Give a Shot. Make a Difference. #Blogust 2015

Give a Shot. Make a Difference. #Blogust 2015

Did you know that around the world, every 20 seconds, a child dies from an illness that is preventable by vaccine? Diseases that have long been managed or eradicated in the US are still taking lives around the world — measles, polio, diarrhea, pneumonia. One in five children lack access to immunizations that will save their lives.

Have you buried a child? I hope not.

I have. And it shakes me to my core to think that there are over a million children a year dying from something that is preventable. Think about that number. It’s earth-shattering.


A few months ago, I was asked to become a Champion for Shot@Life, an arm of the UN Foundation that…

“educates, connects and empowers Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries. A national call to action for a global cause, the campaign rallies the American public, members of Congress, and civil society partners around the fact that together, we can save a child’s life every 20 seconds by expanding access to vaccines. By encouraging Americans to learn about, advocate for, and donate to vaccines, Shot@Life aims to decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths and give every child a shot at a healthy life.” (from Shot@Life)

I was honored by this because after Charlie died, I had a big realization.

I have something in me that this world needs. My voice. My passion. My desire to never see another child in a casket. When I was asked to share one of my favorite quotes for Blogust 2015, I knew it was this one.blogust quote

We all have something in us the world needs. Maybe it’s your desire to make beautiful art or write amazing books. Maybe it’s that you sing or make a great latte or can hold someone’s hand and instantly make them feel better.

You can make a difference.

And so can these children whose lives we aim to save. They were born into this world for a reason. Let’s get them the life-saving vaccines they need, so they can fulfill their purpose.

It’s easy to make a difference during Blogust.

Simply comment on this post or like/share it on Facebook or retweet it on Twitter. Each action equals one vaccine donated to a child around the world.


During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2015—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share inspirational quotes for their children.

Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or take action using the social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, one vaccine will be donated to a child around the world (up to 50,000).

On Super Bowl Ads and Children Dying

By 7 this morning (morning after Super Bowl 49), I have already had 6 inquiries into what I thought about the Nationwide “Make Safe Happen” ad. The ad features a beautiful young boy who can’t grow up to get cooties, learn to ride a bike, or learn to fly because he died. He couldn’t grow up because he died from an accident.

As much of a football fan as I am, oddly I didn’t see the game. My cable went out 5 minutes into the game and I was stuck watching BrandBowl on Twitter. I saw the initial shock, the subsequent disgust and anger, and then watched it turn into a “my snarky dead child joke is better than yours” contest. I have a pretty dark sense of humor, so I laughed. Yes, I have a dead child and I laughed. Because sometimes that’s how you have to deal.

If you haven’t seen the commercial, will you take a minute to watch it?

I think the ad is brilliant.

As a Super Bowl ad? Not so much. But only because the excitement of the Super Bowl is palpable and an ad like this is really a downer.

But as an ad and part of a larger campaign? It works. And it made you talk. It made you think about the fact that children die.

As a mother who has watched her child’s way-too-small casket being lowered into the ground–not from an accident but from an infection– I want you to think about that. I want you to realize that accidents happen and children die. It happens. It always has. And no matter how many campaigns, vaccines, cures, helmets, seatbelts and laws we have, it ALWAYS WILL. Unfortunately, we will never stop death from happening — even the death of children.

The Nationwide commercial made you sad and uncomfortable and probably even made you cry. You didn’t like it because you were enjoying your beer, having a fun time with friends, cheering for the best team to win. It brought you down. And yeah, that sucks.

That’s how grief is, though. It’s what parents who have seen their beautiful child’s first and last breaths feels every day. Each moment filled with ecstasy is a segue to a moment of sheer disbelief that this is their life now. A life where their child won’t learn to ride a bike or get cooties. It doesn’t matter the cause, when a child dies, it’s a buzzkill. Just like the ad.

When I watched the video this morning, I also watched the 2 minute Nationwide Make Safe Happen Program Video. It’s a longer version of the ad and really gets to the heart of what Nationwide is trying to do. They want to help you keep your family safe. Take 2 minutes and watch the video.

I guess the answer to the questions I’ve gotten his morning is simple: As a Super Bowl ad, Make Safe Happen was a buzzkill. But it made you talk. And that? May just allow more children to get cooties and learn to fly. Isn’t that worth it? .

October 15, 2014: Their Lights Continue to Shine

“If you know someone who has lost a child, and you’re afraid to mention them
because you think you might make them sad
by reminding them that they died–you’re not reminding them.
They didn’t forget they died.
What you’re reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived,
and…that is a great gift.”
~Elizabeth Edwards~

Today, October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. In 2006, after years of pushing for it, the day was recognized by the House of Representatives. In 1988, President Reagan had declared October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. But in my opinion, celebrating this day for ONE day is much easier for a parent who has lost a child than for the whole month.

The International Wave of Light is the simultaneous lighting of candles in memory of these babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss at 7pm in your local time zone tonight. The result is a continuous chain of light spanning the globe for a 24 hour period. Just think about that for a minute. How beautiful!

So tonight at 7pm, wherever you are, light a candle or say a prayer (or do what you do) in memory of all the baby angels that are watching over us and in honor of all the parents left behind to grieve the loss of dreams and bright futures for their children.

These are my special Angels and members of The Club I will be lighting a candle for tonight:

  • Our first baby: Junebug – miscarriage at 13 weeks, June 19, 2002
  • Our second baby: Charles “Charlie” Fleetwood Anthoine – died at 24 days old from late-onset Group B Strep, born May 21, 2003 and died June 14, 2003 – his story here
  • Laura Kaye Anthoine – October 20, 1969-April 3, 1981 – Daughter of Kaye and Roy, Sister of my husband Jason
  • The daughter of Pam Doherty, Hannah Noelle MacDonald was born still on February 3, 2003 from Group B Strep sepsis. Her father is John MacDonald.
  • Oliver Nelson Wright, son of Chris and Danna Wright, baby brother to Walker – Born and died October 2, 2010.
  • Leighton Sophie Taylor – daughter of Amy and Chris, twin sister to Jaxon – born May 26, 2011 and died June 17, 2011 from Group B Strep
  • Stephanie and Anna Causley – daughters of Paul and Robyn Causley – miscarriages at 12 and 6 weeks, respectively in 2003.
  • Sara Kay – born still September 7, 2009
  • Susan and Matt’s baby – miscarriage at 12 weeks – December 25, 1999
  • Emma Jade – Kat’s sweet baby – miscarriage at 9 weeks in 2001
  • Cara Jennifer – daughter of Carrie-Ann – born and died on August 17, 2010 – lived 12 minutes
  • Jill and Kyle Clay’s babies – Baby Clay, miscarriage October 2004 and Baby Clay , miscarriage October 2005 – both around 10 weeks
  • Allison Reid – daughter of Robin and Sean Reid – though she was not an infant when she died, she contracted the same bacteria that Charlie did and suffered long-term challenges. Allison was born on March 1, 2002 and died on January 25, 2008. I had the honor of meeting Allison and she was a fabulous fighter.
  • Cason Heard Adams- January 27, 1989-December 4, 2001 , was called home to live with the angels. He was a bright light to all that knew him and is greatly missed everyday by his family and friends.
  • Cora Mae McCormick – November 30, 2009 to December 6, 2009
  • Skye, Dakota and Martina – Nanna Chris and Mommy Staci and Little Sister Joclynn’s triplets – July 7th, 2007
  • Drew and Amanda’s Baby – miscarriage October 6, 2010
  • Brianna Elizabeth Franzen – Daughter of my friend, Julie. Born January 29, 1998 and died March 7, 1998 from a heart defect.
  • Cecily’s Sons – Nicholas and Zachary, October 27, 2004
  • Shauna’s Babies – one at 16 weeks, one tubal pregnancy
  • Erin’s Babies – Baby 1, September 2006, miscarriage; Baby 2, January 2007, miscarriage; Baby Girl 1, December 2008, late miscarriage; Baby Girl 2, born still on August 17, 2009 at 18 weeks.
  • Elizabeth Anne’s Baby – Baby Childs, miscarried June 12, 2006
  • Elizabeth Anne’s Friend’s Son – Jonah Oliver, delivered and died on Thanksgiving Day 1997 at 18 weeks gestation.
  • Becca’s friend’s daughter – Chandler Rivers, born 13 weeks early and died a week before her due date.
  • Jessica and Mark’s Daughter: Hadley Jane, born October 9, 2007 and died October 11, 2007.
  • Chrissi’s Son: Tyler, born March 22, 1997 and died September 15, 2003
  • Trish’s baby “Peanut”
  • Michael and Robin’s babies – miscarriage at 5 weeks in April 2009, and miscarriage at 10 weeks in September 2012
  • Olivia Grace – daughter of my friend Barbara. She was born January 8, 2004 and died August 23, 2004 from bacterial meningitis.
  • Sunday’s babies – Tomorrow Dawn- December 1993, miscarried at 8 weeks and Samuel- January 2002, miscarried at 11 weeks (named our first son Samuel in his honor and memory)
  • Lindsay’s baby – little one lost to miscarriage at 10 weeks in May 2003
  • Lynn’s 8 babies – 5 lost at 14 weeks and 3 lost early at 8-10 weeks
  • Ms. Marie’s baby – miscarriage October 1977
  • Isabella Pearl De Leon – Stillborn one week before scheduled delivery. March 5, 2011. Paul & Nicole De Leon
  • Nora Henke –  Born still December 30, 2012
  • Mike & Lauren’s babies: miscarriage at 6 wks in 1999; miscarriage at 7 wks in 2000; miscarriage at 10 wks in 2001
  • Carter Austin – March 18, 2006
  • Tucker Harris Neu and Fletcher Thomas Neu
  • Fiona Jane Tully was stillborn on May 8, 2011, and her sister, Brigid Eileen Tully, lived from May 8, 2011 to June 23, 2011 – daughters of Eileen Tully
  • Leah Brook Tomlin – daughter of Bevin and Adam, sister of Taylor. Born January 7, 2013 and died January 13, 2013 from Prenatal-Onset GBS
  • Carl Martin Kerr – passed away in utero at 6 months. Born on January 25, 2013. Baby Kerr – miscarried at 6 weeks on August 25, 2013. Both children of Solanke and Cincia and siblings to Isabella.
  • Jacob, born at 20 weeks in 2006. Lived for 52 minutes. Son of Nick and Melissa Tabbert.
  • Isabella-Rose Elizabeth, born still October 12, 2009, daughter of Tia.
  • Bailey Winter Dumitru, son of Tori and Kevin, born at rest December 8, 2007.
  • Renee’s daughter, Lucielle Diane, born and died July 15, 2013
  • Caleb Andrew Franklin, beloved Son of Julie and Andy. Born at 24 weeks on August 17, 2004 and died August 25, 2004.
  • James Chadwick “Chad” son of Jimmy and Debbie and brother to Kristen, born and died November 16, 1980 due to a placental abruption.
  • Asher Vinsant, son of Kylie Vinsant, born January 4, 2012 and died January 12, 2012 due to Early Onset Group B Strep.
  • Eve, daughter of Wade & Kacey Dixon, born October 21, 2010 and died November 4, 2010 from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
  • Amelia, daughter of Bob and Catherine, born May 4th, 2014 and died June 1st, 2014.
  • Angel Wills, baby of Michael and Jamie, August 2010.
  • Henry, son of Sara and Brian, born May 29, 2007 and died December 17, 2007.
  • Andrea and Jay’s baby. Miscarriage in November 2010.
  • Heather’s daughter, Clara Edith Webb, who was stillborn on July 1, 2012 at 42 weeks 3 days gestation.

** I will add babies if you email me at to tell me you want me to add your angel. I know there are so many more, but I don’t want to publish without your permission. These are from previous years and I’ve added new ones. I have also decided to add older children because really, they’re all our babies.**

Group B Strep Testing: What We Know

Group B Strep Testing: What We Know

A little over 11 years ago, I was told by the OB I would “have a swab test taken and it will determine whether you need antibiotics during labor or not. There’s a common bacteria caused Group B Strep that can sometimes make babies sick and this will protect your son from it.

Later that day, my contractions started. They continued every 15-30 minutes for the next 9 days. They weren’t supposed to be “working” contractions yet. It was too early. I was only 35 weeks at the time. I needed to let Charlie cook for a few more weeks.

But the next Tuesday night, May 20, my labor kicked into gear. I spent the night in the hospital, water not broken, ambient making me hallucinate, contracting and being monitored. At 7am, the doctor came in to check me. Feet in stirrups, I remember asking my GBS status. They said negative. And then my water broke. Without anybody touching me.

I was negative. That was good. So that’s all I thought about that.

Labor lasted forever. Charlie was sunny side up so he was turned. Manually. Need I tell you how awesome that felt? His heart rate was hard to hear, so an electrode was screwed into his scalp. Hours went on and epidurals were administered. 14 hours after my water broke, Charlie was yanked into this world. Literally. Little bugger didn’t want to join us here.

But honestly? He wasn’t supposed to.

Four weeks later, we held a funeral for our 24 day old son. Group B Strep. That little bacteria that was tested for during pregnancy took my baby’s life.

Now. I feel like I have to tell you here that Charlie contracted Late Onset Group B Strep at 21 days of age. Anything after 7 days old is considered late onset and isn’t directly related to your GBS status during labor — it can come from labor OR just from “life.”

Group B Strep, Late Onset or Early Onset, is ugly.

But I want to talk about Early Onset GBS and Testing. According to the CDC,

A pregnant woman who tests positive for group B strep and gets antibiotics during labor has only a 1 in 4,000 chance of delivering a baby with group B strep disease, compared to a 1 in 200 chance if she does not get antibiotics during labor.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have the 1 in 4,000 odds. That means being tested and knowing your status and demanding antibiotics. Most hospitals and doctors are on track with CDC protocol, but sometimes they don’t explain what’s going on well enough. That’s where knowledge becomes power.

I want you to know that, just like the tests for chromosomal abnormalities, gestational diabetes, and amnios, you should ask questions about the very routine Group B Strep test. It seems to be one of those tests that gets done without much explanation. I mean, it’s just a swab.

But it’s serious.

You should know what the risks are if you don’t get antibiotics. You should know what the risks are if you wait until your contractions are 4 minutes apart to get to the hospital. You should know the risks if your water breaks or has been ruptured for more than a few hours. And you should also know that if you think that having a natural, home birth, or one with alternative treatments will prevent it, it won’t. If your baby comes out of your girly bits, YOUR BABY is susceptible to Group B Strep and all that entails. So get the antibiotics.


I’ve written this post 4 times. This morning, as I opened my computer to write it, there was not one, but TWO emails from people who have recently lost babies to Group B Strep in my inbox. It pushed me over the edge. I’m mad that in spite of amazing tests there are still false negatives and we are still burying babies.

If you have say-so with your OB, ask for a more advanced test than most, a molecular test. An example of a molecular test in particular is the illumigene® GBS test from Meridian Bioscience.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 11.52.12 AM

via GBSAnswers Magazine, Meridian Bioscience

Ask your doctor about the test.

Ask questions when you are tested.

Ask for the antibiotics, just in case they let it slip through the cracks.

Ask for more information.

And remember, ALWAYS follow your mommy instinct.

A Look Inside The Private Folder Of Grief

Tonight, on Lifetime, a movie called Return To Zero will premiere. The movie was a labor of love for writer/director/producer Sean Hanish, whose own experience with stillbirth and loss drove his passion for creating a film with a storyline based solely around the loss of a child. Return to Zero will take the audience through the highs of pregnancy, the lows of the loss, the struggles of anger and marriage, and hopefully, share that there IS hope after loss.

Over the last 11 years, I’ve heard so many people say, “I don’t know how that feels, so…” when a friend or loved on loses a child. They’re paralyzed with fear over what to say, how to say it, how to empathize, how to understand.

This movie, our community of parents hopes, will shed light on how it feels — how it looks on the inside, behind the scenes, in the marriage, in the heart.

But yesterday, as I was sharing a link on Facebook about the movie, I got a knot in my stomach. It tightened and made me lightheaded for a minute. I recognized the fear. It’s the same fear you get when somebody is going to check up behind you or search through your things, especially things that may be private.

You see? Letting someone see the heartache and pain that only comes with losing a child (no matter how or why) is like letting somebody look into your private, locked folders on your computer. It’s giving them a key to your heart and giving them free access to roam around and look.

Sure, I want people to understand a small portion of what grief feels like. And this movie will do just that. It will open the conversation and break the silence on a subject that is still, after a bazillion years, taboo.

I  want you to know there is so much more that can’t be shown on a movie, no matter how perfect Minnie Driver’s performance is.

I want you to know there is so much more that can’t be shown on a movie, and I hope you never know what it is and how it feels. That is my prayer for you.

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