Wednesday, June 25, 2008

seriously brief

Okay, this has got to be really short because I'm updating from John's phone since we don't have internet at home, but I wanted to let everyone know that we had another great day. We came home from the hospital yesterday afternoon, which was really hard, as we had to leave sweet Becca behind. But she's right where she needs to be and getting great care. I'm still achey, sore, exhausted, and emotional, but we couldn't be more thrilled with Becca's progress. They were able to put in a PICC line this morning - another first for a baby her size - and they are hoping to be able to start feeding her some of my milk tomorrow! That's great news, and everyday she holds her own is a blessing! I hope to have new pictures to share soon - she's even cuter than before!

Monday, June 23, 2008


Just wanted to give everyone a brief update:

Becca is doing great.  They were able to take her off the ventilator yesterday.  That's right; the day after she was born, they took her off the ventilator.  She's truly amazing.  Now she's breathing on her own with a little support from the CPAP machine (set at its lowest level, even).  Now that we can see a little more of her face (because there is less tape), I'm thoroughly convinvced that she's got John's adorable little tippy nose.  She's ridiculously cute (also like her daddy). 

Here's an inventory of her wires and tubes (as far as I can remember - I'm trying to keep all of this information straight while on pain meds!): 

She's getting nourishment through a tiny tube in her bellybutton.  Right now it's mostly souped up IV fluids (with lipids, etc), but we're hoping to be able to start her on breast milk soon.  I think that we may have to switch to a tube down her hose before she can have the milk, though (and mom still has to start producing it - but we're getting there!).  Basically, I think anything they give her right now goes through this bellybutton tube.  She's getting blood products fairly regularly, as they are having to take a good bit for all of her labs, and she just doesn't have enough to replenish on her own.  She's also on preventative antibiotics. as infections are some of her biggest risks right now.  Oddly eough, they are also giving her caffeine.  Apparently babies this small often just forget to breath, so somehow the caffeine stimulates her brain enough to remind her to breathe. 

She's got another tiny tube down her mouth that helps bring air out of her belly, as the air she takes in can tends to settle in her little tummy, which is a bit distended right now.  That's one thing they seem to be watching closely and is somehow related to when and how they will let her eat.  She particularly loves to pull this tube out, so today's nurse secured it with a tiny piece of tape. 

The little leads on her arms and legs measure her heart rate, which is hanging steady in the 140's. 

The little wrap around her foot measures her oxygen saturations, which are looking great.  (This is what they will watch to determine how to support her breathing.)  Every time I've been back there, she's been in the 90%'s. 

Somewhere on her she's got a sticker to measure her temperature.  She also likes to rip this one off.  Basically, she likes to rip off anything she can get her hands on.  She's feisty like that. 

I think you can see her teeny tiny blood pressure cuff in one of the pictures.  It doesn't seem to stay on her all the time, but, gosh, it's tiny! 

I think that's everything she's got hanging off of her.  Even the micropreemie diapers are too big for her, so they either just lay her on top of an open diaper or fashion one from a gauze pad.  Since her skin is so fragile, they have to cover her in some kind of lotion all over to preven her from feeling any friction or tearing her skin.  When she's under the lights she looks like she's all greased up to tan.  Too cute.  John and I (and the nurses, of course) are the only ones allowed to touch her, and we do so sparingly, but she's grasped each of our little fingers in her tiny hand.  She's got a great grip, and we just love holding her hand!  Occasionally if her isolette door is open (which it only is while they are giving her some kind of care) you can hear her cry, and she sounds like  a newborn kitten.  I think she recognizes our voices, though, and I swear she calmed down when she heard us last night.  She flails around a lot, which is good because it means she's got quite a bit more muscle tone than normal babies her size, but we also try to keep her calmed down some so that she can conserve her energy and not drop any weight.  Last night she weighed in at 400 grams (or 14 ounces), which is up about 10 grams, but that's probably due more to the blood products they are giving her (as in, the increased volume) than to her actually growing - but the important part is that she's not dropping weight right now like most newborns.  She just doesn't have any extra to drop!  So, in sum, she's got a loooooooong way to go (she'll have to at least quintuple her weight before she can go home), but she's already blown the odds out of the water and is stable right now.  We never know what each moment will bring, but we're so thankful for every moment we have with her!

As for me:  I'm feeling much better - phenomenally better than on Saturday before delivery (turns out I was one sick puppy dog and didn't realize it), and considerably better than yesterday.  I've got the normal pain and soreness that accompanies a c-section (which is, I have now learned, major abdominal surgery, even if it is relatively common), but my liver, platelets, etc. are getting right back where they need to be.  If everything checks out okay tomorrow morning, I'll be going home to Bethpage.  I'm excited to be back at the house, to check out all the work our families did unpacking, rearranging, etc, and to see my puppies that I've missed terribly, but I'm sad that we'll have to stay so far away from Becca.  It's about an hour's drive, and as I won't be able to drive for at least 3 weeks, I'm afraid I'll be missing her something awful!  We're on the waiting list for a room at the Ronald McDonald House, and I know I've got lots of places to stay, thanks to the hospitality of our Nashville friends, but we're not sure how it's all going to play out with puppy care, etc.  Of course, we don't know how any of it's going to play out, so we're just really taking it day to day and treasuring each moment we get to share with Becca and with each other.  John, of course, has been a saint, and all I've got to say there is that I chose wisely.  ;)  He's the best. 

I know that was far from brief, but, believe me, given how much I want to sit here and write about how amazing our little girl is, it is brief, really.  She's just incredible.  As her attending physician said, "There's just no textbook for her;" that is, she's making up the rules as she goes along because nobody's seen a girl like this before!  We know it's no coincidence that this has got to be one of the most prayed-over babies ever - I think she's on prayer lists of churches we've never even been to!  So keep it up - and we'll try to keep you posted!

Love from Tennessee,

Nancy, John, and Itty Bitty Baby Becca

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Thanks to the grandmothers, here are some pictures of Becca:


First Picture


In the NICU







Baby Girl!!!

Hi all, this is John posting, so it won't be quite as eloquent as Nancy's blogging.

Nancy gave birth to a baby girl this afternoon at 3:10.  Her name is Rebecca Marie.  She weighed only 13 ounces and is 9 inches long.  She can easily fit in a person's hand.  She is doing as well as can be expected, but everything is touch-and-go at this point with any baby who is as early (28 weeks) and as small as she is. 

Nancy is doing well...very tired after a long day, but doing well.

Here is the short version of today.  Nancy started feeling some pain on her right side early this morning and experienced increased nausea.  They suspected that it might be her liver so they ran some tests.  These tests confirmed that her liver was inflammed and that her platelet count was dropping.  These are both signs that the pre-eclampsia is progressing to a point where it becomes dangerous to the mother's health, so they said we needed to deliver. 

So, they prepped Nancy and took her back for a C-section.  I was with her for the surgery.  They were able to take little Rebecca without any problems and were quickly able to put in a breathing tube for her (this is a huge concern for small babies because their airway is so small). 

Nancy is now resting in her room and baby Becca is in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) receiving some top-notch medical care.  Nancy has been truly amazing today...I'm falling in love with her all over again!  It's been a long day for us all, and I'm sure I'm going to crash soon.  Thanks for all the support and prayers - keep them coming.  If baby Becca survives, she will be spending months in the NICU, so she still needs them.

Hopefully we'll be able to post some pictures in the next few days and Nancy will write more, so stay tuned!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Crazy, boring morning

Who knew that a morning could be both crazy and boring at the same time?  Turns out it can be!

I'm scheduled to spend at least 20 minutes a day on the fetal heart monitor so that they can get a detailed reading of Itty's heartbeat.  (We also listen to her every few hours and get a heartrate.)  During our session this morning, her heartrate - which usually hovers around 150 - dropped to 40.  Wow.  It popped right back us, but, obviously that's not a good sign.  They called the doctors, but while we were waiting for them, she dipped back into the 90's, again shooting right back up.  Dr. Barrett looked at her readings, checked with the attedning, and sent us over to L&D to be monitored continuously for a little while, as the dips could mean that she was in distress and would require immediate delivery if we were still planning on being as aggressive as possible (which we are).  John wasn't in yet, so I called him and let him know what was going on (which I'm sure freaked him out, but his mom was with him, so I didn't worry too much about it - she's good for him). 

We had to go to L&D to be monitored because these particularly monitors can be feisty and tend to require more attention from the nurses, so long-term (as in, more than a few minutes) monitoring is in L&D where they have fewer patients per nurse.  It's also pretty uncomfortable for me and Itty, mostly because she hates the monitors and tries to scurry away from them, and I have to stay as still as possible, often in funny positions so they can hear her just right.  I also wasn't allowed to eat in case they had to deliver.  All I had eaten all day was a tiny bowl of dry Honey Nut Cheerios, so I was starving.  In case you've forgotten, I am pregnant, after all.  Ugh.

Anyway, they ended up keeping me over there for a few hours before finally releasing me to go back to my room on the floor.  In all that time, she only had one more significant dip, so they think that they are caused by her momentarily squashing or squeezing her cord rather than a breakdown in the placenta.  I was so ready to sit up and eat - before they even started getting me ready to move, I sent John down to the Pizza Hut so I would have lunch waiting for me (it was, after all, almost 2:00 by now).  And that was damn good pizza. 

So here we are again, after a crazy and exceedingly boring morning.  My mom is on her way into town now (she couldn't wait any longer!), so the moms will be having a slumber party with the dogs tonight.  Good times.  They will keep monitoring her (probably a bit more frequently than before), but they think she's probably doing okay.  She's certainly been moving around a lot today, which is a good sign.  My pressures are down a bit, too, so we Hill girls are hanging in there!  John and Dana brought all kinds of good stuff from home, so our room is decked out with pictures, a dvd player, flowers from Jan (so beautiful!), and even an angel food cake from some of the Bethpage folks.  Really, if I'm going to be in the hospital, I can't ask for more - which is awesome, because as of tonight, I will have spent more nights here than in our new house.  Sigh.  But at least the grandmas are here to hold down the fort there and take care of my canine babies.  In the meantime, I'll be in here taking care of this baby!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Good news and bad news...and bad news and good news

"The good news is that I'm not in the hospital, and I still have a baby in my belly.  The bad news...well..."

 This is what I had begun to write last week before the move.  It's not entirely accurate now, but we'll start there.

Last Wednesday (June 11?) we went to the doctor for our last visit with the Louisville perinatalogists.  Itty Bitty had grown about 3/4 of an ounce, bringing her up to a not-so-whopping 12 ounces (330 grams).  But again, she had grown and she was hanging in there.  Unfortunately, though, when they checked the blood flow through the umbilical cord, they found some troubling patterns.  Apparently, when the baby's heart contracts, the blood flow is fine, but when it relaxes, the blood actually flows backwards, indicating that there is significant resistance in the placenta.  (It's kind of the same idea as high blood pressure in adults, if that makes sense.)  This is not a good sign.  The doctor (Dr. Fines, the first doctor we met at their office) said that if they saw this "reversal of flow" in a larger baby, it would be an indication to deliver immediately.  It may mean that the placenta is deteriorating further, or it may have been going on the whole time.  (This is the first time they've run this test because there's really nothing they can do about it except deliver, which wouldn't help her in her case, obviously.)  So that was bad news. 

We hung our there for another little while, talking with the doctor about details about the move and the logistics of switching doctors, etc.  Before we left, they took my blood pressure because it's been running a bit high.  The first reading was 158/105, which freaked the doctor out.  In her words, "Are you trying to kill me?"  Dr. Fines is adorable.  Anyway, they had me lie down for 15 minutes and retested; the reading was still high.  They sent me to L&D to be monitored and ran tests to check for preeclampsia.  They watched the baby's heart rate and periodically measured my pressure every 7 minutes.  (Amusingly, one of those intervals happened to fall exactly when they were inserting the catheter for the urine tests.  That reading was quite high.  Good times.)  The labs came back negative, and after a couple of hours my pressure dropped enough that they let me go home with instructions to monitor it at home.  So that was the good news.  Had they found any abnormalities in the labs, the doctor was prepared to deliver immediately (because delivery is the only cure for preeclampsia - more on that later).  They still didn't put me on bedrest, but they did emphasize that my role in the move was to be spectator.  I reminded them that my role was to be director, albeit from the couch.  I make a much better director than spectator.  But you already knew that. 

That was last week.  After a few furious days of packing (again, me directing and John packing), including some generously donated hard labor by my Aunt Joanne, cousin Katie, and several of the fabulous Christ Church young adults, the movers arrived on Saturday morning, and we were loaded and on the road by 2:00.  The movers (Two Men and a Truck - we highly recommend them) were scheduled to drive down that evening, spend the night, and then unpack on Sunday morning, but we got to Bethpage early enough to unload that night, which they finished around 9:30 Central Time.  All in all, the entire move took 13 hours - beautiful (especially compared to our nightmare move from Atlanta to Louisville - ugh).  My mom and dad drove in Sunday morning to help unpack and get us settled in.  By Monday evening, they (and John, of course) had unpacked 85% of the house.  The bedrooms (including Itty Bitty's nursery), bathrooms, living room, and kitchen are almost entirely set up.  The den needs some work still, mostly because all our church boxes and books are hanging out in there right now, along with a ton of decorative miscellany to be dealt with.  (Note:  the Hills need NO MORE candles, crosses, etc.  In fact, if you would like to decorate an entire house, we can probably spare enough for you and still have plenty for us.  Wow.)  The house looks awesome.  The church has gone above and beyond getting it ready for us, complete with meals for every night of our first week. 

Unfortunately, I am no longer staying in our lovely new parsonage.  Nor am I eating those lovely home-baked meals. 

On Monday night my pressures were still high, and I started experiencing some shortness of breath, which was a new symptom.  I called my doctor in Louisville, who suggested that we go on in to Vanderbilt to get checked out.  We drove 45 minutes to Vandy, then drove around for nearly 30 minutes trying to figure where to park.  Once we found our way to Labor and Delivery, they took us to a room immediately.  (A room with cable TV, I might add.  Sweet.  I've been in withdrawal since we left Louisville.)  Again, they hooked me up to the fetal heart rate monitor and the blood pressure machine.  After a while, they ordered a 24 hour urine collection (minus the catheter this time - thank GOD!) and sent us to an antepartum room (thus admitting me to the hospital pending the results of the urine screen). 

That night we saw an OB resident, a nurse anesthetist student, and a neonatalogist.  The visit with the neonatalogist was awesome.  He didn't paint us a pretty picture, but he did seem considerably more optimistic.  All the other doctors have said that she really needs to be 500 grams to be viable, as I said before.  Dr. Reese, though, basically indicated that at 330 grams, which her chances would be very, very, very slim, there was a chance, and they would do everything they could for her.  There are kids in the world who were born between 300 and 400 grams and survived.  The biggest question initially would be whether or not they could intubate her.  Generally speaking, we just don't have the technology to make tubes small enough for most babies under 500 grams.  But sometimes it works.  (This is important because almost all babies born at 27 weeks, especially ones sizing smaller, need to intubated.)  After that, the biggest risk would be bleeding on the brain, likely caused by the trauma of birth and her immediate care.  They are just so fragile at her size.  If she does develop a brain bleed, the injury can range from relatively minor disabilities (either physical or mental) to something fatal, depending on the severity and locality of the bleed.  After that, of course, she'd still have high risks for other general preemie complications.  So, again, it's not a rosy picture at all, but it's actually more encouraging than we had expected. 

We are SO thankful to be here a Vandy.  Even though the hospital and doctors in Louisville are great, a preemie's chance on survival is very much dependent on the quality of the NICU - and you just don't get better than Vanderbilt in the southeast.  In fact, U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Vandy's NICU 13th in the country.  Wow.  I could be wrong, but we would not have gotten the same report from the specialists at Suburban.  It's just the nature of being at a major medical research university.  And we are SO grateful that all of the crazy changes in our lives this year have brought us to this place.  Of course, we would have preferred to avoid this road completely, but life is what it is.  But, as Marcus Hummon wrote, God has "blessed this broken road."  I just can't wait to see where it leads.

So we spent Monday night hanging out, measuring pee, and eventually (and for just a couple hours) catching some sleep.  Tuesday morning we met our team of doctors: Dr. Lenzi, a perinatalogist; Dr. Barrett, a resident (who finishes her training this Friday!); Dr. Browning, another resident; and a random med student whose name I don't remember.  They were great, though they really didn't have much information for us.  Hospitals being what they are, though, they had to wake us up at 6 am to meet us and listen to my heart.  Ah, hospitals.  We were to be worked in for an ultrasound sometime that morning so that they could check her growth and develop a plan of care.  So we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Thankfully, several of our favorite people in the world came to visit, which, along with the periodic checks of my blood pressure and the baby's heartbeat, helped pass the time.  Lunch came and went.  The afternoon came and went.  They never came to get us.  Ah, hospitals.  Apparently they never had a chance to get us in.  That was frustrating.  We were already scheduled for our (outpatient) ultrasound Wednesday morning, so they just kept us in that slot. 

I sent John home for the night so that he could take care of our sweet puppies (who are doubtless very confused now with the move, a stranger (the fabulous administrator at Bethpage UMC) taking care of them Tuesday morning, 10 hours alone in their crate, and their MIA mother) and get a good night's rest (because who knows what the next few days will bring!).  I took an Ambien, turned on Letterman, and drifted off to a very peaceful sleep.  Beautiful. 

This morning the doctors (or maybe the nurse - I don't remember) woke me again at 6 without much of a report.  A couple of hours or so later they came back with the rest of the team (the same as yesterday, but with a different med student).  They had gotten my urine collection tests results back, which did confirm that I do have preeclampsia.  So that they can monitor my condition closely (which is not great, but not too dangerous, as long as it doesn't worsen), along with Itty's condition (as much as they can - basically just keeping an eye out for signs that she is in distress), they are going to keep me here until delivery.  We really have no idea how long that will be.  They again stated that we would know more about our plan once we had the ultrasound.

While they were in the room, which was about 2 hours before my appointment, the transport people came to get me to wheel me down to the clinic for the ultrasound.  John was still not back from home, so I called him and told him to hit the road.  We should have figured that he had plenty of time.  This is a hospital, after all.  Again...ah, hospitals.  I waited for an hour or so before John got there.  Then we waited forever together.  Turns out those hospital-issue wheelchairs are not meant for sitting in for hours.  At least not comfortably.  Finally, a while after our scheduled appointment, they took us back. 

We saw an ultrasonographer, Dr. Barrett (the resident from our team), and another med student.  (Turns out there are a lot of them at Vandy.  Go figure.)  After a bit, Dr. Wenstrom (??) joined us and gave her two cents about what they were seeing.  Apparently Dr. Wenstrom literally wrote the textbook on maternal-fetal medicine.  Amazing.  They gave Itty Bitty a thorough once over to confirm everything in the records from the Louisville doctors and confirmed that structurally, everything looks great (excepting a non-descript finding about her bowels, but they didn't seem very worried about it).  It seems she's tiny, but well-formed. 

But she's not quite as tiny as we thought.  And that's the GREAT news.  She weighed in at 400 grams!  Of course, that's still tiny, but it's a lot more growth than we expected.  Some of the difference could be chalked up the difference between machines, but I can only think that we would have gone to an even more accurate machine down here.  So whether she literally grew 70 grams in the past week or not, we're THRILLED to say that her estimated weight is now right at 14 ounces.  Again, she could REALLY use another 2-4 ounces, but that's definitely a move in the right direction.  She's getting so close!  Even though we haven't talked to the neonate folks again, the perinatalogist (who works closely with the NICU) said that they have had 400 gram babies that they have been able to intubate here at Vandy.  So she's got a better chance than we tought this morning.  Hooray!

Now I'm basically here trying to keep her growing as long as possible.  I'll be here until delivery, which will likely be precipitated by a worsening in my condition (likely indicated by an even higher sustained blood pressure), an indication that Itty is in distress (that we would hopefully see in her heart screening or through my noting a decrease in her movement), or an occurance of placental abruption.  The doctors seemed to have recently learned that babies with growth restriction linked to placental insufficiency (i.e. babies like Itty) are more likely to have their placenta detach from the uterus, which is really bad.  We would know immediately when it happened (because I'd bleed and have severe pain), and she would have to be delivered IMMEDIATELY.  That's another reason they are keeping us here.  I am basically on relatively lax bedrest, meaning that I can get up to go to the bathroom, hang out in the chairs in the room, and go for a wheelchair ride once a day, as long as we stay within 10 minutes of the floor (in case something goes wrong).  I know those don't sound like exciting privileges, but, trust me, after only 2 days here, I know that they are a big deal mentally.  It may even mean that some day (if we're here a while) John or his mom (who is here now and helping out with the dogs, logistics, keeping John sane, etc.) could bring the puppies up to campus for me to see in the courtyard!  I miss those puppies like crazy and wish they could be lounging in the bed with me.  They like to snuggle under the covers, and Buster in particular likes to lie right up next to the baby (which of course he understands, right?).  John and their Nana Dana are home with them tonight, and I gave him strict instructions as to how to play with them tonight (like he needs instructions).  I'm having to live vicariously through him, so he's humoring me.  He's been humoring me beautifully all day (and yesterday and the day before), by the way.  He's really the best husband ever.  Ever.  I'm so glad that if I have to go through mess, he's right there with me.  Marrying him was probably the smartest thing I've ever done in my life!  So make sure you say a prayer for him and his sanity when you're thinking of us.  Think about how frustrating it must be to be stuck at the hospital feeling helpless at the same time that you're preparing to start at a new church.  His first day is (and my first day was supposed to be) Sunday, so somehow in the middle of all of this, he's got to write a bang up sermon and gear up for officially beginning.  He'll knock it out of the park, of course...but he's certainly carrying a lot right now.  I at least am officially out of the work picture for a while, so I just get to work on carrying Itty. 

I think that about catches you up.  Sorry that I didn't write earlier, but, um, we've been a little busy lately.  If you're in Nashville, we love visitors, but it would be helpful if you could call on my cell beforehand so that we can make sure I'm getting some breaks for some rest (especially since I'm waking up at 6 am these days!).  I've got the same number as always.  Just e-mail me if you need it.  Thanks for all your thoughts, prayers, and support!  We'll try to keep you posted, which may actually be easier now because we've got wireless at the hospital but no official internet access at home.  If something dramatic happens, we'll try to get someone to post in our stead so you can know what's happening.  Hopefully we won't have much to say over the next few days - looks like boring is what we're going for for a while!  But don't let me be too bored - entertain me with your comments!  I'll be looking for your time-wasting website suggestions!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Quick stat update

Just wanted to go ahead and give you this week's statistics update while I'm messing around on here.

We went to the doctor on Tuesday for what turned out to be a pretty disheartening visit.  Since the last Tuesday, she had only grown 1/2 an ounce, or about 15 grams.  Now, before you rush to say, "At least she grew!" please keep in mind that if she continued to grow at this pace, she'd only be between 1 and 2 pounds at her due date.  According to the doctor, though, she essentially can't keep growing at this rate; she'll either pick it up or pass away in utero, probably in the next month or so.  They estimated her total weight to be 315 grams, or 11.2 ounces.  Again, she's got to get to 500 grams, or 17ish ounces to be viable.  So we're still suspended, waiting on pins and needles.  On the upside, though, her fluid level was up so much that it's pretty much in the normal range, albeit on the low end of normal.  So perhaps that's an indication of forthcoming growth.  It seems like it should mean that something is picking up, so we'll be anxious to see how she grows this week.  We'll be in Tennessee for Annual Conference Sunday through Wednesday morning, then back to the doctor in Louisville Wednesday afternoon for our last visit with them.  We'll move (hopefully) at the end of the week (or possibly the beginning of the next week) and will (again, hopefully, as long as they can squeeze us in) have our fist visit with the doctors at Vandy that week.  Then we'll start at Bethpage UMC that Sunday (June 22).  I'll try to keep you posted, of course!


Okay, I spent forever trying to get the pictures to show up, but now I can only get them up in triplicate.  I can't figure out how to get rid of the little ones.  Sorry.  If someone knows how to fix it, let me know!

Showered in Pink!

Okay, let me first say that I'm in  a much better mood right now than I was when I last wrote.  Not much has changed, but it really is crazy how even in the same circumstances, we really have good days and bad days, often for no particular identifiable reason.  Yesterday was a bad day.  Today is a good day.  So far, John and I's bad days haven't fallen on the same days (for the most part), so I'm glad for that.  I'd love to just have the good days, but, really, who am I kidding?  This is probably the CPE talking, but I'm pretty sure the important part is to be wherever we are, to experience it, and to be honest about instead of trying to put on a smile and forget that, well, we're pretty much living our biggest fears (among other stressful life events as well).  If you've never read the poem "See Paris First," I suggest you check it out.  I don't know the author, but it's used in a bajillion sermons, so if you just google it, you'll be able to find it.  I love it, and it's where I am right now.  Let's go ahead and face our deepest fears - because once we've done that, what can stop us?  Okay, enough preaching.  I really just wanted to get on here and tell you all about one of the best of the good days, brought to us by the Christ Church staff.

Last week, itty bitty baby girl Hill got her baby shower!  We had a couple of showers planned here and there, but when we found out about BH's condition, we put everything on hold, which made sense, but as a first-time mom, I have to say, that was one of the things I was most excited about.  Those of you who know me well know that I love to open presents (seriously, you could wrap up a box of Kleenex and give it to me, and I would be thrilled to open it), so I'm not going to deny that I loved that part of it, but even more so, of course, I wanted the chance to celebrate and enjoy our baby girl.  Even though she's not here yet, and we've only seen her on the screen, she's already our baby daughter, and that's just how it is.  I guess I suspected that I would feel that way, but I wasn't sure.  Now that I've seen, heard, felt, and know her, she's my baby, and I'm her mother already - no matter what happens.  And so having a shower for her is another way of recognizing, celebrating, and loving her.  And the wonderful staff at Christ Church gave us that gift.  And it was wonderful. 

Of course, it was a little bit bittersweet.  We were overwhelmed (which doesn't take much these days!) by their love and generosity, but I know that in the back of everyone's mind was the question of whether this particular baby will get to use these particular gifts.  (And their gifts for her are so precious!  I've never seen so much pink!  It really is amazing that any of us gals turn out to be tomboys, given how much pink we tend to be dressed in in our early days.  We'll have to see how her personality turns out - but if she's a pinky girl, she's set!)  But they gave anyway.  They showered us anyway.  And they, like us, already love little itty bitty anyway, already.  And all of their love for her and us made the shower bittersweet in another way, too.  These wonderful, beautiful, fun, and festive individuals have supported us in all kinds of ways over the past two years, from helping us settle in, getting used to working in a church in the "real world," humoring us and our dog parties, encouraging our respective ministries and growth, and just plain being our church family.  And now we're leaving.  However convinced we are that moving to the great state of Tennessee is best for our family and moving us closer to God's call for the next phase of our lives, it doesn't come without grief over what we are leaving behind.  There is a lot to miss in Kentucky - and our fabulous friends and family at Christ Church reminded us of it last week! 

I'll spare you my inevitably syrupy account of the shower and let the pictures speak for themselves (thanks to Susan Williams, who has done more to document our family celebrations than we have!) - but make sure you check them out and oooh and aaaah with us - especially over the multi-talented Patty Groot's incredible bassinet cake!  Thanks, Christ Church friends!  We love you!