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Renata Freydin

What went viral this week: A father + son share a NICU nurse + a kind stranger helps a breastfeeding mama

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During a week like this one where talk of the Weinstein trial and coronavirus have dominated the news cycle, many of us do need a break from all the bad news.

A recent study suggests that people pay more attention to negative news stories than to positive news, but the research proves that even though many people are drawn to negative storylines, "it's not the case that most people want mostly negative news all the time," according to the study's lead author, Stuart Soroka.

Soroka told the Los Angeles Times that there is a place for good news in modern media and since the news cycle has been quite negative this week so we are happily looking at the stories that shine a light on the good in this world.

So here are the good news headlines that made us smile this week:

​Viral Facebook post shows stranger supporting breastfeeding mom in restaurant 

This post is a few years old but went viral this week because stories this good never die on the Internet.

Back in 2016, Briar McQueen was a new mom who was nervous about her first solo trip to a restaurant with her baby. She expected some people might be judgemental about her breastfeeding, but instead, a stranger was incredibly supportive.

"Today was the first time I went out for breakfast alone with my 8 week old son, I had just received my breakfast and hot chocolate when Jaxon started crying wanting his booby so of course I fed him, after a few minutes this older lady walked up to me, I was scared, thinking she was gonna tell me to put my boob away, instead she starts cutting up my breakfast for me and said "what a good mama you are, we can't have your food getting cold can we." I honestly could have cried😍😢 loveliest lady EVER," McQueen wrote in her now-viral Facebook post.

We totally agree and can see why this story is still being shared four years later.

This teacher's mental health check-in chart is going viral 

Teacher Erin Castillo probably never imagined she'd be sitting down talking with Kelly Clarkson, but that's what happened this month when she appeared on Clarkson's show to talk about her viral mental health check-in chart.

Castillo asks her students to write their names on the back of a Post-It note and put it in the row that best corresponds with how they are feeling so that she can check-in with ones in the bottom two sections.

If this chart looks familiar it's probably because Good Morning America profiled the teacher last spring. As Castillo told GMA, she never expected the chart she posted on her Instagram to keep going viral.

"To see this being used in multiple countries around the world, having [teachers] reach out from New Zealand and Africa...to hear actual stories of people helping their students, I'm really overwhelmed with joy," she said.

This is so cool, no wonder educators (and even parents) are making the same charts. This is one time when it's okay to copy someone's work in the classroom. 😉

Lena Waithe voices first gay character in a Disney/Pixar movie 

Disney's new Pixar movie Onward features the first openly LGBTQ character in the company's history.

The character is Officer Specter, voiced by Master of None actress and screenwriter Lena Waithe, who identifies as gay herself.

According to Slate, Waithe's character's sexual identity is confirmed when the character (a cop) and her partner (voiced by Ali Wong), pull over a driver who blames his girlfriend's sons' behavior for his poor driving.

Waithe's character replies sympathetically, saying, "My girlfriend's daughter got me pulling my hair out."

Onward hits theaters March 6.

NICU nurse goes viral after caring for father + son three decades apart

As first reported by the Courier News and then the Washington Post, a nurse in New Brunswick, N.J. has gone viral for being a fixture of the NICU for so long she's caring for her babies' babies.

Nurse Lissa McGowan went viral after new mom Renata Freydin's noticed the nurse in her partner's baby book looked a lot like the one who cared for her son Zayne Caldwell, who was born 10 weeks early last month.

As Freydin explained in her Facebook post: "Last Sunday, he dug out his baby book to show me. As I was looking through, I came across a picture of him as a baby and a lady holding him. I knew that lady!! I immediately asked him who she was and he confirmed that she was the nurse who took care of him during his stay in the NICU and his mom loved her so much that she needed a photo of the two of them on the day he was discharged! Well, the reason I know her is because I swore she was the nurse that had been taking care of our baby boy for the past three days! David didn't believe me. We brought the picture to the hospital where 3 other nurses confirmed it was her! Yesterday (Valentine's Day) she was back at work and taking care of our little nugget again so we had to recreate the picture! The past 2 weeks have been filled with worries and uncertainty but we can breathe easy knowing my lil nuggets nurse is the same one that helped the man I love when he was in the same situation."

Newspapers picked up the story because it's incredible and it is so worthy of our attention. NICU nurses work day in and day out helping babies and families and it is so incredible to see a nurse like McGowan recognized for years of hard work.

Go, Nurse Lissa!


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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


Our Partners

Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West have four young children and after self-isolating with her kids during the coronavirus pandemic Kardashian says that's probably as many as they'll ever have.

Speaking on The View this week, Kardashian explained: "Being at home with four kids...if I ever thought for a minute that I wanted another one—that is out the door. It's really tough. Really tough."

She continued: "My newfound respect for teachers—it's like, they deserve so much. It's been tough juggling it all and you really have to put yourself on the back burner and just focus on the kids."

Kim Kardashian West Shares Social Distancing Experience | The View www.youtube.com

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"I've been doing laundry and cooking," Kardashian West explained, which suggests that her household staff is not working during the family's self-isolation.

"Today was the first day that I actually brushed my hair and put on some makeup," she explained, adding that her sister Kylie Jenner came over to do her makeup for the TV appearance, and aside from their mom Kris Jenner coming over for a 6-foot-apart chat, that's the only extended family company she's had in a while.

Her kids, 6-year-old North, 4-year-old Saint, 2-year-old Chicago and baby Psalm have not been able to see their cousins, which is hard because they're all so close. Kardashian West told The View's co-hosts that while she actually enjoys the break from her family's usually jam-packed travel schedule, she's running out of activities around the house, and that her family has watched "every single movie that you can imagine" already.

There's nothing wrong with a little extra screen time during this challenging time Kim, but if you need more activities we've got plenty of ideas!

News

One bright spot amid all the dark news about the COVID-19 pandemic is the number of artists, writers, musicians, creators—and regular everyday people—who have taken to the Internet to offer comfort in creativity. Every day, it seems, there's a new announcement of an online drawing class, music release or story time to help people through.

This Friday, two well-known figures launch streaming story times online: Reading Rainbow's LeVar Burton, and universally beloved music genius (and celestial force for good) Dolly Parton.

Levar Burton, who taught a whole generation of kids to love reading with his calm, positive presence on the PBS show Reading Rainbow, first announced his livestream story time last week via Twitter. The actor and longtime childhood literacy advocate sent out a public request for material he had permission to read. The children's book division of HarperCollins publishers responded with a blanket "yes," as did bestselling author Neil Gaiman.

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Burton launches his #LeVarBurtonReads story time series this Friday, April 3 on Twitter with a reading aimed at adults. Monday mornings at 9 am PT he'll stream a story reading for children, and Wednesday afternoons at 3 pm PT he'll read YA for tweens and middle-grade readers.

Meanwhile, if you can't wait to relive your Reading Rainbow years, warm up with this video clip of LeVar Burton reading Goodnight Moon to scientist and all-around good guy Neil DeGrasse Tyson, which is just as awesome as it sounds.

In other fantastic news, Dolly Parton also launches a bedtime story series online this Friday night, as she announced this week on the Imagination Library YouTube channel:

The story time series, called "Good Night with Dolly," will release a new bedtime story video every Friday night at 7 pm ET on its YouTube channel.

Dolly Parton is the founder of the childhood literacy organization the Imagination Library, which sends free books to children every month. You can listen to Parton read her own children's book Coat of Many Colors at a Library of Congress celebration in honor of the Imagination Library—and yes, it's ridiculously sweet (and she can't help but break into song a few times).

Dolly Parton and LeVar Burton join a growing number of celebrities offering online story times to help parents and kids through the pandemic. Josh Gad (the voice of Frozen's Olaf) reads on Twitter every night, Cressida Cowell of How to Train Your Dragon series fame reads from her books on YouTube, and literally every movie star you've ever not-so-secretly thirsted for—from Chris Evans to Eddie Redmayne to Josh Brolin—is reading children's picture books over at @SaveWithStories on Instagram, which benefits No Kid Hungry and Save the Children.

When the pandemic news gets to feel like too much, it's comforting to know that you and your children can curl up with a good book, a familiar face and a friendly voice.

News

Nursing departments are known to have baby booms, and right now four emergency room nurses at UNC REX Healthcare in Raleigh, NC are all pregnant at the same time.

Of course, it is very hard to be a pregnant person right now as the nation and the world battle coronavirus, and as nurses, these four brave mamas are on the front lines every day.

That's why they took this now-viral photo, showing off their bumps while displaying an important message:

"Our babies came to work for you! Stay home for them!" read the signs they're holding.

Courtney Ames Hart, one of the nurses, posted the photo to her Facebook page, adding this caption: "Not only do we come to work during his pandemic, but so do our unborn babies! Please take ALL of us into account before you decide to leave your house!"

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"I'd just like people to know that it's not just us that are pregnant that are risking our health, but all of us in healthcare, from the EVS workers and our intakes to the techs, nurses, respiratory therapists and doctors," Hart tells Motherly.

She continues: "We are really grateful for all the support we are receiving from the public and I can only hope this sheds a brighter light on the field of nursing and the influence we have in the healthcare industry. This is my third pregnancy as an ER nurse, but this is definitely different from the other pregnancies in that I'm more cautious than ever to protect myself and my little as well as my family I come home to after every shift."

According to the CDC, pregnant people are considered an at-risk population for COVID-19, but many pregnant healthcare providers are still working.

The CDC states: "We do not have information from published scientific reports about susceptibility of pregnant women to COVID-19. Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19."

"It is definitely a concerning time, even for us healthcare workers, because of all the unknowns that come along with COVID-19," Hart told WRAL News. "But we are trying to take it day-by-day and we are trying to stay as prepared as we can."

She says the four nurses in the photo are supporting each other every day, and they are hardly alone in this.

As ProPublica reports, "the American health care workforce is overwhelmingly female—about 90% of nurses and home health aides are women—and at any given time, an unknown number of them, likely in the thousands, are pregnant."

And as CNBC points out, "across the world, the official guidance from public health officials varies widely about whether pregnant health workers should be in the presence of patients as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads."

Right now, it's up to each hospital to determine how it will protect pregnant workers. According to Hart, managers at UNC REX are doing their best to keep her and the other three pregnant nurses as safe as possible.

The public can do their part, too, by staying home to prevent the spread of the disease. Flattening the curve isn't just good for the health of pregnant members of the public, but for the pregnant people who are working to keep the rest of us safe every day.


News

As the United States grapples with the coronavirus, it's becoming more apparent that hospitals need to have ventilators to save lives. The Society of Critical Care Medicine claims that 960,000 coronavirus patients in the United States may need to be put on a ventilator at some point during the outbreak, but sadly our country has only about 200,000.

But in the midst of chaos, a team of engineers in Southern Maryland, believe they can help hospitals save thousands of lives by repurposing breast pumps. Gerstner, along with her husband, Grant Gerstner and Alex Scott and Rachel LaBatt discovered that reversing the suction in the pumps turns them into an "intermittent positive pressure ventilation" device, which is essentially a ventilator.

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"A breast pump does pulsing intervals. It is a sanitize-able biomedical device that's approved by the Food and Drug Administration. You know they're reliable, they've been used by moms everywhere for decades. What if I could reverse it," Brandi Gerstner explained to The Bay Net. "What if I could make it blow rather than suck? And so I grabbed my old one from the basement, grabbed a screwdriver and an X-Acto knife. Sure enough, you can turn it around very, very easily."

According to the New York Times, ventilators can cost up to $50,000, but the team's device will be around $500. The next step for the team is to get a review from a pulmonologist so that they can have access to a biomedical simulation laboratory, and ultimately get approval from the FDA.

"The beauty of looking at breast pumps as a potential solution is, it's a thing that is available for free in a lot of mom's basements and closets." Gerstner says.

It's a journey, but they aren't giving up. "I'm very hopeful that we can find the right collaborators in the biomedical community to get this design validated and replicated as quickly as possible," says Gerstner. "Our 'good' would look like rapidly getting into a high-quality biomedical simulation lab, and getting into a hospital."

To find out how you can contribute to the cause, donate an old breast pump (any model) or support the engineers, contact them at breastpumpvent@gmail.com.

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