Congratulations! You’re a grandparent which is a wonderful thing, but if your grandchild is premature and in the NICU you are probably experiencing mixed emotions.
No doubt you really want to be able to help your son or daughter and their new baby, but it can be hard to know how.
There's many practical ways grandparents can help their child who's baby is in the NICU or SCBU
We'll assume you've already congratulated them, bought gifts, respected their wishes and shown love and support.
Now it's time to offer help that they may not find easy to ask for, but this practical support can be so valuable. It can help mum and dad focus more on their premature baby and themselves.
- Offer to watch your other grandkids so that mum and dad can spend extra time at the NICU
- Offer to be a taxi service
- Offer to cook meals and make extra they can keep in the freezer
- Offer to clean the house/do laundry
- Have they got pets? Offer to help with walking, feeding, etc
- When you're visiting the NICU or SCBU offer to go to the hospital shop to get a coffee, food or magazine.
- Bring useful things from home like clothing or bathroom products
- Bring in a tablet with their favourite shows or films downloaded on it (don't forget the charger!)
What if you live far away and can't be there regularly
Of course the list above is for grandparents that live nearby, and it's extra hard for grandparents of a premature baby that cannot visit often because they live far away.
Our advice is to visit as much as you can, or we should say as much as baby's parents would like you to! And go the extra mile when you are able to.
Modern technology makes it much easier to keep in touch, so make use of text messaging and video calling, but don't always expect a quick response or your call to be answered. Let your son or daughter know that you're there when you need them, as much as is practical, and tell them upfront that you don't always expect a reply to messages.
Being grandparent to a premature baby that's in the NICU/SCBU isn't easy, you're watching two generations of people you love the most going through a most challenging of times, but your support can be valuable.