Monday, March 30, 2009

March for Babies!

This week marks one year from that awful day on which we received our baby girl's awful prognosis.  Dr. Fines' exact words were, "I think we need to be prepared to lose this baby."  I was crushed.  After calling John (who was in Costa Rica at the time) and stopping at Mejier to buy some pink sleepers, I took a nap.  Here's an excerpt of how I described that afternoon on this blog:
"The thing about taking a nap is that life doesn’t really change while you’re asleep.  That whole “While You Were Sleeping” concept - not so much.  When I woke up that afternoon - and for the next several mornings - I experienced that moment that many people who go through some kind of tragedy often describe.  For about 30 seconds after I woke up, I thought everything was okay.  And then I remembered.  'I think we need to be prepared to lose this baby.'  Those next few days were some of the hardest of my life."
Tonight, after countless perinatalogists visits, 121 days in the NICU, and 5 wonderful months at home together, our precious little Becca is sleeping in one of those pink sleepers, just down the hall from me.   
As you know, our family has been touched by the March of Dimes mission to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. That’s why we have formed Itty Bitty Becca's Team to raise money and participate in March for Babies. Since you were a part of the team that cheered her through our darkest days, we want you to officially be part of Itty Bitty Becca's Team!  There are two ways you can join: by walking with us on Sunday, April 19, or by sponsoring our event with a financial contribution.
Contributing to our team online is fast, easy and secure. You can donate directly from my personal webpage with a credit/debit card or PayPal. If you prefer, I can also accept cash or check. Just click the appropriate box on my webpage.  My March for Babies webpage is .

Or, if you prefer and are able to do so, we would love to have you walk with us in the March for Babies!  We are participating in the Nashville walk on Sunday, April 19 at 2:00 at Cenntennial Park.  If the weather is good and the germs remain at bay, Litte Miss Becca will be "walking" with us, too!  (Of course, you can walk AND contribute, too!)  You can also sign up to walk with us on the website.

Our family knows firsthand the challenges associated with prematurity. It is important to find out why premature birth happens and what can be done to prevent it. By raising money, ongoing research to answer these critical questions is funded. When you support our Itty Bitty Becca's Team, you show you care and you give hope for defeating premature birth and other threats to babies.  Becca is doing great now, but all you have to do is look back at her early days on the blog to see how close we came to losing our little girl, all because of still unexplained complications.  But every day, the folks at March of Dimes are getting us closer to an explanation - and to a better outcome for the rest of our children!

Please join us and millions of compassionate people across the country who support March for Babies each year. We need your help. Visit my webpage and sponsor our event or to sign up to walk with us!

With your support, there’s hope.  Thank You!

Nancy, John, and - of course - Itty Bitty Baby Becca
My personal Web page address for donations is...

p.s.  I know that money is tight right now, so if you can't contribute, no worries!  Just say a prayer for our little girl, her fellow preemies, and the doctors, nurses, and researchers who are helping save their precious lives!

[caption id="attachment_36" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="First Picture"]First Picture[/caption]

The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by
preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.  Becca (in her very first picture above) is one of those babies.

Monday, March 23, 2009

All things green...

[caption id="attachment_256" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Pinchers ready for St. Patty's party-poopers"]Pinchers ready for St. Patty's party-poopers[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_257" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="May the force be with you."]May the force be with you.[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_258" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Not green - but a cute tummy time shot"]Not green - but a cute tummy time shot[/caption]

Monday, March 16, 2009


Mommy's favorite bookworm:


Becca loves to read.  She'll sit there forever it seems like, as long as she's able to look at the pictures.  We try to read everyday.  Because she's a genius and all.  (It doesn't hurt that mom used to work in a kids' library and was a bookworm herself, either.)

And a quick snuggle shot:


Friday, March 13, 2009

Nine Month Update

We just got back from Dr. Collins' office for Becca's nine month well baby visit. 

It was fabulous!

She's 10 pounds, 5 ounces and 21.5 inches long.  She's still not anywhere near the growth charts, but she is at least a bit more proportional now, and she's still on a good growth curve.  Dr. Collins is very happy with her overall, and with a few things specifically, like her fine motor skills.  She is very social (no surprise there).  And she's very happy (as long as she can forget about her gums).  She's rolling from back to belly quickly (because she wants to get off her tummy), she's getting close to sitting on her own, she supports her weight when you hold her in a standing position, and she passes small toys from one hand to the other.  She's a busy little girl.  (Remember, even though she is actually nine months old, we look at her corrected age (time since her due date) for developmental issues, so developmentally, she's six months old.)

We are going to do a few evaluations.  Becca still isn't figuring out the whole cereal thing, even though we've been trying it with her every few days for 2 months.  Since she had such severe swallowing problems before, we are going to do an evaluation with a speech pathologist at Vandy. (I'm crossing my fingers for Gwen to start doing some out-patient work!)  This may seem odd, but speech pathologists are the feeding specialists because it's all the same muscles and movements as speaking.  So, no, we're not trying to get Becca to start recited Scripture verses or Shakespeare; we just want her to be able to eat solid foods.  We are also going to go ahead and do an evaluation with a physical therapist, as it's hardest for preemies to catch up on their gross motor skills.  Especially because she's so small, everything seems to be thrown off a little bit.  So we'll check it out with them and see if they want to follow her.

I'm really excited about these appointments.  I've been pushing some for them, but with her age and RSV/flu season, we've been putting them off - wait and see.  She's not technically delayed on anything yet (based on her adjusted age), but I know these therapies are only going to help her, and she loves getting out and seeing new people and places (or staying in and having therapists visit), so let's get them started, right?  I've had a hunch for awhile that feeding could develop into an issue, so I'd definitely rather be proactive on that front.

That's about it for the visit.  All in all, she's doing awesome!

Here are some fun pics that pretty much sum up our days!

[caption id="attachment_245" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Becca holding her bottle all by herself - without ANY hands."]Becca holding her bottle all by herself - without ANY hands.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_237" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Here she's peeking out from behind her new favorite toy - and Mom's best deal ever - a crinkly mylar balloon from Dollar Tree. What a great deal!"]Here she's peeking out from behind her new favorite toy - and Mom's best deal ever - a crinkly mylar balloon from Dollar Tree.  What a great deal![/caption]


[caption id="attachment_238" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Again, with the balloon - posing in a very stylish outfit from Ms. Gloria."]Again, with the balloon - posing in a very stylish outfit from Ms. Gloria.[/caption]

Becca in a box.  She thought it was really funny.  She definitely enjoyed it more than the dogs enjoyed their turns.

[caption id="attachment_239" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="And, as always, Daddy's little girl."]
Becca in a box. She thought it was really funny. She definitely enjoyed it more than the dogs enjoyed their turns.

And, as always, Daddy's little girl.[/caption]

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I lied

Oops.  I looked at the calendar.  Becca was at the doctor 2 weeks ago, so assuming that we don't have to make a visit until Friday's scheduled 9 month check-up (yes, I said nine month check-up), she'll go 3 weeks without an appointment, not a month.  As of now, though, she doesn't have any appointments scheduled between April 20 and June 23, so perhaps she'll have a break then.  We'll just have to come up with other excuses to trek in to town and visit folks.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Special Friends

This week, we took another roadtrip, back to Kentucky.  Our destination this time, though, was Louisville, for our Board of Ordained Ministry interviews.  (For those of you not familiar with the UMC system, these are the big interviews that we have to do every year for the first several years of our ministy.  Suffice it to say that a poor interview would complicate one's career.)  The interviews went fine, and John was passed for full ordination this June.  (Suffice it to say (again sparing you the polity lesson), that's really good news.)  John's mentoring group had a series of meetings Monday and Tuesday, so we had a golden excuse to stay in town and visit with old friends (remember, this is where we lived just 8 months ago).  Becca finally got to meet some very special friends.

First, she got to spend the afternoon with Susan and Nathan Williams. 

[caption id="attachment_220" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Becca meets Miss Susan"]Becca meets Miss Susan[/caption]

The Williams family pretty much made our lives ridiculously more fabulous for the two years we lived in Louisville.  I first meet Susan over the phone before we even moved up to Kentucky.  She works at Christ Church, and when she found out that we had bought a house just down the road from her, she immediately called and offered her assistance.  Little did she know how often we would take her up on that offer!  :)  She was the keeper of the key to our house, her sons Ben and Nathan took care of the pups and mowed the lawn, her husband David fixed something in just about every area of the house - not to mention the fence that Nathan and David volunteered to help build.  Seriously, this family are amazing neighbors.  And they make fun party guests, even at the silly parties I concocted.  Susan also kept us sane at church, to say the least.  She was John's assistant (and, for a short time, mine) and kept track of all the millions of details that ministry at a large church entails.  I'm quite sure neither one of us could have been able to accomplish much of anything at church without her.  Really, if it weren't for her and Leigh Ray, that building just might crumble into the sea (which is really impressive because Kentucky is land-locked and all).  As we waited not so patiently to get pregnant and then when my pregnancy went south, Susan was an amazing support to us.  Having lost her own little Hannah, she understood the grief we were experiencing - even though it turned out to be anticipatory.  At any rate, we love Susan, and it was high time that Becca meet her.  And, of course, Susan was gracious enough to keep her during our interviews.  I think they had a good time!  I think they look awfully sweet together!  Thanks again, Susan - for everything!

The next day, Becca got to meet some of our pastor friends from the Kentucky conference.  As I mentioned earlier, John's mentoring group was meeting, and after John assured me that nobody had coughed or sneezed in their Monday evening session (yes, we listen for these things now), I crashed their breakfast and ate my fill while Becca met her new friends.  I wasn't awake enough to remember to take pictures, but it was neat!  This group has prayed for our little Becca for a long time now, so I'm glad they got to see her in person - especially our friend Rebecca, who served at Christ Church and might have one of my favorite names.  ;)  Becca also got to meet baby Abigail, our friend LeeAnn's little girl who is 3 months old.  I'm sure Becca and Abigail will have lots of fun times playing together at Annual Conference and other meetings in years to come!  I'm glad that Becca will have someone to commiserate with about being a PK - along with little Sarah Ebel that we still have yet to meet!  We've got big plans for sneaking out of conference and hitting the aquarium with the little ones.  (Not that I would EVER miss part of conference, of course.)  Becca also saw her first real, live fire in the fireplace at the lodge - that was cool!  (Think about it - it's colorful and moves - thus, Becca loves it.)

After I finally got all of her stuff packed up (who knew that someone so little required so much stuff?), we trooped off to meet my Aunt JoAnne, Uncle Bob and cousin Jan.  I didn't get to meet them until I moved to Louisville a few years ago, and they are probably among the top ten nicest people in the world (right up there with my hero Desmond Tutu), so I certainly didn't want Becca to have to wait until she was in her 20's to meet them!  Uncle Bob has had a rough year health-wise (to say the least!), so they haven't been able to come down to visit and meet the little one, so they were thrilled to see her!  (And I don't think they minded seeing us as well.  :) )  It was pretty amazing to sit around the table and look at how God has worked in our family's lives.  Jan had a terrible bout with cancer a couple of years ago (has it been that long yet?) and though she's kicked the cancer, she is still dealing with very difficult complications from treatment.  Bob was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last summer and almost died after a major surgery removing most of his esophagus and has spend much of the past several months relearning how to eat, drink, and live as normally as possible.  After his 7 days on the vent, I believe he even had to relearn how to walk.  And I came close enough to dying myself, thank you very much.  And then, of course, there was sweet Becca, but you know her story.  We Speases are a family of survivors!   We also pondered how much we, as a group, had accumulated in medical bills.  Wow.  Thank God for insurance!  I wasn't smart enough to get a picture with Jan, wonder-mom who managed to get an out of sorts Becca to sleep peacefully while we ate, but here's a picture of Bob, JoAnne, and Becca.  (Those of you who know my family know that those Speas males (excepting my brothers, of course) aren't too much for holding babies, but I think he did a great job!)

[caption id="attachment_221" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Bob, Becca, JoAnne"]Bob, Becca, JoAnne[/caption]

After grabbing a quick snack at my favorite Thai place (which was empty at 2 pm) with Aunt Jen, we stopped by Christ Church to check out the new sanctuary and see our friends there.  (Becca was so cute with Jen - she looked at her like, "Geez, Jen, I haven't seen you in, like, a month.  What's up with that?"  My girl's got personality!)  It was WONDERFUL to see everybody (though we didn't get to actually see everybody).  Again, this was a group of people who supported us throughout our pregnancy.  The day mom and I first got Becca's horrible prognosis, we went straight to the church.  And remember when they gave us that awesome shower?  They, also, have been praying for Becca for a long time.  At that point, I had somewhat given up on not exposing Becca, so we passed the hand sanitizer and then passed the baby.  I mean, when are they going to get to see her otherwise?  We probably pushed our luck too much on the exposure gamble, but so far, so good.  Anyway, it was so good to see the sanctuary that the church has been working towards for years, but even better to hug the necks of our friends in the great icy north.  By this point, Becca was exhausted and over being social, but I still tend to think she was cute. 

Becca and I slept much of the ride home.  That was a lot of people in one day, for both of us.  Phew.

Finally, flashback to last weekend when my parents came to babysit.  Dad brought his new tiny puppy, Buddy.  Buddy is tiny by any measure, but he's especially tiny when you compare him to Mom and Dad's last dogs, Sadie and Waldo.  (Sidenote:  Waldo now lives with the aforementioned Rebecca - how fun!) 

Waldo looked like this (only muddier):


[caption id="attachment_222" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="(This is a random internet picture. I don't know these dogs or this girl.)"](This is a random internet picture.  I don't know these dogs or this girl.)[/caption]

Buddy looks like this:

[caption id="attachment_225" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Checking each other out"]Checking each other out[/caption]

Buddy is only 7 weeks old in this picture, so he'll get bigger, but not a lot bigger.  He's a sweet little boy, as long as you don't mind some leg-humping.  I assume that will be taken care of when he's a little older.  I was quite impressed with him, actually - not a single accident in the house (at least that I heard about).  Sasha and Buster seemed to like him okay, too.  I think Sasha was less threatened by him than other dogs (she can get rattled with extra dogs) because, oh, she could eat him in one bite. 

All in all, then, a fun week - though we're still recovering from it! 

Speaking of recovering, I have my first official counseling appointment tomorrow to deal with some mild PTSD.  Apparently most preemie moms get it, which makes sense, when you think about it.  Most of you know that I'm a counseling junkie anyway, so I'm excited about it - especially because it's free through the Babb center.  Yay for Baptists who believe in real counseling!

And in the appointment vein - I think Becca is going an entire month without a doctor's appointment!  Wow!  Our next scheduled appointment (if I'm keeping them straight) is her 9-month check-up with Dr. Collins on the 13th.  I did weight her last night, though, and she's over 10 pounds!  Big girl!