This will be our third hospital admission; our last stay went from an estimate of 10 days to an actual stay of 10 weeks. We haven't bothered asking how long we can expect to there for this time because we know damn well that Martha Grace will be there for however long she
Packing for what has the potential to become a long term hospital stay isn't easy, but I've been thinking about the things I missed the most last time and the things that we said "next time, we have to make sure we have "X, Y and Z"
Some of these might be obvious, some of them might be things you assumed the Hospital would provide, there might be things in my list that you didn't even think of. You might read this and think that I've forgotten something, if so - please please get in touch.
Full size toiletries. Don't worry about how much space they take up in your case, I promise it's much easier to carry a bigger suitcase to the Hospital that what it will be to leave your child in the Hospital while you go in search of a shop that you can pick up replacements from. Though if you are at Great Ormond Street there isa Tesco, a Waitrose and Superdrugs within a 10 minute walk from the Hospital.
Martha Grace has been drinking the morning and evening bottle using a straw for about 6 months now. It's going to be quite difficult to get her to drink when she's extubated because I know the ventilator tubes would have made the throat sore. We've bought her a pretty pink cup with a straw attached and hope that the novelty of a new cup will encourage her to drink. We'll be taking straws too incase she doesn't like the cup.
It was a cold and miserable winter during our last admission, we'd leave the Hospital very late at night and when we arrived at the accommodation both me and Mam would always say that we'd love a panad. This time we're taking these flask mugs with us to make a panad in the parents room before heading back to the accommodation.
Martha Grace sleeps with this Musical Seahorse to this day, we bought it just before taking her to London in November 2013. To me, this is the soundtrack to our time at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Whenever Martha became restless or agitated and we wanted to soothe her to sleep (when we couldn't hold her) we would switch this on and the music would calm her down. We play it for her now if she wakes up during the night so there is no way we're leaving home without it.
This little pink Teddy is our lucky charm. It's a teddy we bought our baby while I was pregnant and is now adorned with Guardian Angels, Rosary Beads and Grandads Holy Communion pin. Teddy has been in the operating theatre with Martha for every Operation, he even went with Grandad for surgery a few months ago. He is coming with us again to watch over her.
The early days in Intensive Care are long and boring, I've said before that with the constant beeping of alarms I can't sit at her bedspace for too long because it drives me mad. We have books. magazines and puzzles to distract us and help pass the time while there is very little we can do for Martha Grace.
This tablet will be my blogging device, my e-mails to work, my e-reader, my link to the outside world via social media. But it will also be my distraction tool for Martha, we'll get YouTube on and play some Taylor Swift songs and hopefully it will give the Nurses enough time to do their obs before Martha realises what's going on.
For the first few days post-op, we know Martha will only be able to wear a nappy. Once she's back on the ward and she's lost her chest drains and her central lines she'll be able to start wearing clothes. But to make it easier to the team to do their obs and for them to be able to have easier access to Martha's chest area - we're taking Babygrows for her (if your child is older I would still recommend taking button down PJ's for ease of access) We were made up to find this set at John Lewis a few weeks ago, she had this exact pattern in 3-6 months size during her previous admission, we're so happy that she will have them again for this op. We're taking 12 babygrows in total (we'll wash while we're there) because she'll be sick, or she'll get blood on them (anything can happen) so I'd take at least that many.
And a few other things...
If you're being offered Hospital Accommodation take a hairdryer. They are not Hotel's so they don't provide them. There is nothing worse that having a shower at the end of a really long day and not being able to dry your hair before bed, or that your hair is still wet at bedtime even though you washed it first thing (I learnt this the hard way)
You will wash your hands countless times a day; every time you enter and exit the ward, every time you want to touch your child, anytime you touch anything that then might need to be used for your child (as well as the standard times of before and after eating and when going to the toilet) The hand sanitizer will dry your hands out too, so take hand cream with you. Thank me later.
Take two sets of PJ's for you, while one is in the wash you still have a set that you can wear to bed.
Remember to call your mobile phone service provider. You will me making a lot more phone calls and sending a lot more texts to family and friends with updates on your child's recovery, you need to make sure that your contract will cover that or increase your allowance to avoid a nasty surprise bill.