Tag Archives: prenatal health

This is Why a Perfect Pregnancy is BS (Parents Magazine)

Why A Perfect Pregnancy is BS, Parents Magazine, Virginia Sole-Smith

It was the 18th week of my second pregnancy. I lay in a fake-leather recliner, holding my breath and my husband’s hand as a maternal fetal medicine specialist slid an ultrasound wand over my abdomen. This wasn’t your standard anatomy check. The doctor was trying to see if our baby had all four chambers of her heart. And if she would be spared the 12 surgeries, six months of hospital life, and countless moments of pain and panic that our first daughter endured during her early years.

 Violet was born with a rare collection of life-threatening congenital heart defects, all of which were somehow missed on the half-dozen ultrasounds I had during my pregnancy with her. We didn’t know anything was wrong until her heart began shutting down when she was a month old. Violet is now a happy and healthy 4-year-old who begins every sentence with “Actually… ” But her heart condition is lifelong. The question that haunted every conversation Dan and I had about a second child was: What if it happens again?

The odds of that were small, but much bigger than if it hadn’t happened the first time. So my second pregnancy was immediately classified as high risk. I underwent every genetic test and screening because my doctor was determined not to miss so much as a prenatal pimple. And so, after searching the grainy images of our baby on the ultrasound monitor for about ten minutes, my doctor turned to me with a huge smile. “Her heart is developing normally,” he said. “This baby gets an A+. Good work, Mom!”

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The $15 Test That Could Save Your Baby [YAHOO Parenting]

After my article about Violet was published in Parade this summer, I received so many amazing letters from parents of CCHD children and from several adult CCHD survivors. I read and saved every email (yes, even if I didn’t have time to respond to you personally) because it meant so much to have these total strangers reaching out to say “I’ve been where you are.”

Then I got an email from Annie Kersch, who was writing to say “I’m there, right now.” And also: “How can we make sure this stops happening?” Because her daughter Ari also did not receive a pulse ox test at birth — which meant she became dangerously and horrifically ill before her heart defect was discovered. Annie is committed to raising awareness about the importance of pulse oximetry screening (as well as improving prenatal detection of congenital heart defects), so I knew I had to tell her story. I’m so pleased that this piece is now live on the new (and very cool!) Yahoo Parenting.

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Saving The Smallest Hearts [Parade, August 2014]

I wrote the first draft of this essay quite soon after we came home from Violet’s first (22 day) hospital admission. Our life had just exploded, everything was raw, and I was filled with questions. My (excellent, patient, compassionate) midwife and Violet’s (excellent, patient, compassionate) team of doctors were endlessly kind about my questions. But they didn’t have all the answers. And during a time like that, people are quick to tell you when there’s no fruit there — you need to focus on moving forward, on being strong for what is and what’s next. They are right and I have tried hard to do that. But trying to understand why your baby’s heart didn’t develop correctly isn’t like trying to understand why your ex-boyfriend stopped calling. It’s a big, never-ending question with a million answers (depending on your faith or lack thereof) and also no answers — at least not scientific ones, at least not yet.

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    The Eating Insinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America by Virginia Sole Smith

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