Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hannah's first weeks

Once I survived the hospital recovery, the unexpected pain and extra required day, we settled quickly into a routine.  Having Hannah home has been such a blessing.  She is the sweetest.

Here are a few things I've learned about our little Hannah.  She sleeps like her daddy, solid.  Nothing wakes this child up - not temper tantrums, not whining, not an evening out at a fancy gala.  Nope, she will just continue to sleep.  We're not quite to her due date yet, so this could all change (and probably will tomorrow since I just started bragging on her).  But minus a couple fussy evenings, she's been a trouper!  She loves to eat.  This is such a huge change for me, as our boys sure did not.  Every feeding was a struggle, a fight to get them to take in anything.  We had scales and weight checks and all this extra calorie stuff to give the boys.  And Hannah?  She's taking in far more than she needs for her current weight.  Thus, she's gaining weight well enough that I don't have to wake her up at night.  What does this mean??  It means that last night she went 4 hours between feedings, giving me 3 consecutive hours of sleep.  That makes for one happy mama!  Of course, I still didn't pull it together enough today to get my shower in :)  There's always tomorrow.

My favorite thing about baby Hannah is how she loves to cuddle.  She is never happier than when she's asleep on our chests.  And she makes this little soft cooing noise, sighing contently as she feels safe and secure, tucked away with her parents.  It's amazing how she knows her mother's touch already, at only 2 weeks old.  She knows me and she trusts me so completely.  There's such an innocence in that, and I love it.  It's drastically different than what I experienced with our other kiddos.  I love being able to bond with her, to soak it all in, to try to take in these little moments, even when it's the middle of the night.  I don't want to ever wish away this time, even though we feel like we are living in a crazy zoo.

Warren and Dean are adjusting well and settling into their role as big brothers.  They are very concerned in Hannah cries.  They are always wanting to help Mommy with Hannah, to kiss baby Hannah, to feed baby Hannah, or to share with baby Hannah.  Sometimes it is a little upsetting when baby Hannah doesn't share back, but for the most part they are taking things in stride.  The sharing of time is going to be our biggest struggle.  It's masked right now with Andrew home, as he is able to play with them as I care for and feed Hannah.  But, these days with Daddy home are limited.  And I'm feeling incredibly overwhelmed at the thought of Andrew heading back to work.  I know it's possible, I know mom's do it all the time, but how do you balance?  How do I give my boys enough attention to continue to help them catch up on their milestones and delays and to let them know they still matter, that mommy still loves them?  How do I wake them up and put them down while nursing (and nursing and nursing) their hungry sister?  How do you choose who gets to cry and who gets Mommy?  We'll figure it out to be sure, but we'd love some prayers for patience and a bit of grace as we navigate the transition.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hannah's Birth Story - God's grace

There is a lot of pressure, or the illusion of pressure anyway, to do things naturally when it comes to parenting.  So, for me, there was some sense of guilt associated with our entire pregnancy and planned birth.  From the very beginning, from conception on, we relied heavily on medical intervention.  I know without a doubt that the doctors would not have been successful, that we could have had no embryo, failed transfers, miscarriage, etc if it was not God's plan.  But still, we did nothing "naturally."  My body was made ready by daily shots and hormone patches, Hannah was transferred in a sterile medical facility, the contractions were controlled with weekly injections, and we had countless ultrasounds and tests.

I had a strong desire to deliver Hannah naturally.  Or at least to have a vaginal delivery, even if I did end up getting an epidural, which I was going to extend myself the grace to do if so needed.  But after an emergency cesarean with the boys, my options were limited.  And with a history of stillbirth, going past my due date was not an option.  So, we scheduled our c-section for 39.5 weeks, fully expecting my body would go into labor long before then.  But by 30 weeks, my anxiety was picking up.  I was dropping weight and it all felt very much like Reagan.  I began having twice weekly monitoring visits which helped easy my anxiety and fears for short time windows, but ultimately I was waiting for my body to fail.  I was waiting for my body to cause hardship and pain in the life of my family again.  It's a terrible way to live.  Our OB has been with us for all 3 pregnancies and knows us fairly well after all these visits.  He had suggested long ago to consider doing an amnio at 37 weeks so we could deliver earlier.  I flat out refused, partly because of the risks of the amnio and partly because I was so sure I would deliver early without it.  But as time drew near, we prayed about it and both felt at peace with the earlier birth plan.  So, we changed things, and Hannah's delivery was moved up 2 weeks.

As I prepared for the amnio, I had so many doubts.  Was this right?  Were we rushing things?  Was I not showing faith in God's ability or His goodness?  I walked into the doctor's office that day stressed and worried that this test could cause damage to our sweet daughter and still reveal that her lungs were not mature, pushing her deliver date back again.  After the initial ultrasound, the doctor did some more scans and informed me that the fluid was too low for any tests.  Hannah would be delivered the following day.  I was so thankful for God's answer to prayer, for His sovereignty and how He carried us through something so simple yet so stressful for me.  No large needle AND I was going to get to see my daughter face to face the following day!

After the surgery, as I'm lying in recovery, our doctor comes out and finds us to talk.  And he shared with us even more about God's provisions.  See, my uterus was weakened from the surgery with the boys and considerably thinned.  Had I gone into labor, my risks of uterine rupture were high.  We prayed and prayed that God would allow me to deliver, that I wouldn't need a painful surgery and the recovery while home with 3 kids who all need their mommy, but God could see the bigger picture and answered our prayers with a "no" that could have saved my life.  Second, Hannah's cord was tied in a knot.  How scary is that??  It wasn't pulled tight yet, but could have easily tightened if we had waited 2 more weeks or tried a vaginal delivery.  It's so scary to think that something so simple could have sent our world crashing down again.

I write all this because sometimes God's plan is not the natural one, because sometimes we don't need to feel guilt that we plan things out, because one birth plan is not better than another.  God showed us such incredible grace and love, directing us toward this early delivery and major surgery.  God prevented my contractions from causing dilation and allowing me to deliver as I wished, and saved the life of our child.  My heart longed for something seemingly better, but something that would have ultimately been detrimental.  It's amazing to see God's hand in every aspect of this "normal" pregnancy.  A pregnancy without any major complications, with all normal development and milestones, and yet so fragile.   Just like our boys, Hannah's life is a miracle.  And, despite the sleepless night and endless feedings, this little girl is a precious child of God and a beautiful gift entrusted to us.  I am grateful.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hannah's Birth Story - delivery

The past 2 times I have given birth it was a time filled with uncertainty, anxiety, grief, and pain.  Even with the boys, there was so much about it that was not how I planned.  I wanted my body to do more, to do better, to carry them longer.  I was rushed into surgery and couldn't even make it through the whole process without having to be sedated (though I will blame the magnesium drip on some of that craziness).  Regardless, these were my experiences: vaginal delivery into a silent room and emergency cesarean with micro preemies.  Neither ideal.

On November 3, we calmly woke up at 7 (who am I kidding, we were both up and restless long before then!) and played with the boys.  We (they) ate breakfast, played with blocks, had a great time.  My parents arrived at 9:30 and we left for the hospital at 10.  Along the way, we stopped by the NICU to drop off some more supplies for Reagan's Garden and then chatted with some of our favorite nurses from 6 weeks on Special Maternity wing.  It seemed like any other morning, relatively carefree.

There is something surreal about walking into labor and delivery to say "we're here to have a baby" without needing a wheelchair or having strong contractions.  We got all checked in, were loved on by some of the nurse managers we've met through Reagan's Garden, and lead to our room.  Room 860.  As we round the hall, I get a sinking feeling in my stomach.  I see the room, and I break down in the hallway.  This is the exact room where I delivered my precious Reagan.  This is the room where I became a mother for the first time, where I held my child in my arms for the only time, where I said goodbye.  Reagan's entire existence outside me what lived in that room.  I couldn't do it.  This day needed to be about Hannah, about joy and life.  I knew Hannah wouldn't be born in that room, but it was too much for my emotional heart to take, I couldn't even walk in the door.  We were quickly moved to another room.  And the entire nursing staff was so sweet and kind to us in the process.

Once we were settled in our room, I was able to finish reading through the Bible...we had the tail end of Revelation left for that day.  I love that Warren, Dean, and Hannah have all heard the entire Bible while in the womb.  My contractions began to pick up and were actually consistently every 4-5 minutes.  And getting stronger.  Hannah would be coming very soon with or without the scheduled c-section.

I walked into the OR to see an entire table set up with scary looking silver things - probes and scalpels and who knows what, all lined up.  Deep breath.  Okay, another deep breath.  The anesthesiologist was incredible and gave me my spinal with almost no pain whatsoever - what a drastic difference from my cerclage placement!  I had a minor freak out that I wasn't actually numb yet before I was assured that if, in fact, I was not numb, I would not be lying still on the table.  Oh, I guess things had started.  It seemed like forever, with lots of tugging and pulling, before Andrew was able to stand up to watch Hannah come out.  It took a few seconds before I heard it, but there it was: crying.  Such a sweet sound.  She was crying.  The NICU staff showed me her sweet little face before setting her on the warming table to examine her lungs (we had some low fluid levels and no amnio to confirm lung development, though we fully expected things to be good at 37.5 weeks).  She had the biggest cheeks ever!  She looked absolutely huge to me, I was a little in shock.  How could she be so big already??  She weighed in at 6 lb 11 oz, but looked so much bigger to me.  Andrew was able to hold her and go back with the staff for first bath and footprints while they continued to work on me.  I was sedated with the boys after they came out, so I don't have any memory of the closing process, but it was way longer than I thought it would be.  About 45 minutes later I was taken to recovery and able to hold my sweet Hannah for the first time.  She was beautiful, just perfect.  She has these tiny petite features, despite the big cheeks.  She has her mommy's eyes and her daddy's chin.  And then this happened...she quit crying.  She needed her mommy.  There was something so special in that, something I haven't been able to give any of my other children at birth.  The calming of a mommy's touch.  She was able to nurse right away, and I was able to cuddle with her for over an hour, working on getting my toes to move.

Hannah Grace Savant was born at 2:45pm, November 3, 2015.  She weighed 6 lb 11oz and was 20 1/4 inches long.  She is perfectly knit together in my womb, a gift from God.  We are incredibly blessed to bring home a healthy baby girl.