Heart Murmurs in Babies

As I flipped through a recent Parents magazine, one of the articles stood out to me because it hit close to home. The article was titled, “Mending Broken Hearts” and talked about diagnosing and treating various heart defects in newborns and children. It spoke to me personally because my son was born with a ventricular septal defect, commonly referred to as VSD. According to Mayo Clinic, VSD is “a common heart defect that’s present at birth (congenital). The defect involves an opening (hole) in the heart forming between the heart’s lower chambers, allowing oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood to mix.” Small VSDs do not present with any problems, while larger VSDs may cause a bluish tint to a baby’s skin, lips or fingernails. Many times, the defect is never discovered or not diagnosed until adulthood.

vsdThe pediatrician discovered our son’s heart murmur during his first checkup in the hospital and we were immediately referred to a pediatric cardiologist at Riley Children’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with VSD. Fortunately, VSD is treatable. More than likely, our son’s VSD will close on its own, and even if it doesn’t, it’s so small it will not cause any future problems.

So what can be done to prevent heart defects like VSD? As the Parents’ article explained, unfortunately not much since the exact cause of the defects are largely unknown. The article did offer some suggestions for steps a pregnant woman can take to lower the odds:

Take a daily vitamin. However, because a multivitamin will only work to prevent birth defects when taken at least a month before conception, it’s suggested that all women within in childbearing age take a daily multivitamin just to be safe. Look for a multivitamin that includes folic acid, the key nutrient that prevents birth defects.

Get vaccinated. Stay up-to-date on the Rubella vaccine and get a flu shot every year.

Watch your blood sugar. If you get gestational diabetes, keep your blood sugar under control. Persistently high levels are known to cause birth defects.

Watch what medicines you take during pregnancy. Ask your doctor before taking anything while pregnant, even OTC drugs.

Capturing Memories in Writing

A few months ago Lindsey gave some great advice on capturing and organizing pictures and kids’ artwork. Her ideas are wonderful and I hope to get my act together soon and implement some of them! Before I had kids I considered myself a really organized, neat, detail-oriented person. Deep down inside I still have those qualities, but they have taken a back-burner to being a mom. When we had our first son I did really well keeping his baby book updated with all of his milestones and printed pictures to put in albums faithfully. Then along came my daughter. She had a baby book, but it was much more sporadically used. Our third, well, I think he has a baby book somewhere! I share this to hopefully help others learn early a trick that has helped me capture my kids’ personalities… sayings, milestones, hilarious things that they have done, without the pressure of keeping a perfect baby book.

When my oldest son was four, I finally decided to give up trying to write down his funny moments and sayings in his baby book. It was stored in his closet, so by the time I had a minute to go get the book down, find the right color pen and remember what it was he did or said, it was too late. One day I just took a journal that I probably had sitting in a drawer for years and stuck it on top of the fridge. Now every time I want to record something for any of my kids I can do it before the thought escapes me. I have captured so much more this way than I ever did with the pre-made baby books. Plus, I don’t have to feel guilty about the empty spaces that I either forgot to record or that just didn’t apply to my child. Here are some of the great memories I have captured in writing since I began the journal…

Josiah, 4 years old…

Josiah asked me what happened to the dinosaurs after they died. “They went to heaven, right, Mommy?” While I was trying to figure out how to answer he said, “Oh yeah, I know. They didn’t go to heaven, they went to the Museum of Natural History.”

Josiah and I sat on some small chairs and put our feet up on other chairs. He said, “What are we doing, Mom?” I answered, “Relaxing, Josiah.” He replied, “Oh, I remember you did that one time!”

Josiah, 5 years old…

My husband asked the kids how their breakfast of waffles tasted. “Like popcorn,” said Josiah.

“God isn’t silly,” Josiah told me one day. “What do you mean,” I asked. “Well, I know He doesn’t do anything fun. But, He does go out to dinner with his friends sometimes-His disciples.”

Kaylee Grace, 2 years old…

Pineapple was called “Kind-apple” for the longest time!

Her belly button was her “belly butt.”

When the kids rough house with my husband, it is “ruffle-house” to Kaylee Grace.

I said “Utah” she said, yes, “I t

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all”.

Kaylee Grace, 3 years old…

She was helping me cut coupons and c

ame to a dog food coupon and said, “We don’t need thi

s one Mommy, we don’t have a camel.”

My husband said to Kaylee Grace while she was bent over on the floor looking at a book, “I can see your butt crack again Kaylee Grace.” ” Yeah Dad, my butt always has a crack in it!”

Kaylee Grace was helping our neighbor plant seeds to start her vegetable garden. I asked Kaylee Grace what they were growing, “candy!” she answered.

Eli…

Eli is just starting to really converse, but he is a hilarious kid. I can’t wait until he has as many entries in the journal as the other two.

This was only a small sampling of the pages I have in the journal. I could have typed all night! Many of the memories are more meaningful and not as funny, but whatever they are, they are written down so we can remember them and share them!Hopefully this tip will help someone else preserve their family’s lives together.

Coming Together to Help

APTOPIX Severe WeatherWe all face personal struggles, challenges and trials everyday, but unfortunately today many in Oklahoma are facing tragedy. Here is a comprehensive list of trustworthy organizations that are taking donations in order to help those whose lives have been drastically affected. Also check with local churches or other missions in your area.

Salvation Army

Donations can be made by going online towww.salvationarmyusa.org, by calling 800-SAL-ARMY (800-725-2769), or texting the word “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through a mobile phone.

American Red Cross

Donations can be made by going online towww.redcross.org, by calling 800-RED-CROSS (800-733-2767), or texting the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation through a mobile phone.

Heart to Heart International

Donations can be made by going online tohttp://www.hearttoheart.org, by calling 866-341-GIVE (866-341-4483), or texting the word “HEART” to 27722 to make a $10 donation through a mobile phone.

Baby Blues or More? Living with Post-Partum Depression

I’ve had this blog post sitting as a draft for almost three months now because this post hits very close to home and I wasn’t sure I was ready to divulge such a private part of my life. However, after prayerful consideration, I decided that if this post helps just one person, it will be worth it to me. Krissy touched on post-partum depression in an earlier post, but I want to talk a little more about it.

First of all, how can you tell the difference between “baby blues” and full-on post-partum depression? WebMD offers a comprehensive explanation on baby blues versus post-partum depression here, but basically baby blues only last 1 to 2 weeks immediately after childbirth, while post-partum depression slowly builds, peaking at around 3 or 4 months after birth.

Unfortunately, post-partum depression and the so-called “baby blues” carry a stigma and keep many women from seeking the help and treatment they need. Fortunately, the stigma is slowly starting to disappear, thanks to celebs like Vanessa Lachey and Alanis Morrisette (who speak out in this ABC News segment) and real-life women blogging about their struggles with both the baby blues and post-partum depression. I admit that I was one of those women who didn’t get help right away even though I needed it. The reasons for not seeking help were numerous…I felt like I would be judged, I felt that I was a mentally-stable person before pregnancy so what I was experiencing wasn’t that bad, I felt that I should be able to handle it.

Thank goodness for my amazing husband and some amazing friends who helped me through a very dark time in my life and encouraged me to get help. Even if I didn’t want to admit it, I was suffering from post-partum depression and needed professional help to get me through it. It was amazing how much better I felt after finally admitting I was suffering from post-partum depression and started taking medication.

I just want to implore you to ask for help. Even if you think it’s just the baby blues, there’s no reason to suffer in silence. Talk to a friend, take a coffee break, get out of the house, do whatever you need to clear your head. You don’t have to be super mom, you just need to be the best mom to your baby and you can only do that by taking care of yourself.

ToConceive Partners with Don’t Cook Your Balls

spermToConceive has recently partnered with Don’t Cook Your Balls, a website that offers a light-hearted look at male infertility. Offering a plethora of helpful information on male infertility issues, the Don’t Cook Your Balls website discusses the science of conception, including how sperm are made, how testosterone affects fertility, how the male reproductive system works and male sexual health. The website delves into male fertility testing, providing information on the different types of male infertility tests, when you should get tested and understanding the results. Looking at the most common types of male infertility, Don’t Cook Your Balls discusses common causes of male infertility and things you can do to boost sperm count. Other helpful information provided includes infertility resources, reproductive specialists, male fertility products and support groups.

ToConceive is proud to work with Don’t Cook Your Balls to educate and support those dealing with male infertility. Check them out at www.dontcookyourballs.com.