Friday, January 29, 2010

Hearing Test Results

John here - just wanted to let everyone know that the test went well and Becca had no issues with the anesthesia. The results came back normal, which means that Becca does not have hearing loss. It is very good to get a definitive answer to that question. So, no hearing aids - yay!


Becca's test has been delayed 4 hours because some goober in the pre-op clinic told me that all juices counted as clear liquids, even though, I now know, only apple juice does. Oops. They also told the family that was scheduled before us the same they were also delayed due to orange juice. Ugh. The good thing is that our fabulous audiologist is willing to wait with us and will still run the test today, even though she otherwise would have gotten to go home early because of the snow. Thank goodness! Their next opening wasn't until March, and I am NOT willing to wait that long! Becca is doing great, considering that she hasn't eaten since last night (except those two sips of [non-clear] V8 juice this morning). She did get some [clear] apple juice until a hour ago, so that helped. She has been signing, "More, please," all day, especially this morning. Very funny. And cute. And pitiful.

So, I'll try to post with results as soon as I can!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hearing Test Eve

Tomorrow's the big day! Becca will have her ABR (auditory brainstem response) test tomorrow morning at 11:30. It should be done by 1, and we'll know results right away. I'll post as soon as I can. (Remember, she'll have to wake up from sedation and everything, so it may take a while.) If you are the praying kind, we'd appreciate your prayers for her safety, since general anesthesia always carries some risks (though she had no problem a year ago at her last surgery) and for clarity in the results. We feel confident that we can handle whatever diagnosis comes our way tomorrow, but we really, really want some answers. (You may have picked up on that one.)

Oh, and our favorite audiologist is the one running the test! Hooray!

I'll be in touch!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Big Girl?

Is it just me, or is Becca looking really old these days? She's definitely lost the baby look. She's also getting tall (relatively speaking). For the first time I'm having to start bumping up a size (to 6-9 months) because of her length instead of her pudge.

Don't worry, Itty Bitty, you are still as cute as ever!

And how about these sleeping beauties? They'll never admit that they like each other...but we know better. There are few sights cuter than puppies sleeping in piles.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Big Reveal

I mentioned the other day that I have a new venture in the works...and it's ribbon-cutting time!

I am thrilled to announce that I am opening a bookstore! Welcome to the grand opening of Itty Bitty Books! Of course I'm not actually opening a brick-and-mortar bookstore, but I've found the next best thing. I am a new independent consultant for Usborne Books & More, the publisher of Usborne and Kane-Miller books. It's a bookstore that I will be able to run from home, while juggling all of Becca's needs. Hopefully I'll be able to contribute to our family's finances while still having plenty of play, cuddle, and therapy time with our Itty Bitty...and I get to help my friends and family provide these awesome books to the kids in their lives.

Usborne books really are great. When Becca's occupational therapist asked me what Becca's favorite toys are, I realized that they are not the fancy electronic light-up ones, but are (aside from every door in our house!) her books. She particularly loves her Usborne Touchy-Feely books in the "That's Not My..." series. We've got "That's Not My Puppy," "That's Not My Fairy," "That's Not My Penguin," "That's Not My Monster," "That's Not My Monkey," and "That's Not My Princess," and that's not all of them! She loves feeling each of the different textures, and her therapists agree that it's great for her (and any small child). In addition to the Touchy-Feely books, Usborne has some really interesting fiction and non-fiction titles that inspire curiosity and a love of reading and learning. There's an entire section on the site for pirate books! How fun is that?

The Kane-Miller line includes stories from around the world, introducing kids (and their caregivers!) to different cultures while engaging them in a compelling story. They teach kids that we live in a world that is big and small in which our differences and our similarities ought to be celebrated. Not to mention that the perennial favorites Everybody Poops and The Gas We Pass are Kane-Miller books! (Turns out they are from Japan - I never knew!)

Anyway, as you can tell, I'm really excited about this opportunity. I get to play with kids' books and take care of Becca full-time. And I earn free books while doing it - perfect!

Of course, though, I need your help to make Itty Bitty Books a success! There are 5 ways you can help me out right now:

1. Shop my first "e-show" by visiting this link and making a purchase. 80% of the titles are under $10, so take a look and pick a few. Remember, books make fabulous gifts that are easy to keep on hand - I highly recommend passing the "That's Not My..." series on to new parents or parents-to-be!
Here's the address for the sale:

2. Share the link for the e-show with your friends, families, co-workers, facebook friends, etc! If your order totals $85, you get $15 in free books - so gather some orders from friends, place them in one order, and get free books! This is also a great way to save on shipping.

3. Contact me about hosting your own show! As the host/ess you earn free books based on your guests' purchases - and you get a chance to gather your friends and explore new titles together. If you book in the next couple of weeks, your show is likely to qualify for a
double merchandise allowance - meaning that you would get twice as many free books as you normally would! This is a GREAT deal, but I can only offer it in my first few weeks as a consultant - so contact me quickly! E-mail me at ittybittybooks (at), call, send me a facebook message, or leave me your contact information in a comment (but make sure to leave the info - I can't get it from Blogger). Feel free to pass this contact information on to your friends. In fact, if you refer someone to me and they book a show, you'll get a free book for yourself!

And here's a perfect opportunity for my blogosphere friends: if you are long distance or unable to host an in-home show, talk to me about hosting an e-show; it's
really simple. Unfortunately, though, you wouldn't get the double merchandise allowance, but you'd still earn lots of free books.

4. Take a moment to think about whether you or anyone you know might be interested in signing up as a consultant. The start-up costs are low, and there are no monthly minimums. The first 2 people who sign up with me will get their start-up kit (including 31 books!) for 1/2 price - it's an
awesome deal! I'm really hoping to find a few folks to be in business with me, so if you are curious please drop me a line. And I promise not to be pushy. ;) Again, feel free to pass this information on to friends or contacts!

5. If you have a connection with a daycare, preschool, elementary school, or library, please let me know. I am an educational consultant, meaning that I can sell to schools and libraries, and we have specially bound books for this purpose.

Thanks so much for your support - whether you are able to purchase or not, I'd really appreciate your encouragement and your forwarding this message on. As we anticipate increased medical bills for Itty Bitty in the coming year (remember the TennCare debacle?), I'm trying to help us get a little financial breathing room, if you will...and introduce you to our favorite books at the same time. I'm having fun already, and I hope you can join me in some way!

Nancy Speas Hill
Usborne Independent Educational Consultant #G3233

It's a rewarding experience when a child opens a book and discovers the magic of reading.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


After my "rough" week, I have to take a moment to regain perspective...and this prayer helped. I hope it helps you put words to the swirl of emotions that your compassionate hearts may be experiencing in the wake of this unspeakable tragedy. It did me.

A Prayer After the Earthquake in Haiti

Lord, at times such as this,
when we realize that the ground beneath our feet
is not as solid as we had imagined,
we plead for your mercy.

As the things we have built crumble about us,
we know too well how small we truly are
on this ever-changing, ever-moving,
fragile planet we call home.
Yet you have promised never to forget us.

Do not forget us now.

Today, so many people are afraid.
They wait in fear of the next tremor.
They hear the cries of the injured amid the rubble.
They roam the streets in shock at what they see.
And they fill the dusty air with wails of grief
and the names of missing dead.

Comfort them, Lord, in this disaster.
Be their rock when the earth refuses to stand still,
and shelter them under your wings when homes no longer exist.

Embrace in your arms those who died so suddenly this day.
Console the hearts of those who mourn,
and ease the pain of bodies on the brink of death.

Pierce, too, our hearts with compassion,
we who watch from afar,
as the poorest on this side of the earth
find only misery upon misery.
Move us to act swiftly this day,
to give generously every day,
to work for justice always,
and to pray unceasingly for those without hope.

And once the shaking has ceased,
the images of destruction have stopped filling the news,
and our thoughts return to life’s daily rumblings,
let us not forget that we are all your children
and they, our brothers and sisters.
We are all the work of your hands.

For though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be tossed to the ground,
your love shall never leave us,
and your promise of peace will never be shaken.

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
now and forever. Amen.

Copyright © 2010, Diana Macalintal.

Permission is given to reprint for non-commercial use.

Original source: Website of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose, California

If you are moved to give financially, I highly, highly recommend giving through The United Methodist Church's relief agency, UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief). The Methodists are often the first on the scene and usually the last to leave, and 100% of your donation goes to the rescue, relief, and recovery work, as the church covers all administrative costs. To donate, visit here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

Turns out, that's still the question.

We saw the ENT yesterday, and he diagnosed Becca with permanent moderate hearing loss due to nerve damage. He has started the process for her to get hearing aids. We have an ABR scheduled for January 29th. (The ABR is the in-depth hearing test for which Becca has to be sedated. It's the same test she had last winter and again immediately after she had her tubes placed last February.)

HOWEVER, after talking to the audiologist this morning, she thinks he jumped the gun on making the diagnosis and wants to wait and see what the ABR says before we make any diagnosis.

That's the short version. Here's a bit more detail, for those of you who are interested:

I think we may have to change ENT's. You know how I've felt about this particular doctor in the past, and now I am pretty sure that he and I just cannot work well together. He is, according to everyone else familiar with him that I've talked, the BEST in the city, but somehow we always fail to communicate. Yesterday was no exception.

After waiting forever, we finally got in to see the ENT. He looked in her ears (still not washing his hands - hello, RSV season!), saw lots of wax in one and that the other tube "wasn't functioning," cleaned the wax out and looked again. (The wax cleaning involved a lot of manhandling by me and a nurse. Unpleasant.) He saw that both her eardrums were moving like they should be. (Even though one tube wasn't "functioning"...hmmm...according to our fabulous pediatrician, whom I consulted this morning because I was so confused, that probably means that that ear is draining on its own and Becca might have outgrown the need for a tube in that ear). He looked at her recent hearing tests, on which she scored poorly, showing a moderate loss, and ordered another test, the OAE (which is the same test they use for newborn screening).

We shifted to another waiting area, batted away snotty kid hands, and then saw our favorite audiologist, Mary. She worked with Becca in the NICU and through last fall and winter when the tubes were placed. Since then, we have been bumped around to several different audiologists (they have a rotating schedule), which has been frustrating. I've really had to be Becca's advocate here and make sure they are looking at everything together, but hearing is so technical that it's hard for me to follow everything they are saying, looking for, and testing. So I was glad to be back with Mary, who knows Becca, knows her stuff, and knows how to communicate with parents. We did the test (also involving manhandling, but Mary helped distract Becca with puppets and bubbles!), and she failed in both ears. (It's a pass/fail test.) Mary said that the test, while objective, isn't entirely reliable because the tubes can muffle the feedback response for which they are testing. She recommended that we do a sedated ABR and see what we find. No mention of permanent loss. She talks to the doctor, who tells her that he is not going to replace the non-functioning tube, so we will have to sedate her for the ABR alone. We decide to go ahead with it anyway so we can get a definitive answer (even though we thought we had a definitive answer last February).

We go back to the second waiting area, continue to bat away snotty hands (hooray for small spaces with germy toddlers in RSV season!), and then finally see the ENT again to get a plan. He says, "Well, I'll see you back in 4-6 months to check the tubes, and we'll do the hearing aids and see where we are." Um, what? Sorry? Hearing aids? I mean, I knew that this was a possibility, but how did we get there all of a sudden? I, of course, ask him for more information, and he replies, "Oh, she's got a moderate hearing loss due to nerve damage, and that requires hearing aids." I ask if it's permanent, and he says yes.

What? Is this how you tell parents that their child has a life-long disability? Were you even actually going to mention it at all to me if I hadn't asked? I'm just supposed to say, "Oh, okay, hearing aids, sounds fun." WTF?

I ask him for more information, and he launches into an extremely detailed explanation of the hearing process and the structures of the ear, complete with diagrams. I just wanted to know how and why he was certain about this diagnosis. I mean, if she had nerve damage, wouldn't she have already had it last year? She was 7 months old and out of the NICU for 3 months at her last ABR. Why would it just now show up? I never got that explanation. At this point I was so exhausted, confused, frustrated, and scared that I couldn't even wrap my mind around the right questions to ask, let alone his scientifically intricate lectures. Unfortunately, at this point, it was the end of the day (even though our original appointment was at 2:00!), and the audiologist -- you know, the doctor who actually speaks English, not doctor-ese -- had already left for a meeting.

The really odd thing is, I still kind of like this ENT. He's kind of charming. But incredibly frustrating. And not a good match, parent-to-doctor. I can see how many parents like him, particularly if their kid has clear-cut needs. But I think Becca and I are through with him. Or at least I am. Maybe John gets his appointments from now on.

I tried to recollect all of this for John on the way home, sitting in rush hour traffic with a toddler who just spent her entire naptime stuck in a stroller or being poked and prodded and manhandled and having things shoved into her tiny ears. John asks me the obvious questions that I hadn't been able to articulate in the doctor's office, and I feel like I've let him down when I don't have the answers. I mean, this is my job! I am the one who goes to these appointments, but he is just as much a parent as I am, so he deserves all the information. John and I both take great comfort in understanding what is going on with Becca medically; we always have. If we know what we are facing, it's much easier to deal with. Normally, I'm pretty good about filling him in. Not yesterday. We spend the evening (post-church and post-post-church meeting) trying to figure out what is going on...and I, at least, found myself asking, "Can't she just get a break?"

Reality check: Becca has gotten a lot of breaks, considering. But she shouldn't have needed those breaks, and she wouldn't have, if she had gotten a break in the first place. (Wow, did you follow that?) And I'm really not worried about this particular diagnosis, even if it does turn out to be true. My dear, dear friend Sarah (a.k.a. "Hunter's mom" and Becca's future mother-in-law) has moderate to severe hearing loss and has been in hearing aids since she was 22 months old. Her mom is chock full of information about raising kids with hearing loss. (Sarah's older sister also has the same kind of loss.) And both Sarah and her sister, Kelly (Hi, Kelly! Do you read the blog still?), are wonderful, beautiful, highly-functioning individuals, and they have both earned their Master's Degree in helping professions. Because of their example, their friendship, and Becca's (literal!) never-say-die attitude, I have no doubts that Becca will face and overcome this challenge like every other one she has met.

But hasn't she had enough challenges in her 26-month existence to last a lifetime?

Of course she has. But that's not how life works. And if she's going to have another challenge, frankly, I'm glad that it's this one. She can do this. We can do this. And besides, hearing aids come in pink...and with glitter.

This morning, I was eager to get more answers, so I left a message for the audiologist and Dr. Collins, our pediatrician and heard back from both quickly. (I really love good doctors now. We've been spoiled. I love good doctors...and we have several of them.) Dr. Collins didn't have a lot of answers, but she did help clarify what we did know and was generally encouraging about Becca's hearing and her development in general. Then Mary (the audiologist) called and made me feel worlds better. As I said earlier, she is not ready to give Becca a diagnosis. It is possible to explain away all the poor test results: the tubes can interfere and the behavior testing isn't strictly objective and depends a great deal on how much Becca participates. But she also said that it is possible that Becca's hearing has gotten progressively worse since last February's good ABR. We know that she's at a high risk for hearing loss for several reasons, all related to her prematurity: she was deprived of oxygen, she developed high bilirubin, she had pulmonary hypertension, she was on a lot of heavy-duty antibiotics...and there are probably other risk factors that I'm leaving out. We had assumed that if these factors were going to affect her, they would have done so already. I mean, she has been on the antibiotics for 15 months! According to Mary, though, (and this is interesting) even though these conditions occurred quite some time ago, their effect can be progressive; essentially, they could still be snowballing. They would have expected these issues to crop up earlier, but, then again, we haven't had a good hearing evaluation since that one in February. So we'll wait and see what the test says. Mary was able to move the test up 3 weeks, so that's less time to worry! We'll go two weeks from tomorrow at the crack of dawn. I take that back - we'll have to leave before dawn to get there by 6:30. Wow! I will, of course, let you know what we find out!

I the meantime, here's a picture of our cutie in her adorable coat that is even more adorable without her helmet...maybe those long ears are better to hear us with!

Monday, January 11, 2010

We Went to the Doctor and...

...he graduated Becca from helmet therapy! No more helmet! I'll post final before and after pics soon. He was really happy with how her sweet little (big) head turned out! Perhaps I should have asked him to sign it...

On a related note, Becca also graduated from physical therapy today! Hooray! (But I really liked Jane. Couldn't we discharge from something else instead?) If Becca's not getting close to walking on her own in a month, we may be back for a few sessions, but Jane expects her to progress normally now (even though she's behind - you still have to have the same amount of time in each stage).

These developments bring our specialist tally down to 5 (plus the regular pediatrician) and our therapy disciplines down to 2 (plus Early Intervention). Fabulous!

Before and after shots:

August 24, 2008

February 4, 2009

Her luscious locks make it hard to see her beautifully round head, but I think you can see that it's much improved!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Busy Week!

Tomorrow kicks off the week of a million appointments. Or eight of them.

Tomorrow morning we see Dr. Kelly in the morning to see if we are done with helmet therapy! I'm so glad that we did it, but I'm so ready for it to be over so I can kiss my little girl's head! Tomorrow afternoon we see Jane for physical therapy and Caroline for feeding therapy. Jane is thinking about discharging her, but I'm not sure that she's ready, since she isn't making any moves towards walking or standing on her own. We'll see what Jane says. Feeding therapy should be same old, same old.

Tuesday we see Dr. Lomenick in endocrinology. He'll be looking at her growth and may order the skeletal scan I mentioned a few weeks ago and begin the process of evaluating for growth hormone therapy.

Wednesday, I go to traffic court in the morning (oops!), and then swing home to get Becca and go back to Vandy to see the ENT. I may have to lay the smack down here again to get some answers and a plan because heretofore (ha! I said "heretofore!" That was fun!) I have been bumped back and forth between the ENT and the audiologists. There is definitely something going on with her hearing, as she keeps performing poorly on her tests, but Dr. Werkhaven keeps failing to see a problem. We'll see about that. You may remember that he is not my favorite specialists, but he is growing on me. He'll win big points tomorrow if he a) washes his darn hands before touching my preemie in the middle of RSV season and/or b) figures out what is going on and how we are going to deal with it. My guess is that we'll end up scheduling surgery for a new set of tubes (very minor surgery, no worries).

Friday we have Early Intervention, occupational therapy, and feeding therapy, all regular appointments.

Well, that makes for a full week! I'll report back as I can!

And because she's so darn cute, here's your Monday morning Becca fix:

Might be one of her last pictures in her helmet!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Since Christmas officially ended yesterday with Epiphany, I guess there's no denying that it's time to chronicle our Christmas festivities with Itty Bitty! She was way into Christmas this year; that is, she was way into unwrapping presents and playing with the paper, and I was way into making Christmas special for her. I honestly can't remember a Christmas that was so much fun, simply because I got to experience it through her eyes -- and got to shape that experience! Next year is going to be even better!

Our first Christmas celebration was with my family at Thanksgiving, which was a great way to kick off the holiday season!

Next we celebrated Christmas with John's family the weekend before the big day, starting with...

...the Bethpage Christmas parade! I know I talk about Bethpage being tiny on here, and it is, but, wow, can this town put on a parade! It is truly a sight to behold. I don't know where all these people and their 4-wheelers, old cars (fancy and not-so-fancy), tractors, horses, mules, and -- yes -- side-winding monster trucks come from, but it's a heckuva lot more parade than I ever would have expected, and one of the gems of the Bethpage experience. Becca watched it all from her big red wagon, and she loved the attention from John's family and the church members who gathered in our driveway to watch it (front row seats!).

That evening, we opened presents (lots of them, thanks to Santa Dana!). It would be tough to say which one was Becca's favorite, but she definitely loves her "Rebecca" puzzle from Colin and Jen and her kitchen from Nana and G-Diddy. We were actually going to store the kitchen for a while and pull it out later, but Caroline, our wonderful feeding therapist suggested that we go ahead and set it up so Becca can have fun playing with "food." She likes to walk around with a "hot dog" in her mouth (Becca, not Caroline, that is), and the kitchen even distracts her enough to let me prepare dinner with her by my side. Isn't she an adorable cook? (My favorite present was probably Becca's big girl Britax convertible carseat. She's still facing backwards, but now she's sitting up more and can see out the window. What a big girl!)

After presents, we enjoyed the most massive fondue feast I have ever seen. After much chopping and assembling by all (though we opted not to let Becca chop), we feasted on goat cheese fondue (super yummy!) with bread, veggies, and apples, and several kinds of meat with 5 different marinade/rub options and more veggies, and, after putting Becca to bed, peanut butter chocolate fondue with an array of dessert dippers. It was so fun, and just might become a Hill family tradition - who knows? Santa Dana gave us a fancy fondue pot and a Melting Pot cookbook for Christmas last year, so we used their own recipes - and after all that prep work, I can see why The Melting Pot charges so much! Even with 6 people contributing, it was a lot of work...but delicious.

On Sunday, Nana Dana and G-Diddy kept Becca so that I could actually *gasp* attend church for the first time during Advent! It was so nice to be there, and the sermon wasn't too bad, either. And the preacher is kind of hot. :) That afternoon Jen, Colin, Fred, and I went to see the matinée of The Nutcracker. Jen was a ballerina, and one of the girls she used to dance with is actually a member of the Nashville Ballet Company, so we got to see her dance, which was really cool! It was also special because Jen was in The Nutcracker for about a billion years in Ashland...and that might also explain why Dana and John were so willing to stay home and take care of Becca! :) I love TPAC; I have so many fun memories of going to see different productions there (including The Nutcracker several times - it's a lackadaisical tradition of mine), and it was so special to see all the little girls in their fancy Christmas dresses and/or tutus! They were so excited, and it made me really look forward to taking Becca to see it sometime in the next few years! That evening, we (as we Hills are apt to do) played a few of the new board games that we got for Christmas (yes, more games -- that puts us somewhere around 75 games that we have now!), and then everyone had to head out in the morning.

On Christmas Eve, my parents drove over from Tellico Village, and Dad and I braved the crowds at both Target and Wal-Mart to get a few last-minute presents. (I needed some things for John and decided that my dad had not bought enough for're welcome, Mom!) Becca's Bethpage grandma, Ms. Mike delivered Becca's Christmas present when we got home - a stuffed hound dog that she had made specially for Becca. Becca loves "Hubba Bubba" (as I've come to call her). She especially loves rubbing her face on her fuzzy "fur," which is very cute. We are so lucky to have Ms. Mike who loves Becca so much - and Becca loves her just as much, if not more!

That evening, my parents babysat so that I could serve Communion at the Christmas Eve service, which is probably my favorite service of the year. It was really special to get to serve Communion again, as it had been months since my last opportunity. After the service, we had the traditional Speas family Christmas Eve meal: hamburgers and chocolate mousse by candlelight. I do not know how this tradition began, and I think that at one point it involved steak and not hamburgers, but I'm pretty convinced that Santa might skip our house if we didn't have this special meal. Becca even wore her fancy red Christmas dress that she didn't get to wear to church (darn germs!).
I begged John to let me open one present after dinner but was de-nied, the old Scrooge. John and I put Becca to bed together, reading the Christmas story from Luke, which was really special. Once she was down, we did a little work to make Santa's job a bit easier...which was really fun!

Christmas morning, Becca woke us up at 8 (nothing unusual about that -- how early do you think it will be next year?), and we opened presents before breakfast. I had cleared out some of Becca's regular toys from the den so that she could easily see what Santa brought her, and I think she was pretty pleased (though the big winner has turned out to be her Little People farm)!

And Dad was pretty happy with his radio-controlled plane from Mom. Too cute.
(By the way, to Dad's credit, he got Mom something very pretty and sparkly, but I decided she needed more presents to open. Mom was pretty happy with her new jewelry, even without the extras.) John actually liked ALL of the presents that I got him, which is really, really rare, so I felt like I had succeeded, and I was pretty darn excited about my surprise Uggs from my parents - yay for bonus gifts!

That afternoon we feasted again, this time a more traditional Christmas meal with my parents and our good friends Rob and Jeannie. Since they are both also pastors, they can't travel for Christmas, either, so this was our second year to have Christmas dinner with them, and it was really special...and it would be even without Jeannie's most amazing chocolate chip bread pudding for dessert. Yum!

And just when we thought Christmas was ending, Becca and I travelled to Tellico Village on the 27th to see my Uncle Doug, who was visiting my parents. (Unfortunately, John had to stay home to work.) Doug's a music minister (and an incredible one at that), so we've always celebrated Christmas with him after the 25th, too. Silly church work. When we were little, he used to pull himself out of bed early on the 25th (after a midnight service!) to catch a flight so that we could all open presents together that afternoon. Now that we're older, we give him a few days before we demand his presence...and Christmas wouldn't be the same without it! My brother Rob and his family came down to see him as well, so it was nice to get to see them briefly, too! Doug, Rob, and I even managed to catch our traditional post-Christmas movie. And then I managed to leave my phone there, so the next day, we trudged back out to the theater (40 minutes away) to get my phone. Oops. Mom and Dad were going to take us somewhere nice to eat that night, but they were full, so we ended up (happily!) at Cracker Barrel...where Becca threw up. Good times. I guess it was good we didn't make it into the fancy restaurant! She wasn't sick or anything; she just vomits during meals about once a week or so (thanks to the feeding issues), though this was the first time it happened while we were out. We cleared out of there pretty quickly and left a big tip! The next morning, Becca and I scooted home just in time for her two therapy appointments.

Phew. It was a whirlwind of a holiday, but a really special one. We got to see a lot of family (though not everyone - we especially missed seeing John's grandmothers!), but still managed to have some special just-the-three-of-us time. I also got to see several of my old friends (as in, from elementary and middle school old), which is such a special treat and one of the significant benefits of living back in Tennessee. There's just nothing like time with women you've been friends with for 20+ years...especially when you are only 29. So thanks, ladies.

It wasn't my typical Christmas - no choirs, no kid-filled pageants, no parties (unless you count the district preacher party), no Christmas cookies, and definitely no snow - but I can say that I experienced the Incarnation in a different way this year. Waiting with Mary, cherishing my baby-turned-big-girl, hugging the necks of family and good friends, seeing the joy in Becca's face whenever she saw "her people" - it all brought it home to me in a different way. I can't say that I was all warm and fuzzy, but I did feel the importance of physical closeness to the ones you love...and that's what the Incarnation is about, right? God coming down to us to hold us, hug our necks, see the joy in our faces...this year, Emmanuel - God-With-Us - came to the Hill house again. I hope you experienced the same miracle as well. Merry Christmas, all!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

More on Preemies and Healthcare

My friend Anne has done it again: hit the nail on the head. If you have a moment, scoot over to her blog and see what she has to say about cost benefit analysis vs. life benefit analysis in healthcare decisions, whether they regard premature infants or elderly adults.

And, no, I haven't forgotten to blog about Christmas - just haven't rescued the pictures from the camera yet...but there is major cuteness coming!