The most helpful things you can do for a friend with a sick child

I just found out that a friend of mine recently received the devastating news that her weeks old baby has contracted a serious illness and now the family is looking at months of hospitalization. I want to give my support and help out in any way I can.

For anyone who has lived through the experience of having a child with an extended illness, what are some of the things that you found the most helpful or appreciated the most?

How I became a breast milk donor

This is the story of how I, quite accidentally, became a milk donor after the birth of my second child. It has truly been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. Because I have come to believe milk donation is so important, not only for the babies who receive the milk, but also for the mothers who give it, I decided to write this essay in part to help spread the word so that other women will consider donation too.

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The Mighty Quinn: the birth story of our son with Down syndrome

We had come to terms with Quinn's condition and were anxious to meet the little guy, but not quite so soon, especially since we had spent most of the pregnancy facing numerous health scares. Our many doctors told us that our son's health would depend on his arrival: the later he was born, the better. Since my first son arrived two weeks early, I repeatedly told this guy to stay put and crossed my fingers that he would listen. But in a rebellious fashion that mirrors my own, Quinn decided to do things on his own time.

An unmedicated high-risk premature hospital birth

Despite being early and carrying my first child, my body felt built for labor. I dilated quickly and contractions became rhythmic almost immediately. I found myself totally silent and occasionally wept over the situation. I used my wedding ring as a focal point and comfort object to touch, as my heart sank with each contraction knowing my husband was going to miss the birth of his first child.

Finding beauty in the birth of my daughter even though she was born ill

My daughter didn't arrive into this world kicking and screaming. She was silent and still. Within seconds, she was whisked away from me to the emergency table in the corner of the delivery room. My husband followed, but was unable to do anything but watch as she was surrounded by medical staff. My doula finally told me that she was a girl — I hadn't thought to ask. I'd only seen a glimpse of her little body.