Tag Archives: newborn

“Sweet Grace” will live in our hearts forever

Guest post by Sharia Brent, a mom of three who experienced the loss of her infant daughter. She received services from Capital Area Healthy Start, an organization available to help every mom and baby before and after birth for any situation. This post is presented in recognition of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month.

Sharia with Serena in the hospital

I was ecstatic the day I learned my husband and I were having a baby girl. I had always imagined having my son first and then my daughter, and on March 5, 2008, it seemed as if I had written my own life story.

All of those emotions came to a screeching halt when I learned soon after that my daughter would be born with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, a condition that allows organs from the abdomen to move into the chest.

Confused, afraid and disturbed had taken over being happy. How could this happen? I was taking my prenatal vitamins. I was drinking my eight to 10 glasses of water and even tried to eat my two to three servings of fruits and vegetables a day.


For the next four months my husband and I prayed and educated ourselves on her condition.  On June 28, 2008 our daughter, Serena Grace “Sweet Grace” Brent was born. Doctors immediately whisked her away, allowing me to see only a glimpse of her. I missed a kiss, her cry, her touch.

For 29 days I walked through the doors of Shands Hospital singing and reading to her, whispering “I love you” in her ear. My hopeful eyes looked into her brave soul, praying that she would get better.

On July 27, 2008, we lost our “Sweet Grace” to complications surrounding her condition.  She took her last breath in my arms, the arms that never had a chance to hold her until that moment.

Devastated, empty and heartbroken, I tried to fight off depression and grief. My husband and I had experienced a tragedy. Our lives were affected, our marriage was tested.  But we fought and prayed because we knew that Serena’s memories would live through our love.

We are thankful for the bereavement services we received through Capital Area Healthy Start. They really made a difference in keeping our family strong. I am also thankful for the relationship between Healthy Start and the Fetal and Infant Mortality Review (FIMR). Their monthly meetings that review every infant death case to try to address any contributing factors and prevent tragedies in the future are a blessing for families and the community.

Sharia with her husband and two children

Today we have two healthy children, but not a day goes by that we don’t think about Serena. She lives in our hearts forever.

Healthy Start offers prenatal help to all pregnant moms. Services include childbirth classes, in-home support services, breastfeeding classes, parenting support, bereavement counseling and much more. Healthy Start is for every mom and baby and there is no charge for services. Just say “Yes,” when asked if you want to give your baby a Healthy Start.

Sleep Safe

Guest post by the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida

In recognition of Infant Mortality Awareness Month we encourage everyone to get involved and help reduce infant mortality rate by providing safe sleeping environments for our babies.  How do you do that?

Here are some tips from our “Sleep Right, Sleep Tight” public awareness campaign on how you can provide safe sleep for your baby:

  • Make sure your baby’s crib, bassinet, cradle, or side-car bed is undamaged and meets current Consumer Products Safety Commission standards.
  • Put baby’s crib, cradle or bassinet close to parent or caregiver’s bed for the first six months.
  • Place your baby face up to sleep; sleeping on the stomach or side increases the risk of suffocations.
  • Tell everyone who takes care of your baby about how to keep your baby safe during sleep.
  • Make sure the baby’s mattress is firm and fits snugly in its frame.
  • Make sure the baby’s sheet fits tightly around the mattress.
  • Keep the baby’s sleeping area away from all loose strings (i.e. blind cords, electrical cords and clothing)
  • Offer your baby a pacifier (never a bottle) when placing your baby down to sleep. The pacifier should not be put back into the baby’s mouth if it is spit out during sleep. If the baby does not want the pacifier, do not force it and never do anything to hold it in place.
  • Respond to your baby’s cries during the night.
  • Keep the room temperature of your baby’s sleeping area comfortable for a lightly clothed adult to keep baby from getting overheated.
  • Hang baby’s mobile out of baby’s reach and remove it once baby learns to sit up.
  • Lower baby’s mattress when your baby learns to sit, and again when they learn to stand to prevent baby from falling out of the crib.

Sleep safe!

Day 1: A river of tears

Guest post by DCF Director of Digital Media and Outreach Niki Pocock. This blog series will follow her first trip to DCF’s Child Protection Summit. 

A news clip comes in about a baby that was shaken – I cry. I hear about a foster child who has found a forever family to call their own – I cry. I see a photo of a brightly colored mural on the walls of the room where human trafficking victims are given help – I cry.

At Summit the goal is to inspire and educate, which means lots of stories. And so … all day I have cried. The stories are uplifting, but still derived from sadness:

A foster child throws his arms around his foster mother’s neck, calling her “mom” as he gives her a huge hug.

A foster parent is recognized for showing great support for a child’s birth mother, even supplying the mother’s breast milk for the child.

A mother’s child died from medical complications. DCF helps her emotionally so she can continue to take care of her surviving child, a little boy. Her thanks towards DCF is overwhelming and humbling.

A case manager travels hours to visit all the children she helps, knowing that she is the one constant in many of their lives.

A father falls under intense financial and life stress and begins taking his frustrations out on his family. He cries as he thanks DCF for helping him get back on his feet and get mental health care. He is now a successful husband and father.

These are just a few of the many stories that made me tear up today. They are the stories that keep DCF staff in the field. Stay tuned – more blog posts (and awesome videos) to come! And be sure to follow #DCFSummit on Twitter for up-to-the-second updates.

We must protect Florida’s newborn babies from drug addiction

Guest post by William Liu, M.D., corporate medical director of Pediatrix Medical Group of Florida, Inc. and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit medical director of The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida

From 2005 to 2010, Lee County hospitals have seen a 700 percent increase in the number of babies born with a drug addiction.  Statewide, based upon data from the Agency for Health Care Administration, this problem has increased by about 430 percent in the same time period.

When a baby is born addicted to drugs, the child goes through withdrawal similar to how an adult going through rehabilitation would. Withdrawal in babies can include uncontrollable crying, inability to sleep or eat normally, throwing up, diarrhea, sweating, breathing problems, and in severe cases, seizures. This should not be the way for a human being to enter the world. Watching a newborn go through withdrawal is absolutely heartbreaking.

However, once a woman who is dependent on narcotics becomes pregnant they should not try to stop taking the medication, whether prescribed legally or taken illegally. If the mother tries to go through withdrawal while pregnant, the baby in the womb is at risk for active withdrawal, leading to poor development, early delivery or even death.  Instead, a controlled treatment program is suggested, with methadone presently considered the most effective drug for pregnant mothers who are addicted to pain killers.  To avoid this complication, it is extremely important that women are drug-free or have a pregnancy plan BEFORE they get pregnant.

Prescription drugs are a growing concern and it appears that the increase in babies born addicted to drugs is directly related to an increase in prescription drug abuse.

Today, unlike the cocaine epidemic of the 1970s and 80s, pain killers are legal and legitimately prescribed for pain relief.  While there are mothers with a history of addiction and doctor shopping, there are also mothers who claim surprise, shock and dismay, unaware and uninformed of the potential consequences of their treatments, having acquired their prescriptions legally and under the trusting care of a doctor.

The great majority of physicians are dedicated to the betterment of their patients, doing their best to balance many factors to achieve the best possible outcomes.  However, the art of medicine utilizes a complex decision tree, weighing risk and benefit on many levels.

State and national awareness is indeed increasing, but the problem still exists – and is growing. I urge women of child-bearing age who are currently on prescription pain medication, illegally or legally, to talk to their doctor about a pregnancy plan, just in case. No baby should have to experience the pain of drug addiction or withdrawal, especially during their first days of life. 


For information about substance abuse and mental health facilities in your area, visit our online searchable directory.