Category Archives: Family

Rhode Island March Of Dimes March For Babies

Rhode Island March Of Dimes March For Babies
Baby and Mom Arms

Photo Credit: March of Dimes

Giving birth is a miraculous moment for mothers, yet it can also be one of the most terrifying and treacherous for both mother and child.  I’ll never forget the excitement of the birth of my brother’s first child, and then the breath holding trepidation while he stayed at the hospital in the NICU for the following week having being born prematurely. Premature babies can have serious health problems at birth and later into life, and about 1 in 10 babies in the US are born prematurely.  The World Health Organization lists preterm birth complications as the number 1 cause of death in children under the age of five. You might be shocked to learn that the United States of America is ranked 54th on Born Too Soon the list of Estimated National Rates of Preterm Birth put out by The March of Dimes.  Our country has one of the worst newborn mortality rates of any of the industrialized nations and a higher pre-term birth rate than countries like Sierra Leone, Libya or Cambodia.

The March of Dimes , an organization that has been around for nearly 80 years, is set to change that. I was struck by how little I knew about all of the amazing programs that it supports both here in the US and abroad. Over the past couple of years I have traveled to Ethiopia and South Africa on reporting trips on maternal and newborn health, and written for a number of global non-profits on related issues, My focus on maternal, newborn and child health has been primarily focused on developing countries. As a mother of four children and daughter of a Polio survivor I also advocate for global vaccines with the United Nations Shot@Life campaign, one of the major goals of which is global Polio eradication.  I was fascinated to find out that the March of Dimes had led the fight against Polio when it was founded by FDR in 1938 with the purpose of Polio eradication in the US. The Polio vaccine was developed with funding by the March of Dimes and now there are currently only two countries left in the world that still have Polio, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Polio virus was successfully eradicated in the US in 1979 thanks in large part to the March of Dimes campaign.

Once that goal was accomplished the robust infrastructure of the March of Dimes was shifted to tackle birth defects, and in the mid 1980s to Community, Advocacy, Research, Education and Support services around premature birth. (the birth of an infant before 37 weeks of pregnancy). If not for the research, programs and services provided by the March of Dimes many babies would never make it past that critical first 24 hour window after birth. Families would be deprived of the guiding services and support that helps them through a frightening time period while their newborn is fighting for their little life.

Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait® is a comprehensive initiative by the March of Dimes to prevent preventable preterm birth, with a focus on reducing elective deliveries before 39 weeks gestation. Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait involves an education and awareness campaign, hospital quality improvement and community intervention programs. These strategies are focused on interventions and activities that have the potential to make an immediate, substantial and measurable impact on preterm birth. – www.marchofdimes.org

The Share Your Story website provides a lifeline to NICU families in an online community, which is an extension of the amazing support services provided by the March of Dimes in the NICU itself. I was able to take a tour of the Women & Infants Hospital NICU in Rhode Island where the March of Dimes is saving newborn lives every day. The 6-year-old 50,000 sq. foot wing here in Rhode Island can treat 82 babies at a time, and in the corner of the wing an entire center for family support provides programs, food, and a fun-filled space for siblings to play.

Baby in NICU

Photo Credit: March of Dimes

Research as to what contributes to premature birth has identified certain risk factors such as multiples, previous preterm births, little or no prenatal care, being overweight or underweight during pregnancy, smoking, drinking alcohol, and drug use, to name a few.  Demographics can also play a role, if you are under 17 or over 35 these are risk factors, and here in the US researchers are working hard to find out why various populations have a higher preterm birth rate than others. Continued research also seeks to answer the question of why preterm birth can also sometimes occur in a healthy mother with none of the predisposing factors, like my sister-in-law so many years ago. My nephew is now a thriving healthy twenty year old, and it is easy to forget those first touch and go weeks of his life when he had been born too soon.

It is estimated that 75% of preterm births could be prevented with proper intervention. The research, education, and advocacy that the March of Dimes provides could save the state of Rhode Island up to $57 million dollars by preventing premature birth in our state, but the March of Dimes could use your help to achieve that ultimate goal. Families and premature babies need your help as well.

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Photo Credit: March of Dimes

Join The community and the March of Dimes for a fun family day on Saturday April 30th at 9am in Bristol, RI and March for Babies with the March of Dimes.

5 Great Father’s Day Gift Ideas for Dads

5 Great Father’s Day Gift Ideas for Dads

It can be really hard to shop for guys sometimes, but Father’s Day is next week and I know some of you are still trying to figure out what to get. Here are a few suggestions, the subtitle of this post being  What my husband is really into right now;

1.

An Audible membership and a few books to start him off. This app has been revolutionary for my husband ‘s commute and for us on long road trips, he even listens to his books while doing work around the house. He love it.

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2.

I’m loving the Tembo Catchall from FashionABLE for him. I had a chance to see the impact this social enterprise has on the lives of women in Ethiopia first hand when I was there a year ago. Not only are their products high quality, and well designed, when you purchase them you improve the lives of others. There is no better gift than that!

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3.

Beats By Dre Powerbeats Wireless bluetooth headphones. Totally portable and no more annoying cord! My husband uses his all the time for music, workouts and audio books.

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4.

Logitech UE MEGABOOM Bluetooth Wireless Speaker is a mini portable speaker on steroids. This travels everywhere around the house, outside, and on the road with my husband. It rocks!

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5.

Math Formulas Tie by Josh Bach at Uncommon Goods. Uncommon Goods is one of my favorite sources for gift giving, if this tie isn’t quite the thing for the person you have in mind, there are also the constellation socks, or the golf ball cufflinks, among other wonderful items to choose from.

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What else would you add to this list?

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

Happy #MothersDay

Happy #MothersDay

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I read this line in Ismael Beah‘s novel The Radiance of Tomorrow two days before Mother’s Day. It resonated with me as I was missing my mother, and feeling so grateful for being a mother at the same time. I thought, yes, my story began with my birth, but really before that. With my mother’s story and her mother’s story beyond. I thought that although my mom is no longer alive to guide me, I do still hear her voice in me. When I wonder what she would do, or say in a certain situation, or advice she would give, the answer is usually there.

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Now it is up to me to continue to write my story, and to watch and guide as those of my own children unfold.

image Happy Mother’s Day! We are each the Heroes of own own stories, so be sure to write a good one!

#QuandaryGame Teaches Ethical Thinking Skills

#QuandaryGame Teaches Ethical Thinking Skills
Sponsored Postquandary-captain-choice copy

Quandary:

a state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation.

Kind of like what us parents face in the digital age our children are growing up in! I am loath to admit how much time my kids spend playing on their electronic devices. We truly try to limit their screen time, but it has become increasingly difficult as their games travel everywhere they go with their mobile devices. With four kids it’s like whac-a-mole redirecting them away from their screens. In the time it takes me to get one reading on the couch, one of the others has gone down the rabbit hole into cyberspace somewhere else. We understand that this is the culture our kids are growing up in so we use their screen time to our advantage as much as we can. On the weekends for example, while our rules drastically limit video games during the week, the kids can play all they want on weekend mornings if they let us sleep in!  I am also always on the lookout for games that are educational or enriching as alternatives to the many mind numbing ones out there.  Research shows that well-designed digital games can be effective learning tools, and that they can be especially effective in the development of social and ethical skills. Read the rest of this entry

How I Grew A Human Published on Mamalode Today For The Nourish Theme Sponsored By ONE Girls & Women

How I Grew A Human Published on Mamalode Today For The Nourish Theme Sponsored By ONE Girls & Women
Photo by Bob Packert

Photo by Bob Packert

These days I’m walking around with a tightness in my chest. The feeling that something is missing that stays with me all the time. A very slight deep underlying melancholy, and I hope every mother gets a chance to feel this way at some point.  It sounds cruel, I know, to wish this on others, but my post on Mamalode today explains why I do.

On my trip to Ethiopia this past summer to report on newborn health with the International Reporting Project, and through the work I do with the local non-profit Edesia that nourishes children around the world, the theme of #Nourish struck a chord with me. Especially at this moment in time when my own baby was going off to school as a teenager for the first time. I realized that as mothers this is truly our ultimate goal, to see our children grow up to be healthy and happy and productive. At the same time this is the most difficult part of motherhood. The letting go.

I can not grow a garden, though lord knows I’ve tried, and each of my houseplants clings tenaciously to life each day, but somehow, someway it seems, I grew a human. And I am amazed.

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Source: Mamalode

I am honored and  thrilled to be published on Mamalode today as part of the #nourish theme sponsored by the ONE Women & Girls campaign. My travels to Ethiopia mentioned in the post were with The International Reporting Project #EthiopiaNewborns New Media Fellowship this past June.