Gift items to help parents in the NICU....
"My son was born at 30 weeks and spent about a month and a half in the NICU in two different cities. I have to say, the most helpful thing people did for my husband and I was to drop off meals - casseroles, soups, curries - as we had no energy to cook, if we even remembered to eat."
"ALSO, a really great prezzie is a great hand lotion for dry, cracked hands. Having to wash my hands and sanitize them at every moment in the hospital saved my son, but destroyed my hands. The hand lotion I got in a care package from some friends was a life saver."
"Another gift to consider is a book of nursery rhymes, children's poetry or other rhythmic stories. The sound of a parent's voice can be soothing to a newborn, and reading gives parents a way to feel close to their little ones in that challenging environment."
"My twins were born at 24 weeks, 2 years ago...it is a long road to say the least. There at many emotions that your friend are dealing with that no one will understand unless they have ever dealt with their own children's mortality. While my kids were in for those four months, my best friend lived across the country, and I missed her terribly at that time. One of the sweetest things she did for me, was she knit me a blanket. When I wrapped up with that while holding the kids, she was right there with me. You are so kind to be seeking advice, follow your heart. So people just left us alone because they didn't know what to do, that at times we did feel lonely, so reach out!"
"We were actually given a visa gift card by a group of friends, which was great because we could use it anywhere, gas, food."
"My daughter was born at 23 weeks and only weighed 15 ounces. They gave her a 5% chance of surviving and we were in the hospital for a little over 4 months. It is an extremely hard road. I definitely agree with the suggestion to give gift cards to restaurants/grocery stores. Also, for a while my daughter was in the Children's hospital an hour away and I would have loved if someone gave us gas cards to help with the commute."
"The NEED and WANT to be close to the babies as muh as possible is really the over-riding emotion for your friends. I hated leaving my son at night and driving home, and driving back and forth. If there is a hotel/motel across the street or nearby, a gift certificate for a few night's stay would be great so she an stay closer and just walk over for feedings but get some rest in between instead of spend her time driving."
"All the suggestions have been fantastic. Anything that can personalise the space their babies are would be welcome. I felt like our twins weren't even ours when they were in hospital. They were wearing hospital clothing/hats, blankets and booties. As soon I was able I used our own things and it gave me the courage to start speaking up because these two little people belonged to us - not the nurses and the hospital."
"Oh, and if you want to help her when the babies come home- set up a free MealBaby.com account for her so she can let local friends/family sign up to deliver meals. It feels presumptuous to create one for yourself, but it would be really handy to reference when people ask now "What can we do?" The answer: drop off a meal when the babies come home."
"It's shocking how having mundane needs met can restore a person's hope and energy."
"There's almost no time for basic self-care. Laundry service, maid service (with a 24 week birth the house was probably left in a complete uproar), lawn service, and/or meal preparation services* might relieve your friend of normal responsibilities that she's too overwhelmed to address."
"One more thought...maybe get a pack of thank you cards and stamp and put her return address on all the envelopes? If you have alot of the same friends, I bet you could even write addresses on a bunch of them. The baby gifts will be unstoppable and she'll be writing a million thank you notes in the coming months."
In General -
1. Clothes for baby
2. You could (even from afar) pay for a maid service to come and clean their home, I know ours was so chaotic and messy from rushing home after 8 pm in the evening, trying to eat, then sleep, then rushing out at 7am to head back to the NICU, a clean home can sometimes make even the worst situations more barable.
3. Food for her during the day, and especially meals waiting at their doorstep at night that are easy to reheat and dont involve much clean up.
4. Gift cards! For meals, or even for general stores for picking up diapers and other things most mamas have months to prepare for or get at showers that mamas of babies born prematurely find themselves without.
5. Care package of snacks for Mama while she's at the NICU during the day...Instant oatmeal, granola bars, CHOCOLATE :) Instant pudding, fruit...
6. Encouragement and prayer!