From a Mum's perspective
I've been reading your guest blogs about new parents coping with extended hospital stays, either for mum or baby, or both, and thought I could perhaps add a few suggestions as to how we mums (and dads) might help to make life easier for everyone involved.
Our experience initially began when Kerry and baby left hospital and returned home; we were like all other new grand-parents, delighted to visit as and when we felt was appropriate, without putting too much pressure on parents and babe. But things changed when Kerry became very ill, and had to be re-admitted, then have surgery.
We suggested that our son-in-law and the baby move in temporarily with us; this meant that he could concentrate solely on his wife and new son, without having to worry about all of the trivial things like cooking, washing and worrying about childcare during the day when he had to continue at work.
We looked after the baby when he left for work, then took him up to visit mum in hospital, where we stayed until dad got there from work, at which point we left to let them have their family time. Our son-in-law and grandson would then return to us in the evening, where I could have a meal ready for dad while he settled baby for the night. I offered to do the last feed so that dad could get several hours of desperately needed undisturbed sleep before the routine started again the following day.
When Kerry left hospital, she also moved in with us for a few weeks, so that we could continue to look after both her and the baby during the day, meaning that dad could go off to work in a more relaxed frame of mind.
I think it really helped them in their first few weeks as new parents, and while it perhaps isn't possible to do what we did if parents are too far away etc, even just little things like arriving with a couple of bags of groceries, or doing some washing and ironing during a visit, or even just taking the baby out for a couple of hours to give mum a little bit of respite, all of these things are, I know appreciated beyond measure. Like many grand-parents, it can be a fine line between desperately wanting to help and not wanting to interfere, but I think it's worth risking stepping over that line rather than watching people you love struggling to cope.
I'm sure you agree.