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Welcome! The ABOUT page tells who we are and what we do. Like what you see? Then click DONATE to read about ways to help Team Abby. Below are various blog posts that relate to our foundation. If you need to get in touch, don't hesitate to CONTACT us! P.S.- My favorite post is here, and it tells you about the day Abby was born... and what happened next.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

And the winner is...

While both logos got a positive response, one seemed to touch everyone's hearts. As you can probably guess, the winner was:

Thanks so much, again, to Janis of NavyBean for her amazing logo skills. And thanks to Erin for setting us up! She knew Janis would be able to come up with something amazing for us. Thanks to you both, as well as those who voted! Now, onto the next action item... getting the website up and running to support our upcoming projects!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Please VOTE on our new logo!

I'm SO EXCITED to show off two logo designs by Janis from Navy Bean. Janis did an amazing job creating two logos that I love, so I need your help to choose the one that will become our official logo!

Take a peek at the two logos below, and leave a comment telling me which is your favorite. We hope that this will become part of our "brand"-- letterheads, t-shirts, promo materials, etc. Without further ado, here they are!



Aren't they AMAZING?!? Okay, time to vote below! Let me know which one you think should be our logo. I'll announce the winning design in about a week!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Favorite Things

About a month before Abby was born, a package arrived in the mail from my friend Kristy. It contained a bunch of things she and her newborn daughter found helpful... which was a lifesaver for a clueless mom-to-be! I recently stole borrowed this idea and sent my first “Favorite Things” package to a friend who is expecting her first.

I started thinking about all those products that got me through the long days as a mother of a newborn, specifically one with special needs. There are several things that I simply could not have gotten through this experience without. I want to share them as well as solicit other ideas and come up with a guide for new parents, parents of special needs children, and also reflux parents. Below is my list of “Favorite Things”, with hyperlinked titles that will take you to the product's page. All are marked with the following abbreviations to denote the targeted audience:

*= all-around all-star (great for ALL parents!)
RE= helpful for a reflux baby
SN= helpful for a special needs baby

What are your "Favorite Things?" Don’t forget to add them in the comments section! Remember, even something that seems simple can be the thing that changes someone's life for the better. Don't believe me? Read below!


Is there a better pillow than the Boppy? Every new mom I know has one. There are many uses for it, but we use it to keep Abby elevated after a feed while she sleeps. Yes, this requires constant monitoring (a child should NEVER sleep unsupervised on a Boppy) but it gives her that 30 degree angle to help control her reflux. She’s slept on it every single night since we’ve gotten home from the hospital. We also used it IN the hospital when we held her since the chairs they had were very uncomfortable and provided little support. Boppy, we lurve you!

Noggin Nest (SN)
Abby demonstrates the RIGHT way to use the Noggin Nest...
... and the WRONG way to use the Noggin Nest!

Another AMAZING product from Boppy. I used this for several reasons. First, I was worried about Abby’s head shape due to the amount of time she spent on her back and in her feeding chair. I didn’t want her to have a flat head on top of all the other issues we were dealing with. Additionally, Abby was considered “floppy” (low-tone) and it took a little longer than most to get that needed head control. The Noggin Nest kept her head from flopping all over the place. Trust me when I tell you reflux babies can contort their heads in the most grotesque fashion—the Noggin Nest kept that in check. We used it in her chair to keep her head from flopping, and you should see how round and pretty her head shape is now

Oh, wow, my life CHANGED once I discovered the Bundle Me! I didn’t understand why I needed it at first and then watched as friend after friend visited with their babies snuggled in the Bundle Me. Once we bought one, it cut about 10 minutes of our getting-ready-to-leave time!  The Bundle Me fits inside the seat and and goes under and over the baby’s body. There are slots for the car seat straps to fit through, and is lined with warm fleece. It’s so warm, in fact, that a jacket is not needed.  Please note that it is generally not regarded as safe to have extra things in the carseat, but in my opinion (I am no expert) having the thin Bundle Me is better than a super puffy jacket that prevents the straps from holding tightly.  On that note, Abby is NOT wearing the straps correctly in the lower photo.  I took the photo before I adjusted latch to her armpit height and pulled the straps tighter.  Important stuff!

I received this as a shower gift, and it really came in handy! Abby loved the toys on the toy bar. In fact, we’d often bring the singing cow (we named him “Mike”) on trips to the doctor’s office because it entertained her while we waited. We also used him to distract her while we placed the NG tube, so I’m pretty sure she’ll end up having some sort of fear of cows, but we did what we had to. Anyways, the chair grows with your child, first as a vibrating seat for infants and then turns into a rocker for toddlers. Paired with the Noggin Nest, she was tube fed in this every single day until she learned to crawl. We’ll have this with us for years to come!

There are so many different types of Pack and Plays on the market. What makes this one stand out are the special buttons on the side. Abby slept in the P&P in our room for the first few months after leaving the hospital, and we would run her nightly and first morning feeds in it. If she woke up in the middle of a feed, she’d often throw up. This amazing P&P has vibration and music buttons, helping her to drift off to sleep again. Words cannot describe the level of exhaustion I had reached after 2 months of NICU visits, major surgery, and getting about 4 hours of sleep a night (and pumping during her naps, making napping (for me) impossible). The soothing buttons allowed both of us to get much needed rest and let Abby heal and feed without constantly waking up. Now that she’s bigger, we’ve taken the top layer off and use it as a playpen.  It's wonderful.

I know, you can just use a large blanket. But these are pretty great, keeping Abby snug and hands-free (no tube pulling!) while sleeping. It took awhile before our little Houdini could get out of them. SUPER helpful in terms of keeping her hands out of the way when we placed her NG tube. I wish they made a toddler version!

When you have a child that throws up massive amounts of liquid, you need something within reach that will absorb it. Enter good old Gerber pre-folded cloth diapers. These babies absorb ANYTHING, and quickly, and are cheap to boot. I bought them by the dozen, and put them all over the house so we were ready. They saved many a couch, bed, and outfit. Seriously, they absorb an entire bottle’s worth of liquid. BY FAR they are one of the highest on my list of things I love!

Peanut Shell baby sling (*)
Correct way to use the sling (but hard to get a good self-photo):

INCORRECT way to use the sling (but oh-so-snuggly when you take it off while baby sleeps!):
I bought the sling right before Abby was born, and actually didn't use it for months. One day, I simply needed to clean and Abby wouldn't let me put her down. In frustration, I placed her in the sling on me and proceeded to clean. Guess what? Not only did she love it, but she started snoozing almost immediately. This became a LIFESAVER when I needed to get her to sleep to feed her. Granted, it has become somewhat of a crutch and now we are weaning her off of it, but it saved my sanity FOR SURE. The only warning is that you need to be careful with a reflux baby and a carrier because if you curl them up too much after a feed then they can throw up. That only happened once or twice, though-- knock on wood!

Abby developed a terrible rash where the tube and tape met her skin. We got away with about 6 months of no rashes, but then, BOOM: rash. We treated the rash with hydrocortisone cream, and used Duoderm as a barrier. Here's the process: first, apply skin prep. Next, the duoderm. Then place the NG tube, lay it flat over the duoderm, and place the tape on top. An NG sandwich, if you will. Sounds easy, right? HA HA HA HAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHA!!!!!!

We finally folded and just bought our own scale. When your baby is labeled "failure to thrive", you'll do just about anything. Honestly, it was a great investment.  It was great to be able to keep track of Abby's weight at home. It saved us from hours of doctor visits for "weight checks". It allowed us to see what was working and what wasn't, feeding wise. It gave me the data I needed to yell at our nursing agency: "she's lost half a pound this week because we haven't had consistent nurses!!!!" Ah, yes, I love the Salter Baby Scale.

Yes, it’s formulated for animal messes but it has such a clean scent we used it on many an Abby mess. We will eventually need to replace the carpets in our living room and her nursery due to the amount she refluxed, but until we can afford it this spray keeps us as fresh as can be expected when you have a child that projectile vomits several times a day. (So, WHY don’t you want to come visit us???)

We thought the world of Abby’s infant tub until she learned to sit up unassisted. We still couldn’t give her baths sitting in the big tub because on occasion she’s just flop backwards without warning. That was another brain injury waiting to happen! Enter the Duck Tub, which I found new at a consignment shop for $7. It was easy to inflate, easy to clean, safe for floppers, AND it quacks! What more could you ask for? It’s also great for traveling, not that we’d know because we didn’t really go anywhere.

Changing Table Wedge (RE)
Photo was taken from the Pollywog website... our cover is a little bit cuter. :-)
Here’s a conundrum: let’s say you have a baby that gets frequent UTI’s, has horrible reflux, and needs to be elevated during and after each feed or else she’ll throw up. Okay, now put that baby on a feeding pump and watch as she poops mid-feed. You now have a poopy reflux baby that needs to be changed or else she’ll get a UTI but you can’t lay her flat or she’ll puke up her entire feed. WELCOME TO MY WORLD!!!!!!! Enter the reflux wedge. It goes under the changing pad to keep it at an angle. Before we bought this, Abby would throw up each time we changed her. After we bought it, she would still throw up sometimes but the chances of NOT throwing up certainly improved. It does make it tricky to change her at an angle, but no trickier than trying to keep her elevated, change a diaper, and then dodge the puke without the wedge. This changed our lives! (by the way, the site we ordered it from is an excellent resource for Reflux Mamas!)


Baby Legs (*)(RE)
These aren't your mama's legwarmers! Nope, Baby Legs actually make sense, as opposed to the slouchy knitted monstrosities we sported in the eighties. GREAT for a reflux baby, this allows the baby to wear a onesie with none of those belly-pushing pants. They come in fun colors and patterns, protect knees while crawling, grow WITH your child for years and years, and also come in summer weights. Although I do have a few pairs of the BABY LEGS brand, most of mine came from sellers such as Crawler Covers on I lovelovelove me some Etsy!

One-Pieces (footless pajamas) (RE)
Abby models her Carter's fleece one-piece:

Abby AND her BFF wear them!
AH, pants. I swoon at adorable baby jeans and cute tiny capris. Alas, Abby can't really wear pants because they put pressure on her belly. NOT GOOD for a reflux baby! These adorable pajamas from Old Navy were perfect for our little fashionista: no belly pressure, cute colors, super-comfy, and they could be used for p.j.s OR out on the town running errands. Abby also sported one-pieces from Carters, Gymboree, Baby Gap, and The Children's Place. They looked like little outfits once you put on some cute socks and shoes!

Out of all of Abby's outfits, these little socks get the most compliments. We wear them with everything, including her pulsox in the NICU. Not only are they adorable, but they actually STAY ON! AMAZING!

Entertainment: Toys, Music, and Movies

DVDs: (*)
After reading article after article citing how watching television is terrible for brain development, I vowed to use it as little as possible. I would never judge another parent for letting their child watch t.v., however I knew for a brain-injury baby like Abby every brain cell mattered. I would only let her watch a teeny bit of t.v. on the random rainy Friday afternoon when I simply could not cope any longer or when I needed to shower and she’d cry when left alone in the Pack and Play unless distracted by the television. BUT THEN we went to Hershey, and my t.v.-free dreams were shattered. We need to use DVDs about 6 times a day to feed her. Sigh. Of course, NOW additional research has come out saying television might not be as harmful as once thought. Like everything else in life, I guess moderation is best. Out of the DVDs we used, here are a few favorites that I hope do as little damage to her brain as possible (plus, she LOVES them! Who’s to argue with that?):
Jack’s Big Music Show (I absolutely LOVE this series!)

The first 10 months of Abby’s life were full of feeds that took HOURS. And after being fed, we needed to keep her upright for at least 30 minutes. Our days were dark and tedious, until a few Laurie Berkner CDs arrived in the mail from a friend. Suddenly, we had a soundtrack to our life! The songs were fun, catchy, and Abby really responded to them. I could sing “Doodlebugs” and “Wimoweh” anywhere and Abby would stop crying and smile. Car rides were smoother, feeds went quicker, and we were a lot happier. We have a bunch of great CDs, but Laurie Berkner is at the top of the list for helping ease my depression. Out of the bunch of them, we particularly loved Victor Vito and Whaddaya Think of That.

Books (*)

It goes without saying that as a former school librarian I love books. Despite having hundreds of (well worn) books that I used in the classroom, I hardly had any board books or good copies of classics. Thanks to our friends, family, and TEAM ABBY, we now have oodles of amazing, kid-approved board books! I couldn’t have gotten through our first year without them, as these books kept her entertained during her many tube feeds. We have SO MANY awesome books, it is hard to choose any to highlight. I literally would have a list of 100 books. So, I chose a few that Abby could “read” again and again and again no matter how fussy she was that day:
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
Bathtime Peekaboo (and Bedtime Peekaboo)
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Any Spot book that has flaps (Where's Spot?, Spot’s first Walk, etc.)
Any flap book, really

If I could give an award for the BEST TOY EVER, this might win it. Once Abby could sit up, feeding her on the pump became a game of attempting to distract her before she climbed out of her chair or started sobbing. Once we got this, I’d plop her in front of the singing stage and let her go! She learned to pull up using the stage, and even now that she’s crawling it’s still a favorite. Babies love the mirrors, the music is fun, little kids pop up when you press the instruments, and it has lights! Oh, and the “microphone” is a rattle, which she loved to play with. I snagged it on sale with free shipping, which made it the best investment ever.

This is a relatively new addition to our house thanks to my awesome cousin and his family, but already we love it. It is great for Abby because it helps with sensory integration. The balls are perfectly sized… she can fit one in each hand and throws and bangs them together. They look of joy on her face as she dives backward into the pit is priceless. We’ll be using this for years. You could probably make your own for less money with an inflatable pool or Ikea tent and just fill it with balls purchased at Walmart or on Amazon. We love how this one can be folded up for storage if we can pry it out of Abby’s hands!

This simple toy was great for helping Abby learn to use her hands. Babies can hold it by the middle rod to shake it, or practice their pincher grasp on the ends. It makes a sqeaking noise when shaken, and Abby loved that! In fact, this accompanied us on many doctor trips to keep her smiling. Also, it’s easy to wipe off and the price (about $4 or $5) can’t be beat!

Another great toy for all babies, especially young ones as they learn to grip and shake things. Abby was in awe of this one until we lost it. I’m keeping my eyes open for another, because I think this is the kind of toy that grows with you and can be used on many levels!

Technically this is a ridiculously expensive teething toy, but I do have to say we love it. First of all, it’s easy to wash so it’s perfect for trips to the doctor’s office because if it drops on the floor I just wipe it off—no toy quarantine like most of her dropped toys! It’s made of natural rubber and food-based paint, so it’s safe to chew. It’s also easy to hold and has lots of nooks for chewing. The teethers that you put in the fridge are fine, but Abby typically chews on them for a minute and then tosses them on the floor. I can count on Sophie to provide much longer “chew time” than that!

What am I missing? I KNOW you have some great products to add to the list! Please feel free to leave comments with critiques of my list, ideas, and questions. What products help YOU get through the day?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

"To Do" and "Thank You"

First and foremost, THANK YOU for the donations that have been arriving! We were able to fund a major portion of a dream trip for a family who really, really deserved it. The smiles on the girls' faces were worth a million dollars. Actually, they were priceless. Thank you for making that dream come true for one amazing family. Our current mission is to support families facing difficult times due to medical problems. This dream perfectly fit the bill of showing how a little bit of money, when put toward a good cause, can change lives for the better.

Planning Abby's 1st birthday party has taken up most of my free time, and so I've been compiling my to-do list toward setting up the charity and will hopefully get to tackle it after the party. I want to keep you informed on my progress, so you know where your donations will going and why they are important. On my current to-do list are the following:

::: Set up the charity with official 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. I hope to do this before the end of the tax year. If anyone is knowledgeable in this area and would like to help, please let me know!!!

::: Once this is done, I can create a bank account for the charity to keep it as transparent as possible. Right now all the donations are filtered through us, and I know I'm honest but I want to be sure our donors know that, too. :-)

::: "Brand" the TEAM ABBY name. This includes a logo, slogan, color scheme, and website. Again, if you have any great ideas in this area share the love and let me know! Even if you have an idea for the logo or are willing to brainstorm one, I'd appreciate the creative juices I know are flowing throughout the TEAM ABBY community.

::: Create a more solidified mission. As I browse other charities like Abby's, it's obvious what their mission is. Some examples are a charity that purchases 5-point harness booster seats for low-income families ( or funds nights in the Parker House for families with a CDH child ( For Abby, it's hard to pinpoint a cause to focus on. Our lives were changed (for better or worse) because of vasa previa, head cooling, kidney disease, blood donations, feeding issues, GERD, nursing care, medical supplies, advocacy with insurance companies... the list is endless. The one thing that ties them all together is the support we received each step of the way. That's why I keep coming back to supporting other families... the question is, what's the most tangible way to do that? Any ideas, folks?

::: Create a schedule of upcoming fundraisers. I have lots of ideas, but need to focus on the ones that can get "the most bang for our buck". And by buck, I mean "time". Which will require the least amount of work for the most money raised?

::: Post articles that help families such as ours. My first one will be a NICU Survival Guide for families. Other topics: how to support a NICU family, helpful tips for what to do when your child comes home, tips for hospital stays with children, ideas for helping a baby with reflux, etc. Of course I'll need input from those who have also faced these situations, so if you have ideas for the first article (NICU Survival Guide) please email them to me!

That's enough To-Dos for now, although of course I have more. Thank you, once again, for your donations and helping fund the dreams and needs of families facing seemingly insurmountable situations connected to medical needs. If you can't help monetarily now, is there anything on our to-do list that tickled your fancy? If so, let me know-- either post a comment or email me carrie {dot} higgins {at} gmail {dot} com!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In Honor of Steve

The first Dream we are funding is a very, very special one involving a family I adore. I first met Liz as a colleague, but she left teaching to raise her two daughters (now 7 and 10) whom she and her husband Steve adopted as toddlers from Sierra Leone. While I have never met Steve, I had heard many stories of his humor, love of life, kindness, and most of all how he was an amazing and loving father.

This August, Steve was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer. He passed away just 5 months later, right before Christmas-- leaving the wife and daughters he cherished so much. Despite the pain he felt daily, he never complained. Instead, he snuggled with the girls, sang with them, loved them, and apologized to his wife that he had to leave. They had such a short amount of time to prepare for the inevitable, and when it came they were left with a deep hole.

I can't begin to comprehend how this family is facing the rest of their lives without Steve. We felt so helpless, because how do you begin to comfort a family that has lost so much? Despite that feeling, Casey and I do know that just when things were darkest for us somehow a check would arrive to help with expenses, or a note of encouragement, or a meal to feed us. After talking with Liz, what this family needs right now is a chance to get away for a week and laugh, cry, and make new memories in a beautiful place.

So the first Dream we are granting from the TEAM ABBY project is a vacation for the family. It will not be easy for Liz to go on vacation without her beloved Steve, but the girls are so excited for a chance to swim and see dolphins and ride the waterslides. I know he is waiting to see them all smile again.

If you would like to help make this dream happen, please email me as soon as possible ( with a pledge. We have committed to giving this family money to cover 2/3 of the cost of this special vacation. Any amount of money is welcome, whether it is $5, $25 or $500. If you would like to "sponsor" a specific piece of the trip, please see the list below and email me what you would like to cover. To some, a vacation might seem like a "want" versus a "need". Those who have been through a devastating event such as this know that this is very much a "need", the need to begin rebuilding your life and finding spots of happiness through the haze of grief. Liz thanks you, her daughters thank you, I'm sure Steve is thanking you, and of course we are so thankful for you. If you are unable to give at this time, we will have other dreams (large and small) posted as they come up.

Vacation Sponsorship:
shuttle voucher to the resort: $23 (3 sponsorships available)
one day of meals per person: $39 (15 sponsorships available)
activity voucher (such as dolphin encounter): $50 (three sponsorships available)
accommodations per person: $111 (15 sponsorships available)
flight: $300 (three sponsorships available)

Again, any amount is appreciated. No amount is too small (or, too big!)
Lots of love,
Carrie, Casey, and Abby

Mission Statement

Our mission for the TEAM ABBY charity project is a simple one. At this moment in time, we hope to grant "Dreams" that can positively and profoundly impact the experience of another person or family. This might be something big, such as sending a grieving family on a well deserved vacation, something smaller such as providing items like books and blankets to give solace to a family whose child is in the NICU, or something far-reaching such as organizing a blood drive to help hundreds of people receive life-giving blood.

At this time, we have a few "Dreams" underway. We hope to formally found the TEAM ABBY Foundation in the future once we have a little free time. In the meantime, we are still pushing forward by helping fund a few Dreams for some very special people.