help; you want to help in any way you can.

And there are little things you can do. Send a "thinking of you card." See if the hospital coffee shop has gift certificates and get her one.

Bottom line, I think you are handling the situation well. When your friend really needed to talk, she was comfortable texting you and telling you her fears and concerns. She knows you are there for her. She's just having a hard time dealing with all that is going on--she probably doesn't know from hour to hour what she needs or wants.

And very gentle hugs to her and the baby.

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


TootsNYC

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Re: Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2014, 03:31:46 PM »

Would you even be allowed in the NICU? Depends on hospital policy, but I was only allowed to view my nephew through a window for his first 4 months in NICU.



Might be true, but you can take her to the waiting room or lobby and be with her a little.

turnip

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Re: Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2014, 03:33:41 PM »
I'd be specific about offers to bring things.  Food - sandwiches or something she can eat easily near the NICU.  Water bottles - it's always a struggle to get just a cup of water at a hospital.  Chargers for phones or electronics.    Extra clothes or toiletries.   A good book.  For a close friend of mine I might try to have a daily visit/drop  off:  "Hey, I'd like to come by - what would you like me to bring?"

Next time she says she doesn't want to be one of "those" mothers tell her she's not, she's your friend.   Sometimes people get really wrapped up in this 'image' they have of themselves and it keeps them from asking for what they need.  She can be as much as one of 'those' mother's as she wants to be...

I've had 2 kids in the NICU - I can't remember if 'outsiders' were let in, probably not.  But they didn't let parents stay 24/7 either - first it's not good for a new mom, second - they kick everyone out while doing the 'rounds' for privacy so parents won't hear discussions of other babies situations.  So she is probably able to leave but she's probably trying to keep it to a minimum.  Follow her lead - but offers of taking her out somewhere nearby, even just the hospital cafeteria, may be welcome.

She may or may not want to talk - I tend to clam up when upset personally, so I don't think you need to push her. 

JenJay

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Re: Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2014, 04:19:00 PM »
If she's anything like me, "Let me know if I can do anything" won't get you anywhere because she'll think "Man she's so sweet to offer, but I don't want to burdon her." Whereas if you say "I want to come and see you! Is now a good time?" you'll either get "Yes! I'd love that!!" or "Now doesn't work, but I'd like that too. Can you come later/tomorrow?"

Arila

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Re: Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2014, 04:34:39 PM »
Guys I am so relieved - I am almost crying -  that I don't have to keep holding back so much (not that I'm going to go gush over her like a freight train, but let go a little bit) I wanted to badly to just. go. but was making myself not do it, and it didn't feel right.

Thanks also for the ideas about seeing if there's a gift card or some way to make all her hours there easier. I will investigate what things are like for moms who are not patients.

We used to see them frequently on Friday nights. I will ask if I can bring dinner tonight and visit a little.

m2kbug

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Re: Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2014, 05:02:08 PM »
You can only do what she makes known.  You could stop by the hospital by yourself, she'll probably be there.  I'm assuming she has been discharged at this point, but if she's still hospitalized, you can pop to her room first.  I don't know that they'll let you in the NICU without mother or father, but if she's there, you probably can get in, or at least talk to her personally and get on your way so she can get back to the baby.  She might appreciate a trip to the cafeteria.  I think you have expressed much ability and willingness to help out.  You might have to be a little more forceful and then quickly remove yourself if her body cues suggest she would rather be alone.  You could be more specific.  "I'm stopping to get some lunch, I would like to bring you something, have you eaten?"  "I would like to stop by and see you and the baby, what time is best?"  Just follow her lead, but I think you're really putting yourself out there enough.  I was hospitalized and on one hand it would have been nice to have a few more visitors, on the other hand, people have busy lives and I didn't want to be a burden (or a bigger burden) and I really didn't want to have to "entertain"and was fine with being alone.  Children were forbidden from the hospital and I wasn't supposed to leave my room/floor, so that was really hard with my kids (and yes, I broke the rules and met them outside).  She may not know what she wants.  You can take the lead and see where it goes and not stay long, leave quickly, stick longer if it feels right and she's happy with it.  It's a bit touchy-feely because you don't know if she's politely declining visitors and assistance or if she's just trying not to be a burden and putting you out but could really use an extra someone sometimes.  I think you are doing fine.  You are making herself available.  You can also talk with her husband.  Do you need me to stop by and feed/walk the dog? 


Roe

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Re: Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2014, 05:33:45 PM »
She needs you. She won't ask as she doesn't want to be a burden but SHE NEEDS YOU.

I had a child in NICU and I'm not the type of person to ask for help but I'd gladly accepted if it was offered. Only problem was that people would offer help in such a passive way "call me if you need me." I still remember my ex-stepmom with gratitude for taking the initiative in bringing us food so I wouldn't have to cook. I never had to ask.


TootsNYC

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Re: Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2014, 05:42:10 PM »
from your OP:
Quote
I told her she could call me at any time and I would be there and how sorry I was that she was alone for that. She said at the time that she was so emotional, she just couldn't get the words out.

I had a thought. Maybe give her a code word that she could text you with, or call and say. Something slightly silly, maybe. It might make her feel less as though she's actually asking. Or, that she's not making a fresh request, she's activating an existing "protocol" or something.
  The arrangement is made, she only has to turn it on; no need to explain anything when she can't speak, etc.

Like, the deal is she'll call you and say, "Milky Way," and you'll arrive with a Milky Way candy bar in hand, and your company. Whatever her comfort food is, maybe.

Or some other sort of thing.

Seven Ate Nine

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Re: Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2014, 05:44:33 PM »
If she has been spending most of her waking hours at the hospital, I'd definitely go with an offer of food.  Even if you don't make it, call her up and offer a few choices of fast casual places that you can pick up (skip McDonalds, but maybe sandwiches or something).  A friend recently had her children in the NICU, but she also spent quite a lot of time in the hospital before they were born.  She told me that the food was good, but the menu was very limited so she was very bored of it.  I noticed that at the hospital that I delivered at as well, and the cafeteria menu was as limited as the in room menu.  You just don't notice when you're only in for a few days or a week.

As to your poll, I would send a text at least daily for a few days and see how she responds.  Ask about baby, and ask about your friend.  If she doesn't respond or takes hours to text back "ok" then she's probably busy and you can step back, but she may need the support that a simple conversation can bring.  If the texts really start flying, don't feel the need to focus on topics of baby and hospital.  Sometimes it's nice to talk about other things.

greencat

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Re: Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2014, 06:00:56 PM »
I would definitely suggest visiting her - ask her when is the best time, but it sounds like she needs and wants the company, especially since her DH is ill.

I would also suggest telling her, since it seems to be the case that you want to hear more about the baby: "I'd love to get pictures and status updates.  I'm sure some people appreciate that you aren't blanketing your feed with baby posts, but I'm sure you must be just bursting with wanting to talk about the baby and I'm happy to listen!"

bopper

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Re: Am I REALLY supposed to leave her all alone?
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2014, 06:15:07 PM »
I think she is hinting for a visit.   You are making her ask YOU...You should ask her!

"Can I sit with you in the NICU? When won't your DH be there?"