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‘What to Expect’ series author visits new mothers at north country hospitals

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WATERTOWN — Heidi E. Murkoff offered more to new mothers Thursday than advice in her “What to Expect” book series on prenatal and postnatal years.

Conversation came after warm hugs during visits to maternity units at Carthage Area Hospital and Samaritan Medical Center. “I can’t get enough,” she said, regarding greeting just-born babies and their families. “This has been awesome.”

Surprised at how busy Carthage Area Hospital was as a small community hospital, Mrs. Murkoff said her visit to Samaritan Medical Center also was busy. There were 20 patients Thursday at Samaritan alone, according to certified lactation counselor Daniele Banks.

Mrs. Murkoff and her husband, Erik, have partnered with the United Service Organization for the Special Delivery Program, where baby shower events are hosted to bring military families together. Mrs. Murkoff’s north country stay will continue today with participation in a baby shower with 100 expectant military mothers.

What’s particularly unique about this visit, Mrs. Murkoff said, is up until now she has not been to a community-based hospital that served a large population of military families.

“Hospitals are normally on the base,” she said.

Just three hours after military spouse Alissa Stanford gave birth via Cesarian section to daughter Gabriella, Mrs. Murkoff got to spend time with the family, including her husband Christopher and big brother Christopher, 9, in the recovery room. “She’s brand new,” Mrs. Murkoff said of the 6-pound, 9-ounce girl, as she signed a copy of her “What to Expect The First Year.”

Just down the hall, military mom Jessica Johnson had enjoyed quiet moments with 1-day-old Kyleigh E., who weighed 7 pounds, 1 ounce.

Mrs. Johnson told Mrs. Murkoff she had just five weeks to find a house, prenatal care and make friends in order to prepare for the arrival of Kyleigh. Her husband, Craig, recently transferred to Fort Drum from Fort Sill, Okla.

Mrs. Johnson, 22, said she has been thankful that the greater Watertown community has been welcoming. She said she also knew more of what to expect with childbirth this time around because she read Mrs. Murkoff’s “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” prior to the birth of her first daughter, MacKenzie, 1.

“I got it for myself,” she said. “I was 20 with my first, and I thought I hadn’t done this before so I read up on my own. I know so many people get use out of (her) books). It’s a shower gift to everyone from me.”

Mrs. Murkoff’s book series has sold more than 34 million copies throughout the nation, according to her website.

Military mothers, she said, are often on their own when their husbands or wives are deployed so she enjoys connecting with them for the Special Delivery program. Mothers who are soldiers themselves also face tough circumstances, she said.

Karen M. Clark, director of USO Fort Drum, said the program is just another example of how the USO supports its military families. The baby shower tied to Mrs. Murkoff’s visit will take place today at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1290 Arsenal St. Invited guests will receive gift bags, opportunities for raffle items, food, cake, games, a question-and-answer session with Mrs. Murkoff, a chance to have Mrs. Murkoff sign her books and networking with other military mothers.

“It’s not just about getting the material things,” Mrs. Clark said, regarding the shower. “It’s about also giving them the emotional support.”

For more information about Mrs. Murkoff and her books, visit www.whattoexpect.com.

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