Tag Archive for birth

Newborn Screening Awareness Month – September

*Disclosure* This post was compensated, but it is a topic of great importance to me*

Newborn screening awareness month

Did you know that September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month?  Did you know that newborn screening detects treatable conditions in 1 in 300 babies every year? Do you know what newborn screening is?

Newborn screening is IMPORTANT and I wanted to share some more information about it with you.

What is Newborn screening?

Newborn screening is a series of tests that doctors use to detect a variety of disorders in newborns. It is a state public health service available to all babies born in the US.All babies are screened for a series of medical conditions, and while these screenings do not diagnose diseases they alert medical staff that a condition may be present and follow-up diagnostic testing can be done to confirm.

Pregnant woman

What tests will my newborn receive?

The 3 main screening tests are:

  • Blood test (heel stick): This test is used to check for more than 60 disorders. The specific disorders tested for vary by state.
  • Hearing screening: These tests are done to make sure the brain responds to sound and there are no hearing issues. They are simple and fast, and most often done while your newborn sleeps.
  • Pulse oximetry (pulse ox): This important test measures how much oxygen is in the blood. A low oxygen level can suggest a possible CHD (congenital heart defect). This test is completely non-invasive and uses a simple sensor, typically wrapped around your newborn’s foot.

newborn screening history

How do I know what conditions my child is screened for?

As mentioned, these screenings vary from state to state. You can ask your OB, or hospital about the conditions they screen for. You can also look HERE to see what your state tests for, from the Save Babies Through Screening Foundation.

Do I need to ask for these tests?

No, every baby is screened unless the parents “opt-out” for religious reasons. Your state has a standard screening protocol. However, not every test is done in every state (pulse ox, for example) and if there is a test that you feel strongly about having done, please ask!


Why is it important?

Simply put, newborn screenings SAVE LIVES. Every year 5,000 babies are born with one of the conditions that the screening tests for. Since these conditions are caught early, treatment can be started before some of the harmful effects happen. Most babies with these conditions who are identified at birth and treated early are able to grow up healthy with normal development. You may think “I don’t have a family history of any medical issues, so my child doesn’t need these tests!” but, please know, each year, over 5,000 babies are born with one of the conditions included in state newborn screening panels. Most of these infants appear perfectly healthy at birth and come from families with no history of the disorder.


I wish that I had been better educated on newborn screening when I was pregnant with Avery. It wasn’t until she was 4 months old that I learned about it, thanks to The BlogHer Baby Shower. Please take some time to learn more about newborn screening and spread the word to another mom. Remember, you are your child’s best advocate, and the more you know, the better you can help ensure they receive proper care.

Please visit Baby’s First Test and the Save Babies Through Screening Foundation both sites offer comprehensive information, statistics, videos and support.

You can also find them on social media:
Baby’s First Test: twitter and facebook
Save Babies: twitter and facebook

Why We’re Not Trying for Baby #2…..Yet.

It seems like every day another friend/family member/stranger on the street announces their pregnancy with baby #2 or #3  (or #8) I think that is absolutely wonderful, but then come the questions “So?  When are you guys going to have another?”  ”Are you trying?” “Why aren’t you trying?” “Don’t you want more?” “How could you NOT be trying right this second? Where is your husband?  Go get him and make a baby. NOW!”


We definitely DO want more!  Dave and I are both only children, and we don’t want Avery to grow up with virtually no family (not only would she have no siblings, but she wouldn’t have any aunts, uncles or cousins either!! And that is heartbreaking to me!)

We want more. Just not today. Or next week. Or next month. And probably not even in 2014.

Heres why:

  1. We like our little family of three right now. It works for us. We’re happy.
  2. Our house is too small. Seriously. We could not possibly in any way, fit another crib in any room. Except maybe in the kitchen. If we removed the kitchen table. Then yeah, a crib will fit. Or in the basement, but the cats are really happy having that space all to themselves. And it’s cold down there. And it smells funny. We want/need to move to a bigger house first.


  3. I don’t want to pay for twice the number of diapers every week/month. Let me get one kid out of diapers, then we’ll start again. I really don’t mind changing diapers so the whole “Ohhh don’t you want to just get the diaper phase over with asap?” argument doesn’t work on me. Diaper changes are no big deal.
  4. Avery deserves some time as the only child. She deserves time to be “the baby” Being an only child is actually really awesome, and while Avery will be a super incredible big sister at some point, she’s also a super incredible daughter, and I want her to get as much attention as possible right now.
  5. I’m not ready to go through labor again. I had an incrediblely rotten, no good, very bad, TRAUMATIC experience the first time. While I’ve worked through a lot of those emotions, I am still working on the rest.  I don’t really expect those who haven’t experienced what I experienced to understand this.
  6. Money, money, money, moneyyyy! Money. Could we afford to have another? Yeah, we could make it work. You can ALWAYS make it work. However I don’t want there to be any sort of struggle. I don’t want to scrounge for that extra $45 when we need to get a different kind of formula. I don’t want to take swim, or dance or soccer away from Avery because it’s just an additional expense that we can’t really afford. I don’twant to have to turn down job opportunities right now, when we really need them the most, because I just don’t have the time anymore. We are not rich people, and I just don’t want there to be any struggle for our kids. Adding another child is stressful enough without the added stress of financial issues. And, we don’t have to sacrifice anything ( I know, I know, sacrifice is part of being a parent, blah blah, I get it, trust me) If we want to go on vacation, we can. If Avery wants a Mickey balloon in Disney she can have it. If we want to go to a play or musical show we can (usually, though sometimes they are way to expensive for a family of 3 to afford!)


  7.  I’m trying to work on ME right now. I’m trying to get myself to a much healthier weight, and a better lifestyle.  I don’t want to get pregnant again when I’m at my absolute heaviest. I was very healthy when I had Avery, and  I want to be as healthy as possible when I have a second child.
  8. I used to want my kids to be extremely close in age. I don’t want that anymore. I think three or so years apart is great. Being close in age doesn’t mean they will be the best of friends, and having a few years separating them doesn’t mean they’ll be distant.   We’ll take our chances that we’ll raise them in a way that will make them close, even if they have a “huge” age gap.
  9. We want to move.  Besides the whole “Our house is too small for a single hobbit” thing, we want to move. Away. I’d rather be settled in to a home before we have baby #2. Moving is terrible. (I know I’ve done it somewhere around 8010 times already) I prefer to move a family of three, not a family of four with a teeny baby. I just imagine I’d never, ever have time to unpack (Shoot, I still never have time to SHOWER and Avery is almost 2 and there’s only one of her!) and we’d be living out of boxes well into our retirement.


  10. We’re just not ready yet. I think this is the only reason we need to give anyone. We just aren’t ready. Yet. We will be ready at some point. We just know that right now isn’t the time.

    Bonus. Only one carseat!!!  The thought of two (or three, or MORE!) carseats in my car makes me break out in a cold sweat. I would feel differently,though,  if I had that 2014 GMC Yukon Denali that I asked Santa for……

So, there you have it.  Our family of three is staying a family of three. For now. And we like it that way.


Questions About Adoption

I am often asked questions about adoption by people who are pursuing or considering adoption as a way to grow their family. The questions are usually the same over and over, and the the answers sometimes come as a surprise to the parents.  I thought I’d take a moment to answer the most common questions here, in case others are out there, searching the web looking for answers.


adoption poem not flesh of my flesh
“Should we do an open or closed adoption?”

-This is a decision that you need to think long an hard about. I can see pros and cons in both.  My adoption, like all through New York State Child and Family Services, was completely closed. For me, that was always fine and I never wished it had been any other way. That said, as an adult, I do wish that it were easier to access my family history and to contact my biological family.

I recommend talking to families in both situations. You need to be certain of what you are comfortable with. If you choose an open adoption, you will need to come to an agreement with the birth parents about what is/is not appropriate. Will they speak to your child only on the phone, or will you invite them to Birthday parties or over for dinner?  How much access are you willing to give them.  Also know that this may change as your child gets older. They may want more or less contact with their birth parents.


“Should we adopt a baby or an older child?”

-This is another personal decision.  There are so many different issues that come from each type of adoption.  You may have to wait a very long time for an infant (especially if you are pursuing a domestic adoption through social services) With an infant you start with a “clean slate” so to speak.  They are yours from “day one” (I was 6 weeks old)  An older child may have more emotional issues (I say MAY because not all do, I have to be very clear on this. EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT) but unfortunately, the system can be harsh and have a serious impact on the children who are in it. That said,  there are hundreds of thousands of older children in the US who need families and adopting an older child can be an incredible blessing for your family.  Either way you are giving a very deserving child a loving home, so there is no wrong or right here.


“How much does it cost?”

-That depends.  Most state agencies do not charge anything.  My adoption, through Child and Family Services, for example, was *Free* however there are attorney’s fees and court costs involved.  If you adopt through a private agency, or internationally there will most likely be fees, however those vary by agency.


“Should we adopt Domestically or Internationally?”

-This is a very personal decision.  There can be pros and cons for both, but you need to decide what will be best for your family.  There are different costs involved with each, as mentioned above. With International adoption you must factor in the travel (sometimes multiple trips) as well as fees for Visas/Passports and agency fees. If adopting privately in the US you may have to pay for health care for the biological mother, or other living expenses. However, as was the case with me, you may pay nothing but attorney and court fees.

Then there are the wait times.  Internationally this can vary by country. In the US it may vary by agency. You may have to wait for a biological mother to “choose” you, or you may just have to wait for a child to become available. It can take years (in either case) or it could take days (as was the case in my adoption.)

Another consideration is medical history. With domestic adoption there tends to be more access to those histories.

There are also legal issues unique to each type of adoption, I am not knowledgeable enough about the legal system to truly address these issues, but if you are considering adoption, you should absolutely seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in International or Domestic adoption.

I am a proponent of Domestic adoption, because of my personal experience, and knowing how many children we have in the foster care system in the US (In the U.S. 400,540 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system.  115,000 of these children are eligible for adoption, but nearly 40% of these children will wait over three years in foster care before being adopted. Source: AFCARS Report, No. 19)  However, I also fully respect and support a family’s decision to pursue International adoption. There is no “right” answer to this question, it is all about what you feel in your heart.


“Will our child have abandonment issues?”

-The short answer? (and my strong personal opinion)  Yes.  Yes they will.  I have spoken to parents of adopted children who have told me “oh no, not my child he/she is very well adjusted and doesn’t have any feelings of abandonment”  I usually just say “oh that’s great!”  The truth is either they aren’t telling their parents, or they haven’t realized it yet.  Those feelings can come up at any time, and they will.  I hate saying it, but, I can almost completely guarantee it. If you are not adopted you can’t understand it (Most parents of adopted children do not understand it either) These feelings are incredibly deep rooted, and can manifest in different ways for each child (or adult)

I am a “very well adjusted” woman. My parents always showed me pure, unconditional love, however there has always been that “something” a feeling of loss, a feeling of losing again. For me it manifested itself in my relationships both with close friends and with boyfriends. I pushed people to their limits to see if they would abandon me. If they did I’d think “I knew it, I knew they wouldn’t stick around” and if they didn’t, I’d push harder until they did. It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20s that I realized what I was doing, and was able to work through it.


“Should we tell our child he/she is adopted?”

-100% absolutely, yes. Adoption isn’t something you should lie about or hide or cover up. It will only end up hurting your child in the end. The truth will come out, it always does. And you risk losing the trust of your child completely.


“What should we tell our child about their biological parents?”

-Again this decision is personal. Odds are pretty good that your child will ask.  I believe in being honest and telling them what you know (if you know anything)


“Will they try and find their biological parents?”

-They may, they may not. I know many adoptees who have no desire to search for their birth parents.   I also know many who have searched, and found their birth parents.

It is also important to let your child (I say child, but I know most adoptees who start the search are older)  know that it is ‘ok’ if they want to pursue a search. Many children (and adults) may avoid a search for fear of hurting their parents. Let your children know that you understand that this is important to them, and that you know they aren’t looking to replace you.

Also, give them your support. A search can be extremely emotional. They may find that their biological parents have died, or that they do not want to meet them. They will need your support.


“Will our child feel like they are different from the rest of our family?”

-This is a difficult, but important question. They may. It will depend on many factors.  Your child may be of a different race, and they will be aware of that. It is your job to teach them the beauty in their differences.  Even if your child is of the same race, they will have differences. For me, I was the pale little Irish girl who got a sunburn by looking at a picture of the sun. My Father is of Italian and Norwegian decent and my mother is a mix of French, German, Native American, English and more. Both of them have dark hair, both of them get incredibly tan in the summer (especially my mom!) It was clear that I was “different” that said, my family never made me feel like an outsider.  I was never “the adopted one” I took pride in being adopted, but I also took pride in being a part of my family. I will say, I do look like my cousins on my mother’s side, and everyone always commented on how much I looked like my nana (I have her nose haha)

It is your role as a parent to ensure that your child knows they are 100% part of the family. That they are 100% loved and that they are beautiful and perfect just the way they are.


“Is it biological mother? Birth mother? Natural mother? Which is it?”

-Go with whatever works for you.  I prefer biological mother, but will sometimes use birth mother.  I personally dislike “Natural Mother” because to me, it implies that there is something unnatural about adoption, and while I understand that giving birth is the natural way to motherhood the term just doesn’t sit well with me.


I hope this answers a few of the questions you may be asking.  If you are a parent considering adoption and have other questions or would like to discuss anything further, please contact me.  I would love to talk with you!


Here are a few books that I have read and think all adoptive parents should read:

Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge
20 Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed..Discover the Unique Need of Your Adopted Child and Become the Best Parent You Can by Sherrie Eldridge

Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self by David M. Brodzinsky, Marshall D. Schecter, Robin Marantz Henig



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Not Just A Sperm Donor….

I was offended yesterday.  It takes quite a bit to offend me. I’ll joke about stuff, pretend to be mad, but you have to say something really vile for me to want to give you a swift kick to your teeth.  Yesterday, I felt that way. And, honestly, it surprised me.

I was sitting down to have a quick bite to eat before heading out to Avery’s swim lesson when I overheard the conversation at the table next to me.

The conversation was between two girls.  One, I’d guess, was in her thirties. The other, in her early twenties.  Twenty something girl was talking about her fiance, who is adopted.  She was a bit ignorant of the legal issues surrounding adoption, and the new legislation that was passed in Rhode Island, but that wasn’t what got to me. (Though, I’ll admit, it was difficult to keep quiet)  The thing that bothered me was that she referred to her fiance’s biological father as “The Sperm Donor”   REALLY?!  (That was even more difficult to keep quiet about)

From what I gathered from the conversation, she did not know the man, or know the circumstances surrounding her fiance’s adoption.

A sperm donor is someone who walks into a clinic, makes his…..donation, and walks out with a check, with no further responsibility.

My biological father did not donate sperm.  There was no paycheck at the end.

Let me say, I do not know my biological parents (I have been told a bit of what my parents know or think to be accurate) I do know that my biological father was a lot more than just a “sperm donor”  If the story I know is true, he wasn’t the greatest of guys.  He was cheating on his wife with my biological mother. He, allegedly, said he was going to leave his wife for her, until she got pregnant. So, a bit slimy, but still, more than a “sperm donor”  There was love between two people, or at least some passion. In the same vein, my biological mother was more than an incubator. She just had no interest in raising a baby alone. Especially a “love child” And I respect that.  I’m sure there were other factors involved, but she just wasn’t ready to be a mom.

I don’t hold negative feelings towards either of them.  They made choices. Those choices may have hurt them. Their choices did NOT hurt me. I mean, yes, there are those deep rooted abandonment issues, the ones that every. single. adoptee. experiences (Even the ones who tell you they don’t?  They do. It’s that whole “prenatal wounding” thing–which I truly believe in and  could go one forever about.)  They made choices. Did those choices have an impact on me? Of course they did!  But only in positive ways.  They made the choice to let me go, and to allow another couple to raise me and love me.  The choice they made created a FAMILY. A loving couple got a daughter, and a baby girl got loving parents.  They made the right choice for everyone.

I can’t look at the man and woman who created me as “Just a sperm donor” or “Just an incubator” They are people, and they gave me life. They gave me an amazing life, because they gave me up.  And I am nothing but grateful to them.

It’s Not Always Perfect, And That’s OK

It’s supposed to be this beautiful, miraculous thing. Nobody wants to hear anything different.  You can joke about how physically painful it was. But don’t discuss how emotionally painful it was.

Avery’s birth was not what I expected. It wasn’t what you see in movies.  You know, the woman, obviously in pain, but able to talk, and joke with nurses and her husband. She might scream, and yell at him, but once the baby comes out, they are all hugging and crying with pure happiness and joy. “Look at this little miracle that we created.  Look what we made!  She’s finally here!”

I wish I could say that was my experience, but it wasn’t.

Like I said in the previous post. My labor and delivery didn’t go as “planned”  In fact, it was pretty much the opposite of what I wanted.  I wanted a natural birth in a hospital setting. No induction, minimal intervention.  I had a fully medicated, induced labor with loads of intervention.

Going in to it I had few expectations, so I’m not sure why the deviation from the “plan” had such an emotional impact on me.  Hormones perhaps?  I’m not sure. But i do know that how I felt during and after labor, was not what I expected.

My labor was quick, yes.  (if you don’t count the 24 hours that I labored at home)  But the fact that it progressed so quickly, and was so painful, made it seem more like a trauma than a miracle.

My eyes were closed for 99.9% of it.  I barely spoke to Dave (I guess that was good in a way—I wasn’t yelling at him!)  There was no “Good job honey!!!”  accompanied by a back-rub.  It was just me, in my own world, in agony.  And Dave not knowing what to do.  (Had he been talking to me I’m pretty sure I’d have told him to stop talking, or ignore him. and I didn’t want ANYONE to touch me)

When they put Avery on my chest, I wanted so badly to have that emotional, bonding moment.  But I couldn’t.  Not at first anyway.  I just kept thanking God, in my head, over and over that it was over. That I had survived it. That I wasn’t in pain anymore.

I don’t think it’s fair that society ignores the fact that labor can be traumatic for women.  I know that I am not alone, as I have spoken to other moms who feel “cheated” or “sad” because labor didn’t go the way they wanted.  We are made to feel bad if we don’t have a happy little story to share.  I think every woman should feel comfortable and safe in sharing her labor story.  No matter what her experience.  Women should know they are not alone if they had a “negative” experience.  It shouldn’t be something they feel they need to hide.  Women need to know that it isn’t just like we see on tv. It isn’t always perfect. We feel things. It’s OK to feel things.  Even the “ugly” things.  It’s OK.  It doesn’t make you a terrible mother. It makes you normal….it makes you human.

Of course I feel blessed to have a healthy, beautiful baby girl. I look at her with amazement every day. I’m in awe of her (and how she fit inside me!)  I know it shouldn’t matter HOW she got here, all that should matter is that she got here. Period. I just wish it had been a bit more “beautiful” for me, a bit more Hollywood…..more “romantic comedy” and less “horror”

I hope other women can feel more empowered to share their birthing experiences without shame.

(Also, I’ll admit, I am really angry that since the pain killers and epidural didnt work on me, I basically had a natural birth but  I don’t get the glory of going “med free” lol)