Monday, September 23, 2019

Anastasia Zoe's Birth Story... Finally

I've never waited this long to pound out a birth story here on the blog and I am starting to worry that if I do not do it, the entire event might just be erased from my memory since that is what happens if one does not log all life events on the blessed Internet.

Anastasia's birth. Here we go.

Leading up to Anastasia coming into the world I was really seriously considering trying another all natural birth, which would have been my first since Naomi's super-natural tub birth 10 years ago. I went back and forth and listened to hypno-birthing stuff (not not not for me) and prayed about it trying to gear myself up for just doing it, Nike style. But then my doctor called one day after consulting with the hospital I was going to give birth at and let me know of 3 requirements that were the policy of this hospital for V-BAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) patients:
1) I would need to be constantly monitored,
2) I would need and have an IV, and
3)... wait for it... I would need to have an epidural.

It sort of made sense because the concern is that your c-section scar can tear and if it does they want you to be ready for an immediate emergency c-section. It was definitely more stringent that my previous hospital experiences and maybe unnecessarily so but honestly, I needed someone to make up my mind for me as to how I was going to go about pushing this babe out and it was ultimately helpful for that reason. I had had so much anxiety the entire pregnancy over something going wrong with Annie in utero or during birth and was just so eager for her to be safely stateside and I was also super anxious over birthing at this new hospital with this new doctor- I just wanted to be on the other side of it and be holding my girl.

Cue Easter Sunday. I woke up feeling... not right. I was 38 weeks 3 days and had had all my other non-c-section babies by 38 weeks, 4 days (Joe came at 37). I was totally ok with going another week, but also totally ok with holding our baby sooner. The kids hunted for their baskets, we had a nice Easter morning and then headed to mass. At mass I was contracting, as my kids would say, "like the Dickens". I kept needing to sit and breath and I felt so labor-y. That continued for the rest of the day and then I had some other physical symptoms that indicated that labor was likely in my future. At my 38 week appointment I was 3 cm and the doctor felt pretty sure I'd be seeing him in the next week but I was still not counting on anything.

I went to sleep Easter Sunday and woke up Easter Monday feeling fairly normal. Here's where I got a little impatient. I hate not being in control of labor things. We were 40 minutes from our hospital and relying on various friends to be on call to watch our kids and some of them would be going out of town for different stretches and I was so worried we would be stuck with no one to leave the kids with if I went into real labor during one of those stretches. So I decided to try to have some very little control over the labor situation. I drank a little caster oil (which has worked with some of my babies but not worked with others) and walked my heart out that Monday. Mike was home from work so it was nice to have him around if the labor symptoms got intense.

Around 2 in the afternoon contractions became time-able and stayed regularly 2-4 minutes apart until dinner time. I texted a sitter and one of the friends who was available to come in the middle of the night that I thought things were getting real and that I'd likely be going in to the hospital. I was so freaked out of a false alarm and did not want to go in too early because of how far the hospital was but Mike did not want me to wait and then risk a car birth - a valid fear. So I got Freddie down for bed, cried a little because labor emotions are no joke, and then we left the kids with a sitter who would later hand them off to the friend over night if this was indeed the real deal.

The whole way to the hospital contractions continued but I was fine in between and sure they would just send me home. Once we got to triage at the hospital I think I told the nurse 20 times that I was sure this wasn't the real thing and that she'd be sending me home but she was awesome and did not agree with me. She checked me and I was 4 cm. Not bad but also only 1 cm more than what I was at my doctor's appointment. She said I should stay an hour and either sit and labor or walk around and then she'd check me again.

I opted for laying down and maybe bouncing on a birth ball because by this point I was utterly exhausted and not interested in walking anymore. I just breathed and squatted through contractions or bounced on the birth ball and 1 hour later she came back.

The verdict?

6 cm and not going home. Hurray!

We went back to the room I'd be laboring in and they started to get things ready for the epidural (I forgot to mention that I was utterly terrified of getting the epidural this time, I just kept freaking out that this would be my time for something to really go wrong since all my other epidurals went smoothly).

Eventually the anesthesiologist come to do her thing and for a little while she could not get the needle through the hole in my back so she had to keep dilating it and it was so freaky and I was 100% sure this was going to result in my greatly feared epidural-gone-bad experience but... it was fine.

Maybe too fine? Dun, dun, dun...

So the epidural was kicking and I laid back to rest and the the doctor trotted off to sleep a little since by this point it was somewhere between 9 and 10 p.m., though I was still cautiously optimistic that I could progress quickly enough to have our baby on Easter Monday. In the past my epidurals had not slowed my contractions at all, and once the doctor broke my water I was pushing a baby out within the hour. HA! So much ha.

So I rested and paid little attention to how often contractions were coming for probably about an hour when Mike looked at the monitor and let me know that I had not had even 1 contraction for the last 15-20 minutes. Crap.

This is where I started to get frustrated. My doctor came in so infrequently, he just kept waiting and waiting to go ahead and break my water and even after he did (the timing of that is hairy in my mind) my contractions still would not pick back up. I wished he would have just given it 30 minutes to an hour after breaking my water to start me on pitocin- because I was TIRED and ready to get the baby out- but he waited hours after breaking it to start the pitocin. Somewhere between 2-3 a.m. they decided to start me on the lowest dose of pitocin, which I was utterly terrified of because I have never had it. It made contractions pick up and hurt like HELL. Yes I had an epidural, but by this point it was no longer working and I labored for at least an hour feeling every ounce of those pitocin contractions but Mike was sleeping and my nurse was "letting me sleep" (so NOT) so when she finally came in I begged her to fix my broken epidural and at this point she became my favorite nurse/person in the entire world.

She had to get special permission from the anesthesiologist to give me a boost of some sort but once she did I was riding that sweet epidural high and around then they had to up the pitocin as well to get those contractions to get me where I needed to be, which still took several hours.

Finally around 6:30 a.m. after an extremely long night of not sleeping and feeling much of my labor and more interventions than I have had before the pitocin did the trick and the doctor checked me and determined I was just about ready to push.

Around 7:15 everyone was in place and I  pushed something like 3 times and had to be asked to stop because she was going to fly out but I was READY and could feel zero of the pushing and then they finally gave me the go ahead to just get her into my arms I was so thrilled.

I longed so deeply to hold this baby after our 3 losses and I am so thankful to Our Lord for the gift that she has been to our family.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Anastasia Zoe

A little over a week ago we welcomed our sixth, sweet baby to the outside world and 5 days later she was baptized. These are the major life events Ana of 5 years ago would've had blogged within a day but I guess times have changed as have my abilities to nurse and type. So! I promise this post will be light on wordage and heavy on pictures. Without further ado...

Anastasia Zoe Hahn

Born April 23, 2019

Weighing 7 pounds 6 ounces.
Quick huge shout out to this guy who ran the show entirely for the first week of Annie's life- all child care (other than newborn), all meals, all dishes, all laundry, all while always telling me to go lay down and keeping the house *relatively* quiet. He is a gem of a man.

She is beloved by siblings...

And now she's a teeny tiny Catholic.

Annie with my amazing sister-in-law, her godmother, who made the very last minute trip down for the very last minute baptism - she is the best.

Thank you for all your prayers and well wishes- we are so very blessed! Birth story to follow some time in the year 2019! JK I'll try to do it before the end of the summer :)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

30 weeks + the name

And just like that we are already heading down the last decade of weeks until we get to meet our sweet little one (starting tomorrow, technically, but I'm measuring a few days ahead so I call the eve of 30 weeks, 30 weeks). I would absolutely be remiss if I didn't type out a few of my thoughts and feelings surrounding this pregnancy before it's over.

I have never- ever ever ever cherished a pregnancy like I am cherishing this one. Does this mean I never complain? Ask Mike (muwahahahaha). No. But I've definitely tried to complain less than my others and I truly do see every single difficulty of pregnancy as a gift and a reminder that I am carrying this undeserved child, whereas with my other pregnancies the difficulties were just... difficult. 

Sometime during our year of miscarriages I was doing some organizing in our storage closet and came across 2 bins of tiny spring time baby girl clothes from when I had Naomi. I got fairly emotional and while the practical side of me was yelling at me to just donate them, I stopped and said a very earnest prayer that God would bless us with another baby girl during some future spring time. And I kept them, trying to be hopeful.

I am pretty sure I prayed that prayer before our 3rd miscarriage and after that 3rd miscarriage I really did start to lose a lot of hope that we would conceive again for a long time, if ever, and I had all but forgotten that prayer. However as our spring due date with our little baby GIRL draws closer I think of that prayer every single day. I think of how beautiful it is that God cares so much for each and every detail of our lives, of our hearts and of our desires. I am so so thankful.

This is the first pregnancy since I was pregnant with Naomi that I have been so present. Present to every week, every milestone, every kick, every hiccup. I don't want to forget. I am so aware now more than ever that this is a very specifically special gift and I do not take for granted that we will be given more of these sorts of gifts. I am loving every second of it. Like a first time mom I have several apps on my phone giving me daily updates of how big baby is and what's new with each week.

Also during our miscarriage year and while we were trying and hoping to conceive Mike came up with the name Anastasia Zoe, which means "Resurrection and Life", very fitting for a rainbow baby. We had no idea if we would ever get to use the name, but as soon as the ultrasound tech told me we were carrying a girl I began calling her just that, Anastasia Zoe- our little ray of hope.

When I was pregnant with Naomi her due date was April 2nd and she came on March 23rd. All of our babies since then have come at least a week -but more like 10 days- early, and I when recently did the math I realized that since I am due May 3rd, a week or so early would fall right during Easter week! (and even if I don't go early Easter season lasts for so long it works either way!)

So that's where I'm at mentally at 30 weeks and that's our baby's name, Anastasia Zoe, "Resurrection and Life", a gift straight from a good and loving God who makes all things new.

One of my very weird side effects of this pregnancy is terrible carpel tunnel so I have typed this entire post with semi to no feeling in my fingers!! Sorry had to get one complain/brag in there for old time's sake and good measure.

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...



sorry this is so annoying but it's fun...

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)