Sunday, August 21, 2016

My favorite name

Not to be confused with favorite child, despite my Instagram feed.

Jenna is the woman when it comes to name posts, I love reading all of hers and would've been content to be the happy reader and not write any of my own, but Fred's name is sort of extra-special, so I am going for it just this once. It's not that I don't like the other kids' names-- on the contrary I think they're great-- but aside from our miscarried baby, none of the kids' names have felt especially inspired, except for little Fred.

It's kind of funny, since he likely shares his name with a much higher percentage of men over 80 than children, and I've gotten more than a few audible chuckles from strangers when they ask me what his name is. "Fred? (Audible chuckle), you mean like Frederick?" And then I answer "Nope, just 'Fred'!" and they say something about how cute it is, to save themselves from their little blunder. It's great, I don't mind at all. I know that it's a little old school and different, but every time I tell someone his name, I love the part where I get to tell them who he is named for-- Mike's grandfather, Fred Hahn.


He wasn't Frederick, he was just Fred.

Last year Mike's grandmother "Gigi" passed away. Fred was her husband. I blogged about her after her death because her death was the hardest grandparent death I had experienced. I loved my grandparents and I was very sad when they passed, but I grew to have a relationship with Gigi that I just never had with my own grandparents. You can read more about it if you're really interested.

A few months after she died we found out that we were expecting, and I knew immediately that if it was a boy his name should be Fred. I never knew Mike's grandpa-- he died when Mike was 8 years old, and he himself was only 65-- but after Gigi's death I felt this intense gratitude for her and Fred.

I would not have the husband I have without them and their yes to life, which has brought forth so much more life-- more than I'm sure they ever thought it would.

I wasn't dead set on the middle name initially. I was thinking maybe Fred Escriva for this Saint who I love, or Fred Alvaro for this man who was beatified the year before we found out we were expecting. But then, in the months leading up to getting pregnant, I began reading this book, which is chock full of writings from saints, particularly Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.

Mike was always pretty set on Bernard because he has had a special devotion to him ever since he took a class during his doctoral work that focused on him. I remember reading a paper that he wrote about Bernard's spirituality and being almost moved to tears, a marked difference from my typical glazed eyes and confused brain whenever I read most of Mike's theology papers. When Joe was born Mike and I had some head-butting in the hospital about whether Joe would be Joseph Bernard or Joseph Pio. I won, obv.

So Bernard was making his way in my mind and heart, and then Mike had a conversation with his dad after Gigi's death-- after we had found out we were expecting-- where he discovered that his grandpa Fred's mother, who was actually a devout Catholic, belonged to Saint Bernard's parish.

I was entirely sold.

The only part that was left was to find out the gender, and since we were so decided on the boy name, I was even more hopeful that the old Y chromosome would dominate. It did and the baby was officially named.

I might have known about it when Mike's grandma died (if I did I forgot entirely), but it is the icing on the name-cake. About a week ago I was in Mike's office checking out his calendar to be up on his opening of the school year commitments, and I saw that August 20th was the anniversary of Gigi's death. I knew that August 20th was Saint Bernard's feast day, but had not yet put it together that his grandmother died that day. Of course when I excitedly let Mike know, he looked at me like I was a little bit crazy for not having realized it sooner.

But wait! There's more!

Before posting this I ran it by Mike to check all my facts and he let me know that when his dad became Catholic, the parish that we was received in was none other than Saint Bernard's. Mike also let me know that he has, for years, considered Saint Bernard an unofficial patron of the Hahn family. Obviously I'm a little slow on the uptake, oh well.

Either way, all of it has further solidified for me that little Fred Bernard's name is exactly what it should be, and for me it is a tribute, an expression of devotion and a consolation. not bad for a baby name.

Saint Bernard of Clairveaux, pray for us.



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

number five, stayin alive

This is about  to be one of those blog posts that you skim right on through because you realize right about now that only grandparents or other blood relatives will actually care about it. Or people who really like looking at cute babies, otherwise just scroll on over to your next blog-read.

Sweet Fred Bernard is a whopping 2 months old and I know it sounds so extremely cliche but I seriously have NO idea how we are already here. I feel like these last 2 months have been more of a blur than any other time in my life, and at the same time I feel like I have been able to relish this baby more than any of the others, because any moment at all that I am able to sit and stare at him I TAKE and I love it.


He is so smiley, but was not in a smiley mood for these pictures so I got nary a very smiley picture from the bunch, but he was sufficiently not-angry enough to still get some nice, peaceful face shots with an extra-close up of the collateral damage of a swaddle-bust-out last night (i.e. he scratched himself on the cheek).

I would posit that he is the most-loved little guy in the world, he has at least one person asking to hold him at least 75% of each day.
I think he is the child who looks most like me: blue eyes, double chin, receding hair line, etc. All me.


He had quite the colicky spell for the first month or so of his life, and while it has definitely gotten much better, he is still super gassy, but all my babies are for the first 3 months and I am trying to not want this last month to go fast because is some weird way I am sure I will miss his stinky baby farts when they're gone.

He still won't let me have more than a 2 hour stretch before he is sca-reeeeeming from his crib at night (thanks stinky baby farts), BUT!! He is in his own crib for those hours before he sneaks back in ours which means-- 2 sweet hours of stomach sleeping solo. I will take it.

Ok, I will stop there because I can only use so many of the almost-identical picture before it just gets weird.

Freddie B, I love you.




Saturday, August 13, 2016

bears, baking and babies, oh my! (7 QT!)

How about some quick takes with Kelly (who I get to meet IRL soon!!) on a Saturday?

1) It definitely has not sunk in that we are residing in a different state yet. You would think that it would, what with being in a different home, surrounded by mountains rather than flattest of flat Indiana land. I just feel like I'm on a vacation where I seriously over-packed. However, I have definitely had several "We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto" moments since settling, not the least of which is our neighborhood bear that repeatedly gets into our trash. That's right, I said bear, not the standard squirrel or raccoon, but a legit bear.

2) I feel like the most BA housewife there is because I have TWICE now scared the bear away in the middle of the night. Never mind the fact that the only thing I did to "scare" him away was turn on our porch light. Never mind that.

3) I feel like I need to do a little explaining of the situation after my initial post wherein I complained a bunch about the crazy surprise wall colors in the house. You see, we bought this house without seeing it first. Cue all the horrified gasps-- I know, I know. It was crazy. But the house we were initially under contract for, the one that I actually got to see when we came here, fell through due to false information being filed by the tax company. So! at 37 weeks pregnant we needed to find a place to live and there were no reasonably priced rentals that would fit us and I was not about to send Mike a-house-hunting for fear of another early labor, AND this house was in the perfect location and had room for us so we sent our trusted realtor over to give us the skinny and it happened that he did not notice the pink and green walls. To his credit he was focusing on things like the roof, heating and cooling and actual bones of the house. Also, the family who sold it initially listed it back in 2014, which is when they posted the pictures of the place online. They took it off the market for a while, painted the heck out of it...

re-listed and never updated the photos. That should clear up the confusion. And the best part.... drum roll....

4) Mike fixed it!!

All done with house talk, on to much more important  stuff... TV.

5) I've become slightly addicted to The Great British Baking Show. It has fiercely awoken in me a strong desire to bake ALL THE THINGS!!!! I am currently working on this savory loaf, and would love to try my hand at a tart like this one, but first I must acquire a tart pan.

6) Shortly after settling in here I cracked a large piece of my tooth off whilst eating a pita chip and now I am in the market for a crown and potentially a root canal. I am legitimately terrified of both, almost as much as starting homeschooling back up-- speak words of comfort to me oh blog readers. I will never eat pita chips again.

7) I attempted to take some professional-looking pictures in our back yard the other day so that our frames could actually be updated, the results were less than impressive, but not a total fail.

And one ipad picture of a semi-smiley Fred:

Photographer of the year and certified bear- scare-er, that's me.
The end.




Friday, August 5, 2016

TWO

At the risk of total blog-neglect, I am going ahead and posting about Joe's 2nd birthday almost an entire week after the event- "bad-mom-blogger" is my middle name.

Since he is my first boy, every little milestone feels like he's the first born, sort of. It all feels really different and new, and since all my previous 2nd birthdays were full of baby dolls and princesses, having a 2nd birthday that was entirely Hotwheels-centered was so fun.


Joe LOVES his little Hotwheels cars. It is the thing he runs to in our play room before anything else. He recently started asking me to make a little slide out of our duplos for his cars to go down, so when I sat and thought about a gift he would like, a race car track seemed most appropriate. However, I had no idea how very complex race track making is if you go the Hotwheels route, and they don't really make toddler tracks for Hotwheels. BUT! When Mike showed me this not-so-little puppy on amazon...

made for Little People cars, but compatible with Hotwheels cars, I knew we must acquire it.
And then, then!!-- it was clearanced at Target-- in the store!! Coincidence? I think not.

He loved it, as did his sisters, who ever-so graciously gave him a turn or two (insert eye-roll emoji).

Mike found a pretty fabulous lot of "new" cars at a local thrift store too and although this picture is blurry it gives you a good idea of Joe's excitement when he opened each new bag of "MORE CARSH!!!",

Which is what he is excitedly screaming at Mike in the picture.

His favorite fruit is strawberries, so I went ahead and made the Pioneer Woman's Strawberry Shortcake recipe, thinking he would love it (but maaaybe more because I love it, double eye-roll emoji).
There was some confusion as to whether he was turn 2 or the legal drinking age. It's an exclamation point in case you're equally confused.

And of course he ended up refusing to try it and eating plain vanilla ice cream instead. Did I mention he just turned two? He is owning it like a boss.

Happy 2 years to you Joe, my sweet, sassy, hilarious first boy.




Sunday, July 24, 2016

the day(s) that crazy made

Greetings from the beautiful land of free babysitters and cakes. We are now residents of Virginia and have finally closed on our house, but it didn't happen quickly or easily and so in true blogger fashion I am here to back track and go into story-telling mode in case you're in between novels.

Let's go back to the days following baby Fred's baptism, because that will be nice and chronological and neat. So little Fred was baptized and life promptly went nuts. My mother-in-law left and intense packing commenced since our move was 2 weeks away.

Fred has been a bit of a screamer and does NOT prefer to be put down and expresses his preference in the form of blood curdling screeches that make all parties present pretty sure that they're heads are going to explode, so I packed up the remainder of the house with him in the moby wrap. No exaggerating there, I promise.

Once the house was all in boxes, the next step was the actual move, which began on July 12, also known as the Craziest Day in the History of days. Only a little exaggerating there.

It began just fine at the crack of dawn after a night of barely sleeping and mostly nursing, but after a 6 a.m. run to McDonalds for coffee I felt like I could manage. My sweet, dear friend Jen let me and the kids camp out at her house for the morning while the movers packed the trucks, for which I am eternally indebted to her because she already has 5 kids and was a veritable peach about doubling the number for an indefinite amount of time. Seriously a peach.

The day got crazy after we left. Mike said the movers were about 30 minutes away from being done and after driving past some road work and having our van splattered with loads of mud I thought that taking the kids through the car wash would be a fun time killer.

Off to the wash we trotted with Fred SCA-REEEEMing in the back, but I was sure the car wash would lull him. And it did! But then the wash was over and he was back to his head-exploding-level-scream and the movers were not done yet so we pulled off into a parking lot so I could nurse him. I had to get out of the van to get him out and bring him to the passenger seat to feed him and as I went around the back of the van....

Wait what is that....

IS IT?!?!

A GIANT PIECE OF THE BACK THE VAN HANGING OFF??????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FLIPPING KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A giant piece of the back bumper was literally hanging off and cracked from the car wash. I had held my hormonal, sleep deprived self together up until this point, but I no longer could I stood in this random church parking lot weeping while the kids gawked and asked copious questions about what on earth had happened.

I sped back to the car wash and demanded to talk, or rather, cry-at the manager who sent me across town to their shop to see if they could fix it but I couldn't find it and Fred was at his breaking point (ok, he is always at his breaking point in the car seat). I gave up and went to our not-home to cry-at Mike, who quickly helped me to calm down and got the cracked piece back into place and assured me that we could still drive with it like that and so we commenced moving with a broken car.
(It's still not fixed but the car wash has promised to cover it, for fear of their heads being bitten off.)
We looked at our South Bend house one last time and I cried more because I just couldn't stop.

The next 24 hours were fine, we stayed in the Ville on our way and finished the drive to VA the next day and then the crazy picked up again in the form of:

1) Our realtor calling when we were an hour outside of the town we were moving to to tell us that the sellers of our home could not close the next day, which is what we planned our entire trip around..........

2) walking into the the house for the walk-through and finding that they had painted the entrance and formal living area hot pink (?!?!?!?!?!)......

with a side of bright green in the formal dining area. They were previously cream colored.

And then...
3) during our stay at the not-so-Quality-Inn having a man literally busted INTO our room at 10 p.m. for reasons still unknown to me and Mike.

To give you a little idea of the caliber of this particular hotel, upon witnessing several heavily tattooed men out on the balcony of the hotel with shirts off drinking beer, Bernadette remarked
"Hey! That take-off-shirt-man has LOTS of stamps!".
Yes he did, and we will pick a better hotel the next time.

You can bet that there were a good many more tears produced by these ducts that day because while wall color ain't no thang to most normal people, when you're postpartum and hormonal, surprise horrid wall colors can be the BIGGEST thing.

But now we are over a week out, we've officially closed on the house, we've been so warmly welcomed by the amazing community here AND Mike is out as we speak buying a normal wall color to repaint our living-dining monstrosity this week, putting my crazy-mind at easy in a huge way. He is the most amazing man in the world.

And that is that. We are here. The craziness has calmed and this house is perfect for us, especially our kick-ass new yard.

Thank you for the constant encouragement and prayers, you are all simply fabulous.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Freddie's Best Day Ever

8 days after little Freddie exited the womb, he entered the Catholic Church, Keeping th
ings ultra-exiting for us and him.

While this is the earliest we've ever done a baptism, in my opinion it couldn't have happened soon enough. I never thought I'd be the type to want to baptize my children so early, but ever since we started having babies, as soon as they come out I just feel this urgency to get the baby baptized! It might have something to do with the fact that I married a Thomas Aquinas-loving theologian. Might.

The day was really beautiful from the start. We went for what might end up being our last ever nursing home visit. We've been going every Saturday for about 2 years, baring big schedule conflicts or sickness, and it is really sad and strange to be saying goodbye knowing that we will likely never see these friends again, not on earth at least.


This was their first time meeting baby Freddie and it's safe to say that this group of elderly folks does not discriminate in their love for and joy at brand new life.

We're so grateful for the time we've had with these wonderful people and that we got to introduce them to Fred the day he was baptized,

We had approximately 1 hour from the time we got home from the nursing home to when we needed to be at the church and I'd call it a baptismal-day-miracle that we succeeded. This was our first ever Saturday baptism and while it was nice to not have to wrangle kids through Mass AND a sacrament, it was rough having the same preparation 2 days in a row between the baptism and Sunday Mass. You win some you lose some.

My little sis and Mike's little bro came in to be the godparentals and even though he was already planning on coming back to the states, it sounds super cool to say that Fred's godfather came all the way from Russia!


And look at that godmother pride! Get at that ear-itch, Ana.

My parents also made the trip in, even my mother who had already been in town the week prior to help me maintain sanity immediately following Freddie's birth. She's a saint, that Karen.



I forgot to count how many children were present but they took up all the chairs in the baptistry an were amazingly well behaved.

Thanks to Katrina (who also snapped some of the pictures here, best friend ever!) we were able to have the after party indoors instead of outside in the 90 dregree heat. We kept it small and simple and it was perfect.

It didn't feel that overwhelming doing the baptism this early, which I am chalking up to the fact that I still had all those good-feeling hormones circulating and was still in the baby-moon phase of postpartumdom. I just went ahead and embrased the postpartum bump and the fact that I would absolutely be wearing a maternity dress to the baptism, and rejoiced in the fact that I still had help around so that I oculd lay down and rest in the afternoon after the festivities. 

We have had 4 out of our 5 babies baptized at this parish and it leaves me a bit of a weepy wreck to think that this was our last, so I'll just go ahead and wrap up here. All in all, it was a really beautiful day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

All Hail the Birth Story (the Birth of Fred Bernard)

Alternate titles include:
- The Tale of the Lazy Uterus
- The Little Uterus That Could
- The Early Dilation Station and
- That Time I said "Screw it, we're going to the hospital"

It was hard to choose, but life is hard sometimes.

I had gotten to the point in the pregnancy, which is always around 36 weeks, where I was clicking on every single link to every single birth story I saw on the web. I was navigating to various favorite blogs searching through their archives to read birth stories. I do it every pregnancy, it's weird but it is some how cathartic for me and I think I thought it might just bring on labor. It did not.

I was also at the point in pregnancy, where-- after my 36 week OB visit when they declared me "3 to 3.5 cm dilated already"-- I was mentally mapping out what my birth story would be like for each life situation every single day. At the check out line in Walmart, at Sunday Mass, out at the park with the kids, while getting my traditional late pregnancy pedicure-- every single thing I did I thought "what if my water broke now, that would be a cool birth story". In the end the story really isn't that cool at all, but a baby came out of it so it must be told!

A standard disclosure: before you continue reading, as with all birth stories, this story will include various terminologies that may make some readers uncomfortable, the high usage of the word "uterus" already should give you clue.  There's more where that come from. Onward.

So yes, 36 weeks, 3 centimeters dilated, some early labor contractions but nothing too crazy. I was doing nothing whatsoever this entire pregnancy that would bring on early labor, I literally napped every single day and when I wasn't napping I was sitting on a couch as much as I could. Fifth pregnancy fatigue is no joke. So hearing that my body still decided to get ready for labor so early was a little frustrating. Because here's a little tidbit you might not know about the baby being that low that early: it feels like the baby is going to fall out. It's super weird and uncomfortable and it only got more intense as the baby grows.

By my 37 week visit I was at 4 centimeters and having loads more timeable hard contractions, which is a little frustrating while taking care of 4 kids all day every day. Every load of laundry I did I hoped it would be my last load of laundry while pregnant, same with grocery trips, toilets cleaned, meals cooked. I was just getting tired of doing all these things while having so much early labor.

Ista-proof of my misery

By 38 weeks I was feeling really fed up. We were thisclose to heading to hospital on the evening that I turned 38 weeks (birthday language? I don't know). I had gagged down some caster oil that morning to see if it would stir things up, but then I just threw most of it up and it only made contractions pick up a little.

Cue 38 weeks, 2 days pregnant and the day of my 38 week OB visit. I had big plans to go walking before hand and then beg her to check me to see if all these contractions were doing anything. I thought I might even ask her about stripping my membranes (grossest sounding thing ever!!) but I figured she wouldn't before 39 weeks. We were also going to go ahead and set up a 39 week induction  as a worst case scenario because we are moving in 2.5 weeks and I really needed to be on the other side of labor and recovering before starting to pack and move boxes and what not. Plus I was already so dilated and having so much early labor that waiting any longer 39 weeks was simply not going to happen.

So I did some pre-OB visit walking and contractions were about 4-6 minutes apart for the hour leading up to the visit. The doctor came in to see me and check to see if I was still progressing. The verdict?

5 cm and a "laboring cervix", whatever that means. But! All contractions had stopped as they always did and was a tad discouraged at the fact that I still might have to wait a week for an induction while sitting at 5 cm because my stupid little uterus was too lazy to just keep on contracting. It was like it hadn't gotten the memo from my cervix that there was a party and it was invited.

So I asked her about the "Stripping of the Membranes", and almost without a pause she said "sure". Let's just say it was as uncomfortable as it makes you feel when you say it and leave it at that. I called my mom on the way home to tell her the state of things, and being the on-the-ball-lady that she is, she swung home on her lunch break and packed her car to be able to leave after work. She is a true gem.

After that the contractions were twice as strong as before, but, wait for it... still not regular! By 1 o'clock that afternoon they had completely stopped and I was back to my standard afternoon-pool-of-tears self declaring to Mike that this was just not ever going to happen. I laid Joe down and cued up a Disney movie for the girls and laid down to nap, per the daily usual. I might have even dozed off but then a hard contraction woke me up and it hit me: if I go to the hospital, they are not going to send me home. Screw it, we're going.

I went and told Mike, called our sweet sitter and my mom and we got last minute stuff ready to head out to the hospital. At this point I think my uterus had finally gotten the invitation to the labor party and I was having pretty consistent contractions while trying to get out the door, but any other day of the week that would have just meant that they would stop the second we were sitting in the car. But not this time!

On the way to the hospital I had at least one contraction that I had to breathe through and where I did NOT think Mike's mid-contraction jokes were funny. That was a good sign and a few more of those before we got to triage brought me some hope that maybe, just maybe, this was the real deal. And it turns out, it was. Around 4:30 and after some monitor time with consistent hard contractions they punched my ticket and got me into a room and ready for my sweet, sweet epidural.
Smiling because I know the meds are on their way
While Mike updates the masses on our situation

By 6 p.m. the epidural was in and kicking and the staff let me know that my doctor had a c-section at 7:30 and that she would be coming in after that to break my water. So I sat and labored peacefully until 8:45 when she came in to check and see where things were at and...
.
.
.
.
still at 5 cm.

Mike and I started to worry a little at this point since 4 hours of very active labor hadn't moved me from 5 cm but my doctor seemed unconcerned. She broke my water and did some fancy shmancy labor position called a Texas roll, first on my right for 30 minutes and then over to my left for 30 minutes. By the end of the second 30 minute stretch I felt like it was pushing time so she checked me again and...
.
.
.
.
Whoa! There's a head!

The doctor didn't even have me move from my side-- she suited up, got ready and we waited for one more contraction and that is all it took.

One contraction, 3 pushes and out came baby Fred, with an umbilical chord wrapped around his little neck twice very tightly. After some working with him and some mild motherly panicking he finally pinked up and started crying and once they got him up on my chest he showed himself to be the most over zealous freshly birthed nurser I've had yet.

---

This morning was the morning I was scheduled to be induced but I think I got the better end of the deal: 5 days out and recovering better than last time for sure, with a sweet newborn to hold while typing a fairly uneventful birth story.

Hospital Highlights:

 First and most glorious hospital meal // Dinner (or lunch) for two care of the cafeteria // She takes awkward selfies in peace and quiet // A delicate blend of milk chocolate and baby

Now go read Sheena's if you haven't already!!