CHD Awareness Week – Cora’s Mom

Did you know that February 7th – 14th is CHD Awareness week? Do you even know what CHD is? I didn’t, until I met Kristine: Cora’s mom.

Kristine has been working diligently to educate as many people as possible since her daughter Cora died in December of 2009 from an undetected Congenital Heart Defect. Kristine is one of the sweetest, kindest, and most amazing women I’ve ever encountered and I’m honored to have her guesting on Mommy Boots today for CHD Awareness week.

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I hung up the phone with the coroner and turned to my husband, “congenital heart disease,” I told him. Our daughter, Cora, had just died suddenly and unexpectedly in my arms while feeding a few days before. We thought she was healthy.

Neither of us had ever heard of congenital heart disease. I tried to explain the best I knew saying I think congenital just meant you were born with it. My husband pulled out our dictionary and our CHD journey began.

Turns out congenital heart disease, or defects or simply CHD is a pretty big deal. Cora wasn’t alone. I read my entire pregnancy. I had stacks of books and belonged to at least three online forums. I memorized a list of things to do to prevent SIDS and even educated my parent friends about infant safety. I never once stumbled across congenital heart defects. I remember the doctors talking to me about screening for things like Down’s Syndrome and other conditions. I remembered Cora’s heel being poked when she was born, full term and weighing almost 9 pounds. The doctor’s listened to her heart, but that was it. I learned from the autopsy report she was born with a murmur. No one told me. The doctor’s probably didn’t think much about it. Murmurs are common. I didn’t think anything could go wrong with her heart.

An estimated 1 in 100 babies are born each year with CHD. Cora’s story is the extreme. In fact, most babies live, and even thrive. But, early detection is key. I don’t want anyone to ever, ever learn about CHD the way I did. I hope you’ll pass on our story.

Congenital heart disease can go undetected until adulthood. Those athletes you hear about dying on the field? Usually CHD.

I know if I didn’t have Cora I’d be tempted to click away from a post like this. The CHD world is a scary and even nightmarish reality No baby should be born with a broken heart.

I hope you’ll help me this week. I hope you’ll help the millions of people living with CHD and the even more millions that love them. We need more awareness so we can fund life-saving research. All it takes is to spend a few moments sharing this post or talking to people about CHD.

You can read more about CHD on Cora’s Story.

Guest Post – Introducing Baby Sign Language

While my blog was still Hope Springs Eternal, I was contacted by Misty who is the Chief Editor of Baby Sign Language. She asked me if I’d be willing to post a blog that she had written about baby sign language. I’ve been peripherally interested in BSL, so I said yes because I would love to learn more about it. I haven’t delved into it with Nellie yet but hopefully this article will give me a good start.. And maybe it’ll give you a good start, too!

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Introducing Baby Sign Language

Here are the two most important things I can tell you about introducing baby sign language to your baby or toddler:

1.      This is supposed to be fun.
2.      Take it slow!

There.  How’s that for simple advice?  Too often baby sign language gets lumped in with all the marketing hype that tries to convince parents they need to turn their babies into little Einsteins.  Baby sign language does not belong in this category.  Baby Sign Language is a research-supported, time-tested, simple and honest way to bond with your baby.  It doesn’t need any marketing!

So, now that you’ve relaxed and decided to have fun with your baby, remember that this isn’t a race!  Most parents start with just one or two signs.  Popular signs to start with are:  milk, eat, and / or more.

You can start with any word, but I’m going to use milk as an example.  To teach your baby the sign for milk, simply make the sign for milk every time you say the word milk.  To make the sign for milk, simply pretend that you are milking a cow with your right hand.  Give an imaginary udder a few squeezes, and that is your sign!  Before you offer your baby the breast or bottle, say, “Would you like some milk?” and make the sign for milk.  Then, give your baby some milk!  She will learn to associate gesture with word with yummy milk!

It is entirely up to you when to introduce a second or third sign.  Some parents wait until their child masters the first sign they teach.  Some parents introduce a sign when they feel their baby wants to say it.  For example, if your baby is constantly wanting to be put down, or taken down from his highchair, you might introduce the sign for “down.”  Or if your baby really loves it when you read to her, you might teach her the sign for “book.”

One of the beautiful things about baby sign language is that it is not an exact science.  It is easy to adapt to your child, your family, and your needs.

Depending on the age of your baby when you start to sign, it could be months before he signs back to you.  Don’t worry about it!  Just keep making your sign.  Remember that your Baby Signing back to you is not your only goal.  Every time you make a sign to your baby, you are helping his brain to grow and develop.  Every time you make a sign to your baby, you are teaching her that communication matters, and that you care what she has to say!

The key to successfully teaching your baby to sign is repetition.  Consistency is imperative.  This will become part of your daily routine.  If you start to get bored, make a game of it!  Make up silly songs that feature the word you are trying to teach.  Or, when you are reading to your baby, insert signs here and there.

And remember, you are not alone!  Seek out support from other signing parents of young children.  Visit websites like Baby Sign Language for resources and encouragement.  Remember that baby sign language is based on American Sign Language, the language of deaf community.  So whenever you want to learn a new sign, you can reference ASL and know that you are teaching your baby a real sign!

So have fun, and set your own pace.  Don’t worry, sign happy!

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There you have it, readers! Some simple and easy steps on introducing baby sign language to your little one. So what do you think? Is baby sign language something that you plan on doing? Have you already been doing it? If so, how is it going for you?

Thanks to Misty Weaver, Chief Editor of Baby Sign Language for writing this post. I received no compensation for this post; merely wanted to spread the word about BSL!

Surviving.




Hi y’all, I’m Blair. You can usually find me over at Heir to Blair where I’m talking about cupcakes, my sex life, & this little blonde kid named Harrison. When Natalie contacted me & asked me to guest blog, I was BEYOND excited. We share very similar stories, but ones of hope, courage, & a happy ending for both of us. So we decided that I should blog about what we have most in common, what we both know & maybe help someone else have a little hope. Because as Natalie says, it does spring eternal.

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On September 30, 2008, I peed on a stick & found out I was pregnant with our first child.

On November 22, just four days shy of the second trimester, I lost my baby.

I know – it’s a depressing way to start off a guest blog, especially with Nellie smiling so sweetly throughout this blog. But it is important to tell you that I lost my baby, that it broke my heart completely, because the key point is:

I SURVIVED. And so will you.

I survived. I survived the nights when I felt so empty down to my core that I wanted to rip out my uterus & stomp on it for betraying me. I survived the “black mark” on my fertility. & I survived the “sensitive cervix” stamped in red all over my chart – fighting back as only I know how with sarcasm & irony – with a cervix that refused to dilate even in labor.

I SURVIVED. And so will you.

Some days, I survived because my husband held me & told me it was okay to be sad & afraid. Some days, I survived because my girlfriends brought our faith to the conference table for a frank heart-to-heart. Sometimes, if we’re being honest, I survived with a fifth of gin & a plate of fresh chocolate chip cookies.

BUT I SURVIVED. And so will you.

When I became pregnant with Harrison, I had survived a miscarriage. But I wasn’t sure I could survive the fear of pregnancy – the fear of losing this new baby, of EVERYTHING being out of my control. I felt choked by fear that I wound not survive this pregnancy, even after two incredible ultrasounds.

Until I realized EVERYTHING WAS OUT OF MY CONTROL.

& submitted to that truth. It didn’t matter if I stayed 5 feet away from all deli meat. Or if I never had sex with my husband after conception. Or if the pizza I indulged in had trace finger-tip-full amounts of feta in an entire slice. It was out of my control and there was very little I could do that would “shake a good pregnancy.” Harsh words, but true. & more importantly, there was very little I could do to keep a pregnancy that was not supposed to be viable. Even harsher words. The first time my mother said them to me, I cried. Until I realized, she SPOKE THE TRUTH. & slowly, I relaxed. I ate grilled hot dogs. I drank the acceptable amount of caffeine. I went for a few jogs. & on October 14, 2009, I gave birth to the most amazingly handsome blonde boy.

We survived.

& so will you.