"I have some friends facing a particularly challenging time. The husband (whom I've known since forever) was just diagnosed with cancer. His wife is almost seven months pregnant with their first child. He'll probably be coming out of initial treatment around a week before the due date, and will not be in good form for helping either physically or emotionally. It is likely that he won't be able to attend his daughter's birth in person.
That's wrenching enough (we're already working on who will be there to support for the birth), but the daily realities are likely to be the big drain - just getting through each day (starting now), handling life, feeding everyone (he may need special effort there), keeping the space lovingly, caring for the pets, and integrating this into the picture of
what life will be like - it's a huge physical and emotional hit for both of them, as I'm sure you can imagine.
My first action will be to set up an online group with a calendar so people can schedule support activities (and our friends can mark their needs) in one place. Beyond that, I feel a need to throw the net wide to gather ideas for support, kindnesses, ways for people near or far to help out (especially if there is ongoing immune suppression keeping people
restricted from visits), anything I might forget that new parents under stressed conditions might need, anything that a caregiver might need, things for people undergoing chemo/radiation might need, resources to look for that I've never had to call on, etc.
So, here I am, asking for your brains (and kindness, and creativity) on this, and the brains (and kindness, and creativity - not to mention relevant experience) of the collective readership - what have you got for help ideas? Ways to structure the help? Good books for either dad or mom under these conditions? Sites to reference? Anything, anything, anything.
They're good people, and there are a lot of people who love them. We want to create as tight a net as we can weave."
Oh, what a complicated situation. And I really don't think I have many answers that you haven't thought of. They're going to need all the usual new-baby stuff--meals, help with laundry, emotional support, breaks so the parents can get naps, lactation support if she's nursing, etc. But their needs are going to be multiplied by more than two because of the cancer treatment.
Have any readers gone through either dealing with a newborn and a serious illness in one of the parents, or cancer treatment? I'm sure you all have ideas that I just don't have any experience with. Please help hedra and her friends.