Friday, December 7, 2018

a good old fashioned gender reveal

Back in the blogging day I would have annoyingly documented every single milestone of pregnancy, (seriously, check the archives, it's absurd. Or don't because it's mildly embarrassing) and while I am definitely happy that's not my blogging trend anymore, I still firmly believe in a good old fashioned gender reveal blog post.

So far every single child in the Hahn family has very clearly expressed their preference for a baby SISTER, especially Joseph.

The 4 year old boy.

I was prepping him constantly over the last 2 weeks for the possibility that it might be a boy, and it was not going well. According to him, "boys are too naughty" and he "had a sensitivity that it was a girl".

At 16 weeks I had a really quick ultrasound to check in on the baby and I was pretty positive that I saw some boy parts, which made me try even harder to prep poor Joseph for another brother. He was still really resistant and not happy about this possibility but I went in today fully ready to see those part even more clearly and planned to buy Joseph donuts to soften the blow.

And apparently...











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sorry this is so annoying but it's fun...
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Clearly I am not an ultrasound tech and I know nothing because it is most definitely a 4th Hahn female!!!

I found that little layette in Lucy's baby box, totally untouched and thought it was so fitting since she is my other rainbow baby and she was the last girl baby I gave birth to. Also I just so happened to wear pink and purple to the ultrasound, completely unintentionally but still super fitting.

I am in a little bit of shock since I was so sure of whatever I saw on that other ultrasound, but the tech was very thorough and sweet baby girl was very, um, immodest, so it was very clear.
 
Joseph exclaimed so proudly that he "got his wish" and while I know he would have been so happy in the end with a second little bro, it was so sweet to see his utter excitement over a little sister.

The best part was the news from the doctor that everything looked perfectly healthy on the ultrasound, such amazing news and I am feeling so total overwhelmed by God's abundant generosity.

Thank you all SO SO SO much for your prayers, you are the best!!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Thoughts on Pregnancy After Loss {Grieving Together}


When I first saw that Laura Kelly Fanucci and her husband had written a book on their journey as a couple after infant loss I was so happy. I was pretty fresh off of my third early miscarriage of the year and I could not wait to read it, I only wished it would have been in my hands after my earlier losses. I wrote to Laura and asked if she needed any help spreading the word about her book because I was so excited to read it and she was so gracious and promised to send me a copy once it was in print.

Fast forward a few months and suddenly and rather unexpectedly I was pregnant. It was unexpected because after so many months of trying to conceive and trying to make my cycle go back to normal and failing at both I had given up hope for more kids in the immediate future and I was even getting to the point of being at peace with it.

The book came out during my first trimester and once I had it in hand, I was utterly terrified to jump into it. I was still so thrilled it was out and that I would be able to read at some point, but I wasn't ready just yet, even looking at the word "miscarriage" filled me with fear. That's the thing about being pregnant after losing a baby (or babies), any and everything can trigger massive anxiety and overwhelming emotions over the little one you lost and going back to that place of thinking of your losses can really make you spiral into fear over the loss of the one you have.

I've gotten to the point where I've been able to read through the book, which is wonderful, but I've mostly focused on the part of the book that is most applicable to me currently: pregnancy after loss. This has been a whole new ball game than any of my other pregnancies and it's been a huge learning experience for me with regard to how I deal with my anxiety over another loss. Here are some things that I've done that have helped:

1) I go to my spouse. This is why I was so excited about Laura's book- it addresses this so specifically and practically in so many places. There is so much opportunity for growth in the midst of grief within marriages, but I can see how it could potentially be missed or the opportunity be lost due to a lack of communication. There were times after our different losses where Mike and I struggled because we were on different pages with grieving, but even just communicated where we were, knowing full well that the other person was not in that same place, helped us tremendously to be understanding and loving in the midst of our shared but different experiences. It has been very similar with pregnancy after loss. It is definitely the case that my experience this pregnancy has been worlds different than Mike's. I have dealt with levels of anxiety over losing this baby unparalleled since getting married. But Mike understands, and he is the absolute best person for me to talk to when I am really struggling. So much of the time I am not seeing the reality of the situation because my mind is clouded by the past and the fear of another potential loss. The first trimester was especially full of so many moments of me "knowing something was wrong" (when everything was fine) or trying to "prepare myself for the worst" (when no one can ever truly be prepared for losing a new, unique soul). Mike understood like no one else could and validated all of my concerns and fears, while also speaking truth and hope to me, that gift is invaluable.

2)  I had my progesterone checked. With the 5 children I've given birth to I never once had my progesterone levels checked, not even after my first miscarriage 7 years ago. After our 3rd early miscarriage this past year I decided to see a Creighton doctor who actually checked my levels before I was pregnant and discovered they were low after ovulation, which may have accounted for my body not being able to sustain the pregnancies earlier in the year. I began taking oral progesterone post-ovulation so that in case I conceived my levels might be high enough for the pregnancy to continue. After I found out I was pregnant the progesterone dose doubled and once I hit 12 weeks that doctor's protocol was to take me off of it, their office just simply does not do progesterone past 12 weeks. I begged to have 1 follow up lab test done to see if my levels were rising enough with no progesterone supplement and when they came back they were dangerously low by Creighton standards. I have since found another doctor and am now on progesterone shots, which I am assuming I will need most of the pregnancy because my levels just aren't rising on their own.

I realize this is not normal protocol in most doctor's offices, but it has given me a great amount of peace of mind and it may even be the progesterone treatment that helped us to keep this little one initially. If you suspect that hormone levels may play a part in your issues, I would definitely say it is worth pushing your doctor to test your levels and/or trying to find a doctor that will be attentive to that for you.

3) I read the Pregnancy After Loss section in Grieving Together. Even if you are in a similar place to me- pregnant again after a miscarriage- and don't feel like you can dive into an entire book on miscarriage, Laura's chapter What Comes Next, and the sections within it, have so many practical tips on navigating the waters of grief as you go forward and specifically as you potentially prepare to welcome another new life into your heart and home.

After my very first miscarriage we conceived immediately and, while their was some fear, there was more hope than fear that things would go right and they did. After this year that sort of hope was gone. What used to be a predictable and normal looking cycle was gone and I knew things were not right. It was so cripplingly discouraging to have back to back to back miscarriages- once we conceived I was certain we would miscarry again.

 Pregnancy after loss means there are no guarantees. Spiritually the invitation is to trust. The loss of a baby disrupts the natural order: you expected that your children would outlive you. After miscarriage, you no longer assume anything about how your life or this new child's life will turn out.

But trust is not a one-time decision. With God's love and guidance, you can learn to believe in life's possibilities in new ways.

-Grieving Together, 157-158
 
As I read the words of this part of the book I felt like I was reading my own heart, it is so good to have a resource to go to with these fears, to receive such encouraging and practical advice and to know I am not alone. 

4) I've tried to go easy on myself and just do what I need to do. I will admit that my fears of another loss are irrational (i.e. when I got the book Grieving Together in the mail, I thought it was a sign from God that I was going to miscarry... um, not how God works) but fact is there were times where the anxiety was not going to go anywhere until I knew that things were ok. I had at least 2 doctor visits in the first trimester just to reassure myself that I had not miscarried, and once I was into the second trimester I bought an at home doppler** for peace of mind going forward since I often don't start feeling much movement until well after 20 weeks.

5) I have brought it to prayer. I realize that this should be the first one on the list and probably should be the only one I actually need, bu the reality is that I need the prayer and I need the practical. I have had to retrain my brain in prayer with regard to how I processed a lot of the grief. After our losses I told myself (falsely) that I must have miscarried because God knew I couldn't handle another child, or because I haven't been a good enough mother. As I have gone to prayer with all of my fears and anxieties I have had to face those very false ways that I think of Our Lord and how I think He views me. We did not miscarry because I am a bad mom and while it was all a part of God's plan, it wasn't just because He thinks I can't handle more. God loves me and wants good things for me, He is pleased with me and with my efforts at being a wife and mother. Loss is a part of life and it is a true sharing in the sufferings of Christ, which is itself a gift.

**I am not advising the purchase of an at-home doppler, I am just saying this is something that has been a good thing for me.

Other resources for those suffering the loss of a child:
Our Sunday Visitor created a free e-book with excerpts from our book, "How to Support Parents who have Lost a Child"

Laura and her husband did a free webcast to share more about their story, the book, and how we can all support couples who are grieving. You can watch it here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A New Pumpkin For Our Patch...


Coming May, 2019.

I am still in shock and awe each time I see this little person (which thanks to a little hematoma concern + a bit of spastic anxiety on my part has been quite a bit). It has been so beautiful to get to watch this little one grow.
The hematoma is shrinking, thanks be to God! And not causing any problems so we'll tone it down on the ultrasound front from here on out.

This pregnancy has felt almost like being pregnant for the first time particularly in my new found love of every. Single. Pregnancy. Symptom. They all give me peace of mind that this little nugget is growing and I am nothing but thankful for that. Especially nausea, give me all the nausea. So weird.


I chose the plumpest pumpkin for myself because: TRUTH. I've primarily been craving potato chips and store bought muffins whose tops have got nothing on mine now. But! This is my first experience with a doctor who doesn't give me a super hard time for my excessive first trimester weight gain (yet), so win! 

Thank you all for your many prayers and words of encouragement over this year, they have been a true blessing to me during a time that was so unexpectedly hard.

God is so generous and I am completely humbled and honored I am to be carrying this person, for however long I am blessed to.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

starring, the boys!

I started this post as an exclusive "boys' birthdays" post but that was several days ago and methinks that now I ought to just add some more summer happenings and join Kelly for some early quick takes.  Here we go!

1) I am embarrassingly behind on posting about the boys' birthdays but I see no other way than to just post (in mostly chronological order) as if there has been no delay and as if I have been posting as frequently as ever. My blog, my rules I guess. I say mostly chronological because I am going to go ahead and double up my boys birthdays in one post before posting about the awesomeness that is my husband and the defense of his bad ass dissertation (which will be its own post, if it kills me), even though Joe's birthday technically fell after the defense. Again, my blog, my rules.

Freddie's second birthday was a whopping 2 months ago which is insane: how in the heck did this summer come and go so fast?! I was about to grab some super adorable pictures from his big day but it appears my computer has deleted all of them, which I am more than a little angered about. I know that I did indeed photograph his big day because I posted this little buddy on Instagram, from my camera, not my phone, which was one of many pictures that have disappeared from my piece of crap computer. I guess it will just have to suffice for as the entirety of photographic evidence of his birthday.

His birthday was the best because I have never had a child's birthday be so thoroughly anticipated by every member of the family except the child having the birthday. He mostly did not know or care that he was turning 2, but the other kids talked about nothing else for at least a week leading up to the day. As the above picture demonstrates, gift opening was a sibling affair and I think Joe managed to get the first turn with all of the toys he got.

2) In honor of him turning two I decided to chop off his little curls

As you can see they were definitely just turning into a curly mullet, and this new do makes him look as old as he is.

2 going on 22. Happy late (on the blog) birthday, Fred!

3) Then Joe turned 4. That sentence makes me die a little inside, life goes too stupidly fast. We were in Ohio with family for his big day so he actually got 2 big days: his big party day the day before his actual birthday and his actual birthday. On his birthday he let my mother-in-law know that "after this birthday, I'm is all done having birthdays", which sounded so terribly morbid but he just meant that he was done celebrating turning 4. Pictoral evidence of all the fantastic fun:





2 cakes + 1 family party + a pinata the size of himself + 1 smaller family celebration + more sugar than any child could ever need = best 4th birthday ever.

4) My boys have never seen Paw Patrol, nor will they ever see it (they watch enough junk). However, my mom got them these matching shirts, which happen to be the only matching shirts we own, naturally I got a tad overly excited and did a little photo shoot. I know what you're thinking , "there aren't enough pictures of her male offspring in this post!" I know, right?! Here you go

I'm sorry, I could not resist.

5) I scarcely make things from Pinterest that end up tasting as good as they look, but these cookie dough cheese cake bars were an absolutely exception. I altered them a tad and made my own cookie dough instead of using refrigerated dough because I did not have any refrigerated dough, which was great because I do think you need more cookie dough than one refrigerated pack would give you. I need to throw a party soon so I have an excuse to make these oreo rice krispie treats because I have a hunch they will also be as good as they look. If you've tried them and they're not don't break my heart, just let me try and fail. That's what Pinterest is for.

6) We are maybe possibly going to start up our home school the last week of August, which fills my heart with 90% fear/dread and 10% excitement, that seems like a pretty standard proportion of emotions for homeschooling, right? We are doing a new-for-us Co-Op thing called Classical Cottage School which will be a whirlwind day once a week but will hopefully offer some community and a small break from me teaching my children myself, so that's contributing to that 10% of excitement. The boys and their intense penchant for destruction are the primary contributing factor to the 90% dread. Beer me.

7) I think that's all I have for now, stay tuned for gratuitously proud and gushing post all about how my hot husband is now a Doctor of Theology! (or just unfollow this blog now, I understand)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

vacation celebration

While I was pregnant with Lucy Mike started working on the very beginnings of research for the project that would turn in to his doctoral dissertation (for chronological reference I was pregnant with Lucy six-and-a-half years ago.) On June 30th, 2018, Mike actually walked out of his basement office (where he has been writing the majority of this masterpiece) and said the words "I'm finished". And my heart danced and sang and I definitely cried some happy tears and posted a celebratory staged Instagram gem of the real life printed out thing.

If you're a mathematician (or know 1st grade math) here it is in numbers: 2 years of masters work + 6 years of PhD work + 2 years of a full time teaching job while dissertating = 10 years of so much hard work and so much being a graduate student that we are ready to transition beyond. Even after he finished the text and sent it off to his committee, he still had to complete the bibliography, which his completely clueless wife thought "would be about 20 pages or so??", but nope, it was a beast of a bibliography and when he finally finished that up I demanded that a vacation to celebrate happen and happen NOW.

Grad-school budget and primarily little and very dependent kids didn't give with much vacationing, so even though this was a celebratory vacation for our family, it was also our very first family vacation ever (unless you count a couple days in Holland MI when I was pregnant with Joe, and even if you are counting that this would be our first in 5-ish years and so it was 100% highly anticipated and 100% called for!)

We decided to head to Williamsburg to try out the Great Wolf Lodge (not not NOT a sponsored post, I promise!) and didn't tell the kids until a few days before. Telling kids that you are going to a giant indoor water-park is the equivalent of telling adults that they're going on an extended European vacation, or a tropical all inclusive resort stay (depending on your preferences, I prefer Europe). They were ecstatic and talked about nothing else in the days leading up to it.

It did not disappoint.

It was so fun for all of us, although Joseph's very favorite thing was the elevator we took to get to our room, so it isn't necessarily every kid's cup of tea.


Joe "Cautious" Hahn contemplating going down that slide. He contemplated it the entire time. He never did it.
Watching all the brave big kids having more fun than them but telling themselves how much smarter their choices are.
A brief break from the insane slides.
The older 2 girls could go on all of the rides and the park was small enough to be able to send them on their own and have them check in with us, since we were often keeping tabs on the littler ones who were not as excited about the giant slides. Almost 6-year-old Lucy was even able to go off and do the medium slides on her own if I was venturing down the big ones with the older girls, which I did quite a bit because it was so darn fun.

Our second evening we mixed it up a bit and found quite possibly the nicest park I have ever visited called Kidsburg in Williamsburg. The not-as-water-thrilled kids (Joe and Fred) were on cloud nine with giant play ships, canons, and a zipline, which happens to be the key to my girls' hearts. That and giant indoor water-parks.



Overall it was an absolutely wonderful way to celebrate this huge accomplishment for Mike, and also celebrating getting to see more of him, which we are all so excited about. He defends next week and the celebration continues because I get to go with him (sans kids!!) for 2 nights which will undoubtedly be blissful and I am so excited.

Congratulations (almost) Dr. Michael Hahn, we're so proud of you!!!!


Thursday, July 5, 2018

TEN

10 years. 


I was thinking about having this be a mini-blog post on Instagram, but it just seemed fitting that the celebration of 10 years of marriage would warrant a little dusting off of the neglected blog. This one's for you, Mikey (though it will probably be short because it started as an Instagram post, but it will have lots more pictures!!).

I keep thinking of the snipit from scripture (and I am pretty sure it's in multiple places, so I'm going lazy here and not citing it):
"Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife"
-Several places in scripture

Since that day 10 years ago we have clung to each other. I never could have known to the degree that I would need to cling to Mike. I think somewhere in my brain I thought marriage would be easy, that I could handle the ups and down fairly independently. From the moment we arrived at our new apartment away from home, away from families, I knew I was wrong. 
Within a few weeks of living there my first trimester sickness started and Mike was suddenly married to an invalid and I had to be completely vulnerable (throwing up in front of someone for the first time is kind of epitome of vulnerability).

During the birth of our first child I clung so hard to his hand it was sore for a week, I had never known that kind of need for someone. When I prepared for my unexpected c-section with Bernadette, I leaned on Mike in all new ways in my utter terror at what I was sure was my impending untimely demise (I was a tad dramatic about needing a c-section). He was a rock and comforted me and strengthened me in so many ways that would foreshadow the kind of support he would give me in later years of marriage.
I thought that nothing in the world could bring us closer than the births of our children- until our miscarriages. The loss of those 4 babies that no one else in the world loved and wanted as much as the two of us, that shared sorrow but then shared comfort that we could not find anywhere else but in each other, has brought us closer and strengthened our love more than I ever imagined.
When we got married 10 years ago I loved him, but what I think no one could have really prepared me for was how that love would be strengthened and tested most especially through suffering and the choice to cling to nothing but God and each other during those times. I am in awe at how much more I love him now than 10 years ago, and I cannot wait to see what that means for the decades to come.
Here's to at least 5 more decades, Michael Scott Hahn - I love you the most!!!

Friday, June 1, 2018

adiĆ³s mayo

Linking up with Kelly to celebrate the fact that May is finally over!!

1) It was a really long month, full of lots of good things and lots of hard things, and overall we are just really excited for June with pool trips and as many activities as I can cram in because: have I mentioned that Mike is defending the dissertation that never ends in July? Oh I have?? Are you sure? Just in case I'm going to mention it some more.

2) Where are all my wives of doctoral students? Please do tell me how on earth you got through the last few weeks before the defense because Mike is probably the very best at balancing family with work even during this insanely busy time but he happens to be married to a wife that is the worst at handling any less than normal. Also every time he tells me he "finished" something I get all excited and think it's that he finished a chapter but it turns out it's the first of 3 sections of a chapter and I get a tad nauseous and just try to say something that sounds excited (in fairness he has finished almost every single chapter, I'm just a serious wimp). He also keeps comparing the process to childbirth and apparently the current phase he is in is transition and almost to pushing, so I think it best to just leave him alone right now. If you need someone to hang out with post 8 p.m. hit me up- I'll be watching Office reruns alone eating baby carrots.

3) I want to thank you sweet friends for all the love and prayers after my last post. I always feel a little hesitant writing those blog posts but your kindness in your responses and all the prayers you offer up remind me that this online community is a legit community. Thank you!!

4) I took the kids to my parents at the beginning of the month to celebrate my first year successfully administering end of the year Iowa tests (and to give Mike a chance to write his little heart out without children screaming outside his office door) and it was lovely. Every smile time I'm with my siblings and their kids my heart just hurts that we don't live closer to them - still have my fingers crossed though.

5) These boys.



I do not know how I got so lucky to have a pair like them but lately I've just been sitting on porch  watching them in awe of it, not a super productive thing to do but so good for the soul.

6) We had been thinking for a while about potentially sending Naomi to school next year and I'll admit that the thought of not homeschooling all 3 girls for a year was super exciting BUT we have decided not to send her after all and I'll admit I'm a tad terrified. I know I can do it but I don't know if I can do without turning to consistent day time drinking starting at 11 a.m. Kidding, but seriously how do you keep doing it year after year after year after year after.....   how?

7) Meanwhile I will work in offering up the various anxieties and frustrations for sweet Kendra and her family who could really use prayers.