Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Florida

‘Fighting Finn’ was born weighing a pound. He wasn’t supposed to live.

Finn Hill was born at 24 weeks and didn’t have good odds of survival. But after four months in the NICU, he made it home.
'FIghting' Finn Hill finally made it home last week. [Facebook]
Published Sep. 18
Updated Sep. 18

Every day for nearly four months, Jessica Hill and her husband, Chris, walked out of the Newborn Intensive Care Unit and told each other that one day their son, Finn, would be with them.

Last week, he was.

They call him Fighting Finn. He was born May 21, 15 weeks early and weighing barely over a single pound. His feet were nearly the size of pennies. Doctors didn’t expect him to live.

“We honestly didn’t think he was going to survive. You just hold your breath,” Jessica Hill said. “Everyday you’re waiting to hear someone tell you it’s going to be alright, that he’ll be going home.”

Finn's footprints next to a penny. [GoFundMe]

The Lakeland couple’s road to parenthood started almost a decade ago. Jessica Hill, 31, and Chris Hill, 33, were married in their early 20s and wanted to have a family. It wasn’t working. For nine years they tried various infertility treatments.

In 2017, two rounds of in vitro fertilization didn’t lead to a pregnancy despite one viable embryo.

“It’s absolutely terrifying,” Jessica Hill said. “When you try to start a family for nine years and you watch everyone around you start their families, you want to be happy for everyone else. But you struggle internally wanting it for yourself.”

They didn’t give up, though. They started looking into embryo donation. It’s similar to IVF but uses donor embryos. Jessica Hill connected with a woman on Facebook who had frozen embryos before starting chemotherapy to treat breast cancer. Eventually that woman was able to have her family and had some embryos left over. She donated them to the Hills, giving them a chance to keep fighting for the family they longed for.

The embryos were shipped from Boston to Florida. One transfer didn’t take. Then, in December, they got the news that two embryos took and Jessica was pregnant with twins.

Chris and Jessica Hill make their pregnancy announcement. [Facebook]

One of the babies was lost at 10 weeks.

“That,” she said, “is when all the craziness started with my pregnancy."

Her body tried to retain the lost baby, forming a clot, which is common. But hers just grew and grew, which is not.

Jessica Hill was put on bed rest at 22 weeks, unable to work her commission-based real estate job. Just a few weeks earlier, her husband was laid off from the home health company he worked for.

It was a tough pregnancy that kept getting tougher.

Finn was an intrauterine growth restriction baby. He was developing slower than normal and was about two weeks behind in growth. Doctors knew he’d be premature but tried to get Jessica to 28 weeks, where a premature birth could mean survival. Anything earlier would be far more dangerous.

Then, at 24 weeks, Jessica’s water broke during an ultrasound and she was rushed to Lakeland Regional Health. Still, the doctors wanted to get her to that 28-week goal. But then the placenta started to detach.

Around 7 p.m. that night, she had an emergency c-section and Finn was born weighing 1 lb. 2 oz. Doctors told his parents he had a 40-percent chance to live. It got worse from there.

Chris Hill looks over his son Finn. [Facebook]

Finn stayed in Lakeland’s NICU until early June, then got transferred to Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando. When he got to Nemours, the outlook wasn’t good. It wasn’t even okay. Doctors said he could go at any moment and even called the hospital chaplain in to talk to the Hills.

“You can’t allow yourself to look in the future,” Jessica Hill said. “You’re stuck in this bubble of time where you’re afraid to even consider what it’d be like to take him home, because you don’t want to get your hopes up.”

Then, after two surgeries and almost four months, things started to change. Nurses started using the phrase “when you take him home” and started showing them how to care for Finn on their own.

On Sept. 10, the Hills’ dream came true. They walked out of the NICU at Nemours, and their son was with them. He weighed more than five pounds.

And we are out! We cannot thank the staff at Nemours enough for caring for our boy for a long 3 months. The staff is top notch! The Lord truly heard our cry and healed our boy! Praise God for Finn’s life! He truly has mighty plans for him 🙌🏼💙

Posted by Fighting Finn on Tuesday, September 10, 2019

“You literally saved our boy’s life,” Chris Hill told applauding nurses as the family walked out to the theme from Rocky.

The nurses said it was a miracle. Something like that wasn’t rare, it just didn’t happen.

But Finn is a fighter, and a community around the world has rallied to fight with him.

The family received an outpouring of support through the Facebook page, Fighting Finn, and a GoFundMe page has raised about $3,000 of its $18,000 goal.

“It’s very humbling, the support that you receive,” Jessica Hill said. “It’s absolutely a miracle. There’s no doubt about it.”

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    Booked on Friday on probation violation charges, 61-year-old Gerald Souders died on Saturday.
  2. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    Troopers say the 28-year-old driver was involved in two minor accidents before causing the crash that killed a Largo man.
  3. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    University police say a 25-year-old grad student enrolled at the University of Florida fell to her death Friday afternoon from near the top of the 8-story parking facility.
  4. Tommy Zeigler was arrested days after the slayings of his wife, in-laws and a customer in his furniture store.
    Unit that reviewed Tommy Zeigler’s case argued that Florida had a ‘moral’ obligation to allow testing.
  5. A semi-trailer truck fell onto an SUV on Interstate 4 on Friday night after a reported tornado touched down and crossed the highway near Lakeland. No one was injured. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    A tornado caused damage and power loss but no injuries in Pinellas County. In Polk County, I-4 drivers were fortunate no one was injured when another tornado crosses the interstate.
  6. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    University police say a woman fell to her death Friday afternoon from near the top of the 8-story parking facility.
  7. Those interested have to be 18 years or older, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You also need “to prove you’re the biggest, baddest Disney fan out there.”
    Such a tough job. The deadline to apply is Nov. 7 at 11:59 p.m.
  8. Hillsborough County Superintendent Jeff Eakins, right, and  school board chair Tammy Shamburger speaks on newly raised concerns of a undiscovered cemetery for indigent African Americans that may be within the vicinity of King High School in Tampa on Friday. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Much is unclear at this point, say Hillsborough school officials, who promise to be open and transparent with the community,
  9. The merger was announced in May and shareholders voted to approve it on Wednesday. BUTCH DILL  |  AP
    The sale merges the two companies under one organizational structure with NASCAR chairman and CEO Jim France continuing in the same role.
  10. Delray Beach Police say Jeff Soulouque attended the May 17 birthday event at the Buddha Sky Bar. They say Soulouque told an officer he was talking to someone behind the former player. LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP
    Rodman’s attorney Lorne Berkeley denies the accusation and says an investigation will exonerate the retired player.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement