Preemie Prep
June 21, 2016 12:55 PM   Subscribe

It looks like my friend's wife will be having a premature baby any day now - suggestions on thoughtful, considerate gifts?

My friend's wife is about 30 weeks pregnant with their second child, and due to rising health complications for both her and the baby, they've just been told the baby might have to come out any day now. They're being monitored regularly, and it's likely the baby will be born via c-section between 30 and 34 weeks.

Understandably they're quite stressed, and are scrambling to sort out the logistics - getting organized, arranging to get help with the older kid, coordinating assistance from their families, etc. The few bright sides are that a) they do have helpful family nearby, b) they're pretty wealthy and already have a nanny and house cleaning services, and c) we're in Canada with good healthcare.

I myself am 28 weeks pregnant with my first and they live about 5 hours away. So I'm not able to offer much more than emotional support and a reasonably-priced gift. But I am headed to their city in a few weeks for a wedding, and would like to bring them something helpful and considerate.

Looking for budget-friendly suggestions along the following lines:
- food basket items - ready-to-consume foods that will appeal to vegetarians bordering on vegan
- items specifically for premature babies
- stuff that will help with being at the NICU for long hours
- any other ideas / advice you can provide on supporting someone with a preemie baby from afar would be welcome.
posted by lizbunny to Human Relations (17 answers total)
When my cousin's baby was in the NICU (she was 25 weeks at birth, so was there a very long time) I got them gift certificates for a few decent places that did takeout/delivery meals near the hospital. It went over well.
posted by charmedimsure at 1:01 PM on June 21, 2016 [7 favorites]

If they desire to breastfeed, preemies sometimes have trouble with this. Nipple guards may help by making it easier to latch on.

To be fair, any baby and mom can have trouble with breastfeeding and there can be different reasons with different babies, and doctors and nurses can be pretty unhelpful when you run into issues. But I know of someone who was able to successfully breastfeed their preemie with a little emotional support, verbal encouragement, a smidgeon of info and the discovery of nipple guards. The baby just couldn't handle mom's nipple. Their mouth was too small.
posted by Michele in California at 1:03 PM on June 21, 2016

Nuts and dried fruit and juices and smoothies!

Don't get them preemie baby clothes, because if they have a long NICU stay then the baby will be wearing hospital onesies and might not fit into tiny clothes once it goes home. Also it could remind them that the baby is not home with them to be put into outfits which can be sad.

You use a lot of antibacterial hand sanitizer at the NICU so maybe a good thick hand lotion for when they leave so they don't have dry hands after.

Maybe you could do them a thoughtful favor and print out a list of recommended takeout places near the hospital and their #s or websites so they can just think "oh I feel like thai, what is on Liz's list."
posted by rmless at 1:05 PM on June 21, 2016

Oh if they have another kid, definitely something for that kid. Anything, really, that will help them manage the older kid's feelings and needs when the new (and very needy) baby comes along. A gift for the child? Babysitting services? I'm sure how the older kid will handle this is really high on their list of concerns.
posted by EtTuHealy at 1:14 PM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

+1 to gift for sibling, takeout or gas giftcard (it's a surprisingly amount of driving to/from).
posted by typecloud at 1:24 PM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not for everyone, but I read a bunch of trashy magazines whilst my son was in NICU/ I was in hospital. They were just engaging enough that they distracted me without taking up all my attention- my NICU baby spent a bunch of time asleep and it was nice to have something "else".
posted by threetwentytwo at 1:24 PM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Remember that if it happens for them, NICU can be a stressful time and respect their thoughts about it (e.g., whether they choose not to share photos/status updates at first, or if they share a lot).

It also may be difficult for them to meetup with you while you are in the city (eg one person in hospital, other watching older kid or working), so I'd keep my expectations on that low.
posted by typecloud at 1:30 PM on June 21, 2016

I've commented recently that when I had my 2nd baby last year I really appreciated an assortment of nuts and dried fruits (ie shelf stable) snacks that a friend brought over. It was great to have snacks to put out for visitors, when I didn't really have time to shop.
posted by vignettist at 1:37 PM on June 21, 2016

Yeah, gift certificates/cards for good nearby restaurants that deliver along with the menus for those restaurants would go over pretty well. Our hospital food wasn't too bad, but it's nice to have a big burrito dropped off if you're craving a big burrito (or whatever).
posted by craven_morhead at 1:57 PM on June 21, 2016

Oh also previously.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:57 PM on June 21, 2016

Was hoping people might have newer advice since 6 years ago...

Restaurant gift certificates weren't really what I wanted to go for - like I said, they're wealthy vegetarian/vegans and in their town I couldn't easily get a gift card for the kind of food they like to get, I have no idea... my best option in this regard is a visa gift card for a pittance dollar amount, which would be seen as pretty tacky.
posted by lizbunny at 4:48 PM on June 21, 2016

NICU is a scary place if your not use to it, and nothing feels welcoming because it is all hospital-y. What would make her get comfortable? A triple xxxl pants and a hoodie? the fuzziest socks in the world of socks? go for it.

The simple things - nice tea for mom, a travel pillow, a keep calm rock can be supportive and thoughtful if you know her well enough.

When you are in town, give her a call and volunteer to run an errand they need to get done.
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:25 PM on June 21, 2016

There's really not too much to be done for prepping for a preemie. The kid is in the hospital, not at home. I think the nicest thing you can really do is pretend that this is a normal kid event and get normal baby stuff. So congratulate the parents on having a kid and make a proper fuss.
posted by norm at 6:23 PM on June 21, 2016

My daughter was a preemie and spent time in the NICU. I appreciated gifts, calls, cards and such from people who knew she was early but were still celebratory. It was stressful having her in the NICU but we still just had a baby and that's a joyful thing.

My sister got me some preemie clothes and she sent them with a gift receipt in case we didn't need them after all. I was happy to get them because I felt sad thinking that all of my baby's clothes would be too big and it was nice to know that she had some pretty new things to wear when she came home. Plus I've actually had a hard time finding preemie stuff - not just clothes but also hats, socks, shoes. I think it'd be nice to pick something like a cute outfit, get it in a few different sizes (preemie, newborn, 0-3 months) and send it with a gift receipt so whatever fits when the baby can wear it is ready.

Alternatively, pretty new baby blankets are useful. I thought blankets were just for keeping the baby warm but they also work as a makeshift bibs and burp cloths so while I have tons, I also use them constantly. Swaddling is also good for preemies and blankets are good for that. Bibs aren't sexy but they would be super helpful. When my daughter was born, she was still learning how to suck, swallow and breathe while eating, so feeding her at first was frequently a big mess. I don't know if they're available in Canada but there are these Tommee Tippee bibs that are puffy right around the collar part of the bib which is good for catching dribble going down the baby's chin before it hits the baby's neck and/or clothes.

I saw some baby books on Amazon that were more geared towards medical records and that may be helpful for your friend.

Of the ideas listed above, I agree that magazines and treats one could share with visitors would be helpful.
posted by kat518 at 12:36 AM on June 22, 2016

My daughter was in the NICU for almost 6 months. Sometimes you meet other families, sometimes you just overhear things, but often you learn where the babies' home cities are (often they're from out of town). The level of care the baby requires might not be available in their home city. I'm from Calgary, not sure if your location in your profile is accurate, but if it is I don't think there's any major cities with tertiary NICUs that are 5 hours away. If there are any major problems, your friends' baby might need to be moved to a different city. Calgary has southern Alberta as its catchment while Edmonton has northern Alberta. Pretty sure Vancouver is for BC and I'm uncertain whether it's Saskatoon or Regina (or both) which services Saskatchewan (though one time it was full so the baby was flown out to Calgary for a few days until a spot opened up at the Saskatchewan hospital).

So yeah, just something to keep in mind. They might end up in a completely different city than their home.
posted by calgary at 1:17 AM on June 22, 2016

I had a 33-week baby (no big deal now, but scary) and had my own major complication, and what I loved was a request to call. You know, "Call me between Xam and Ypm-- let's talk!" It was so wonderful just to talk to someone who wasn't enmeshed in this total cluster of problems. It was like a call from the outside world.
So more than anything, I'd suggest a regular daily phone call.
It sounds like this couple are okay with the necessities, so don't worry about a gift. Keep in touch-- same time, every day, when the baby's asleep and she's awake- and just talk about regular stuff, sports and fashion and what's happening in politics and what the weather is like and gossip about mutual friends.
Also remember that the hubby is not just worried about the baby but about his wife. A card and a phone call to him will be appreciated.
Be a friend-- call. Talk. Laugh. Nowadays, almost everything else is easy to get-- entertainment, movies, books-- but a friendly voice.... priceless.
posted by my-sharona at 12:51 AM on June 23, 2016

Just as a data point, the idea of someone calling me every single day when I first had my child would have driven me crazy. Especially if they wanted to talk about stuff other than the massively important thing that has just happened to me. Not to negate my-sharona's feelings or experience at all, but perhaps tread sensitive to the response you are getting to that one.
posted by jojobobo at 2:22 AM on June 23, 2016

« Older How to kill potential roach eggs without hurting a...   |   Dem survey - real or fundraiser in disguise? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.