When to send the baby gift?
June 11, 2012 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Question about giving baby gifts in a difficult situation.

A good friend is pregnant, with a very-much wanted baby boy. This couple has struggled with infertility and miscarriages, and so the fact that this baby seemed to be progressing right along was incredibly welcome news. At some point in her pregnancy, the baby was diagnosed with a heart defect; it is my understanding that he will need surgery within 24 hours of birth, and then again later; if the first surgery is sucessful, he'll have a very positive outlook, but there is a 60/40 chance it will be successful.

However, her water broke early, and she has been in the hospital for some time. She has reached the point where a healthy baby would probably be fine; they are working on keeping him in utero a few more weeks.

She missed her baby shower because she was in the hospital. I just checked the registry; almost everything is still on it.

what's the protocol here? Should I send a gift? Wait until the baby is born? I mean, they'll need at least a few things when he gets home. I feel like they are being in some sense robbed of their excitement, so I want to send something and say "we're excited for you..... we are praying for you..." I'm at a loss.

If there's other ways to show support, I'm open to ideas - unfortunately she is in a hospital on the west coast, and I'm in the midwest. so just visiting isn't an option.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (19 answers total)
For the time being, a card saying precisely that -- that you're excited and praying for them -- would be lovely. I'd get a gift and just save it at the readiness your own self until you know more; then when you get the news that the baby's okay and everyone's fine, then you can send it to them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:18 AM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

If the chance is that high the necessary surgery would result in a negative outcome then I worry that the gifts waiting for them when they come home from the hospital would be too sad in that circumstance? I totally get what you're saying here - she didn't get to have her shower or any excitement over a "normal" pregnancy/birth however, and that is sad as well.

If she's been in the hospital for some time and will be there for more time - a few weeks of bed rest - you can show support by sending her a cheerful care package, perhaps, to ease her time in the hospital? You can include something about how you're excited for her & hoping all goes well.
posted by flex at 8:21 AM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]

This is really hard - in your situation I would probably check out the infertility sites or see if there is a site that deals with the heart defect and ask this question to those who have been there done that, they would probably have great insight. I also agree with EmpressCalipygos - it is always nice to let people know you are thinking of them.
posted by cestmoi15 at 8:22 AM on June 11, 2012

I agree that a card saying how much you love and support her and look forward to meeting her little one would be wonderful. Considering something like a care package for the hospital now, and maybe some gift cards/offers of help once the baby does arrive. The family is going to need help with meals, taking care of their house, transportation, etc. so help with planning a meal delivery service with friends, chipping in for a cleaning and/or yard service or something along those lines would be so helpful. Once the little guy is here, a small gift from the registry would be great.
posted by goggie at 8:25 AM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Can you hold off on getting them something usable by the baby (baby clothes, a stroller, a box of diapers, whatever you were thinking of) until closer to delivery? You might end up paying overnight freight charges, but it might be a good idea to wait until it's more certain when the little guy will be brought home. For now, it's moral support they need; send cards and notes, and perhaps pre-paid phone cards. And call her yourself!

Worst case fears: alternatively to waiting to order in a couple weeks, do you have a another friend who lives near them who would be willing to hold onto whatever you order from that registry --- heaven forbid it happens, but consider how the parents would feel if the worst happens and they have to clean out a nursery full of shiny unused baby gifts. (I had to step in and help a friend through just this, it was awful.) If you do have a another friend hold a gift, by the way, say it's just to take delivery worries off thier hands.
posted by easily confused at 8:35 AM on June 11, 2012

after the baby is born healthy and everything is good- then tell her that since she was in the hospital, you guys rescheduled the baby shower until when she could be part of the excitement! then everyone get together and give her the gifts

this way she won't feel sad that there are no gifts right when she comes home
posted by saraindc at 8:37 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Don't worry about the gifts. All people need when the baby is born is a carseat, some onesies, and some diapers. Anything else can be sent well after the baby is born, healthy, and everything is going well.

(Baby shower gifts seem to have gravitated, at least in my circles, to "fun" stuff or stuff that people really liked themselves, but parents do the vast majority of purchases of the important stuff.)

In the meantime, send a nice card or email that you're thinking of her.
posted by k8t at 9:00 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I had a friend who went through a very similar situation last year (only they were not able to keep her from going into labor) ... her baby was born really early, 25 weeks if I recall, and also had a heart problem and needed surgeries and so on. It was very touch-and-go.

My advice is to WAIT until you know the baby will survive. Even if the baby makes it to full-term-ish and then has the surgery and everything goes perfectly, the baby will have to stay at the hospital for enough days for you to get something shipped from the registry to their house. Pre-term and special-needs babies are also just that -- special needs. A lot of their IMMEDIATE needs will be filled by the hospital, with things that their particular baby needs for his medical concerns. Normal baby stuff from the registry -- burp clothes, sheets, clothes 3 months and larger -- can get there a few days after baby gets home with no big concern.

"I feel like they are being in some sense robbed of their excitement"

This is a little bit true, but they are so 100% focused on the health of the baby right now that they are not even thinking about it. For my friend, the vast expressions of community joy when their child survived and thrived more than made up for anything they "lost" by everyone holding their breath and praying during the last stages of the pregnancy and right after birth. Joy and celebration was TOO HARD for my friend right then; they were holding their lives together by, well, not letting their emotions get too big. After the baby was fine, THAT was the time for ridiculous quantities of joy and gift-giving and partying. (And any lack of baby shower/immediate birth funness was made up for at a huge blow-out first birthday party for the baby that was an awful lot about all of their friends being able to celebrate the baby without any of the fear hanging over everyone.)

Anyway, a card would be great. A small token when the baby is born would also probably be appreciated, but nothing too expensive or major. Save the big present for either when the baby comes home, or, God forbid, to make a memorial donation.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:02 AM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]

This is no doubt a sad and confusing time for your friend. Does she have an iPad/laptop? It might be fun and distracting to organize some games for you to play together online -- Words With Friends and Draw Something are a lowkey ways to "visit" when you are half a continent away.

If your friend is more of a gamer, she might even like forming a party with you in World of Warcraft or Diablo, though I don't know if that's bordering on inappropriate.
posted by apparently at 9:02 AM on June 11, 2012

I'm in agreement an actual gift for the Baby would be a bit much in this circumstance.

Once I ordered a plastic bucket of junk food for a friend who was feeling down. I'm thinking junk food might not be what the doctor ordered, but maybe a beautiful fruit basket or an edible arrangement might make things easier.

I'd also email her everyday just to check in. Keep your messages light and breezy, and remember to tell her that her family is in your prayers. Call if you can, but talking to people over and over about the same damn, depressing thing can be a hassle.

Send diffferent things periodically, trashy magazines, balloons, a flower, something to brighten her day.

It sucks that your friend can't have the baby-excitement others have, but think of the celebrations when the baby is born and back to health.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:09 AM on June 11, 2012

If there is any chance of losing the baby then for goodness sake do not send any baby stuff.

The best thing you can do right now is send something which shows your love and support for your friend and her baby. They are both going to have an absolutely terrible time fairly soon, they'll need all the love you can give them.

Save the celebrations just for now.
posted by BadMiker at 9:10 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Having come home from losing my baby to an incredibly huge whack of beautiful, thoughtful presents...please do wait to give the gift until the baby is home, if you are buying "normal baby" gear. It was months before I could pack it up. While every thing was intended with love of course (and no one, including us, knew we would have an issue) each item was crushing. Also it sounds like the baby is going to be in the NICU, so you will have lots of time to ship stuff.

In between a gift to the mother - media for consumption in hospital, meals, food, etc. - would be totally lovely.

If you want to try for something immediate, they do make hospital-friendly preemie gear like this, but I would definitely wait both to see the size and for after the surgery. Sometimes that kind of thing - hospital wear - is best from the family that's most in the know about the parents' frame of mind, but it is an option.
posted by Zen_warrior at 9:20 AM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

You might consider sending mom flowers, or lotion and soaps while she is in the hospital. Also a quilt ot blanket that mom could use now but that might also be useful for baby.

I think you could still have a big celebration if the baby is okay. Frame it as a meet the new baby party. Maybe 3 or so months after the baby has been born? Baby and mom will probably nerd extra recovery time but that's no reason not to have a party.
posted by MadMadam at 9:49 AM on June 11, 2012

Zen_warrior, I am so sorry for your loss.

I had a friend in a similar situation to the OP's friend, and I chose to wait until the baby was well enough to come home, just in case, because I had been with another friend as she packed up a nursery and toys she wouldn't be needing and I didn't want to be part of that sorrow for anyone else.

Gifts and cards to the prospective mother seem like much less of a potential sadness bomb.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:11 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about a gift card for dinner, some place that delivers? Maybe a few sessions from a housecleaning service?

These inside the card telling them all the great things you feel for them.
posted by TooFewShoes at 10:48 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Since she's in the hospital, can you find a way to do our favorite gesture -- providing a meal -- for the husband who's at home?

Holding off on gifts is OK: it saves taking back a lot of wrong stuff (like dresses when they have a boy), or duplicates, or things they don't want.

IIWY I would send a thoughtful card, some treats, and definitely hold off on any gift.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:33 PM on June 11, 2012

Can you visit the hospital? Hospital food can be pretty bad, so a basket of fresh fruit, all washed and ready to eat, would be healthy and thoughtful. Flowers are nice, maybe some new music or videos; if she has to be on bedrest, it gets boring and cabin-fever-ish.

The relief of a healthy baby will more than make up for not having a shower, or whatever. No matter what your concerns are, be positive, and listen a lot. A friend remembers me as the one person who said "It will be okay" even though I thought it might not be; there's no upside to pessimism in this. Unless either parent needs to discuss their worst fears. That's why listening is key. If the baby has surgery, will it be local, or in a different hospital? If they have to travel, the gift options expand.

If you know what you want to get for the baby, it's pretty easy to get it at the last minute. If several people want to pitch in on a gift like a stroller, you could all give $$ to one person who'd be ready to purchase it and deliver asap or even buy stuff, and have it ready, just not take it to them. It's the idea of coming home, without a baby, to tiny baby items, that is so awful. Even now, baby shoes give me a surge of what is likely oxytocin, and I can imagine the pain.

I hope it works out for them.
posted by theora55 at 2:19 PM on June 11, 2012

Call her regularly. Email her chatty newsy emails about things, or just short little notes, whatever she prefers. If she's in the hospital, she's probably alternating between bored out of her head and terrified. Regular caring contact, even from a distance, means a lot.

You can straight out ask her what she and her husband would like. Some NICU/bed-rest in hospital gifts I've heard of are restaurant vouchers (hospital food gets intensely dull) and gas cards if the partner has to drive back and forth all the time.

If they're religious/spiritual, there's probably a church/temple etc involved, but it would mean more than gifts to them to have a big group organised to pray/send good wishes on the day of the surgery. That would be an amazing thing to organise for them.

A really nice dressing gown would be a lovely and useful gift right now. Just make sure to get a generous size!
posted by viggorlijah at 7:06 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

As someone who was on bedrest in the hospital (but for nowhere near as scary of a reason), I can say it is insanely boring. So a care package for mom (with a nice lotion, esp - the gel they use for fetal monitoring is extremely harsh and made my belly itch like mad) would be a nice treat for her.
posted by pyjammy at 12:29 PM on June 12, 2012

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