Compassion for the Killer: Mistakes in Medicine

This post is part of the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion initiative. Today is United Nations World Day of Social Justice. Please check out other ‘Voices’ by using #1000speak on Facebook and Twitter.

The following is taken from excerpts of the book, Split the Baby: One Child’s Journey Through Medicine and Law (2009)

I was just finishing up a shower when there was a knock at the door. It  was in descript, neither forceful or melodic.   As I came out of the bathroom and turned, a tall, slender man in a white lab coat stood with hands clenched by his sides. A young blonde stood beside him with her gaze focused on him.  Having set forth some base information to my husband the white coat was forced to repeat everything to me,  the mom.

I remember the deep breath he took which made time pass more slowly. There must have been some introduction. I’d never seen this person before and his words were the key to a permanent place in my memory. One key in and nothing to free it.  He was polite, soft-spoken, yet his speech was burdened by a thick accent and heavy woe.

“Mrs. M, there has been a sudden event.”

I couldn’t understand. I looked to my husband who was leaving the questioning to me, just as the speechless nurse left responsibility for answers to the man in the white lab coat. From that moment on, even though we would only see each other a handful more times, Dr K and I would forever be entwined in a strange ethereal connection as missionaries for safer care for heart babies because of this one. We just didn’t know it then.

“What do you mean? What happened?”

“Your son has had a serious event. It was very sudden.”

“Can I see him?”

“It is very serious.”

“What happened?”

He rubbed his fingers against each other as his hands balled into two fists at the end of his arms on each side of the white coat.

“It was a very sudden and very serious event. They are working on him now.”

Serious. Sudden. Event. Event. Event. Event. Event. Event.

As many times as I asked the same question looking for a new response the answer remained constant.

“Your son has had a serious event.”

His body language didn’t change course either. The hands. The hands kept their own rhythm. Unaccustomed to trusting my maternal instincts in an environment they were never before tested, I could not even imagine what these hands had done. The fingers massaged each other with the thumb as leader. Like a well rehearsed marching band they closed together in a four count around their leader and then repeated their dance. It was rhythmic, tense and peculiar.  Not until all the pieces were revealed, did I understand the lyrical movements. The hands were spokesmen for the walnut sized heart and soul it encapsulated just moments before our meeting. I was left with a strong, palpable, disconcerting anxiety. The kind that makes you want to do something. The kind that either subscribes everything to memory or removes everything. The kind that does not allow the body to remain still but it can’t move with force either. Collapse is within reason.   Adrenaline is surging. The mind is coursing through an uncontrollable series of bad thoughts yet each one unproven and unmatched to the true horror. And the lessons of a life lived in submission and respect for white stubbornly not letting go.   Over the next several hours and eventually days the anxiety robbed me of every knowledge, ideal, confidence, and belief ever held. I didn’t know then what the doctor knew. My son had died needlessly and he brought him back to life through a traumatic event. Even though this baby would die within days, his tragic life would leave both of us with scars and in need of compassion.

Stupefied I meekly and with a sense of embarrassment at having to repeat myself again asked, “What happened?”

It took years, multiple lawyers, and an indescribable amount of strength that forced the doctor and I into the same room again so the question could be begin to be answered. We saw each other first in the courtroom hallway and caught each other’s glance.

With no words, he knew I wished he wasn’t there and I knew he wished my son was.

His eyes were still expressing apologies for his profession.

At its beginning, I personally requested Dr. K not be placed on the case as a defendant. While at the hospital he did not say why he kept apologizing but I felt his empathy.  He had expressed remorse and showed me some compassion.  I would need (actually, demand) much more compassion from friends, families, and strangers as a heartbroken, disillusioned, and confused grieving mom. However, Dr. K was stuck between the rock of wanting to continue serving in his chosen profession (in which he has great skills) and the hard place of serving an ironically uncompassionate industry where risk and liability trump basic human needs. He had information. He knew the play by play of the killer of this 11 day old baby.

As I read his deposition, I kept stopping and re-reading. It was an honest and forthcoming testimony. Certainly not what was expected from someone who appeared to be running away with the rest of the hospital’s risk management department.  Through no fault of his own and through nothing he was born with this adorable and very young patient of the hospital had endured needless overtreatment resulting in medically induced trauma and preventable errors that ultimately killed him.

“Do you have a recollection of the treatment and care of [this baby] postoperatively on October 4, 2001 when you first arrived?”

“Yes, Dr. R gave me the sign out on patients including [the baby boy].  He told me he was operated on earlier in the day and was removed from the mechanical ventilator support about one, one and a half hours before I arrived, and we reviewed the patients’ nursing sheet that you have in front of you.”

The conversation flowed as most other depositions did. Logistics and groundwork were laid.  Point by point. Lab value by lab value. Minute by minute.

His arrival that unfortunate evening was a bit delayed as he was arriving from his laboratory an hour away. It was not a normal schedule for him to work on a Thursday evening either. He agreed to switch his Friday evening shift for another’s Thursday. As far as risk management was forced to unveil, this baby died from a host of “never events” including failure to rescue, ventilator associated pneumothorax, unnecessary surgery, sepsis, hospital acquired infections and much more.

Little did the doctor who had his own infant at home and was coming off of a long shift know that simply by helping a co-worker out that day he would be party to life changing events for so many.  Little did I know the machine that the healthcare system is. That not only could it eat an 8 lb 4 oz baby boy alive, it does the same to many of its doctors and nurses that have sworn to serve its clients. Only through perseverance, tears, conversation and compassion did I begin to understand the ache of humanity on the other side.  for those who love to hate lawyers, it was my lawyer that showed me the most compassion and willingness to listen. He also allowed the seeming oxymoron that I could forgive the doctors responsible for my son’s death, while still needing the truth so we could stop this from happening to another.

Perhaps because the trial lawyer was an MD himself.

There still remains missing pieces to my son’s tragedy. One big one. Dr. K wanted that piece as much as I did.

Court testimony revealed that the telemetry strip for the time of my son’s initial event went missing.

“For a patient that is otherwise doing well, I would go like 55 up to 80. Normal values in a newborn they’re like 60 over 80, but it’s not unusual after an operation to have some ventilation profusion mismatches.”

“At 4:30 there’s a gas that reads 7.39, 58.9, and then 64 the O2.”

“It looks like the last saturation by Pulse oximetry reading was at 4:00 or 4:10 time period. I don’t see any afterwards until it looks like 19:40 or so. Any idea why there is no recording in those spaces?”


The lawyer pressed, “Is that something that would typically be recorded?”

A definitive, “Yes.”

In deposition and again at trial all the medically trained witnesses testified that this piece of the medical records would be most helpful in explaining to the jury what happened.

The healthcare team did not save the tracings. Hospital risk managers did not furnish them.   It unfortunately was not a piece of information discussed at sign off.  The compassionate doctor would have liked to have that piece of information.

I would too.

What we do have is a shared motivation to help other babies have safer care and better treatment experiences.

For reasons I cannot fathom that connection was made by forces greater than myself or the doctor. Trust between patient and physician is paramount for a patient. Confidence between physician and patient is critical to the physician. Both can become broken. The only way to keep going is to be willing to sit and listen and truly hear the pain on the other side. Then we understand. Then we have compassion.

There is no way he does not remember holding my son’s walnut sized heart in his hand not by choice but during trauma. There is no way I will ever forget the compassion he showed me no one else in the hospital dared.

It’s been 14 years now. I am certain we both hope compassion is a part of every adverse event in medicine today.

Have you seen it?




Conquering the Mountain: Ski Camelback

(Camelback Ski Resort provided lessons and rentals so I could share this experience with you.)

I went skiing. Actually, snowboarding.mountaincoasters

One I never thought I would do again. The other I thought I could never do.

Well, hell to the haters – even my own demons – y’all!

I have known for awhile that my fears and hesitations were having a direct impact on my kids. If I am afraid of it, we don’t really do it very much if at all. If I am sharing qualms and my own scary stories about it, it instilled some level of hesitation in one, two or a few of them.

I went skiing once in college and it didn’t go all that well. Stayed away – until this weekend. This weekend I conquered my demons, the Bunny Hill, and hopefully, won another leg up in my family’s overall health.

Being a fan of hiking nature trails and the mountains – and being from southeastern Pennsylvania, it made the most sense to get back up on this proverbial horse back where it all started – The Pocono Mountains. I grew up with family vacations to the Poconos every summer. It is a welcoming mountain area if ever there was once. The people were always friendly and welcoming and the landscape breathtaking around each bend in the road.

Our drive to the Poconos was a quick and easy hour and a half. The signs leading us to Camelback Ski Resort were helpful as we exited the highway.  My son pointed out from a distance “that must be ‘our’ mountain”. Clearly he was ready to go from the “big hill” in our neighborhood park to the side of a mountain with a real snowboard!

Upon arrival, signs and very friendly Camelback staff directed traffic and parking. It was clear I wasn’t the only one with this great idea. It was a very busy ski weekend and lots were full. Yet, the staff directed us to a spot that was a very short walk to the Main Lodge. Again, more staff was available as we got closer to the Main Lodge and pointed us in the direction of The Discovery Center. We had already reserved our snowboards, helmets, wrist guards, and perhaps most importantly, LESSONS! Since we had lessons reserved we were able to check in under the main rental area. It was a good choice. There was no wait, staff guided us along, and we were not rushed in anyway.  Arriving a good hour and a half before our scheduled lesson seems like a lot – but if it has been awhile since you skied or you are new, the buffer time helped create a very relaxing day at the outset.

Once we were all geared up we headed to our lessons. I was not able to go with my son to his lesson as my lesson was scheduled for the same time. It made me a little nervous seeing him hike off to his lesson without anyone he knew. Yet the Camelback staff accompanied him to his lesson and the instructors were very welcoming. My first set of fears were silenced quickly. That was a brow-wiper.


As I marched off to my lesson full of concern for my kid, I didn’t for a second worry about what had happened last time I was on a mountain of snow. Up the hill from the Kids Lesson area, my snowboard and I met destiny – my very young instructor, Doug – and lots of snow.

Doug was the best snowboard instructor there ever was for a 40-something year old mom of 5 who life has kicked in the teeth a few times. Actually from what my classmates said, he is pretty awesome for pre-teens, teenagers, and middle aged men as well. He never once pushed me to do more than I was comfortable doing and never stopped being encouraging. The very FIRST thing I did when I tried to carefully follow his direction and “skate” on my board was fall flat on my face. Complete face plant. I share that for my haters – total face plant in the snow a few times. But I got up. Each time – I got back up.

I learned to fall on my butt more than my face when possible. As soon as I was feeling some anxiety that I was losing control to take some of that control back by falling. In skiing, falling is step one.

Doug was there asking if I was okay and giving me suggestions as to how I could be more successful.

Doug showed us how to snowboard down the small hill in front us. My classmates all went ahead of me and did awesome. I went down – and went down. Yup, but I think that time I fell on my arse. Not sure, I fell a lot. I got up a lot. Doug continued to refine instruction for and encourage me to keep going. I did what I could and took a break when I needed. The hour and a half lesson went by quicker than I expected. I snowboarded more than I expected as well.

Taking a bit of a break and watching the other newbies take some spills and thrills on the Bunny Hill was inspiration. Some of these newbies were still shopping in the Toddler section. Definitely great idea to start them young!

It was awesome to see my own kid get up there and take the mountain – umm, Bunny Hill. As we laughed watching each other fall and helping each other back up (when possible) it just became crystal clear. The family that gets back up together, stays together.

There is no way around falling. Just like there is no way around failure, disappointment, hurt, and exhaustion in life. It happens.

We can’t take the falls away from or even fall for the ones we love. The skills and talents we each own are different and at varying abilities. Sometimes a younger member is going to sail right past you down the hill like this is the easiest thing in the world. They are not finding the moguls you keep hitting. Or they find the moguls and ace each one. Staying healthy in mind, body, and spirit is accepting that we are going to fall. We will fail. We will lose control. But, we have to get back up. Family is he people waiting for you at the bottom of the hill – regardless of how long you take to get there.

We topped off  the day with a carefree ride on Camelback’s Mountain Coasters. After a four and a half minute ride up the mountain you absolutely fly down in a coaster that dips and curves and turns and had me screaming with a smile. It is a must for everyone!

It was a great day snowboarding. It was awesome that my kid was finally introduced to a new way to stay fit and healthy too. We are anxious to get back to give ourselves some more practice.

You don’t have to a perfect size 10 in a cute ski outfit. You just need to be willing to fall.


If you go:

Visit Camelback Ski Resort

Sign up for a lesson and pick up rentals at The Discovery Center

Stay safe and rent a helmet and wrist guards.

Save a little time for a ride on a Mountain Coaster.

If you have them, wear butt guards.

Tell Doug, I said hello!


Taking Back Camelback: Skiing for Healing

Caution: Foul language ahead. Stop here if you are easily offended. Cause this isn’t meant for those that can’t take a hit.


This came across my desk from a good friend whose husband died….from infection…during treatment for cancer….a few years after the buried their son….who was stillborn….at 9 months gestation.

She was in her 30 – 40s.

And yet she keeps on moving, everyday. She is a hero. A very hurt hero.

She knows of what she speaks. Not that you don’t get hit with some rough stuff in your 20’s. Plenty of people deal with some major life stressors well before as well. However, it does seem that as a general rule, in your 20s you still haven’t been hit with the nonstop really whacks that are available the longer you ride the line of adulthood.

Getting up is not easy. That friend with the colorful meme above and I became friends over the shared experience of infant loss. I have fallen a lot of times and been hit when I was down many times.

Sometimes we keep losing. But once we allow ourselves to see our own little wins – the tides can change in our favor.

Tomorrow I am headed back to the scene of one of my first failures as a young adult – skiing. Camelback Ski Resort in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

It was a great place to visit as a college student along with my boyfriend and college pals. On a whim we hopped in a car and headed out to the mountains for skiing. That was truly all the planning that was involved. Once there, we graned some rentals. A few of us – including me – received a beginners’ lesson; took a few runs down the Bunny Hill then went up the lift to go down the “real hill”.

I fell as soon as I got off the lift. Picked myself up again – and fell again.

I thought we were on the slope as I saw a line of people waiting to go down an “easy slope”. “Wait! What?  This wasn’t the slope. Oh dear lord.” I thought.

 I panicked and skied straight into an Austrian tourist. He was the only thing stopping me before going through a frail orange fence and over what looked like a serious cliff. I was very appreciative of this middle aged man for saving my life. He on the other hand let me know how much of a stupid teenage I was acting. His advice was that I never should have left the Bunny Hill. ‘I was just barely toughing my 20s.

It didn’t take long for me to prove the guy right.


Failure was hitting and I was about to buckle.

It kinda feels like going down a mountain. On skis. For the first time. With only one previous run down the Bunny Hill. You start believing your friends that say “Oh you will be fine. You’re did great on the Bunny Hill.” Then you follow them up the lift and down the mountain. Only you fall pretty quick as you get off the lift taking down a tourist from Austria who curses you out in German for “being up here when clearly you shouldn’t be.” And you continue to fall every few feet. Til you give up, take off the skis, and walk the rest of the way down the so called “Easy Slope”.

After rolling down the mountain a few times, I took off my skiis and walked down.

Haven’t been back on a slope since.

Well until tomorrow that is.

Heading back to the scene of the crime. Having children myself now I would rather encourage they embrace all life has to offer than to cower in the shadow of their mother’s fears and form of PTSD since burying their brother. It is not a healthy existence.

So off I go.

In preparation, we have snowboards rented, snowpants packed, hats and gloves ready to go. I will be leaving my fear at home and bringing up my love of fun and laughter. If the fear does refuse to stay home, my love for my kid will be there to face it. I want my kid to have fun.

To be healthy in mind, body and spirit.

What do you think should be on my “packing list” for skiing as a middle aged parent?

This should be a wonderfully healthy experience.

Hopefully my ankles and knees will agree. Sure hope Camelback remembers me and is gentle!


Stay tuned…..

From Pre-K Kids to The New Governor or Pennsylvania

This post originally appeared on MomsRising here

I have spent the past year visiting and advocating for high quality pre-k classrooms in Pennsylvania. In the Fall as election day neared, I would ask the children what they thought it meant to be a “Governor of Pennsylvania”. The conversations were so engaging I kept using the question as a conversation starter well after election day was over! It was interesting to hear their answers. Even more interesting that I could go in so many different schools; speak to such a variety of children and still hear many of the same thoughts and responses. Overall the children made the observation that they had more in common with a new governor than you would think. In honor of our new Governor Wolf’s Inauguration today I put it in the form of a letter (at the end of this post).

Being a new governor is not too unlike a kid’s first day in pre-k (or even preschool).

Today at the Inauguration there will be crowds of new faces and a few old ones welcoming the Governor Wolf. Today a four year old is starting a new pre-k classroom and he will see 10 – 20 or more new classmates and a number of adults all doing something different. He will have to trust them. He will have little opportunity to change what is happening to him.

Today Governor Wolf will place his hand on a family-owned mid-19th century Bible to swear in his duties. Today, our new four year old pre-k student will hope to find a familiar book in the Quiet Corner to re-group himself from all the new experiences and people.

Today Tom Wolf will be handed the key to the governor’s mansion (to which he has already said he will not accept.) Our pre-k kid will hope to find a playmate on what he hopes will be a playground,

There are new people and new goals to meet. Friendships to forge and conflicts to resolve so that everyone understands.

Today Governor Wolf will be the center of a media storm of photos and news coverage marking his first official day in office. The state will mark time and the progress by this date. No one will mark the date of our new pre-k student, except maybe his parents. However, our whole state will mark how our state education system is doing by the standardized tests he will start taking at the end of Governor Wolf’s four years in office. Our pre-k kid will enter Grade 3. How well he does in school relies heavily on whether or not he had a high quality early learning experience.

Community strength, business growth, physical health, and so much more falls heavily on the quality of the early learning experience of the first five years of Pennsylvania’s youngest constituents. Instead of just saying, we support kids. It’s time to really show them in the policies created and advocated for that Pennsylvania delivers for our kids. A state governor needs support, quality investment, high qualified, ethical advisors The same is true of the young learners of Pennsylvania.

Today, you and a four year old somewhere in Pennsylvania are sharing the same experience. As you start a new job; there is a four year old starting a new pre-k program.

A Letter to Governor Wolf from Pre-K Kids in Pennsylvania:

Dear Governor Wolf:

Congratulations! It must be cool to be a new governor.

Make some good friends at your new job. Share what you have with them. Don’t leave anyone out. Let everyone have a turn. Know how many people are in Pennsylvania – especially kids. Make sure you take a rest time after your lunch. When someone is not being nice to you, ask for help. Sit down and talk when you aren’t getting along. If I was governor, I would make sure all kids can play and paint. I think everyone in Pennsylvania should have a new book to read. Maybe you could help all teachers in Pennsylvania be like [my teacher]. She is really smart and she never yells at us. Go outside to play with the people that help you do your job. Maybe with other people too. Thanks for being our governor.

Love, Cole Sam Jeffrey Grayson Melinda Marie Anna Julia Julie Winnie Katie Emma Emily Gracie ……..and many many more

Wild Walks to Heal Your Heart

I remember the funeral. Wild.  I remember that I told myself not to cry. Crying is a sign of weakness. It would be messy. People would not like messy. How crazy wild I thought that.

How could I have possibly cared about that? It was my 11 day old son’s funeral.

11 days.

The longest journey of my life was on. Survival of the un-survivable. Things were bound to get messy.

Women whom I had never met before were reaching out willing to walk alongside me for a bit. Most of the time they did not offer. We just found ourselves walking the same treacherous, lonely path at the same time. Occasionally one of us would stumble and fall. We’d remain there hoping somehow we would be able to walk again. I stumbled alot. ALOT. Screamed a lot. Sat in my fallen spot in quiet seclusion even more. Too scared to move for fear of doing more damage.



It wasn’t until a year ago that I took the analogy and made it real. I began walking, religiously, every morning as far as I could and always in nature. I have come across doe and fawn. I have stumbled across a six point buck who looked as shocked as I. I tripped over a fox den. I have seen birds, frogs, skunks, mice, fish, and the occasional fellow morning person. Being in the Wild – even when the shocking, scary, and surprising was an unwelcome companion – helped my healing.


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Since I have been walking clarity has become a welcome surprise. Walking has offered forgiveness for what when I have failed and when I have soared but did not acknowledge it. The time in nature has been healing. Reading and then viewing Cheryl Strayed’s memoirs, “Wild: Lost and Found on the Pacific Coast Trail” was reassuring. Things may be messy. Crazy. But there was a purpose.


The travel in the woods feeds my thirst for more. I have been unable to steal away for a couple months to hike the Appalachian Trail, let alone the Pacific Coast trail. However, my morning hikes along suburban Philadelphia nature hikes are meditative and invigorating; a chance to forget as well as remember; moments to cry and even laugh; and healing. Walking has allowed my soul to heal even when I hurt some more. If at the end of the day the pain of memory and the exhaustion of not seeing the world the way everyone else sees it grabs me, I know there is always tomorrow’s walk.

Cheryl Strayed in her book Wild shares how her experience solo hiking the Pacific Coast Trail transformed her life experiences. The movie and soundtrack of the same name offer all of us a chance to be swept away and healed.






Even better, you can win your own Wild soundtrack by re-pinning the contest Pin here.




Baby Dies in Day Care: Do You Understand Quality Rankings?

A precious baby lost her life this week. Sadly, she is surely not the only one. Yet, every single one is too many and deserves to be remembered. This baby girl will be remembered for the place where she died – her day care center, Wyndmoor Learning Center in Willow Grove, PA.

It is still much too early to be an armchair judge and jury. However, it is not too early to discuss how to understand what high quality day care means in your state.

Since this tragedy is unfolding in Pennsylvania, that is where we start. Pennsylvania is also the first state to have developed a quality rating system for day care centers, preschools, and early childhood education programs.

The initial news report about this tragedy can be read here. The key element we are discussing is the claim that this day care center had supposedly been ranked the highest for quality at “four stars”. According to the article:

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services database, the Wyndmoor Learning Center is a “four star” school, meeting the state’s highest standards.

So what exactly does that mean? Let’s break it down to “database””Four star”, “highest standards”.

First off, the “database”. What database is this reporter referring to and how do you find it? I have reached out to the reporter for clarity but as of publication have not received a response. As a result, I can only share what I, as an early childhood educator, am aware of for day care center quality ranking databases.

I immediately searched for the day care center on The Pennsylvania Keys website. On this site anyone can search for day care centers, preschools, early learning centers based on county, zip code, or name. You will find the search tool here.

Searching for Wyndmoor on Friday January 9, 2015 after 4PM the Wyndmoor Montessori School in Willow Grove was listed as a STAR 2 facility. NOT star 4. Searching for the same on Saturday, January 10, 2015 after 8 AM the Wyndmoor Montessori School and Early Learning Center (I even tried Wyndmoor Day Care) is not found.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services maintains this website for information on the base requirements to being an early learning (day care, preschool, nursery school, etc.) provider.  It is not the most user (read “Parent/Guardian”) friendly site.  It does however link to other state agencies (Like the Child Care Information Service – CCIS) and their contact information for you to find by county information on quality day care.

But what is a Four Star? What does that mean?

The Pennsylvania Promise for Children website defines all the Star levels and what a parent can expect of each one. Check it out here. To summarize a Star 4 designated center, which is the highest quality disgnation, has invested financially to ensure that half of its lead teachers have Bachelors Degrees; there is frequent assessment and communication with parents; and the staff participates in frequent professional development training (which would include safety trainings as well).

Check out this DVAEYC based resource with partner Great Schools Philly for what to look for in a high quality child day care program or preschool.

What exactly are the highest standards? These imply that the day care center or preschool engages in evidenced based best practices that ensure high quality programming for all the children and families served. In the past ten – fifteen years with increased brain and early leanring research, there are a number of practices that are considered a high standard in early learning. Parents can learn more at the National Association for the Education of Young Children website here. NAEYC is the leader in accrediting and training high quality early learning programs in the United States.

It is hard to be a parent. You have to arm yourself with accurate, updated, best practices information. Yet ultimately you also have to trust the world with your treasure. Many tragedies that happen in the home can also happen in the day care center.

To help you be aware of safe sleep practices please review the American Academy of Pediatrics Safe Sleep Recommendations which include:


  • Always place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time.
  • Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
  • The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).
  • Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads.
  • Wedges and positioners should not be used.
  • Don’t smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
  • Breastfeeding is recommended.
  • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
  • Avoid covering the infant’s head or overheating.
  • Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS

If you are a parent concerned with the quality or safety of your child’s day care or early learning provider, tell the provider. Utilize some of the information in the links above to initiate a respectful conversation. You are your child’s first – and best – advocate.




AdoptUSKids and Spread the Love: Adoption

During this season focused on joy and children, Santa gets alot of letters. In those bags of unanswered letters are many from children with Christmas wishes that can’t be wrapped up in shiny paper with a big bow.  The wishes of children waiting to be adopted are for a family to love them.

At the same time there people from loving homes who ache to share it with a child. How to connect these dots?

This holiday season the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AdoptUSKids and the Ad Council have created a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) with hopes that children from foster care experience their wish come true – adoption. In turn, some families wishes for love and togetherness will be answered by these kids here, ready and waiting.

“Since the launch of campaign in 2004, more than 22,000 children who were once photo-listed on the AdoptUSKids website are now with their adoptive families and over 35,000 families have registered to adopt through AdoptUSKids.

There are currently 402,000 children in the foster care system in the United States of America and nearly 102,000 children (under 18 years of age) waiting for adoption. Approximately 23% of children and youth actively photolisted on the AdoptUSKids website and waiting for placement in adoptive homes were registered with one or more siblings. Sibling relationships are often the longest-lasting relationships for children in foster care.”

But does this work? Can these be successful? Well listen to the words of Raenell Crenshaw, an adoptive parent who adopted her two children out of foster care

“Adopting Deanta and Ranija is the most important thing that I have done in my life. I am so glad that my husband and I were able to keep them together. Having a brother or sister is such an influential and life-defining relationship. I want to encourage all prospective parents to think about the importance of keeping siblings together. I am so happy that I welcomed them both into our family.”


For more information about adoption, or about becoming an adoptive parent to a child from foster care, please visit or visit the campaign’s communities on Facebook and Twitter.



#Rally4Babies: Pennsylvania Edition

*This is cross-posted from Original post can be viewed here

The White House Early Learning Summit is calling. Thanks to quality teaching and tireless dedication of early learning professionals over the past decades our country’s highest offices are now identifying that work as the pivotal piece to improving our communities. Studies show that for every dollar invested in high-quality early learning programs there is at least a $7 rate of return.

President Obama is hosting The Early Learning Summit today. After his State of the Union Address in 2013 that called for expanding investments to establish a continuum of high-quality early learning beginning at birth up to age five. Today the President will “announce the states and communities that will receive $250 million in Preschool Development Grants and $500 million in Early Head Start Child Care Partnership awards”.

This is an exciting time in early childhood education. The first years of our learners are finally getting attention and the support they need. It is critical that legislators keep hearing the need. They need to keep hearing the voices of young children.
“Uncle Sam” wants YOU to speak up for the babies and young children in our country.

The states that have not yet put this plan into action need to get to work. Pennsylvania has been working on this for the past year through the PreK for PA campaign. The mission of the campaign is for all 3 and 4 year olds in the state to have access to high-quality pre-k. With over 300 throughout the state and 10,000 individuals endorsing the campaign’s mission, it is clear that Pennsylvanians are understand the value of early learning.

There are ways for you to help:
You can help be a voice for young children by signing the MomsRising open letter asking for action and investments in early learning opportunities like preschool and childcare to ensure all kids are ready and successful for school and life:

For those in Pennsylvania you can show you support by signing their online petition here:

Everyone can rally for the children by tuning into the White House Early Learning Summit today here:
Share what you hear on social media with #RallyForBabies or #InvestInUs

Who are going to speak up for?MR-box-256

Passports with a Purpose: Traveller with a Cause


As 2014 draws to a close, here in the States (and most of the developed world) we are taking inventor of our gifts and blessings. So many of these blessings luxuries that the rest of the world couldn’t even fathom what their lives would be like with them for one day. Let alone every day. Yet we can’t imagine life without them.

What do you doelectricity when your power goes off during a storm?

How fast do you call the electric company looking for it to be fixed?

While in most parts of the world, if there is electricity its reliability is described this way: “Electricity surely is resilient here considering the power always comes back on after going out daily.” (Courtesy of Global Citizen Year Fellow)

I am learning evermore just how much I do not know as I get older – and as my life is open to other parts of the world.

So while we count blessings and good fortune, there is no end to the suffering and help needed across the globe.

You can do something. You can help.

Travel bloggers have united through Passports With a Purpose for the past few winter holidays to raise funds for positive impact in a developing community.

This year, all funds raised through Passports with a Purpose will benefit the charity, Sustainable Harvest International (to support their work in Honduras).

YOU can help by simply visiting our prize page here:

For each $10 donation you receive a chance to win one of the many prizes. more importantly you are contributing to help Sustainable Harvest International nourish a family and community in Honduras. Each $5000.00 USD raised helps nourish a family and community in Honduras for five years. FIVE YEARS! Now THAT is a gift that keeps on giving.

Honduras has been a fixture in news headlines as migrants (many of them children) head north to escape violence and poverty. Since 1997,Sustainable Harvest International has worked in Honduras to help families improve degraded land, grow their own food, and learn how to prevent tropical deforestation from logging and slash-and-burn agriculture practices.

Please take a journey with us to help. Take a chance for just $10 to help someone in need.
Passports with Purpose

I hope you will also visit james’s project’s First Holiday GIVING Guide. This “gift guide” is full of gifting with purpose ideas.

Thanks for all you do!

Holiday GIVING Guide: The Gifts that Keep on Giving

“Hope you can find peace.” After a tragedy, this is a common refrain from well-meaning people.

Peace is always elusive. It is a worthwhile goal and definitely one to keep close in mind. However it changes and looks different as you grow. There are about as many different definitions of peace as there are people searching for it. It looks and means something different for everyone. It all depends on what you heart’s biggest challenge is. The thought was and is always appreciated. It always comes from people’s best intentions and wishes for you. It just can also become a point of contention if your definitions are different.

What resonated and stuck with me was this one phrase that one person kept signing emails to me: “Take good care of you.”

These words came from a person who had means, access, and influence to do anything. He also had seen the worst of human nature as a trial attorney. His sign off words were always to “Take good care”. While I was used to people signing off phone conversations with “Take care” it was different to read the words at the close of emails. When the author switched it up on me after a few particularly difficult revelations in my grief journey, I had to take pause.

“Take gentle care”

Take gentle care.

That was difficult but measurable and attainable. I learned whether at a tragic time in life, or just in the everyday –  it is critical to take gentle care.

In gratitude to the unexpected trial attorney who gave me this gift, the thank you is to pay it forward.

So, in memory and in hopes you do the same this year I present:

james’s project’s first ever Holiday Giving Guide. Hopefully everyone will find their peace.

Some of these gifts cost nothing but will bring great pleasure. Others have a price tag but lead to meeting of personal goals. Many are gifts whose funds raised will help improve the lives of another. All were selected because they help “take good care” of children, our world, and ourselves.

Check back often. New ideas for the “giving” will be added weekly!

Please contact here or leave a comment if you have a great suggestion for our “Holiday Giving Guide”!


Giving Children Joy



Join the mission to ensure that every child has access to high quality early education. The research is in and the evidence is clear that the best way to close the opportunity gap and improve community fiscal health is to invest in high quality early learning.  Locally, The Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children is creating mechanism high quality early learning programs and opportunities for all children. If you are outside of Pennsylvania support for The National Association for the Education of Young Children will offer great support to this shared mission for all young children. 


Giving Time


Oh the commercials and television have helped to grow children’s letters to Santa from one or two heart-filling requests to hundreds of clutter producers. When they get all those toys and “things” they want to play them with you. It is not the toy that brings smiles. It is the potential of time spent with the people they love. Surprise the lil ones in your life with a Coupon Book for THEM. A coupon for reading them their favorite book five times. A coupon for going for a walk around the block. A coupon for letting them decide what is for dinner (yes, really. ONE). Try it. They will love it.



Giving a Good Night’s Sleep



Some children do not get to go to sleep all warm and snug in their beds. Many do not even have pajamas. The Plaid Pajamas Project is working to change that this holiday season. Volunteers are being matched to children in need with cozy comfortable pajamas. There is nothing like a new pair of pjs. Visit Plaid Pajamas Project to learn more. 



Giving Safe Help to New Parents


Do you know someone who is expecting a baby or has young children? james’s project started as a mission to help save other parents from enduring preventable tragedies. james’s project well-received and nationally acclaimed parenting education workshops, Rattle Wraps, are offered both online and in person. Consider gifting the parents-to-be in your life, the unique priceless education that will help them safely navigate their child through  the healthcare system.

Read more here.

Send a request to James’s mom here:


Giving A Fighting Chance


Dan Hammond was a 21 year old who had fought pediatric cancer for 13 years of his life. This holiday season you can join his memorial Super Hero team, the Lemon Force, working to avenge childhood cancers! Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation has an annual end-of-year drive that honors a hero. This year, Dan is that hero. Join his mom and others. Every lil drop can help improve outcomes for other children still battling pediatric cancer. Learn more here.


Giving Engagement in Health


Did you know you could “purchase” a FREE membership for all your loved ones to

Visit and sign your loved ones us.

Send them an email informing them they will receive instructions from on how to access hundreds of evidence-based best practices in healthcare for patients to safely navigate the healthcare system!



Giving Friendship


Imagine going from having your own schedule, job, responsibilities, and hobbies to having nothing of your own – not even your own time in the restroom. That is pretty much truth for all new moms…and a growing number of work at home and stay at home dads. While it is a gift and honor to be home raising the children, it can also be very isolating. MOMS Clubs can offer a new mom new connections that last a lifetime for her – and her children.


Giving your Soul Care


Nurture you.

Gift the women in your life a connection. Help her/them join a small cohort of women connecting their true self into personal and professional lives and relationships by connecting with natural world. Gift that special lady (or yourself!) a registration to Sustaining your Wild and Precious Life. Click here



Giving Global Understanding


Students today are growing up in a global economy. A global life. Their survival depends on their ability to communicate across cultures and lands. They will need a deeper understanding of differences and how to manage them productively. Global Citizen Year has been helping young americans meet this new challenge for the past five years. Help them help this opportunity be attainable for all high school seniors regardless of their economic background. Make a donation. Buy a  shirt from a current fellow raising funds for the organizations scholarship fund.



Giving Another Chance


Forgive someone. Tell them. Write them a letter. This does not mean that you need to continue ongoing communications – unless it is what you both would like. Letting go of old haunts,old hurts, old judgments only work to stunt your spiritual growth. The only constant in life IS change. People ARE capable of change. However if you limit someone to what they did years ago, you are limiting yourself, too. Of course, we all do this. So forgive YOURSELF too.



Giving Knowledge


Sometimes sharing what you know needs to be a little subtle. Sharing knowledge is as easy as sharing your favorite books, your favorite authors. James’s project has been sharing this story for FREE with medical, nursing, and law students for five years. It is the gift that keeps on giving a new generation of learners. Have you shared your favorite book? A child’s picture book or a clinical journey or a memoir like Split the Baby: One Child’s Journey Through Medicine and Law can help open a new world from someone’s easy chair. It also can help strengthen your relationship as you share your reactions to what you read.


Giving Beauty


If you are a Philly local, check out the glorious natural beauty of the world renowned Chanticleer Gardens in Wayne, PA. There is always something new to see at every visit. It is the perfect place to walk, reflect, visit, and take in the abundance of gifts in our natural world. The annual membership is less than entrance fees to many parks. It also makes a great gift while supporting environmentally friendly practices and appreciation.


Giving Purpose



This year give Passports a Purpose.

If you have a traveller, or even moreso a loved one who wants to travel, but a chance to raise funds for the charity,Sustainable Harvest International (to support their work in Honduras). Your loved one may just win a prize; he/she will definitely know that travel has a purpose and they are helping!

Giving  Respect & Compassion


International Medical Corps has been a leader in the Emergency Response for the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone and Liberia. To stop this epidemic from wiping out any more of the families and whole communities, let alone the rest of the world, we all need to pitch in. Any amount of help, helps where it is needed most. Click here to offer assistance. 


Giving Inspiration


This American company creates home decor that can offer inspiration when needed. We are usually at home when we are low. Surrounding loved ones with items that remind them they are loved and all our hopes for them are warm, can sometimes make the difference between a bad day and a hopeful one. Check out this special sign which was created by The Outer Banks Country Store to honor James’s memory. All proceeds go to the work at james’s project.





 Giving Intuition


The holidays are difficult for people who have lost loved ones. When time, heartbreak, and death separate us from those we love it can leave you looking for something to fill the gaping whole. But are they there already? Has our mortality denied our sense of spiritualism? Yes. Very often it does. Learning to trust that that healing is within us already can require a little support. Main Line Medium, Kathie Pitochelli, offers gentle, genuine guidance as you find a way to live with a “new normal”.




Giving Organization

My teenagers convinced me that despite what I may see as clutter all over their floors and bureaus vomiting clothes that, in fact, this is how they file their belongings. That they know exactly where their studies and clothes are. Indeed that may be true but I am not convinced that their methodology supports their spiritual growth and peace. Being uncluttered in your daily life helps maintain a balance of the mind and spirit. So, I am definitely sharing this FREE guide for organizing tips. If you are able, the mission HeartWork Organization may be worthwhile gifting to a loved one. Let me know how your teens respond.

Giving Wishes


The Make A Wish Foundation has long held a special place in james’s project’s heart. This is the place James’s family focused memorial giving. Every child should live long enough to make a wish. And every wish should come true. You can send your holiday well wishes to your family and friends with the artwork of Make A Wish kids. Click here to order your cards now.




Giving Shelter


Everyone deserves a home. Even “Fido”. If you are considering a pet as part of your holiday surprises, consider adoption. Shelter pets have loads of love to share.

Learn more here.



Giving Thanks


Special thanks to Jim Beasley, Jr and in memory, James Beasley,Sr and their families

for reminding me often to “Take good care.”

You gave healing.Thank you.

(If you are local, I am collecting new and gently worn coats for the Firm’s Annual Holiday Coat Drive to be donated. Please email me for pick up Thank you.)