Helping a pregnant friend from a distance.
August 23, 2013 7:32 AM   Subscribe

How can I make life easier for a long distance friend who is expecting triplets?

A friend of mine is roughly five months pregnant with triplets. She is now on full-time bedrest. I am trying to figure out a way to help her out. She and her husband are living in Seattle and most family and friends are in Eastern Canada. To the best of my knowledge, they have good insurance and excellent doctors. Her husband is as awesome and supportive as they come, so I have no doubt he is doing everything he can to make her comfortable. They have no other children.

So how can I help her out a bit from over 7,000km away? I would welcome gift suggestions, life hacks for preparing for and managing three newborns at once, resources (books, blogs), and advice for transiting from a demanding job (clinical psychologist) and active lifestyle to being bedridden for a few months, etc.
posted by futureisunwritten to Grab Bag (26 answers total)
If she shops on amazon and doesn't yet have a prime account, that could be a great gift for someone on bedrest. Also hulu/netflix subscriptions if she doesn't already have those.
posted by gnat at 7:52 AM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]

I would suggest going over with cooked meals (either to eat that day or put in the freezer for reheating), but given the distance, maybe there's a decent restaurant in their area that delivers or some other service that delivers nice meals?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:58 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Buy her the most comfortable lounging outfit ever. Dark colours, drapy fabric, able to be worn post partum. She'll love you for it. Look for long, drapy things and elastic waisted wide legged pants in a versatile colour like charcoal.
posted by h00py at 8:01 AM on August 23, 2013

Amazon Prime is a great idea. Since she's in Seattle, assuming her address is in delivery range, Amazon Fresh is an even better idea if they don't already have it. We just got it in LA and it has been a godsend for me at home with a baby. They deliver meals from local restaurants that can be reheated, as well as groceries, and lots of items that you can get with two-day on Prime are available same-day or next-day on Fresh.

I seriously don't know how people with new babies survived before Amazon, haha.
posted by town of cats at 8:09 AM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

She might already know this, but if she has a Kindle, the Seattle Public Livrary has a grat selection of books that can be downloaded via Wi-Fi to her device.
posted by spinifex23 at 8:18 AM on August 23, 2013

Wait until they get home and settled, then arrange for someone to come in and clean their house once or twice.
posted by jquinby at 8:21 AM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

Call to check in often and give her a chance to talk to someone outside the walls of her house. Other ideas: chipping in for a cleaning service, gift subscription to, definitely the Amazon Prime and maybe a gift card to go with it?
posted by goggie at 8:21 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Missed that she's already on bedrest. Don't wait on the house-cleaning.
posted by jquinby at 8:22 AM on August 23, 2013

The biggest thing that I wasn't prepared for with just one new kid was the amount of laundry - now we didn't even use cloth nappies, but the baby will go through minimum one change of clothes per day, plus YOU will have to wear clean clothes more often because a pair of trousers that usually lasted a week before will now have food/snot/sick/drool/milk all over it 30 minutes after you put them on clean. Plus you now have far less time and energy to actually do the laundry. I cannot imagine how much worse this is with triplets.

So if you can sign them up for some sort of laundry service (like they show up with a van, take all your laundry, and return it clean and dry 24 hours later), that would be pretty handy.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:24 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am currently on maternity leave with just one baby (3?! Uff da!) And the things I most appreciate are:

* A big box of thank you cards and stamps
* Lounge wear with easy access to boobs for breastfeeding. Kmart has some "dusters" that my granny used to wear. I bought a couple and they are my FAVORITE house-lounging wear. Ugly as sin, but functional.
* Pre-made meals are so awesome, but that'd be tough given your distance
* Halo brand swaddle sleep sacks. They keep the kid happy and give a nice respite.
* Leachco brand podster. Keeps the kid at an incline so he doesn't choke on his own spit-up and makes him feel cuddled. Again, nice for a respite from constant holding.
* Garanimals brand absorbent flannel pads. My mom got me a set and now I've ordered 3 more because I use the big one every night to keep the mattress dry.
* Books. I try to watch Netflix but I can't focus on the show when the kid gets fidgety or fussy and he yells at me if the noise bothers him. Books, however, I can put down and pick up and don't make noise. If she has an e-reader, maybe a gift card for that? Books are sometimes a 2-hander deal and I don't always have two hands.
posted by jillithd at 8:26 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

Nthing Meals and Cleaning.

Seattle should have some awesome options for yummy stuff to be delivered.

After the babies are born...a warm body or two to watch them while the parents sleep.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:45 AM on August 23, 2013

Response by poster: You guys are amazing, as usual. I really like the idea of a laundry service, housecleaning service, and meals delivered. If anybody has any good recommendations in Seattle (they live in the Queen Anne neighbourhood if that helps) I would love to hear them. Edit re: food delivery. They are total foodies!

Also looking into a one-year Amazon Prime membership for my friend and her husband. Is it worth the $79 a year? I don't know much about (we do have it in Canada but it is very limited where I live so I have never bothered getting it).
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:53 AM on August 23, 2013

I was on hospital bed rest prior to my son being born (a preemie with a short NICU stay) - many triplets are also ultimately healthy but start life as preemies who need time in the hospital. I'd double Nth the suggestion for a cleaning service, and/or some kind of helper who could come in and do simple organizing tasks at the mom's instruction. I lost all my final nesting time and it was hard for me to sit in bed and think about how much I wanted to do at home but couldn't do. I'd also note that a cleaning service, if you can swing it, on a semi-regular basis through the first three months or so after birth would be way awesome.

Aside from other great suggestions, I would say call her and send her cards/notes on a daily basis. Getting calls/texts/visits while I was laid up was so nice and helped me keep my mind off the stress of my medical situation. I had a friend who made a point of calling every. single. day. It was nicer than I ever would have guessed to have that regular contact.
posted by handful of rain at 9:19 AM on August 23, 2013

Amazon Prime is very worth the cost- it lets you be part of Amazon Mom and get extra $ off subscriptions to stuff like diapers, wipes, etc, and you get "free" two-day shipping on all orders.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:19 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by handful of rain at 9:19 AM on August 23, 2013

I would *not* call once the babies arrive -- juggling three is likely to be a more-than-full-time job for the first few months, and they are not likely to have energy or brain coherence for much chat. If you can research parent associations in their area that are geared toward parents of multiples, that is likely to be helpful (even if they're doing some themselves), or general discussion lists, etc., because there are a ton of issues that are just qualitatively (not just numerically) different with multiples, and the insights of Those Who Went Before are invaluable. Among other things, it's extremely likely that she won't be able to breastfeed (due to early delivery, juggling logistics, supply and energy issues), so some of the above advice might be going astray on that front. You might also get some tips from reading that kind of list or board, such that you could anticipate some need and come through with a really unforeseen winner gift. Maybe a post-partum doula would be a better gift than a housecleaning!

Just some thoughts. Only have one myself, but a coworker had twins and an amazing list of things that just had to be handled differently.
posted by acm at 9:30 AM on August 23, 2013

Amazon Prime is totally worth the $80 per year if you're expecting a baby and NOT on bed rest, it's basically worth it at double or triple that price if you are on bed rest. This will basically allow her to do all the nursery and baby shopping she may desperately want to do but can't easily do from home without paying hundreds of dollars in delivery fees.

Plus you get free Kindle books and streaming TV shows with the Prime account, which is also great if you're stuck at home and a bit bored.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:30 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

Diaper service. You put your used diapers in a smell-proof tub and a laundry truck comes once a week to take away the nasty ones and brinks new ones.
posted by BearClaw6 at 9:37 AM on August 23, 2013

Look into a post-birth doula for her to watch and help her manage babies. Talk to mom about her proposed parenting philosophy and then phone screen candidates to find one that will work with her. And of course help pay if you can!

If you get a doula one will probably come to visit while she's home before birth to discuss. I think birth doula isn't necessary as mom will probably be scheduled cesarean.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:38 AM on August 23, 2013

PS - in addition to holding babies, many doulas will do light chores and run errands.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:40 AM on August 23, 2013

Here's a couple of places in Seattle for frozen or fresh meal delivery:
Kitchen Door Meals
Eat Local

If you're organizing this with friends (or her local friends in Seattle), Meal Train is a good calendaring site for picking days, etc. so that all the food doesn't arrive at once. In fact, spreading it out so that when the babies come home, mom gets fed--that would be awesome.
posted by biscuits at 11:18 AM on August 23, 2013

For food delivery, I recommend Pandasia in particular, but here's a few more options from Yelp.

If she doesn't have an e-reader, a nook would actually work better with Seattle Public Library's e-books. (Only about half of them are available for kindle.)

I do think Amazon Prime and Fresh are probably worth it, both now and after the babies arrive. The more things you can just schedule to arrive every week when you need it, the better.

Swedish Hospital offers a class on multiples. There is also a Seattle Families of Multiples, which it looks like you can pay an annual fee to be part of.
posted by Margalo Epps at 11:29 AM on August 23, 2013

Best answer: Ah! A question that I am supremely qualified to answer! Though probably everything I would have been suggested as already been suggested. And I had my babies nearly six years ago, so a lot has changed.

But my biggest source of support has been online. Back in the olden days, the message boards over at Triplet Connection were my lifeline. But pretty much everyone has jumped ship to a few different Facebook groups. If you want to MeMail me, I can send you links.

And blogs. There are so many blogs (including my own, link in profile) that helped see what "real life" with triplets would be. Again, six years ago, there weren't as many blogs as there are now, so this will be even more helpful to her than it was to me.

Plenty of people said they wanted to help. No one did. I didn't feel comfortable asking for help (which is my own problem, I recognize this), so urge her to ask for help from those who offer before she has the babies.

Food, as has been mentioned, was always welcome.

But I have to say, the most amazing gift we got was a night nanny. When the boys were about ten weeks old, I had to go back to work part-time, and on the amount of sleep I was getting, it wasn't going to be pretty. So we paid a grad student $100 a night to do the night feedings. It was the most amazing gift (my mom paid for it) and if money is somehow collected, this would be a perfect use for it. (This may not be what you are looking for, but just throwing it out there.)

I "know" plenty of triplet mamas in the Seattle area that I would be happy to direct your friend to, if she doesn't know them already.

Congrats to your friend! Is it weird that I'm a tiny, tiny bit envious? As exhausting as it was, it was such a special time.
posted by pyjammy at 11:49 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think the between 4 to 8 week mark is the long dark night of the soul for a lot of new parents. It must be the sub-basement of the long dark night of the soul for the new parents of triplets.

If you could get some things to happen then (a local laundry that does pick up and drop off, a week of delivered dinners, even free stuff like 'the top ten Arrested Development episodes everyone has to watch' could alleviate some of that.)

By 4-8 weeks, in the experience of a lot of parents I know and me included, you're just kind of hoping the whole thing won't actually kill you.

And, as I always recommend for new parents, bourbon.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:09 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

You could offer to be the contact person to organise people who have offered to help. That way, every time anyone offers help, she can give them your email, and you can keep a master list. Also a list of things your friend has said would be helpful -- cooking, chores, purchased items, whatever. And then you match up offers and tasks, so that she can just concentrate on the babies and magically have help appear.

That will also solve the potential problem of people giving vague offers of "call if you need anything" and then her being too shy or busy to get in touch later.
posted by lollusc at 11:25 PM on August 23, 2013

Here is a Seattle meal delivery
posted by k8t at 4:19 AM on August 26, 2013

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