photographs

these days, i am happily spending all my spare time on my sweet little girl.  which is wonderful, because she is wonderful.  on the other hand, things like our blog and long-overdue thank you notes have fallen by the wayside.  oops.

anyways, i think the best way to catch up on the blog is to just share a slew of photographs.  don’t you agree?

first off, we’ll start with instagram, one of my favorite things right now.  here’s a little collage of some of my favorite photos posted on there in the past few months — centering on a certain subject whose name starts with an “o.”

and now, just a smattering of photos — some taken with the ever-convenient iphone, others with my incredible canon s.l.r.  so many ways to capture this beautiful life.

oh, and by the way — the pictures below are more or less in chronological order, so you can see the progression of that little girl’s crazy growth!

this goes way back, but just had to share it. our friends ruth and maggy (from burundi, central africa) visiting just days before olivia made her appearance.

and another one from way back when… our pastors’ daughter brianna blessed little “baby baldridge” with prayerful henna several weeks before the big day.

and now, on to olivia. this was in the first weeks… can you believe how teeny tiny that girl was?! just wait till you see the pictures below…

tiny sleeper.

her biggest cousin addy, meeting liv for the first time when we arrived in santa barbara. love these two.

and right behind addy, waiting to hold little olivia, was lucy goose, cousin #3. sweet girls.

great grandma getting to meet olivia in san luis obispo, california. it was liv’s first s.l.o. farmer’s market.

livy loves playing with nana and auntie kells.

caught up with a close college friend, heather, while in san diego in august. we made friends with little collins, who is just a month and a half older than liv.

since we are doing cloth diapers for olivia, we are in the loop with the local cloth diaper shop. and as a result, we got a free professional photo shoot when she was two months old. love this little beauty.

great weekend with dear friends… and in fact, we have another weekend with these very friends coming up in just a few days! we are blessed. p.s. miss you sooo much, jenny…

two months old, loving her activity gym.

hangin’ with daddy in the big bed.

daddy won an award! the texas instruments innovations in “stem” teaching award (stands for science, technology, engineering, and math). we are so proud of him.

my girly girl.

bundled up in her jammies on our first cold day of fall!

daddy doing some work while enjoying the outdoors. we took a weekend trip with a handful of close friends from our bible study, up in beaver’s bend state park in oklahoma. the fresh air and fellowship was just what we needed.

enjoying the beautiful scenery and my sweet girl in her moby wrap. love that thing.

the men enjoying a good bonfire.

and the girls all cozy inside.

broken bow lake at beaver’s bend state park.

waking up to breakfast with “uncle” adam.

oh, daddy. such a silly guy.

had the chance to visit san diego just a few weeks ago, to celebrate my sweet sister kelley and my little nephew beckett, who is due to arrive in january!

this girl is loving her fist! yumm.

the whitmore girls — missed you, kristen!

cousin liam holding not-so-little olivia. don’t mind my hand in the bottom left corner. love that sweet boy.

our little pumpkin — already four months old!

this little sweetheart is twenty weeks old! my how those weeks have flown by!

our favorite part of every day is greeting this face in the morning. we are beyond blessed.

we hope you enjoyed that fast and furious summary of the past 4+ months!  i hope to follow up this post with another, featuring a few short videos of olivia, in the near future.  until then…

we love you all lots!

– court

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life in cali

we are nearing the end of our third week in california, with one week left.  santa barbara, san diego, and cayucos have been good to us.  hopefully i’ll find a moment to write a little more about our trip.

our little girl is growing fast, and we are more in love every day.  truth be told, she has been quite the challenge, as we’ve discovered the difficulties of colic.  fortunately, we have lots of loving hands who are happy to rock, sway, and bounce her.  of course, we’re hoping she’ll grow out of it and feel better soon.  at the same time, she is developing a sweet social smile, has been cooing up a storm, and is sleeping long stretches at night (eight hours last night!).  it is so exciting to see her become a little girl with personality — she is the highlight of every day.

grateful

our little girl is snoring as she sleeps soundly on my chest, all cuddled up in her moby wrap… and wonder overtakes me. i find myself in constant awe that this little life came to be. only a year ago, we were working at the baptist medical center in ghana, and olivia didn’t yet exist, except for in the mind of our amazing God. his creation inspires awe that is indescribable.

the past twenty-one days have been full of blessings. from the presence of family members (including moms that clean our house while we rest and care for olivia) to the outpouring of love from friends, and many other blessings large and small, we are grateful.

i am especially grateful for that beautiful day when olivia was born. as you can probably tell in the video we posted (see post below), it was a great day for me. although the labor pains i endured for six hours (until my epidural) were the most intense thing i had ever experienced, i look back on that day with such fondness and thanksgiving, for the many ways that God blessed us and the sheer joy that we experienced as our first child entered the world.

here are just a few of the things that didn’t have to happen, but did:

  1. my mom and both sisters were in town, ready and waiting for that moment.
  2. one of those sisters, erin, had a very short window to be in dallas due to her busy job as a midwife in san diego — and olivia being born on that day meant having the most amazing masseuse/coach to get me through those contractions and help decide when to head to the hospital!
  3. my doctor happened to be the one on call that day — which helped me to relax and made the delivery extra special.
  4. the nurses were all really sweet, especially my designated labor & delivery nurse, jenny.
  5. with a doctor who knew me and a sweet l&d nurse (plus an uncomplicated labor), they allowed me to have all four of my support team (aaron, mom, and sisters) stay in the room with me when olivia was born — instead of the usual limit of two!
  6. my epidural eased my pain beautifully, but didn’t delay the progress of my labor (which was my one fear about the epidural)!
  7. though she was scheduled to fly the next day, aaron’s mom was able to hop on a plane to arrive just a couple hours after olivia was born!

there are even more little blessings i could mention, but i think you get the idea. i know that not every labor & delivery goes quite as smoothly, so i am incredibly grateful for all the ways we were undeservedly blessed that day. and most of all, i am thankful for a healthy little girl.

kells packing my bag with last minute items before we head to the hospital.

smiling as i rinse dishes between contractions.

my last few hours as a pregnant momma.
39 weeks + 4 days.

my lovely sister erin.

and lovely sister kelley.

a little comic relief — mom and kells happily documenting the day while erin massages me through a contraction.

mom and sisters — can’t imagine that day without them.

my husband of five years — about to become the most incredible daddy to our little girl.

at the hospital, all settled in.

the new baldridge family of three, just moments after we met our little olivia grace.

the first of many daddy-daughter snuggles.

olivia meets nana.

granny (elaine) arrives from phoenix.

enjoying our first days with liv.

home at last.

the three weeks since that day have passed quickly, and i am doing my best to soak them up, one at a time.

here are a few little facts about our sweet girl:

  • her name reminds us of the olive branch brought to noah on the ark by a dove — the promise of new life. she is our little olivia grace, the promise of God’s precious grace towards us.
  • just like when she was in my belly, she gets the hiccups on a daily basis — usually multiple times in one day.
  • she is a crazy good little feeder — a natural.  despite dropping 9% from her birth weight by six days of age, she regained it like a champ, and weighed eight pounds (four ounces above birth weight) at 2.5 weeks old.
  • she is incredibly alert, turns her attention to different voices, and has impressive head control.
  • she sometimes gives us a run for our money — waking up every 1-2 hours to feed at night — and other times lets mommy and daddy sleep, feeding every 3+ hours.  [i should mention that daddy is a happy, willing helper — and i am so grateful.]
  • she has blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair — are you surprised?

chilin’ with daddy.

little fingers.

her onesie reads: “(egg)plant a kiss on me”.

sweet flowers from nana and papa.

she loves her nana already.

first bath, happy the whole time — girl loves to be clean!

cuddling with auntie kells — who also happens to be the mommy of olivia’s newest cousin, due to arrive in january 2013!

happy in granddaddy’s arms.

granny and granddaddy with the newest little baldridge girl!

her first fourth — fireworks and all!

our sweet girl.

love.

thanks for celebrating with us… we are overjoyed.

we’re off to california next week, for a month of family time — woohoo!  hope to be back again soon with another update.  love you guys!

olivia grace

yet again, we apologize for the long absence. this time, however, we have much more to share than ever before.  well, maybe not in quantity, but in content.

our little bundle arrived last saturday, on june 23rd.  it was the most beautiful day of our lives thus far… and we can’t believe we now have a little six day-old girl.  we are overwhelmed by God’s grace.

plenty of details and updates to come, but for now, we wanted to share some of our experience from that day with all of you.  big thanks to my ever-amazing husband, who put this beautiful video together, and to my sister kelley, who captured much of it on that day.

disclaimer: this video is not graphic, but you will witness the actual birth. viewer discretion is advised.

celebrations

so sorry for the long absence!  i swear, every time i get on wordpress to blog, something more urgent seems to come up.

but those days are gone — at least for now!  i am five weeks into “easy” rotations, and finally feel like i’m catching up on life!  my inbox still needs some cleaning out, but hey.  i don’t have to be caught up on everything, do i?

as you can guess, much has happened since my last post.  most of all, this little baby has grown, and my belly has thus grown as well!

and as my belly has grown, we have continued to work, play, and enjoy time with each other (as well as family and friends).  below is a summary of the past few months — i apologize in advance for the very long post!

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on march 24th, we celebrated the coming arrival of baby b with an unbelievable shower, hosted by my dear friend rachel, along with her mom and her sister!

the shower was perfect, from the beautiful yellow floral arrangements (my favorite — reminiscent of our wedding five years ago!) to the decadent array of homemade foods.  so many wonderful friends were there, and we were blessed with an abundance of generous gifts, including very needed basics and many sentimental/thoughtful/creative gifts!

we especially loved the replacement of greeting cards (paper that might otherwise by thrown away) with children’s books for baby b, signed by each gift-giver!  we received so many classic favorites, as well as quite a few new books that have been so fun to read ourselves!  it’s so great to already have a little library established for him/her, and we can’t wait to read both the books and the special messages to our little one in the years to come.

lots of yellows, branches, and birds.

photos of little aaron and little courtney, over the beautiful arrangement of gifts in the entryway.

one of the gorgeous floral arrangements (hand crafted by rachel, karen, and jen).

our dear friend denise (who drove in from houston) putting the finishing touches on the extravagant buffet.

my gorgeous mom and sister.

aaron’s sweet mom, elaine.

a few of my dear friends from residency who made the trek out to my shower!

in the midst of opening gifts — stopping to read one of the special messages written to baby b in his/her new book!

some of my very dearest friends from the past six years in dallas.

rachel (right) with her mom karen and sister jen — my adopted family and the beautiful, dedicated hostesses who spent long hours arranging flowers, baking, finding decorations, creating games, and the list goes on…

missing jenny, our other dearest friend, who sent her love from lesotho (southern africa).

it was an especially wonderful weekend (despite a lost voice and the dreaded pink eye — thank you children’s emergency room), as we were blessed to have a few of our favorite visitors here in town.  my mom, my sister kelley and her husband matt, aaron’s mom, and aaron’s uncle fred and aunt tonya all came to dallas to celebrate with us.  we shopped, ate delicious food, and stayed up late listening to aaron read baby b’s new books.

out to dinner after the shower, with our family at mi cocina.

two of our beloved visitors — matt’s first visit to dallas!

on march 31st, we celebrated the amazing accomplishments of aaron’s mom, elaine, in her 40+ years of work and dedication to the children and families of phoenix.  we traveled to phoenix for the weekend, where we attended an amazing “retirement” party with a huge number of people who love and have been loved by elaine, particularly in her work with the foundation for blind children (www.seeitourway.org).  it was so special, and we are filled with joy and inspired by all of the ways that she has loved others with the love of our God.  you can read about her impact on many lives in this really cool article (click here).

while we were in phoenix, we were again spoiled with a small party to celebrate baby b.  we were, of course, showered again with generous gifts, and the book theme continued.  we are so very blessed!

we didn’t manage to get pictures of the retirement party or the shower, but elaine did get a few of us with the new baby goats at the baldridge “farm”!

me and aaron, with the kids.

my wonderful husband, soon to be a wonderful daddy.

posing with the woman of the hour in front of her lush, amazing garden.

at the beginning of april, our nursery furniture arrived.  i looked forward to soon having time to assemble it all, and begin to make a space for our little one.  however, while i was busy working my second-to-last shift of my emergency medicine rotation, my amazing husband surprised me by setting it all up!  everything fit perfectly. he left me plenty of fun things to finish up (putting the linens on the bed, organizing the dresser and side table, etc), and it wasn’t long before i was nesting — organizing, rearranging, then organizing some more.  here’s a glimpse at our wonderful nursery.

view from the door.

the crib — pretty cute, huh?!

a close up.
*disclaimer: as a budding pediatrician, i will be taking the oh-so-cute bumper out as soon as baby can roll over, lest you wonder about the safety of our child’s crib.

the changing table and dresser.

the guest bed (or more likely, mommy + daddy’s bed when guests come to visit) and side table with a few of baby’s new board books.

hopefully arriving before the big arrival.

at the end of april, i traveled to boston with rachel.  we attended the p.a.s. conference (pediatric academic societies) for the first time, with the opportunity to present a poster about our advocacy project (see the blog from our trip last july).  even with a great reputation, being the big annual pediatric conference, p.a.s. was even better than i expected.

we attended several educational sessions, almost all relating to global health, which was so exciting.  our favorite session was on the problem of diarrheal illness in developing countries (i know, major nerds) — the keynote speaker was from the world health organization, and was the brains behind oral rehydration solution (which dramatically decreased the number of deaths from diarrheal illness in the past 20 years).

of course, we also took the opportunity to explore the historic, beautiful city of boston.  we did lots of walking around and lots of eating. on our first night there, we met up with my close friends from westmont, jess and josiah — not only was dinner delicious, but it was so exciting to see my dear friends in their new city!  every meal we ate in boston was delicious, and we rounded it out at the atlantic fish company, with a bowl of their acclaimed clam chowder.  mmm…

our first meal in boston — amazing, unique sandwiches.

the lake at the public garden, right next to boston common.

tulips were everywhere!

my dear friends, jess and josiah.

chilly boston nights.

awesome fire station, across the street from the conference.

grabbing brunch before our poster presentation.

awesome brunch, that is — caramelized banana french toast and sausage/ricotta/potato frittata.

presenting our poster in the advocacy special interest group.

do we look professional, or what?!

nothing like a trip with my kindred soul.

clam chowder in new england. enough said.

on may 7th, ninety-three of aaron’s students took the a.p. environmental science exam.  always a momentous occasion.  now, he’s wrapping up at work, and will be out for summer in two weeks!  of course, the work never ends, as he’s now preparing for an entirely new course next year.  he’ll be teaching all the seniors at his school, in a course focusing on discovering self.  we’re really excited about it, and he’s reading non-stop to prepare.

last but not least: my sweet husband became my photographer last weekend, capturing this momentous time in our lives with our new camera (my amazing birthday present).  thanks, baby, for humoring me — you’re the best, and you make a great photographer.

if you made it this far: thanks for catching up with us!  i’ll do my best to check in more often in the coming weeks, until baby jude/olivia arrives.

love you guys!

bliss

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i am 25 weeks pregnant today. that means i am three and a half months away from my due date! crazy? yes. exciting? beyond.

the best part is that in four short weeks, i will be free at last — no evenings, overnights, or weekends until i return from my maternity leave! (with the slight exception of two weeks of sick call in may, when i could possibly get called in for one of those shifts.) tonight is my first shift of my e.r. rotation, the last “hard” rotation of my second year. it will be busy, and i do have two weeks of night shifts, but with this light at the end of the tunnel, it is so do-able.

for all of you sweet people who have asked, i am feeling great. yes, i was tired by the end of my busy months as a senior resident… but that’s just par-for-the-course when you’re a resident, and i’m convinced i would have been just as tired if i hadn’t been pregnant! other than that, i have to tell you honestly that i am blissfully happy. that rumor about the second trimester glow? one hundred percent true here.

as i wrote previously, part of this bliss comes from having a husband who is devoted to caring for me — and was far before i ever became pregnant. he spoils me rotten, and i have him to thank for my surviving these busy months with a smile on my face (most of the time — we’ll forget about the few moments i was on the brink of tears at the hospital, trying to keep everybody on the team happy!).

then, the other part of my bliss is obvious and self-explanatory, though i understand it fully only now that i, myself, am an expectant mother. the joyous anticipation of a child is indescribable (though mary does an exemplary job of describing it in her song of gratitude — see luke 1:46-55 — and her anticipation must have been that much more indescribable, as she was expecting our King!).

i am often acutely aware of how precious this gift of joy is. while it seems like there are babies and pregnant women everywhere, i also know that there are many people (including people who are near and dear to me) that are anxiously awaiting the day that they can see a heartbeat on ultrasound, decorate a nursery, name a child of their own — and worry that such a day will never come. and because of my career, i am also intimately involved with families that were blessed to embrace their newborn baby, but then discovered that their child would not grow to become a one-, two-, or three-year-old little boy or girl. sobering thoughts, yes, but present truths. and these truths remind me that this gift of joy is unique and undeserved — and inspire me to cherish the moment now, and thank God every day for the gift of another moment. it is a wonderful miracle — and i don’t take it for granted!

a few things i’ve been up to lately:

– watching in amazement when my belly jumps around with little kicks and turns from baby b.

– starting my journey of parenting reading… working on my first book, healthy sleep habits, happy child. i am already amazed at how much i’ve learned — my skills as a pediatrician are going to grow by leaps and bounds this next year (and the years to follow)!  plenty more books to follow, as my schedule eases up in the third trimester… especially considering i should take advantage of this last “easy” period in my life and read to my heart’s content!

– getting really good at answering, “we’re waiting to be surprised!” in response to the frequent but fun question of boy vs girl.  and every time i answer, i get a little more excited by the anticipation!  i absolutely love surprises, and this one might top them all.

– trying to not wear the same three shirts in constant rotation — learning to get creative with my wardrobe!

– enjoying each free moment with my best friend, aaron earle baldridge.

– getting excited to see some family in ten days!  thankful for my wonderful friends (a.k.a. family) who are throwing my (sure-to-be-awesome) baby shower!

– planning a quick trip to boston at the end of april, to present a poster with rachel at the pediatric academic societies conference!  we’re presenting our seizure protocol project from ghana.

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22 weeks vs 25 weeks.  can you see the difference?

lots of love to all!

so much to say

i promised to keep everyone up to date on baby b’s progress… unfortunately, my schedule has decided otherwise.  i’ve been planning to post pictures of the slowly-but-ever-growing bump, but only now do i finally have the time!  of course, i’ll be back to start a nineteen-day stretch of work tomorrow, but until then, i’m here to share the latest.

i’ll start with the part that everyone is eagerly anticipating: the bump.  it didn’t seem like it was ever going to appear, but it finally did.  three weeks ago, i started getting questions for the first time — is that a baby bump i see?  i thought they were pretty brave (how did they know i didn’t just have a big lunch?), but as the days go on, it gets more and more obvious… and now it’s just plain impossible to hide!

here’s a few quick pics to demonstrate.  sorry for the less-than-amazing quality…

yep!  no doubt about it.  there’s a baby in there.

and if there was any doubt, it definitely disappeared when we saw that cute little profile on ultrasound last week, just days after i started feeling him/her move!  i know it sounds cliche, but i have never witnessed such a miracle — the feeling of a little child moving around inside my belly is the most incredible thing i have ever experienced.  no contest.  i now look forward to feeling those little kicks and turns every day.  and baby b is so active that his/her daddy gets to feel the kicks pretty often, too!  so in love.

as for the ultrasound, we are so grateful to report that everything looks great.  developing brain and spinal cord, four-chamber heart, ten fingers and ten toes… good stuff.  especially coming from a job where i see all the things that can go wrong, i am thankful for each little blessing.  and to top it all off — the baby’s growth is right on track, except for a longer-than-average femur bone.  wonder who baby b got that from… 😉  gonna be a tall guy/gal.

well, i think it’s time for me to get back to researching strollers and carseats while the super bowl finishes out.  so much to learn, so little time…

thanks for all your prayers and love.  we love you guys so much.

grace

here i am, sitting on the familiar maroon couches of the resident lounge at children’s medical center, eight forty-one on christmas eve.  back in the fall, when i looked ahead to this night, i was sure i would be sitting here, teary-eyed, in disbelief at my first ever christmas away from home.  believe it or not, my eyes are welling up a bit, but not with sadness — with gratefulness.

without detailing every event and conversation that has brought me to this moment, it is worth mentioning a few.

at the risk of getting mushy, i have to start by singing the sincere praises of my incredible husband.  as the years have passed in our marriage, my work/education has demanded more and more of my time.  my schedule over the past year and a half has been especially grueling, and there are months in which i barely have time to eat dinner with him before i head out the door to work.  not only has he encouraged me through those hard days and abstained from making guilt-laden comments about my working so much… he has also cared for me abundantly and selflessly.  even with his busy work schedule, he makes dinner for me, builds fires when i’m chilly, keeps our house tidy (thus keeping me sane), and much more.  i am so blessed to have a husband who leads, nurtures, and serves me so well.

tonight, before i left for my night shift, i savored christmas dinner with our “third family”.  when i moved to dallas, i had no plans to find deep, life-changing friendships while in medical school — and i was fine with that.  but, of course, God had plans that i could not fathom.  five years down the road, we’re surrounded by incredible friends who bring us joy and shape us (proverb 27.17).  included in those are the families of our friends, who have embraced us as their own — and we LOVE them.  nothing can replace our own families, but having a little family here in dallas, who invite me in to their holiday festivities as if i were a daughter/sister, is priceless.

and as i drove up to children’s medical center tonight, i felt an unexpected wave of joy to be caring for these children who, instead of sitting at home opening presents, are here feeling pain and sickness.  no, i don’t usually feel that way as i drive in — i’m usually tired, wishing i didn’t have to go work, wishing my schedule wasn’t so crazy.  but somehow, tonight, i felt privileged to be serving these families in a time that is so difficult for them.  it reminded me of the passion that i felt when caring for the children in ghana this summer.  despite the fact that this vocation makes me miss family events and holidays, i feel glad to have the opportunity to love others through my time and skills.

working on christmas will never be easy, i’m sure of that.  and yet, i am reminded of the deep, wide love of God, that takes a broken, desperate world and makes it a place of redemption and grace.  and i am thankful.

– courtney

p.s. right in the middle of writing this blog, i cried just a few tears — of sadness — when i realized that i accidentally booked my flight to san diego (on wednesday) for eleven pm instead of eleven am!  oops.  well, i don’t know why i thought i could make it through christmas away from home without a few tears when pregnant.  : )  silly me.  still thankful.

my night float team at children’s.

week twelve

as always, i’ve been meaning to post something new for quite a while… so here i am, four weeks later!

this is a busy season for me, not only because of christmas, but also because i have a bunch of busy rotations all in a row this winter — in order that i can have a relaxed spring in preparation for baby b. it will be well worth it — i just have to remind myself that, and take it one day at a time!

and in all of the busyness, despite my lack of visible evidence (no baby bump yet), our little babe has grown into a little person! through an unfortunate event this week, we had the chance to see him/her a little earlier than planned! on my way to work this past monday, a nice older woman accidentally ran a red light and hit the passenger side of our honda civic. it was scary (mostly because i didn’t see it coming) — but God protected me, and i came out without any injuries. nevertheless, i called my doctor, who (of course) sent me to the emergency room to make sure that baby and i were okay. it was a very long day, but the one perk was the ultrasound of our very active little one!

remember this?

well this is just three and a half weeks later!

pretty amazing, huh?!  those cute little arms, legs, nose, mouth…  i am in wonder at God’s beautiful work!

i am humbled by how blessed i have been thus far.  most of all, by a little son/daughter that is living and growing in my belly.  and also by the fact that i miraculously escaped the dreaded morning sickness!  sure, i had a few mornings where i felt a little queasy and had to sit for a few minutes, but a few bites of cereal later and i was good.  this is a blessing for any woman, but i am especially grateful for the fact that i am so blessed during my residency.  in other words, for those of you who are wondering — i’m feeling great!  thanks for asking. : )

well, i promise some belly pictures… just as soon as that bump shows itself!

love you all lots.

– court

special edition

bringing you a very special friday phone dump…