Olympic gold medalist and world champion gymnast Shannon Miller is a 35-year-old cancer survivor and mother of one. She opened up about her battle against ovarian cancer and how it effected her two-year-old son Rocco. Her story reveals her awe-inspiring strength.
On her diagnosis: "I was diagnosed with a malignant germ cell tumor (a form of ovarian
cancer) in January of 2011. After surgery and chemotherapy, I am now
very excited to say that I am cancer free! My cancer was caught at a
very early stage. I hope that by being very open and public about my
diagnosis I can remind others that early detection is key. My company is
dedicated to helping women make their health a priority. When I found
out I had cancer it brought my passion for the topic to a new level.
Whether it’s cancer, diabetes, heart disease or just trying to stay fit
we must make our health a priority."
On struggling to parent: "My son was 15-months-old when I was diagnosed. After surgery I wasn’t
allowed to lift him for eight weeks. Any mom out there understands how
hard that is emotionally as well as logistically with three naps a day
getting him into and out of the crib.
My chemotherapy regimen was very intense. I called it the 'hit’ em
hard hit’ em fast' regimen. I was extremely sick for the better part of
10 weeks and the fatigue was incredible. I was blessed to have so much
help from family and friends. I would try to rest a lot during my tough
weeks and on better days I would get work done. My son was a wonderful
inspiration. Seeing him smile and play made everything better."
On becoming a bald: "I was very concerned….well terrified…. about how my son would react to
bald mommy. I was so scared he would be frightened. I voiced my concern
to a friend who had taken care of Rocco while I went to get my head
shaved. A mother herself, she was amazing. She told me that I had to be
comfortable with my new look first, or he certainly wouldn’t be. I wore
hats for the next couple of days around him and took the time to get
used to my new look, feel my head, look in a mirror. When I finally
introduced it to him (nonchalantly while playing the 'wear the hat'
game) he didn’t even flinch. Apparently it was just another hair style
On having more children: "In July, I’ll find out the status of having another child. After surgery
and chemo I was still given an 85% chance of having children. John (my
husband) and I have done our best to leave it in God’s hands and remain
very thankful to have such a wonderful little boy."
Do you know any young parents faced with cancer?
Shannon Miller: "I Was Terrified How My Son Would React To Bald Mommy" [CelebrityBabyScoop]
The lungs are one of the last parts of the body to develop
in the womb, which is why premature infants are most likely to experience
breathing problems. If your baby was born prematurely, he or she is at risk for
a handful of breathing issues.
Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), also known as hyaline
membrane disease (HMD), is one of the most common disorders that preemies face.
Its onset usually appears immediately after birth. It is the most common cause
of breathing difficulties for preemies. RDS is caused by a deficiency of the liquid
called surfactant that is produced in the lungs. The surfactant is needed to release
the surface tension of the lungs, allowing them to stay open once the baby
exits the womb and begins to breathe on his own.
RDS is a complication in about 1% of pregnancies. It’s
estimated that 50% of newborns born at 26-28 weeks develop it. The risk of having RDS increases if the mother has diabetes, the baby is born by cesarean
delivery, was part of a multiples pregnancy, had a rapid labor or experienced
delivery complications that created acidosis in the infant. If the mother has preeclampsia
or high blood pressure, prolonged
rupture of the membranes, or a narcotic addiction then the baby is less
likely to contract RDS because the stress of these conditions cause the lungs
to develop sooner.
When a woman goes into preterm labor, she will often be
given drugs to increase the onset of the surfactant in the baby’s lungs. Medical
professionals will typically test the amniotic fluid to see how
developed the baby’s lungs are using a technique called amniocentesis.
A preemie suffering from RDS might have rapid breathing,
nasal flaring, apnea, puffy arms and legs, unusual breathing movement, grunting
noises, and/or blue coloring around the lips and nails. A blood gas analysis or
chest x-ray can usually tell if RDS is present.
Mild RDS cases might only require a short period with oxygen
being delivered through a hood, nasal prongs, or continuous positive airway
pressure (CPAP- puts slightly pressurized air into the nose to keep airways
open). Some cases may only require observation for a period of time, until the
baby’s lungs begin to produce surfactant on their own. In moderate-severe cases
the baby will be hooked up to a breathing machine that provides warm, moist
oxygen until the RDS has passed, which usually takes 2-4 weeks. More severe
cases of RDS will usually be treated using a ventilator, which forces air in
and out of the lungs. A ventilator can be life-saving in cases where there are
high levels of carbon dioxide or low oxygen in the blood vessels, when the
blood Ph is low, or for babies who have frequent pauses in breathing.
Babies who suffer from RDS should have few disturbances,
gentle handling and maintain a healthy body temperature. They require constant
monitoring for the onset of infections and to ensure that they have enough
The condition often gets worse for up to 4 days before it
starts to get better. Infants who respond well to treatment typically have no
long-term effects from either the RDS or the treatment.
Prevention of RDS constitutes good prenatal care, avoiding
unnecessary (ill-timed) c-sections, halting labor in the even of preterm labor,
or administering corticosteroids to the mother in an effort to quicken the
maturity of the baby’s lungs before birth.
Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia/Chronic Lung Disease
is a form of chronic lung disease. It is a common lung issue in preemies,
particularly those that weigh less than 4.5 pounds.
Its unknown what the root cause of BPD is, but it usually
occurs in babies who are on respirators for long periods of time and experience
inflammation and/or scarring of the lungs.
Severe RDS (listed above) and infections before and after
birth are risk factors for developing BPD. BPD usually sets in if the baby is born more
than 10 weeks before their expected due date. They will usually exhibit
breathing problems at birth.
Symptoms of BPD include: chronic cough, bluish skin color,
rapid breathing, and shortness of breath. If babies continue to need breathing
support after 28 days of age or 36 weeks post-conception, then treatment for
BPD is considered. Chest x-rays will usually reveal “spongy” looking lungs if
BPD is present. A blood sample might be taken to test the levels of oxygen and
Preemies will be given medication and oxygen to treat BPD. Medications
used are bronchodilators and diuretics (to reduce fluid build up in the lungs).
Some infants will receive jet-ventilation; a low pressure ventilation that
minimizes the lung damage that most ventilators can cause. Babies with BPD are more likely to get pneumonia, so
antibiotics may also be given. Treatment may include administering surfactant
to improve breathing function.
In cases of BPD where the infant is hospitalized, oftentimes
a feeding tube will be inserted directly into the stomach and the baby will be
given high-calorie formula to encourage growth. In severe instances, where the
infant’s gastrointestinal system isn’t working properly, an IV may be used to
feed the infant.
Infants could spend anywhere from a few weeks to a few
months in the NICU
for BPD. The average hospital stay is estimated by the National Institute for
Health to be around 120 days. Once the baby is home, he might still require
medication, breathing treatments and possibly even oxygen. The
recovery from BPD is gradual and very scarred or stiff lung tissue might always
impair breathing ability. The lungs continue to develop for the next 5-7 years
and new tissue might replace the old.
Prevention of respiratory problems is very important at
home. Wash your hands before handling the baby and avoid others who are
suffering from a cold or fever. Do not smoke anywhere near the baby. The baby may become bluish during crying spells and will return to
normal color when at rest. If the baby is still bluish at rest, then a call to
the doctor is warranted. See the doctor if any respiratory illness comes your
baby’s way. Most babies who get BPD recover and go on to live normal lives.
The ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel that connects the
pulmonary artery to the aorta and allows blood to bypass the lungs during
pregnancy. It exists because during pregnancy the mother’s blood provides
oxygen instead of the baby receiving its own. When a baby is mature, the vessel
closes usually before 15 hours after birth, but some preemies still have open
vessels. As a result, the lungs receive excessive blood flow which can cause
breathing difficulties and sometimes heart failure.
When a baby has PDA, she might show signs of apnea, heart
murmur, low blood pressure, bounding pulses, bradycardia (drop in heart rate),
an enlarged heart, and extra fluid in the lung and heart. The symptoms are
bluish coloring, trouble breathing, and strong pulses. An echocardiogram,
electrocardiogram or x-ray can help to diagnose the problem.
Medication can help to close the vessel 80% of the time but sometimes surgery is needed. If the baby has PDA but no other heart defects, then there’s
a good chance that it will heal on its own. Preemies usually receive an
aspirin-like drug called indomethacin, which helps to close the PDA. If a PDA
is accompanied with other heart problems or if it doesn’t respond to treatment,
it could require surgery, where a suture would close it.
Apnea of Prematurity
The lower the weight and size of the infant at birth, the
more likely apnea will appear. About half of all preemies have apnea. It will
appear within the first few weeks of life and could continue for 2-3 months
after. Apnea is not a lung issue - it’s usually a nervous system problem where the
brain doesn’t send the signal to breathe to the body. It could also be caused
by weak muscles that keep the airway open. It usually occurs in preemies
because the part of the nervous system that causes continuous breathing is not
developed yet. It can also be caused by bleeding or damage to the brain,
respiratory disease, infections, reflux or other gastrointestinal problems,
imbalance of chemicals like calcium or glucose in the body, blood vessel or
heart problems, over-flexing the neck, a feeding tube or suction device, or
The condition causes the baby to stop breathing for longer
than 20 seconds and the heart rate decelerates. It causes large bursts of
breath and then periods of shallow breathing or no breathing at all. The skin can
turn blue, pale or purple. The breathing might be loud and the baby might
appear limp. Apnea most commonly occurs during the REM period of sleep.
the name for the drop in heart rate associated with apnea. “A’s and B’s” will
often be used to refer to apnea followed by bradycardia. The heart rate falls
below 80 beats per minute.
There are three types of apnea:
apnea - the muscles used for breathing are working but there is no air
flow, which indicates an obstruction in the airway.
apnea - the muscles used for breathing fail after exhalation (related to
the brain’s signals to breathe).
apnea - a combination of obstructive and central apnea.
Apnea can be diagnosed with an x-ray of the lungs, a
physical examination or a blood test.
The condition usually goes away without treatment and doesn’t
relapse. Caffeine will sometimes be administered once a day and is generally
considered the safest treatment over other medications. Babies with apnea might
need to be on a ventilator or be provided with CPAP (continuous positive airway
Once breathing stops, it will either start again or the baby
might require help breathing again. If the baby doesn’t begin breathing on his
own within 15 seconds, often a nurse will rub the baby’s back, arms and legs in
an attempt to stimulate breathing. If the baby does not breathe after this
handling, an oxygen mask might be used to pump air into the baby’s lungs until
the baby starts breathing again. This kind of episode could happen each day or
more than once in a day. Assisted breathing can be achieved through proper
positioning and slower feedings as well. Nipple feedings aren’t advised at this
time - the milk should be administered through a tube. Avoid cold stimulation to
the face. Avoid flexing the neck in a severe way. Treat any reflux the baby
might be experiencing.
In the rare case that a baby is sent home with apnea still
present, you will be given an apnea monitor. An apnea monitor comes with a belt
that goes around the baby’s chest. Parents will be given information on using
the monitor and be taught how to perform CPR.
Emotionally, dealing with apnea can really take its toll. Keep
in mind that it will get easier with time and voice your concerns to the
nurses. They can likely reassure you or point you to others who understand what
you are going through.
Additional problems could worsen apnea- infections, heart or
lung issues, anemia, hypoglycemia, sepsis, temperature problems, feeding
problems, overstimulation, and low blood oxygen. Usually AOP resolves itself
around 44-46 weeks post-conception in preemies. Rare cases could continue for
longer. Apnea usually does not carry long-lasting effects for the child.
If your baby is premature and experiences any one of these
conditions, he will most likely remain in the NICU
until he is healthy enough for you to take home. Before bringing the baby home,
the doctor or nurses will inform you of any special treatment and care that
will be required of you. It can be a frightening experience to see your newborn
in the NICU
and overwhelming to have to take care of a newborn with health issues. Try to
stay calm and find support if you need it.
With the first quarter of 2012 behind us, baby name sites are viewing the traffic to find which baby names are getting the most attention. It appears that The Hunger Games has taken over where Twilight left off, leaving a whole new crop of trendy baby names. One name that seeing a huge surge in interest, thanks to data from a website called Nameberry, is Rue - a young character from the popular movie that met an untimely end. However, The Hunger Games is not the only thing that's inspiring expectant parents this year. Here are a few burgeoning trends to look out for:
Boys names ending in "ett" - Bennett, Emmett, Everett, Beckett... these are a few of the names getting a lot of attention this year. Of course, it might not be a coincidence considering the name of a character in Twilight - Emmett Cullen.
Ivy - Beyonce and Jay-Z may have started a naming trend by naming their little one Blue Ivy. Ivy has moved into the top 300 names in 2012.
Names beginning with "wes" - West, Wesley, Weston... these are a just a few of the names beginning with "wes" making their way up the baby name charts. Weston appears to be getting the most attention, after all, it is the name of the newest addition on the hit series The Office.
Adele - This name is pretty self-explanatory. One of the most popular and likeable singers on the radio right now has the lovely name of Adele, prompting expectant parents to see if it might fit their little one.
Names beginning with "gray" - Grayson, Gray... some theorize that Grayson may be the new Jason.
Aria - Names beginning with the letter A have been popular for decades, but this one is standing out to parents.
Cyrus - The surname of pop-star Miley Cyrus has become a popular choice for expectant parents. The ancient name ends in an S, which also happens to be a popular naming trend.
Estelle - After Sweden's royal couple named their daughter Estelle, it seems expectant parents wanted to see if their little girl could wear the moniker of a princess. This name is also a natural variation on a trend that keeps going - names that have an "elle" sound to them. Bella, Elle, Stella...
Cato - This ancient roman name is the name of the villian in Hunger Games, so it's not too surprising that it's popularity is rising.
Blythe - Blythe is the newest name for parents who want their child's name to mean "joy" or "happiness." It's also the first name of the actress Blythe Danner.
A recent spike in the number of infant measles cases in the United States could send even the most anti-vaccination parents heading for the clinic, but watching a baby experience the pain of a jab is not for the faint of heart. In the past, remedies for pain after immunization included a small dose of acetaminophen, which, unfortunately, was found to reduce the efficacy of vaccines. Breastfeeding and a dose of sugar have also been touted as effective ways to reduce pain in newborns. However, a recent study discovered that a combination of five comforting methods combine to provide astounding results.
Doctors in New Folk, Virginia call the new pain relief system, the "5 S's":
Researchers discovered that using just four out of five of these methods would stop crying within 45 seconds, surprising the parents that participated in the study. The doctors who completed the study can't take full credit for their discovery, since Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block coined the term and touted the benefits of these five methods in his highly successful book. However, Karp advocated the use of the "5 S's" for relieving colic and the doctors in the study decided to see if they also worked to relieve pain after vaccinations. The methods were mostly tested on two month old infants, but four month old infants were involved in the study as well.
Karp, although not directly involved in the study, had plenty to say about the results. He recommended that doctors swaddle babies before the shots, leaving the legs exposed to receive the injections. He also suggests putting on a white noise CD before the procedure, saying that white noise is as calming as swaddling and can be used at least up to a child's first birthday.
Have you used any of the "5 S's" to relieve your baby's pain?
The '5 S's': Easing baby pain after vaccine shots [CNN]
Every week we feature the best baby photos sent to us through our Babies of the Week contest. We receive photos from parents from all over the world. Here are a few of our favorites:
Michael and Matthew are fraternal twins, born last November.
Treyce Parker was born last September. Dad says, "Treyce loves to listen to music and sit with his 'Big Coach' and listen to him talk about football!! He is a true blessing to everybody in his family!!"
Petya Sofia was born in December. Mom says, "Petya is the sunshine of our life.. She has the funniest
faces and can always cheer us up. She is named after 3 of the most
amazing people in our lives! After both my mom & dad (Petya
and Peter) and my husband's Grandpa Pietro, she was actually born on his
birthday! She is special
because she loves to 'talk' to us... especially to her big
brother Anthony (3yrs old). Her little coos in the morning and her smile
and giggles brighten our whole day."
Drew William is all dressed up for his 11-month-old pictures but he would not stay still. He loves to walk and be outdoors. Mom says, "He is always smiling, loves
to be around others, and never meets a stranger. He also likes talking
(babbling) back and forth with you. Sometimes he really looks like he's
telling you exactly what he thinks!"
Nizhoni Grace - her name means "Beautiful gift from God." She was born last July. Mom says, "She was a surprise to us when we first found out we were pregnant, but has been the biggest blessing. She is our first child. From the day she was born she has been alert and had to know what was going on around her. In the hospital she would look all over the place as she listened to her daddy talk, acting almost like she was trying to figure out where he was....She has already gone hot air ballooning twice. She went for a tether ride in the balloon about 40 feet in the air and didn't even fuss."
Thanks to all the parents who sent us their pictures. You can see the rest of the featured photos on the front page of BabyWeekly. To enter your baby picture for the Baby of the Week contest, please click here. Due to the high volume of submissions we receive, it may take many months before your baby's photo is featured.