A how-to on watermarking your child's photos

In light of seeing a scam on Facebook involving the photo of a baby boy I actually know has reignited my determination to let everyone know how important it is to watermark your photos.
If you are the parent of a child with heart defects, cancer, skin disease, or some sort of condition or disorder where pictures show them in any sort of way that would suggest they are sick; please pay attention.

Watermarking your photos is important because there are people out there who will steal your photos and share them in a scam that has some sort of sad story attatched. The photo will have a caption that claims "for every share this baby will get $1", or "share and this baby gets a free heart transplant", or even something silly like "like this photo and send a prayer, leave a comment and 10 cents will be donated". Sadly, there are thousands and thousands of people who fall for this every day and contribute to the hurt a family feels when they find out their child's pictures have been stolen. 

It is very easy to add a watermark to your photos and I have outlined three programs you can use and how to use them.

1. Picasa. 

A free and easy photo program that you can download here. If you don't have it, download it first, then upload any photos you have that you wish to watermark, choose the photo, then on the left with be an option to add text. Simply type in what you wish, ex: Caruthers Family-do not save, and add the watermark to cover up the photo. You want to place it where it cannot easily be photoshopped out. Then simply go to the top left of the program, under File, then hit 'save as' and you're done!

This is what it should look like:

2. Photoshop Elements

This is what I use to watermark my photos. It is not free, but compared to the full version of photoshop (which can run over $500), it is not too expensive running from $80-$120 (click to buy from Amazon).

3. Picmarkr.com

free website that makes it easy to upload photos from Flikr, Facebook or Picasa, add a watermark, customize the mark, then save the photos, share them, or download them to your computer. It has an easy 1,2,3 format that guides you through the whole process. I suggest this site for people who are not that familiar with photo applications like Picasa or Photoshop, as it has really simple to follow instructions.

This simple steps can save you much heartache and help prevent your precious photos from being stolen. Please follow these instructions and watermark your child's photos and don't forget to share this post online so that others can learn how as well.

If anyone has trouble doing this or has any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at: thecorbinstory@aol.com

***Update: Someone posted on my FB that "watermarks are very easy to remove or blur out in photoshop, FYI". I want to address this:
1. No they're not.
2. It's much easier to steal a photo with no watermark.

I use Photoshop on almost a daily basis and I know that it is not that simple to remove something from a photo. You can delete a part of an image but it leaves a black space where it used to be. You then would have to copy the surrounding pixels and copy them into the black space to fill it in. This takes a lot of time and it will most likely not look perfect. If someone did indeed take the time to steal a photo of yours with a watermark and tried to erase the watermark, you would be able to see where it used to be. That being said, I will reiterate: adding a watermark to your sensitive photos WILL HELP PREVENT them from being stolen. I never said that it was a fool proof, 100% effective way of preventing them from being stolen. I am simply saying that if you add a watermark, most likely, if someone is looking for a photo to steal, they are going to pass over the ones with a mark because it would take too much time and effort to remove the watermark.

My best friend brought up a great analogy: "It's like saying locks are easily picked, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't lock your door!" It is a preventive measure to help protect your photos, like how a lock on your door helps prevent a break in. It may not work 100% of the time, but it, for damn sure, will most likely turn someone off from trying!

Newborn screening: a video

I remember filming this video; it was in May, I had met my fellow Task Force members for the first time and we were in the mecca of newborn screening. I didn't realize how amazing our stories would be when put together like this. I absolutely love it.
Check it out...

Like always, please share! Tweet, pin, share on FB, or email to family; help spread the word about newborn screening!

Newborn screening: your stories.

I hope you have been following along with Newborn Screening Awareness month! I have shared a few newborn screening stories and some education material, but this post is geared towards you!

I want to hear your stories.
Did you know about newborn screening (NBS) when you were pregnant?

Did you ask about the results?

Did you have a negative result?

Personally, my answer to all those questions is no. I knew nothing of NBS when I was pregnant with both my boys. I didn't know what they tested for, or how many my state tests for, or what it even involved. I knew nothing till after Corbin passed away and I started educating myself and getting involved.

You're not a bad parent if your answer is no to these questions as well! That's why there is NBS awareness month! To help educate parents about NBS and to spread the word about these life saving tests.

So tell me, what are your NBS experiences? 

Newborn screening: A graphic to share part two

I hope you have been following along with newborn screening awareness month! To make it a little easier, Baby's First Test created this stunning graphic for you all to share and help spread the word. Save it, pin it, tweet it, or print it off; it's yours to share as you wish!

Newborn screening: Sydney's story of life thanks to pulse ox

I heard Sydney's story thought Facebook and immediately messaged her mom to ask if she would guest post on my blog. When reading her story, my heart broke for the babies who are missed during screening and it soared knowing that this little life was saved.

Sydney’s Story
A few days ago I found out that the Minnesota Newborn Screening Advisory Committee voted unanimously for all Minnesota hospitals to perform the pulse ox test on all newborns! This is great news! Fortunately, I gave birth to my baby girl at one of the very few hospitals in Minnesota that performed this test before this passed.
Our little Sydney was born on July 19th at 8:23am weighing 8 pounds, 11 ounces, and 22 inches long. After almost 4 hours of pushing, they decided to use a vacuum to assist in the delivery; five minutes later our daughter was born. Every doctor and nurse that checked her out – listened to her lungs and heart and said ‘you have a very healthy baby girl!’ At this point we had no worries; everyone was telling us we had such a healthy baby. Well that all changed in a matter of 24 hours.
The next day the nurse came in to tell us that they were taking her to do the 24 hour testing. I didn’t know at that point what it all really consisted of; she just simply explained a few of the tests they were going to do. About an hour later the nurse came back to our room, with Sydney, and advised that she did NOT pass the oxygen level testing and that they would be taking her back down to do the same test two more times and if she failed to pass those, an echocardiogram would need to be done. I started to get a little nervous, but figured she had two more chances to pass the test, so I wasn’t going to get overly anxious quite yet. Well much to our surprise the nurse came back yet again and advised she did not pass either of the two tests so an echocardiogram was scheduled for later that day. The nurse did her best to keep us calm and reassured us that all was going to be ok. I lost it at that point and couldn’t hold back the tears, I knew something wasn’t right.
Later that day they performed the echo on her heart and they also took an x-ray of her lungs as her CRP levels were coming back high. After all of the testing they brought our little munchkin back to our room and we went about our day. Since she was only a day old, there were still family members that didn’t have the chance to visit us yet, therefore on that Friday evening we had several first time visitors stop by as well as my sister and two nieces from Arizona who were leaving to go home the next day. It was around 7:00pm when the nurse came in and said they had to take Sydney right away to the Sensitive Care Nursery so they could start her on oxygen. It all happened so fast I didn’t have time to really think things through. All I could think of was the worst – my baby is being put on oxygen, something is not right. The visitors continued to come through the night and we had to explain what was going on and of course it brought me to tears every time I thought of sweet Sydney or had to tell people where she was at.
Fortunately, my sister was there and because of her connections through the organization she works for, HopeKids, she was able to reach out to a few of the moms who have dealt with this same situation and who also knew more about the testing that was being done, etc. After hearing that only a few hospitals in Minnesota, Maple Grove being one of them, I realized how blessed we were that Sydney was at this hospital and had the pulse ox test done. In fact, Maple Grove Hospital recently, just 6 months ago started performing this test along with the other 24 hour tests (hearing, etc.). I didn’t realize the importance of this test until my sister did some more explaining. Thousands of babies have been affected by this test NOT taking place. Heart defects and other issues can be detected by this test and because it is done so early, precautionary measures can be taken to begin treating any issue found. While my husband was in the Sensitive Care Nursery, a doctor came to talk to him and the doctor stressed the importance of this test and said that if the test wasn’t done, they would have sent us home and everything could have been OK. However, there is that 1% chance that we could have been sent home, and then awoken to a blue baby the next day or a few days down the road.
For those of you who do not know the extent of the pulse ox test – it is a simple procedure where a cuff is put on the bottom of the baby’s foot and it measures the oxygen flow/level in their body. A normal range is between 95-100%, and Sydney’s was at 88%. The reason for her low levels could have been because of the vacuum assisted delivery or she was simply just having a hard time adjusting to life outside the womb and needed some help to transition. Without this test our baby appeared healthy, however little did we know that there was a silent killer on the inside. Thankfully her echo came back showing a healthy heart, yet it did show the issues she was having with the oxygen levels. They kept her in the Special Care Nursery for a week as it took her a few days to slowly be weaned off the oxygen and to hold her own levels of 95-100% for 72 hours. Also, because of her high CRP levels, they treated her with antibiotics for 7 days.
I hope and pray that this test will be approved and mandated across the United States at ALL hospitals. There is no reason that a simple test such as the pulse ox cannot be done as a precautionary measure as it could save many lives!!

Newborn Screening: a graphic to share

Please save, share, email, tweet, stumble, pin, or print and hang up on your refrigerator! Newborn screening saves lives and the more who know about it, the more babies who will have a fighting chance.

Stay tuned: next week I will be sharing an amazing story from a heart mom whose daughter was saved by pulse ox testing. 

CHD awareness on CSPAN!

This is just amazing.
A fellow heart mom was able to share her story at the Democratic National Convention! Stacey Lihn, mom to Zoe, told the world how 1 in 100 babies are affected by congenital heart defects. It gives me chills to think of the hundreds of thousands who heard those words.

Watch her speech here

Isn't that amazing?! I was sitting on the couch at my house anxiously waiting to see Stacey walk across the stage, and when she finally did, I threw my hands up in the air and squealed! There she is! It was so exciting to watch CHD history being made.

If you would like to know more about Zoe and her amazing journey, you can read the family's blog or visit Cora's Story to read an interview Kristine gave Stacey.

Please share this video on Facebook, Pinterest (I pinned it so all you have to do is repin), Twitter, and any other social network you are a part of!

Liam Lyon: gone but never forgotten

I hate writing this.

Another heart baby passed away yesterday. William Elijah Lyon, affectionally called Liam was born 5 weeks early but looked great. Turns out he had a life threatening heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which if left untreated, is deadly. Liam's doctors decided right away that he needed a heart transplant, but while waiting, he got worse. So they went ahead with the Norwood, one part of a three part surgery that hypoplastic left heart (HLHS) babies receive. But it didn't help enough and he soon underwent the Glenn, the second surgery, but that also didn't help enough and he was sent to the top of the heart transplant list. He thankfully received that much needed heart transplant some time later, but poor Liam's body was getting weak. Liam was about one year and seven months old, only spending ten days of his life at home, when he grew weak. He fought like the brave lion tens of thousands of people know he is, but it was too much.
Sweet Liam Lyon passed away yesterday at about 8:30pm, in the arms of his loving and amazing family. Liam's strength and courage cathered over 80,000 followers on his facebook page and his chubby cheeks could light up a room.

If you would like to help the family, an account has been set up to accept donations to help with the funeral and other expenses. Please visit their Facebook page to see how to help.

Liam will always be in my heart with his chubby cheeks and heart warming smile, as well as his amazing fighting spirit. Please help me remember Liam by wearing red, lighting a candle, turning on your porch light, or by spreading the love that he was so full of. 

You will never be forgotten brave Liam Lyon.

Newborn screening: the importance of communication

As some of you know, I am part of a workforce group under Baby's First Test that was formed to help educate parents and spread awareness of newborn screening by sharing our personal stories. The following story is from a fellow workforce member, Chantel, who tells us about her newborn screening experience with her son Christian.

When you think of newborn screening, what comes to mind? Well, I realize that it just depends on what perspective you look at it from. I am both a parent of child that had an inconclusive diagnosis from the newborn screen, which later was determined positive, and the perspective of a neonatal critical care nurse that must obtain the newborn screen according the state policies of Delaware. 
  My son was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at two months of age, starting with the newborn screen. We then did a sweat test at a major medical center and DNA samples to confirm the diagnosis. Once the diagnosis was made, I had to ask and seek out more education about resources available. I don't recall from my experience that my OB reviewed this with me at all, neither did my sons pediatrician.
 As a matter of fact when my son was born the hospital policy was to do the newborn screen prior to discharge and preferably in the first 48hrs of life. Well, he was being discharged without his screening being done. We were ready to leave the hospital when I noticed it wasn't completed, questioned the nurse about it, and they quickly took him into their nursery to complete it. He is ten now, so it seems like since then more awareness and education has been made which is definitely a positive thing! 
I have vowed that I do not ever want a parent to feel the same lonely and confused type of way that my husband and I felt when our beautiful, happy bundle of joy was diagnosed with an incurable disease. We realized that we can’t take anything for granted. Everyone assumes a child is supposed to be healthy. Well, I now believe that every child born to this world as purpose by God.. He has control over their life and the lives they touch. For this reason I advocate for parents and consumers that want more education about newborn screening. No one should feel alone or that there are not resources and support groups to help. 
Today Christian is an outgoing 10 year old that excels at basketball and his newest passion is Hip Hop Dance. Every obstacle that is associated with his disease he is overcoming.  He loves to spend time with his family and has a way of making us all value every day we are alive. 

Do you have an experience like this? Share your story with us!

Newborn Screening awareness month is here!

In honor of Newborn Screening (NBS) awareness month, I will be sharing a few stories about NBS as well as education material throughout the month. If you would like to contribute, please email me at: thecorbinstory@aol.com.

What is newborn screening?
Newborn screening is a series of tests that screen, or help determine, if your baby may have a certain disease or disorder. The tests are run using blood from the heel stick they give your baby soon after birth. Since most of the conditions they are testing for may not show symptoms or signs yet, as your baby is only a day or two old, the screening allows doctors to catch and identify a problem early so that treatment can be started if needed.
It is important to know that this screening is not a solid positive or negative. The screening shows if your baby is more likely to have a condition, that way a follow up test can be run that will tell you for sure if something is wrong and needs to be addressed.

Right now, screening is available for over 60 disorders, but not all states screen for everything. Every state is different as it is not mandated evenly through the country, but instead state by state. If you would like to see what your state screens for, visit Baby's First Test and click on your state to find out.

Each year, over 5,000 babies are born with a condition that is tested for during newborn screening. Most of those disorders do not show signs right away but could be lethal by the time symptoms occur. Thankfully, newborn screening is required to be run on every single newborn born in the United States so that those conditions can be treated before it is too late.

Have more questions? Please visit Baby's First Test to learn more about these life saving tests.