When my daughter was born, she had a serious illness that kept her in the hospital months after. At the time, I was also caring for my other daughter who was just a toddler. It was difficult to go through this diagnosis with my new born but it also taught me invaluable lessons that can keep both you and your family positive through it all.
There are many common emotions that a parent feels when their child is sick, such as sadness, guilt and even frustration. I know that I felt these same feelings and even feelings of helplessness. However, learning about my daughter’s illness helped me better understand what my child was going through and the care she needed. The more you know about their condition the better understanding you have of what behaviors and symptoms are normal and what to look out for.
As the mother, you are also your kids team leader. So staying positive is key. Try and treat your child just as you would your healthy child. I found that keeping things as normal as possible helped both me and my family. Kids tend to thrive on routine and they look for structure, depending on the diagnosis, it is best to keep your family’s routine the same as it was before your child became ill. During a diagnosis, it is normal to want to overly protect your child, but try not to shelter them too much or limit the activities they still love to do.
As the child’s caregiver, it is easy to forget to care for yourself both mentally and physically during the process. Make sure to take a few moments out of your day just for you, go for a walk, read a book or take a hot bath. This will give you the energy and strength to care for your child and make the best medical decisions. It’s important to also talk with your child about their illness and listen to what they’re feeling and answer any questions they might have. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions too about your children’s illness especially if there are things that you don’t understand.
If you’re like me and have another child who is healthy, make sure to spend one-on-one time with them and make sure they feel part of the family too. Figure out ways they might be able to help out with their brother or sister which will make them feel more involved.
It is not going to be easy everyday and there will definitely be your fair share of bad days but it’s important to remain positive, keeping laughing, telling jokes and doing activities that bring you and your family joy.