Our Little Miracle, Born at 24 Weeks


I will never forget the day we got the call from my sister-in-law, Jill.  She was in the hospital and had just had her baby.  How could that be? She was only 24 weeks pregnant? The terror in her voice was palpable. My husband and I felt helpless.  We were in Cleveland, Ohio, where my husband was going through his own health scare with cancer and my sister-in-law was thousands of miles away in Arizona.  To top it off, it was right around the holidays.  Little John weighed 1 pound 8 ounces, when he was born, and was 12 inches long. He spent 110 days in the NICU before coming home on March 20, 2006. John is a true miracle and an inspiration to all that meet him!  You can read more about his amazing story here (grab the tissue!)

More than half a million American babies are born prematurely each year.  That’s a staggering 1,400 babies born prematurely in the United States every day. Because premature babies immune systems haven’t had time to fully mature, preterm infants are more likely to develop infections.  Preemies have underdeveloped lungs, so they are more susceptible to respiratory problems.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a highly contagious virus which is quite prevalent during the winter months. It is transmitted primarily by hand-to-nose, hand-to-mouth, and hand-to-eye contact. The severity of the symptoms vary depending upon the age of the child and whether he has any chronic medical problems.  RSV can be particularly serious in infants born prematurely and children under the age of two suffering from chronic lung conditions.

For otherwise healthy children, RSV usually amounts to little more than a cold. However, for preemies and other at-risk infants, the health consequences can be much more serious. In the U.S., approximately 125,000 children are hospitalized each year with serious RSV disease and, sadly, some of these children die.

To help protect your baby from RSV, there are simple steps that parents and caregivers can take:

  • Have family members and caregivers wash their hands with warm water and soap before touching the baby
  • Avoid being around the baby if you have a cold or fever
  • Avoid exposing the baby to other children with cold symptoms
  • Keep the baby away from crowded places
  • Never smoke around the baby
  • Talk to your baby’s pediatrician about RSV risks and prevention

Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:

  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
  • Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
  • High fever
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Not eating well

To learn more about RSV please visit www.rsvprotection.com.

As we prepare to celebrate my nephew John’s sixth birthday, I can’t help but think of all the other babies born too soon. November 17th is World Prematurity Day, an important day designed to help raise public awareness about the problem of global prematurity, which affects more than 13 million babies worldwide.

preemie as a child

John (6) with his mom, dad and sister

I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.



“Proper” Etiquette and the Second Baby Shower

I’m a big believer in proper etiquette. I love hand-writing thank you notes and receiving  hand-written notes even more. Although I’m a technology geek I will always take the time to write a personalized, hand-written note to someone who was thoughtful enough to spend their time and money on a gift for me or my child. One of the reasons my husband is so endearing to me is that he always writes a note to someone who did something special. I love that he was raised to always be thankful for any act of kindness.


Having relocated from Florida to Rhode Island, I’ve noticed some big differences in etiquette. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think guests should ever have to address their own thank you notes at any type of shower. A new bride or new mother can always take some time out of their day to express their appreciation for a gesture or gift; that includes the extra thirty seconds it takes to hand write their address. Even if it takes them a month to finish.


Another “thank you” short-cut I have observed since moving up here is the generic photo card of “Thanks for your thoughtful gift,” without even so much as a signature. It always makes me cringe a little inside when receiving that, especially after taking the time and effort to find the appropriate gift for that person. I know, any thank you note is better than none; however I would rather hand write 200 notes than to ever have to send out a generic, non-personalized thank you. I find those a little rude and/or impersonal. Trust me, I know I’m old-fashioned in regards to thank-you’s.


Since I’m talking about etiquette, let’s discuss second baby showers. Personally, I would not want one for myself. My friends and family went above and beyond for my son’s shower and literally showered us with tons of gifts. I would feel uncomfortable asking any of them to come to a party with a gift for my second baby only a short two years later. I can’t wait for them to meet my daughter, but we don’t want or need any gifts for her. Their love and support means the world to our family.


I know some people up here like to have “sprinkles” or diaper showers for their second baby which seems like a more reasonable idea. I just hope that they aren’t passing out envelopes at the door for guests to address their own thank you notes. I do firmly believe every child’s life should be celebrated by friends and family. I hope we can have a small housewarming/baby-greeting party after our daughter is born this fall, with a “no gifts please” note on the invitation. If someone did want to bring a gift despite what the invite said, I can guarantee you they won’t be receiving a mass-produced thank you print out.


What do you think of second baby showers? Etiquette faux-pas or totally fine?


Battling Postpartum Depression

Post Partum DepressionIt’s not often that I share my personal life details, even with my closest of friends. When my friends and I gather to discuss our lives – parenthood, work, husbands, significant others, etc., I am usually the one who sits back, listens and takes it all in. Many years ago in my 20s I had no problem confiding in others, but as I have become older, and wiser too, the lips stay sealed a little more often.

However one area of my life I feel is important to open up about and share information on that I think could help others is that of post partum depression. I suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of my daughter in 2008, and unfortunately I didn’t realize,  understand or seek help right away for it.

Having a baby is at the top of the list of amazing experiences. It’s probably number one in my book. As many of us moms or soon-to-be moms might know, remember or are experiencing now, the elation that comes with the anticipation of having a baby is ever present. Never were there discussions on the negative things that can happen after the baby is born, because really what fun is that while one is pregnant?

I remember when I was 6 months pregnant, my father, who I adore but with who I don’t share intimate details of my life, gave me “Down Came the Rain,” a book on postpartum depression (PPD) by Brooke Shields. His words to me were: “I hope you never need to use this book, but just in case, here it is.” I remember thanking him and then immediately putting the book in my nightstand. It wasn’t unusual for my father to give me a book. The man probably has one of the largest book collections ever, and signed book collections at that. But I somewhat chuckled inside when he gave it to me, thinking “I will not need this book.”

Well, fast forward five months, 2 months after I had my daughter. At the beginning of 2 months and well into a year, I kept searching and hoping for the feelings of joy for my newborn, but instead felt dread and sadness. Being an educated woman, I knew intellectually that it was abnormal for me to not want to get up with my child, not feel an undying need to see her smile or coo and to want to hand her off to someone else when she began crying. Those 2 months of not knowing what I was feeling were long. Finally, I hastily went into that night stand to get Down Came the Rain, the book on PPD. I began reading, and then I cried.  There it was, written so clearly for me. Exactly what I was feeling was clearly described in the book. I finally had something to attribute the despair I was feeling.  

I look back and only wish I had known someone then who experienced PPD and could have shared their experiences. I know many women now who had PPD. If only I could have those precious first months back to revel in that joyous time…to tell and show my newborn the true joy of being a mother, a first time mother.  I feel sad sometimes that I missed that part of that experience because of the fog that I was in.

But I have well made up for those early months during the last 3 years.

Happy times after postpartum depression

My daughter and I have some of the most fun times together playing at the park, running around the wine racks at The Savory Grape and speaking the little bit of Italian that we know together. My recommendation for other soon-to-be moms is to become aware of the signs of PPD. Recognizing it early is helpful to you and your newborn. If PPD unfortunately appears in your life,  talk to your health care professional about it immediately to determine how best to handle it, so you can enjoy one of the most amazing experiences fully.

 Did postpartum affect you? Or are you a new mom and think you may be experiencing some its symptoms?






Baby #2: Repeat C-section or VBAC?

One of the most common questions I’ve received so far this pregnancy is “are you going to have another c-section?” My answer: “I think so.”

Joanna & happy family after her c-section

My pregnancy with my son was a very pleasant, uneventful one. His delivery was exactly the opposite though. After laboring at home for more than 12 hours, I got to the hospital and it was a whirlwind that resulted in an emergency c-section that likely saved both my son’s and my life. Long story short, I had a placental abruption and my son had the cord wrapped around his neck four times. I lost a lot of blood and was thankful to have the excellent care of the obstetrics team at Women & Infant’s Hospital. If you’re interested, you can read the long story on my blog here.

I go back and forth on whether I should have a repeat, planned c-section or try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Some of the advantages of a planned c-section this time around are being able to plan the exact day and having my Mom and Stepdad fly up from Florida and plan childcare for my son. My husband can also plan accordingly at work, months in advance. Another less talked about “plus” is that since I’ve never had a vaginal birth, I can keep the lady parts down there in pre-vaginal birth form, if you know what I mean. The vain side of me would also like another shot at the whole c-section scarring deal. My first one ended up a raised, keloid scar which is not pretty. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I happened to google c-section scars, and realized mine could be in the record books for ugly. The scar is really not a big deal, but my Doctor said she could cut it out this time around and it may heal better.

Some of the disadvantages of a repeat c-section are that it is major abdominal surgery and it took six weeks to feel normal again. There’s also risk of infection and there are scientific studies that show vaginal births are best for babies’ health. Repeat c-sections are also not recommended after two to three c-sections, so if being a Duggar is in my future I should try for a VBAC (hint: it’s not, we will probably be “two and through”). For the record, my obstetrician said I would be an excellent candidate for a VBAC, since my c-section was unrelated to my ability to have a vaginal birth. Apparently, many doctors are not supportive of VBACs because of the risk involved, but I have not experienced that. My doctor has been extremely supportive and so would the hospital I will give birth at, Women & Infants. I am grateful that I have the choice.

On the other hand, part of me would like to experience natural childbirth and by natural, I mean vaginal. The epidural was my friend the first time around, but since I didn’t get it until 8 centimeters the first time maybe I could have a baby without one! I never even got to pushing the first time around and I’d like to have that experience. The recovery time is also less with a vaginal birth, a major plus for having two kids under two years old. The main thing about a VBAC that scares me is uterine rupture. I’ve known a few people that this has happened to, one woman’s baby even kicked OUT her c-section scar while going down the birth canal. I know this is such a low risk, but so was a placental abruption and nuchal cords times four. Another thing about the VBAC is simply fear of the unknown. I’ve experienced a c-section before and it was a pleasant experience.

Although I’ve changed my mind several times, I am currently leaning toward a planned, repeat c-section.
I would love to hear if you’ve had a VBAC or a repeat c-section and your thoughts on it!

Pregnancy the Second Time Around: Advice Needed!

I am currently 17 weeks pregnant with our second child. My son is 17 months old and while we are thrilled for the new addition to our family, this pregnancy is entirely different from my first.

My first pregnancy I worked full-time, but was able to nap when I got home from work and sleep through the night. Sleeping through the night is still a semi-rare occurrence in my home. My son, especially while teething, will wake up a few times through the night and/or is up for the day at 5am. The lack of sleep contributes to a much more tired, worn-out pregnancy.

Gone are the days I can throw my feet up and relax when feeling nauseous or tired, now I have a little buddy wanting to throw a ball or go for a walk. Now, I can barely think about this pregnancy, in contrast to my first pregnancy where I obsessed over every little twinge or symptom. This time, I have more faith in my body and trust everything is going to be ok. I don’t have time to worry about the alternative.

Despite the obvious differences in having a toddler this time around vs. having no kids, this pregnancy has been totally different. First time around, I never got sick or even nauseous. This time felt like I had the nastiest college hangover from about weeks 7 through week 13. My first pregnancy, I felt so good I was in a fantastic mood all the time. This time, not so much. These differences have my husband convinced we are having a girl. I’m not sure either way, but we will find out for sure on June 1st.

With my son’s pregnancy I took weekly pregnancy pictures throughout my entire pregnancy (You can see them here). This pregnancy, I have a total of 5 “belly pictures” at 17 weeks. I feel HORRIBLE about it! I always swore my second baby would have an equal amount of pictures, little did I know I would be WAY more sick the second time around. I hope he or she forgives me! Thankfully, I am finally feeling better and will make up for lost time.

I hope I will be able to be as good of a Mom to this new baby as I have been to my son. People always tell me that your heart expands and you never know you could love TWO little babies so much. I hope that’s true because it seems implausible to think of loving another baby as much!

Moms of two or more: I would love your advice on introducing a new baby into your family. Especially on how to introduce a baby to a very jealous toddler who will be 22 months when he takes on the new role as “Big Brother.” Thank you!

My Life Just Changed Forever

 My life just changed forever. That was my facebook status message two years ago today.  May 10th was the day.  Mother’s Day.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.  After years of wanting a baby and worrying that maybe it just wasn’t in the cards for me, I had been blessed with the greatest miracle of all.  Craig was out of town, so it was just the dog and me.  I was bursting with excitement and needed to tell someone.  Of course I would post something on facebook.  Of course I would

Oddly enough, the night before, I was at a friend’s house talking about motherhood, having what would be my last glass of wine for what seemed like an eternity.  My friend sent me a picture of his yard the following morning.  A massive tree had fallen down in the exact spot where I had been sitting, almost as if to say, “this phase of your life is over.”  I got that text at 10 a.m. Mother’s Day morning, moments after seeing the word “PREGNANT” on my pregnancy test.

I, so badly, wanted to tell my husband in person.  He was supposed to be home in three days and I **thought** I could wait.  I waited…about 30 seconds.  I told him on the phone.  He didn’t believe me.  My next call was to new friend Audrey of Mom Generations, who lives right down the street from me.  She had just asked me to breakfast the week before, which turned into a 5 hour gab-fest, where she asked me about kids and I confided in her that I could be pregnant at that very moment.  Actually, now that I think of it, I think I tried to call my husband and he wasn’t there, so maybe Audrey knew FIRST and my husband knew second.  No matter.  In time, the whole world would know, because I told basically ANYONE WHO WOULD LISTEN.  Later that day, I went on a walk with Jane who also writes at Mom Generations and is Audrey’s sister.  I met the whole family that day and that’s when a great friendship was born.  For those who live in Rhode Island, or who have done business with Barrington Printing or Mom Generations, you know how wonderful this family is.  They’re huggers, which I LOVE and they let me talk on and on and on about this little miracle inside of me.



Oh, this note really is from my husband.  You might be wondering about that since his name is written in ink.  You see, my husband and I have been calling each other “Mav” and “Goose” since we were dating.  It’s even engraved on the inside of our wedding rings.  So, when he sent me flowers he signed them, “Always, M.”  Sixty years from now, when we are dead, I didn’t want my grandchildren to imagine some family drama and think that there was funny business going on with some guy whose name started with “M,” so I wrote Craig on the card.  Hey, I never claimed to be normal…too early to blame it on pregnancy hormones?

Pregnant in Heels: my feet hurt for these women!

Have you seen the new TV show on Bravo, Pregnant in Heels? I caught my first episode the other night and was reminded that there is a completely different universe than the one I’m living in. Namely, pregnant women living in New York City who have a completely different reality than my own. I don’t know about you, but I’m only 16 weeks pregnant and my feet complain after just hearing the word “heels.” These women teeter around in 4 inch heels at 39 weeks pregnant through the cobblestone streets of NYC!

Mina and her husband, Herman

The episode I viewed is titled “Clueless” and there couldn’t be a more apropos title. The show is hosted by a really cool woman named Rosie Pope who is a “Maternity Concierge” and basically caters to affluent pregnant women who know more about spending money than raising babies.

The first woman on the show is named Mina Au and has never even held a baby before. She thinks that her husband and the nanny can do all the diaper changes, after all- “there are people for that.” Mina couldn’t understand why Rosie said the dog’s “pee pad” had to come up when there’s a baby crawling around the apartment floor. Diaper pail, what’s that? I need one of those?

Michelle and her husband, Gary

The second woman on the show is named Michelle Shaeffer, a Catholic woman married to a nice Jewish man named Gary. Michelle can’t understand why Gary has a problem raising their daughter Catholic, after all  it is “her” daughter. Apparently they never once brought up how they would raise children with their two different religions. Rosie brings in Lisa Oz (Dr Oz’s wife) to mediate the heated discussion and manages to bring the couple to a compromise.

The first 45 minutes of the show I kept asking myself “Are these women serious? OMG! Wait till that baby comes!” Somehow Bravo manages to humanize these princesses in the last 15 minutes so you don’t completely despise them, but it still amazes me that there are women out there so self-absorbed. I know it’s reality TV, but some things can’t be edited by Bravo producers.

Being a toddler mom and pregnant myself, I don’t know how these high-rise Mommas do it in NYC. My hat is off to them. I love being able to drive my car to the grocery store and not worry about lugging car seats into cabs every time I want to run an errand.

Pregnant in Heels gives a really unique glimpse into the lives of pregnant women who don’t live like “the rest of us.”  The host, Rosie Pope, is charming. I adore her London accent and her honesty with secondary infertility struggles on the show is endearing. She works with her clients with a unique blend of grace and straight forwardness. I can’t wait for the next episode to air!

If you’re looking for a new show to watch, I recommend giving Pregnant in Heels a chance. You can watch the show on Bravo, Tuesdays at 10 pm EST or watch full episodes on BravoTV.com.

Have you seen the show yet- what did you think? If not, what’s your favorite show at the moment?

Photos courtesy of Bravo TV

Gone, But Not Forgotten

Paige in Purple
     My baby left me.  Just walked right out of the house in the middle of the night for the desert and dry air of Arizona.  Okay, so it wasn’t quite THAT dramatic….but it sure seemed that way when we were skyping from RI to AZ and she was was more interested in jumping on the couch than talking to her mama!  My husband looked at me as tears started to stream down my cheek.  I quickly wiped them away, so Paige wouldn’t see.
     When My husband suggested he escape the frigid New England air for two weeks to see family in Arizona, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get some work done on this website, maybe even catch up on some sleep.  What I hadn’t anticipated was the emotional toll of being away from her and my husband.  Now, I like my alone time.  In fact, for much of our marriage my husband and I have worked different shifts–at times–even in different states.  Heck, even in different countries!  How do you think we’ve managed to stay married so long, moving state to state, job to job?  (I kid.)   But throw the little one in the mix, and that’s a one- two punch this mama just can’t handle.  Seriously, I was a wreck 75% of the time they were gone. 
     They get back tomorrow and I know my heart will skip a beat when I see them at the airport.  Just like it did when I met my husband at that BBQ in college and when I saw the yes sign on that pregnancy test. (oh, yeah…I got those tests, I wasn’t foolin’ around with the plus/ minus nonsense).
     What’s the longest you’ve been away from your kids?  Was it easier or tougher than expected?  Join the conversation…we’d love to hear your thoughts!
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