June 16, 2015


By Janielle Harrison

In less than a month, my husband, Terrence, and I will welcome the arrival of our precious daughter, Addison, at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. Her expected delivery date is July 24.

While most mothers-to-be discover their expecting after taking a simple home pregnancy test, that wasn’t the case for me. I never knew I was four weeks pregnant until my husband took me to the emergency room because I was having dizzy spells, feeling lightheaded and my blood pressure spiked. While I was waiting for my X-rays and blood test results to come in, Terrence and my 8-year-old son Dramodd stepped away to get something to eat. When they came back with their McDonald’s bags clutched in their hands, I broke the exciting news, “We are expecting!”

My husband was completely shocked and excited at the same time, and so was I. Immediately, he called his mom and dad to tell them the exciting news that they’d be grandparents! My son’s immediate reaction was, “Mom, you’ve been pregnant all this time and you didn’t know it?” I think he was saying my belly was getting slightly “bigger” like a pregnant person.

bwatchAs my due date approaches, my last trimester is going pretty smoothly. The first few months of my pregnancy was tough since I couldn’t hold anything down. I was severely dehydrated and my OB/GYN Dr. Carla Ortique had me admitted to the Pavilion for Women where I stayed overnight to receive intravenous fluids and anti-nausea medication. The nurses took excellent care of me. I am still taking medication for high blood pressure and visiting Texas Children’s Maternal Fetal Center every week to monitor my baby’s growth and development.

As we prepare for our daughter’s homecoming, my husband and I finished decorating Baby Addison’s nursery with princess and frog theme colors: mint green, lavender and chocolate brown. So many of our family members have showered us with beautiful gifts for Addison and they are so excited to meet our little princess.

I haven’t packed my hospital bag yet, but I am working on it. I expect to have everything ready to go by July 1 in case Addison decides to make her debut ahead of schedule.


Maddie’s Mission, a Katy-based organization dedicated to educating people about a common virus that can cause a serious infection in your unborn baby, recently donated more than $40,000 to the CMV Research Fund to benefit congenital CMV research conducted at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.

Hundreds of children with a diagnosis of congenital CMV, or cytomegalovirus, are part of the program led by pediatric infectious diseases specialist Dr. Gail Demmler-Harrison, an international expert who has spent more than 30 years caring for children affected by the condition.

CMV infections can be prevented during pregnancy, a vulnerable time to catch CMV, through “an ounce of CMV awareness and three simple precautions that include not sharing food or drink with a young child, avoiding kissing young children near the lips or cheek but rather kiss them on top of the head and giving them a big hug, and washing hands carefully after changing diapers or wiping runny noses,” Demmler-Harrison said, adding that Maddie’s Mission promotes “knowledge is key to no more CMV.”

Awareness of the potentially deadly virus is the goal of Maddie’s Mission, which was started by Farah and Patrick Armstrong last year after they lost their 12-day-old daughter, Maddie, to complications caused by CMV. Since then, the Armstrongs have thrown themselves into educating people about CMV and supporting groups devoted to finding out more about the virus, how to treat it, and possibly how to prevent CMV in pregnant women.

Physicians at Texas Children’s Hospital have treated many children affected by congenital CMV. One such child, who is shown in the adjoining photo, is Malcolm Alaimo. Malcolm travels from South Carolina for special treatments and is doing well. Another child Texas Children’s physicians have treated for CMV is Lillian Grace Salerno. Lillian has gotten antiviral treatment, hemispherectomy brain surgery, and other therapies for her congenital CMV infection at Texas Children’s Hospital, and has done well ever since.

“CMV is the most common virus most people have never heard of,” Dr. Demmler-Harrison said. “It does not often make the headlines or the evening news.”

Demmler-Harrison added that she is extremely appreciative to Maddie’s Mission for its donation and that it will be put to good use.

April 7, 2015

By Shelly Lopez-Gray

First, let me say that there is no such thing as “eating for two.” I know this is a huge disappointment, as many people out there would love to use their pregnancy as an opportunity to eat every single thing that they ever thought tasted good (I know, I’ve been there). But let me fast forward through your pregnancy a bit – it’s unhealthy for you, it’s unhealthy for your baby, and the pregnancy weight is not going to magically fall off.


As you begin your pregnancy, I wanted to share some key things to remember:

  • You need about 300 extra calories a day during pregnancy to support your baby’s growth and development.
  • Most doctors suggest women gain a total of 1 to 4 pounds total during the first three months of their pregnancy.
  • Women who gain too much are more likely to have a large baby or a premature baby.

A premature baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. These mothers may also have health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure that can cause problems during pregnancy.

The total amount of weight gain during your pregnancy depends on your weight when you become pregnant. Talk to your physician or midwife for more information.

Tips to help you create better eating habits:

Watch how much juice you drink. Even all-natural and 100 percent juice is full of sugar and empty calories. If you find it impossible to cut out these sweet drinks, treat yourself to a small glass once a day. If you are gestational diabetic, you should cut these out from your diet.

  • Anything canned or frozen is full of salt. Even if it’s a “healthy meal,” it’s still full of salt.
  • Try snacking on something healthy every two hours or so.
  • If you can pick the food up in a drive-through, it’s probably unhealthy.

Here’s a list of fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains and protein foods that are great for women to eat throughout their pregnancy.

Vegetable Group

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Cooked greens (such as kale, collards, turnip greens, and beet greens)
  • Winter squash
  • Tomatoes and tomato sauces
  • Red sweet peppers

These vegetables all have both vitamin A and potassium. When choosing canned vegetables, look for “low-sodium” or “no-salt-added” on the label. Vitamin A helps with postpartum tissue repair and helps to fight infection. Potassium helps to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in your body’s cells.

Fruit Group

  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew melon
  • Mangoes
  • Prunes
  • Bananas
  • Apricots
  • Oranges
  • Red or pink grapefruit
  • 100 percent prune juice or orange juice

These fruits all provide potassium, and many also provide vitamin A. When choosing canned fruit, look for those canned in 100 percent fruit juice or water instead of syrup.

Dairy Group

  • Fat-free or low-fat yogurt
  • Fat-free milk (skim milk)
  • Low-fat milk (1 percent milk)
  • Calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage)

These all provide the calcium and potassium you need. Make sure that your choices are fortified with vitamins A and D. A vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities. It also may have an impact on birth weight. Some researchers believe that a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can affect your baby’s bone development and immune function throughout your baby’s life.

Grain Group

  • Fortified ready-to-eat cereals
  • Fortified cooked cereals

When buying ready-to-eat and cooked cereals, choose those made from whole grains most often. Look for cereals that are fortified with iron and folic acid. Iron is essential for making hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body increases almost 50 percent, so you need more iron to make more hemoglobin.

Protein Foods Group

  • Beans and peas (such as pinto beans, soybeans, white beans, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas)
  • Nuts and seeds (such as sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, peanuts, and peanut butter)
  • Lean beef, lamb and pork
  • Oysters, mussels, crab
  • Salmon, trout, herring, sardines, and Pollock

Some types of seafood can contain high levels of mercury. Too much mercury can damage your baby’s developing brain and nervous system. Shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish can contain high levels of mercury.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency say pregnant women can safely eat up to 12 ounces (340 grams) of seafood a week. Similarly, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 8 to 12 ounces of seafood a week for pregnant women – or about two average meals.

Talk to your provider if you have any questions about safe foods during pregnancy.

October 28, 2014


The flu vaccine protects pregnant women, their unborn babies and the baby after birth.

These are just a few of the reasons it is so important for pregnant women to get a flu vaccine.

Dr. Michael A. Belfort, obstetrician and gynecologist-in-chief of Texas Children’s Hospital, tells you more about how serious the flu can be for pregnant women and why they should get vaccinated against the potentially life-threatening infection.

“Pregnancy is a state where there are adjustments in the mother’s immune system that can make certain infections more serious during pregnancy than they would be outside of pregnancy,” Belfort said. “The flu is one of those illnesses that can be a lot worse in pregnancy than outside of pregnancy.”

Pregnant woman with the flu also have a greater chance for serious problems for their unborn baby, including premature labor and delivery, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“So, it is absolutely vital for all pregnant women to get the flu vaccine,” Belfort said.

The shot has proven to be safe for pregnant women and their babies with millions of expecting mothers receiving the vaccine during previous years.

Getting the shot is the first and most important step in protecting against flu, according to the CDC. Given during pregnancy, the shot has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby (up to 6 months old) from the flu.

Employee Health is administering free seasonal influenza vaccinations to all Texas Children’s employees, Baylor College of Medicine employees working in Texas Children’s facilities, Texas Children’s medical staff and volunteers. Leaders from Texas Children’s Pediatrics, Texas Children’s Health Centers and The Center for Women and Children will inform their staff about seasonal flu vaccination details.

Click here to view vaccination schedules on Connect for both Main and West Campuses. Employee Health strongly encourages you to get your vaccine at one of the times listed on the schedule. If you are unable to do so, please schedule an appointment to get the flu vaccine at the Employee Health Clinic.

And, remember, getting an annual flu shot is part of Texas Children’s P3 incentive plan, which is an important component of the total rewards you receive at Texas Children’s Hospital. As part of P3 , we are striving for at least 90 percent of our staff to get vaccinated by Monday, December 1.


By Morgan Villareal

My husband, Cullen, and I are blessed with two wonderful children. We have a 5-year-old daughter, Bailey, and a 7-year-old son, Braydon. And, in a couple of months, we will be adding a new addition to our family. The timing couldn’t have been better. Our expected delivery date? Mother’s Day!!

When we shared this exciting news with Bailey and Braydon, they were absolutely thrilled! After all, this had been their birthday and Christmas wish – for mommy and daddy to have another baby so they could assume their coveted role of “big brother” and “big sister,” respectively.

Unlike my first two pregnancies, this one was a little bit rocky. For about a year, my husband and I were trying to have another baby. I had no problem getting pregnant with my son and daughter. However, this time around, presented some challenges, but we were determined to overcome them.

After fruitless attempts to conceive, my husband and I scheduled an appointment to see a specialist at the Family Fertility Center at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. I heard a lot of success stories emerging from the clinic, and since I work at the hospital, it was convenient for me to seek fertility treatment here.

After undergoing several tests, we discovered what was wrong with me. I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – a condition where cysts grow in the ovaries – which makes it very difficult for women to get pregnant. My doctor told me the only way to conceive was through in vitro fertilization (IVF). So, that’s what we did!

102914BWmorgan640-2My physician, Dr. Ertug Kovanci, and the staff at the Family Fertility Center were wonderful. They answered all of my questions promptly and made sure I was comfortable during the entire IVF process. We completed the first round of IVF, and two weeks later, Dr. Kovanci delivered the news that we had been waiting for, “You are pregnant!”

My husband and I shed so many tears of happiness. Best of all, it was great to see the big smile on our kids’ faces. Their wish for a little brother or little sister is finally coming true. We thought we’d have to undergo several rounds of IVF to get pregnant, but one round was all it took.

I am almost 11 weeks pregnant, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m thankful to the staff at the Family Fertility Center for helping us achieve our goal. Our family can’t wait to meet our precious miracle in May.

July 1, 2014


By Julie Griffith

My role at Texas Children’s is to develop programs and services that support our employees in achieving optimal health and well-being. From the moment I learned I was expecting, I felt a sense of personal responsibility to provide the best possible environment for my baby to flourish. I have outlined the key dimensions of wellness that I have focused on throughout my pregnancy.

Stock up on sleep
I cherish my sleep! I am a solid eight hours of sleep person. Yes, I am aware that I am in for a rude awakening once the baby arrives! The biggest piece of advice I have been hearing lately is to “stock up on my sleep now while I still can.”

Adequate hours and quality sleep is essential for our physical, mental and emotional well-being, and this is especially true for pregnant women. I have made a point to establish a bed time routine in a restful environment that is cool and dark. Experts also say that limiting screen time and keeping electronics out of the bedroom are beneficial in improving your sleep quality. Although I don’t always abide by that rule, I do try to make it the norm. I will give some credit to my body-size pregnancy pillow that has come in handy as my belly has grown.

Eating well
After the realization of being pregnant sank in, I felt that eating a nutritious and well-balanced diet as one of the greatest gifts I could give to my growing baby. The food we eat affects how our bodies work, how we feel and heal, and how we maintain our energy. It also determines the basic nutritional health that our children are born with, and provides a model for their eating habits during childhood and beyond. I can’t say that my pregnancy diet has been flawless, but I focused on maintaining a wholesome diet of lean proteins, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, eating a healthy breakfast every day and moderately indulging (usually on chocolate) on occasion. The USDA Choose My Plate site is a wonderful resource with meal plans, snack ideas, and weight gain guidelines for pregnant women.

Raise your water glass
It is estimated that pregnant women’s blood volume increases by as much as 50 percent. Water helps transportation and absorption of essential nutrients into our cells and is essential to meet this growing demand. It’s these nutrient-rich blood cells that reach the placenta and ultimately the baby, all with the help of good old fashioned H2O. It was recently described to me that “drinking water is like giving your cells a bath.” I now visualize every sip of water I take as an opportunity to cleanse our systems!

M8Let’s get physical
Recently, Alysia Montaño made headlines as she ran in the 800 meters race at the US Track and Field Championship while 8 months pregnant with the support of both her midwife and doctor. Although the media response was mostly positive it raised questions about exercising during pregnancy. After discussing this with a health care provider, it is generally considered safe to continue your pre-pregnancy exercise routine and adjust appropriately over time. My personal goal was not to run a marathon or 100 percent commit to my typical workout routine, but to be active most days of the week through exercise classes, walking and prenatal yoga and be in tune with my body as my pregnancy progressed.

Don’t leave before you leave
Last summer I read Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” and the chapter “Don’t Leave Before You Leave” has been a driving force throughout my pregnancy and leading up to my maternity leave. Sandberg said women start thinking about balancing work and family life before it is truly necessary and often scale back on job responsibilities in preparation for having children. Integrating my new family and career is very important to me. I have no doubt that my life priorities will shift and that returning to work will be challenging. However, by accelerating or “leaning into” my career now with such a dramatic life change on the horizon, I feel that I will return to work that is both professionally and personally rewarding and that will make for a smoother transition.

June 3, 2014

By Amy Aiken Puglia

When Steven and I decided to grow our family, we had no idea it would happen so soon. It really took us by surprise when those two pink lines appeared! That’s why it was so comforting to know that I would have access to great quality care just a hop, skip, and a jump away at the Pavilion for Women. While I haven’t been skipping, hopping, or jumping to any of my recent appointments being seven months pregnant, it is with an even greater confidence and trust that I check in at each visit with my new women’s specialist, Dr. Codi Weiner. I have found the Women’s Specialists of Houston, and particularly Dr. Weiner and her staff, to be very responsive to all of my worried first-time-mom calls and emails. Also, they have readily worked with me in re-booking appointments when I have any scheduling blunders that need sorting out.

Click above to view the very creative announcement “trailer.”

Some of the most amazing experiences we’ve had since the three of us started this new journey include hearing our daughter’s heartbeat for the first time when she was just seven weeks old and then seeing her for the first time during our anatomy scan sonogram appointment at nineteen weeks. As we looked into my “womb with a view” and saw our little girl, it was as though she knew mommy and daddy were watching. She began to wiggle, stretch, and tap dance her way deeper into our hearts. Towards the end of the appointment, she began to get sleepy (as you can tell from the clip at the end of our video). She let out a big yawn and then nestled down for a nap. So cute! We just cannot wait to meet her and get to know her as the newest member of the Puglia family. 

​About Amy Puglia: Amy is the manager of emergency management. She and her husband, Steven, are expecting their first on July 25.