Friday, March 30, 2012

Bits and Pieces

I feel like there is a lot to update you on, but my mind is not at all organized at the you'll get bits and pieces.

First off, I am now 17 weeks and 4 days.  17 was a bad, bad week for us in Becca's pregnancy.   In fact, it's the week that they told us she was going to die.  So even though we weren't scheduled for a visit this week, I called the doctor to see if we could come in and get a glimpse to make sure everything looks good.  Fabulous doctor that he is, he worked me in, and we saw him on Wednesday. 

I am beyond thrilled to say that this week 17 is going much, much better than our last one.  The baby is measuring right on target, though the head is a little bigger than the legs (which just makes the baby a Hill - have you met my short genius of a husband?).  At this point, Becca was already 2 and a 1/2 weeks behind.  There was a 4 cm fluid pocket already; when we went for our amnio with Becca in week 18, they couldn't even find a 1 cm pocket and almost weren't able to do the amnio.  Dr. Sizemore said that they could amnio this fluid all day long; I told him that I'd prefer that he not.  The baby was moving - dancing, really, which was adorable.  And we think we saw some bits and pieces... in, little boy bits and pieces!  It's still pretty difficult to tell on the office's super basic ultrasound machine, but we're pretty sure we saw his little penis, and when he started grabbing at it, we decided it was definitely acting male...already sticking his hand down his figurative pants.  But - we're not painting the nursery blue yet or anything (actually, we're not painting the nursery at all because when we moved in and painted we went with a gender-neutral green, smart kids that we are), but the doc is 85% sure it's a boy.  We ought to know for sure at our full anatomy scan (at the high risk doc with the better machine) the Tuesday after Easter. 

So that's that.  I feel so so so much better after this appointment.  Oddly, it's nice to be where things started to go wrong.  I had thought that my anxiety would only increase as we got further along, and I'm sure it will some, but it feels great to be at this point and be reassured that what happened last time is not happening this time.  I'm still at high-risk for complications, and there is still a very good chance that I will develop pre-eclampsia, but whatever happens now, I know we're not experiencing a total repeat of last time with the double whammy of super-severe IUGR AND severe, early-onset pre-eclampsia.  Again, the kiddo could stop growing at any time, and my blood pressure could shoot up, particularly as pre-e is an unpredictable disease, but we are ahead of where we were last time.  Phew.  In CPE terms, I think it's helping me differentiate this pregnancy from my first one.  I really am starting to believe that things might be different this time.  Like I said, it feels good. 

[Sidenote: as I talk about my first pregnancy, I want to be clear that I don't regret a minute of it.  Of course I would have chosen for it to go differently, but in the end, we got the best kid in the world, and I love her just the way she is.  I would do it all over again in a second to have her.  Or to have this itty bitty boy.  But we're open to an easier ride for everyone this time.]

Okay, I got so busy writing about the little boy booger that I forget what the other updates need to't forget to donate to our March for Babies team and/or order your t-shirts (I'm sending in our order on Monday!)...and if you want to buy some Usborne books AND save some babies at the same time, shop at  I'm giving my entire commission on purchases made through this link to our March for Babies team.  And I haven't forgotten about the second Disney post.  It will come.  Eventually.  :)

Oh, and some adorable Becca sayings as of late:
  • I'm da wine weader!  (while running to get in front of everybody)
  • Her name for the baby: Kolkai Booger
  • I'm Madewine!  I'm Madewine!  I'm tall!
  • Actuawawy... (translation: actually)
  • I want to go on adbentures!  Yet's go on [pauses while she counts her fingers and raises them] five adbentures!  (Adventures = errands or anything else we can come up with to do away from home or church)
  • Awl da something or other (As in, who was your favorite character at Disney?  "Awl da charawcters!"  Who do you want to invite to your birthday party?  "Awl my fwiends!"
  • I will give you a kiss to feel you better, Mommy.  (and)  I'm sorry you're sick, Mommy.  (and) I'm gwad you're better, Mommy. 
Okay, that's all the randomness I can reign in at the moment.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Disney Pictures!

I keep saying that I'm going to post pictures of our Disney World I'm finally going to live up to my word.  Only took, what, 3 weeks?  First, a few thoughts on planning a Disney vacation with a little one:
  • Free Dining Week - Hell to the yes.  The week we went (and a few others during the slow month of February), if you stayed at a Disney resort, you got the Disney Dining Plan for free.  Staying at a moderate resort, we got one table-service meal, one quick-service (counter) meal and one snack a day each.  That adds up to a lot of food, especially when one of your group is primarily g-tube fed.  This is by far the best deal Disney offers, which is why they do it in their slow times.  This is such a good deal that I figure we'll do it at least one more time, pulling the kiddos out of school, even though the Boo will likely be in elementary school the next time we go.  We also decided that whenever we go outside of free dining week, we'll bit the bullet and buy the dining plan ahead of time so that we aren't stressing out every time we eat, 'cause it ain't cheap.  Most of the food we had was delicious, but, yeah, you pay for.  (Unless you don't.  Like we didn't.)
  • Everybody told us we should stay "on property," meaning at a Disney resort, and I'm so glad we did.  We went back to our hotel most every day for naps for Becca and me (some days more me than Becca!), and it was so much easier than making a commute that locked us into our plans for the day.  And with the dining deal, it was probably even cheaper that way.  We stayed at Coronado Springs, which was fine, but next time we'll probably stay at a different moderate resort - not that there was anything wrong with it, and I'd recommend it, but there are so many fun-looking ones that it would be nice to try another one.  When I'm rich, we'll stay at the Polynesian.  It was really cool.
  • The "park hopper" option on the tickets is a must.  It's pricier than you would think, but it was definitely worth it to have maximum flexibility.  We often spent half a day at one park, went to the hotel for a break, and spent the evening in another park.  It also enabled us to see most of the parks in the day and at night, which is cool because they are all different at night. 
  • Character meals were a BIG hit with Becca.  That's where most of the pictures below were taken.  Becca LOVES anything in character, so it was truly magical for her to get to chat with the princesses, hug on Mickey, and counsel Eeyore ("Eeyore, don't be sad!  It's okay!).  Since we were on the dining plan, we did several character meals - otherwise, we probably would have scaled back since they seem to be more expensive than the regular table-service meals.  It was so nice to see the characters this way instead of waiting in long lines to see everyone.  We still waited for a few characters, but all of our must-see's were covered with our meals.  Some of our favorites included breakfast at O'Hana (with Lilo, Stitch, Pluto and Mickey) and the princess lunch at Norway in Epcot.  (The other princess meal option is in Cinderella's castle, which would have been cool, but it counted as TWO meals for each person - no, thank you.  We got lots of time with Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel and Sleeping Beauty at the Epcot one.)
  • We made sure to make time for swimming.  Our hotel had a little pool near each building and one big pool in the center of the resort.  I had read something about how when you ask kids what their favorite part of the Disney vacation was, the majority of kids say swimming at the hotel.  I know that can drive parents crazy (hello, we can swim at the rec center 2 miles from our house!), but Becca loves the water, too, so we made sure to swim 3 times or so.  The pools are heated, but even so, in the first week of March we had to watch the weather to schedule our trips to the pool.  Once it was so cold that Becca's lips turned blue, but she still refused to get out.  (We went all responsible parent on her and made her get out anyway.)
  • One of the beautiful things about going to Disney with a kid Becca's age (3.5) is that if we didn't tell her it was there, she didn't know - so if we knew we weren't going to do something (ride the Teacups, for instance - I wasn't going near them nauseous, and John's no fan either), she didn't know what she was missing.  That mindset also freed us up to take it slowly, since we didn't have to do everything. 
  • Don't believe people who tell you to skip Epcot with little kids.  Of course, Becca is our little scientist, so it was no surprise that she'd be into things like Innoventions and the Imagination Lab at the end of Figment, but Epcot turned out to be her favorite park.  We rode Nemo 3 times, Figment 3 times and Spaceship Earth (in the big ball) 3 times.  She loved Fantasy Land, of course (with Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, and It's a Small World), but she picked Epcot when she got to decide where we were going. 
  • We downloaded (and actually paid for) an app from - it was awesome.  It gave us real-time wait-times for every attraction in the parks.  That made it really easy for us to avoid disappointment - instead of telling Becca we were going to such and such ride, getting there and finding that the line was too long, we were able to check the wait times and give her options.  (And yeah, she definitely didn't understand the concept of going to a ride to check the wait time - if we walked to it, we had to ride it). 
Okay, enough words.  Here's a Disney photobomb!

Okay, this post is getting ridiculously huge, and I'm only halfway through the pictures, so I'll save the rest for another post. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2012 March for Babies T-shirts!

Are you ready for it?  Really?  Our dear friend "Miss Sanelle" (also known as Shanelle by folks whose language skills are more developed) has been hard at work on a t-shirt design to go with our 2012 March for Babies theme...and in honor of our family's dream-come-true trip to Disney in the middle of March for Babies season, here is a draft of the design!
 The shirts will be red with 2 colors printed - probably black and white (the castle will likely be white instead of blue).  We're making a few final changes to Becca's outfit, etc. but you get the gist of the idea. The back of the shirts will be printed with a quote from Walt Disney ("It's kind of fun to do the impossible!") and the names of our team sponsors - those small businesses that have donated $150+ - let me know if you want to get in on that!  We are taking orders for the shirts now - if you'd like one (or one for each member of your family :) ), leave a comment or e-mail me at MacaroniAndSpeas(a)  The cost for each shirt (available in 2T through XXL - or probably bigger if you need it) is a $15 suggested donation - but you'll need to pay me directly, and about $9 of each shirt's donation will be considered tax-deductible.  (I'll send you a receipt for that portion.)  You can PayPal me the money, marking it as a personal gift, but I'll have to give you our PayPal e-mail address - or you can send a check.  If you need our address, or even if you don't (so that I can track everything), please leave your e-mail address in your comment, along with the number and sizes of the shirts that you'll need.  I'm happy to mail them for the actual shipping cost - last year, it ended up costing about $2.50 per shirt.  Okay, I think that gets us through all the details.  So let me know how many you're in for! 

Oh, and so that we can get the shirts printed and back to us by the walk, I need all your orders in by NEXT SUNDAY, APRIL 1ST. 

I know that's only a week, but you guys are smart people who have your acts together, right?  I don't have to have received your check by then, but I do need the details of your order.  And if you order a shirt and don't pay, I will smite you.  Okay, not really.  But we'll have to eat the cost, and I'd much rather use that money to eat, oh, real food.  Please let me know if you have any questions!  Thanks!

Of course, if you don't care for a t-shirt, we are still taking direct donations at !

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Mother's Love

The true test of my love for my unborn child is not whether or not I willingly endure the shots, the vomiting, the bajillion appointments, the pills, the tests, the blood pressure monitoring, the discomfort, the fatigue, the anxiety...

No, the true test of my love is whether or not I can manage to keep from eating the brownie batter in the bowl in front of me.

This kid is loooooved.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Test Results

The test results from the blood taken at my last appointment are in.  I'm not even sure what the test was - if we did the AFP, the Triple Screen or the Quad Screen - but they all look for the same things - elevated risks of Down's Syndrome or neural tube defects (like spina bifida).  Remember, the abnormal results on this test were the first indication that some was askew in Becca's pregnancy.  I'm happy to report that this go 'round, the results were completely normal! Now, that's not an indication that everything is going to go swimmingly or anything, but it's a great sign that this babe and its placenta are developing normally, which is a BIG step in the right direction!  Wohoo!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It's a...


If I could make that font even smaller, I would.  Here's how the gender search went:
Dr. S.: Look at that!  See those lines?  That looks like girl to me!
N and J: giggle giggle giggle
Dr. S.:  Let's look around...placenta looks great...size looks great...very active, good movem-
N: Yes?
Dr. S.:  I think I saw a penis.  Let me look again.

He looks again and again and again - we seriously spent 10 minutes just looking for fetal genitalia, and we have decided that the baby is one of two things:
1.  A boy
2.  A girl with a strategically placed umbilical cord

We really don't know.  (Thanks to you 3 people who said we wouldn't find out; you cursed us!)  Dr. Sizemore is putting it at a 60% chance that it's a boy.  Given that it started with a 50% chance, we haven't clarified much.  I threatened to come up with some problem that would send us to the specialist upstairs (with the high-powered ultrasound machine), but figured I'd end up with enough time with specialists as it is.

So there you go.  The Booger is a beautifully-developing, perfectly healthy little...booger.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gender Guesses?

As I mentioned yesterday, we have an OB appointment tomorrow.  In addition to the AFP/Quad Screen tests that we'll draw blood for, we'll have another ultrasound.  (We have ultrasounds at each visit to check for growth.  So far, so good.)  There's a pretty decent chance that we'll get a glimpse of the wee one's wee parts make your guesses now: boy or girl?  Vote at the poll to the right.

Just so you can make an informed decision, Becca is 100% certain that the booger is a girl because it's growing in MY tummy.  If it were a boy, it would grow in Daddy's tummy.  Which makes perfect sense.

Though this is an exciting ultrasound (aren't they all?), the more important one comes up at 18 weeks, when they will use the better machine to do a full anatomy scan, counting heart chambers, etc.  If we don't find out the gender tomorrow, we'll most likely find out then - but at that point, I'll probably be more concerned about all the organs being present and accounted for.  :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Our Happily Ever After

Okay, this time I have an excuse to go nearly a month without posting.  I didn't want to put it out there in the blogosphere before the trip, and all my energy (other than that spent fighting one helluva sinus infection and, oh yeah, growing another human) was spent on preparing for our trip to...Disney World!

That's right, folks, the little miss, Super Dad and I took a rare family vacation with just the three of us and went to see Mickey Mouse live and in person (in mouse?)!  We had an amazing time, and I'll regale you with tales, bargain tips, and lots and lots of pictures later...but first I want to take a few minutes and tell you what it meant to us to be able to take such a trip.

I am 15 weeks pregnant now.  15 weeks and 2 days, actually - almost exactly as pregnant as I was four years ago when we first learned that something was wrong with our first pregnancy.  The doctor called with abnormal results from an AFP screen - the same test that I will be having done at our appointment on Wednesday.  The elevated numbers indicated that there *might* be a higher risk the our child would have spina bifida. 

Spina bifida, huh?  Not what you want for your child.  You want a beautiful, perfectly closed spinal column with no mysterious bumps or openings.  You want your child to learn to walk naturally, unimpeded by such a significant disability.  When you dream about the 10 perfect fingers and the 10 perfect toes and say that you don't care what gender the baby is, "as long as it's healthy," you don't dream about spina bifida.  Those test results were a blow.  But that was just the beginning. 

Spina bifida, we decided, we could handle.  It would certainly  not be ideal and definitely not the path we would chose for our child.  But we knew and know teenages and adults with spina bifida who are spirited, determined and fully independent - even more so than many of their non-disabled peers.  Even if our child's case fell on the more severe end of the spectrum, we would work with them, love them, shuttle them to therapy and do whatever it would take to enable them to reach their fullest potential.  And besides, there was this organization called the March of Dimes that helped kids with spina bifida.  That worked to fortify our country's grain sources with folic acid so that fewer kids would have to face the challenge of a compromised spinal column.  They helped families cope with the difficulties of disabilities related to birth defects like spina bifida.  And their website was the first one I turned to when we started to consider the potential diagnosis. 

But then we saw the specialist, and what we thought was a devastating potential prognosis quickly turned into a lethal one.  You know the story; when the doctor saw that Becca was already 2 weeks too small, she told me that my little girl was going to die.  Worst case scenario shifted from a VP shunt and life in a wheelchair to...nothing.

Nothing.  That's what we came to expect for our little girl's future.  Of course, we still hoped and dreamed and prayed and sang and started this blog, but as far as actual expectations?  Nothing.

No first cries.
No first smiles.
No first steps.

No pigtails.
No kindergarten.
No graduations.

And certainly no family vacations to Disney World.

We didn't give up.  We did everything we could to give her a chance.  But we knew that whatever life we did get with her was gravy, as we like to say in the south. 

People like to say that Becca is a miracle.  I'm not going to dispute that.  But my understanding of the most miraculous part of it all is that as we didn't give up on her, this child that we had already come to know and love, neither did thousands and thousands of people who had never met her.  While we were singing our "Grow, Grow, Grow" song -- and in the decades before Becca even came to be -- doctors, nurses, researchers, fundraisers, parents, neighbors, kids collecting dimes enough to stretch to Washington were working to save her.  Our Itty Bitty.  And I truly do understand that work -- all of that work -- to be miraculous, inspired by God and brought to fruition through the gifts given to these people through God. 

Because people like President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to use their substantial power to benefit others, Becca is alive.  Because people like Dr. Mildred Stahlman care enough about the babies they would never even meet but whose lives they would save, Becca is thriving.  Because our every day heroes like Drs. Prince and Weitkamp and nurses Millie, Heather, Leigh, Stacy and Carla, who believed in the tiny fighter the had before them when it would have been easier to write her off as another non-viable fetus, Becca is the spunky, tenacious girl she is today.  And because of people like you, who take a few minutes and a few dollars to pay it forward to benefit the itty bitties of tomorrow - like the one I'm carrying right now! - Becca got to meet the princesses. 

Our family is living our happily ever after.  And we hope that continues to be our story as we move through this second pregnancy.  As with Becca, there may be challenges, but we know that whatever life we get -- all of us -- is gravy.  Our family is fortunate, lucky and blessed beyond measure by our little girl and the love and support of our great cloud of witness.  And so this year, at the Nashville March for Babies on Sunday, April 22,

We march because every family deserves their happily ever after.

Please join us, physically or in spirit, by becoming a part of Itty Bitty Becca's Team at

Any size donation helps, and the more who can join us on the day of the walk, the merrier!  We'll be selling t-shirts soon, and if you have a small business, leave me a comment with your contact information, and I'll fill you in on some awesome sponsorship opportunities - starting at $150!  
As loyal readers and dear friends, you have walked with us through the tumult of the past 4 years and into our happily ever after.  I hope that you will take this chance to continue walking with our family by joining us or donating to our team's goal.  Your support truly does make a difference - to me, to John, to Becca, to the little booger in my belly, and to the thousands of babies born each day too sick and too soon.  Thanks.