You think life is busy then you have children and you suddenly find ‘busy’ takes on a whole new meaning! Then you have a premature baby and suddenly you’re some how coping with appointments at hospitals and with various other professionals. If like me you go back to work full time and that preemie becomes a toddler it feels like a whole new challenge. One thing likely to happen when you’re discharged from a lengthy neonatal stay is you’ll have a lot of appointments. Some will be pre planned and others will be last minute urgent ones.

After coming home the first appointment was the next day when the neonatal nurses came to do a home visit. It was a relief having the reassurance I was doing things properly and my little boy was still doing well. I was worried that the change in environment might be too much for him. We had been bringing things in from home such as clothes and blankets. This was advised so that he got used to the smells of home and got him used to our washing products.

Soon more appointments were in the diary. My son was to come back to hospital for a Synagis injection, routine appointments with specialists such as his cardiologist, neonatologist and a surgeon who was assessing his Hydrops. Then we had a nurse come to our house for regular visits, the health visitor also made an appearance and visits to the GP for routine injections. On top of that there were a few urgent appointments when my son became poorly.

Toddler appointments

When my son was a little baby the most difficult thing was working out the logistics. Home appointments were easy. All I had to do was quickly tidy up and put the dog out of the way (not everyone wants a huge German Shepherd saying hello and sticking his nose in their bags to see if there’s anything for him!). Attending appointments was a little more complicated. I’d to think about what medication I needed to take with me, how many syringes that would require and milk.

Toddler playing in the grass. Photography credit: Jordan Whitt
Toddler playing in the grass. Photography credit: Jordan Whitt

The bigger and more independent my son got the more challenging the appointments became. He was active and wanted to explore everything! He needed an ECG at every cardiology appointment. This means that he needed several wires attaching at several points over his body. Then he had to stay statue still for 30 seconds while the machine took a reading. Keeping an active toddler still for that long was not easy. Each appointment it was something different that kept him still and I had to work through a few different things before I found the thing that was going to work for that day. Calming music, favourite TV programmes, bubbles, twinkly lights, one appointment it was a cricket match of all things.

I also had to balance my time out of work and arrange with my childminder pick up and drop off points if she was out and about with the children in her care. Sometimes it got too much and I had to rearrange appointments or get in touch with my sons nurse to see what she could move.  My husband is a shift worker and my job is a lot more flexible so 95% of appointments were down to me.

Top tips for coping with appointments

  • If you are not coping with appointments because you have too many in a week don’t be afraid to rearrange some. You can always ask your health visitor to help you do this.
  • Plan! Make a plan. How long does it take to get to the appointment? Do you need to get there early for parking or pre-appointment checks like weight and height checks? What do you need to take, an appointment letter, drink, snack, medication, spare clothes?
  • If you are taking too much time out of work can you do multiple appointments on the same day so that you are not take lots of time off? Do you need to be there for every appointment? My son had his heart rate checked weekly when he was being weened off of his medication. His nurse would go to my childminders house to do the check, I tried to be there for most appointments but I did miss one or two for work commitments.
  • If you know you’ll need to strip your child repeatedly put them in an outfit that makes this easy.

Did you see our last blog on preemie speech delay