Ideally, I would love, love, love to keep up with Everett’s growth and triumphs and difficulties month-by-month so I can look back on them and reminisce (and possibly cry over how much she’s grown one day in the not-so-distant-future). Since I’m getting a late start, I feel like these first few entries are going to be a little sparse as I try to remember some of the finer details.
(Left): Our tiny little girl in her great big carseat as we were being checked out of the hospital (St. David’s) to go home! (Right): The stork our neighbor’s put in our front yard to greet us when we arrived home!
A lot about this particular post is just…blurry. So much was going on for us in the first five weeks of Everett’s life: the first five weeks of her life were the last five weeks we had with our foster daughter, H.
Let’s talk about a mixed bag of emotions. I’m pretty sure everyone I’m close to (plus complete strangers who had been keeping up with our story via twitter/instagram/etc.) were completely worried out of their minds for me. While I can look back at that time now and see how God’s hand was working through the timing of everything, I definitely wasn’t so sure while I was living through it. Never ever in my life have I been such an emotional mess. Post-pregnancy hormones. Losing-a-child emotions. Sleep deprivation. You name it, I was feeling it.
Everett, just days old, being watched and adored by H.
Oh, and on top of allllll of that, Dustyn got the flu. I got the flu. My c-section incision decided to open up. (Yuck and ouch.) And we spent three days in Dell Children’s Hospital with Everett because her fever spiked above 100.4.
Her first pacifier attempt at Dell Children’s — this was the only time she kept the soothie pacifiers in her mouth. Since then she’s not been a fan.
How tiny she was in her great big bed, hooked up to an IV and tons of other chords. It was so difficult to even hold her because I was so afraid to hurt her.
Everett’s first Valentine’s Day was spent in Dell Children’s Hospital. Scariest parental moment ever.
Had our neighbors and friends not rallied together to provide meals for us and had people not checked in to make sure we were surviving and had my mom not come to basically live with us for a little while after Dustyn went back to work, I DO NOT KNOW how we would have survived. I tried to keep my emotions in check and soak up every single moment of being a brand new mommy to a newborn, something I hadn’t experienced before. But I also tried to be the person that H needed me to be and I wanted her to leave our house feeling loved and taken care of and attended to. Sure, she was 19 months old and might not have been cognizant of those things. But I most certainly didn’t want her to feel unloved or replaced by Everett. I am 99% sure this is something that any mother might experience as they’re about to have biological baby number two or adopt baby number two, but those emotions, they absolutely overwhelmed me.
(Left) Snuggling in the Solly Baby Wrap (Right) Her first smile captured on camera – 2/21/14
How, how, how do mothers do this? How do foster parents say goodbye? How does a mom simply adjust to becoming a mother to a newborn? All of those things can be hypothetically prepared for, but there’s nothing you can do until you’re in the thick of it, trying to take it all in stride. There are photographs of me sitting with my new baby girl, holding her in my arms, on the floor playing with H…crying. We were singing the ABCs. She was happy. She wiped away my tears. But me? I was a complete basket-case desperately trying to hold it together.
2/24/14 — so full of expression! And those yawns! :)
Everett’s first month was a very, very hard one. I loved EVERY minute of becoming her mother and having her there, but if I’m absolutely honest, which I’m going to be, I was so sad to not be pregnant anymore. I missed feeling her in my belly. It felt like this private little connection that we had. And once she was born, time seemed to be going in superspeed, rushing toward the day H would be reunified with her family. I was so absolutely conflicted all the time. What was I supposed to focus on? Was I being attentive to the right little human? Was I doing everything I could? And oh my gosh, I was so tired.
Let’s discuss all the new things you learn as a mom. Starting with the big one: breastfeeding.
My recommendation to any new mom is to call the lactation consultants to your room absolutely every day you’re in the hospital. Seriously. I don’t care if you think you’ve got things figured out or if you’re too shy to show your girls. Talk to them. They’re really good at what they do and figuring out how to feed your baby is not easy. Even though I thought I had a pretty decent handle on things when we left the hospital the first time, I was still healing from all the times she latched incorrectly while we were in the hospital. And then we went to Dell Children’s Hospital. It had been my goal not to have Everett drink from a bottle or take a pacifier for a few weeks so there would be no nipple confusion. Well, when your baby is in the hospital and they need her to take medicine and the best way to do that is by having her simultaneously suck on a pacifier, gosh darn it, that’s what you’re going to do. We broke all my “rules.”
And guess what happened? Serious nipple confusion and lots of breastfeeding backpedaling.
But you know what, we left that hospital (after not really finding out what was happening with her other than being told it could have been viral or she could have gotten the flu, too) and our baby girl was on the mend. Yes, I sat on the floor in the middle of the night trying to feed her, held her in my arms, rocked back and forth, and cried over the pain. Yes, it hurt. Yes, she was screaming. No, I wasn’t enjoying my decision to breastfeed at that point and very seriously considered waking Dustyn up to make a middle of the night run to Wal-Mart to purchase formula.
But my husband – God love him – remembered that we came home with a nipple shield from St. David’s. He brought it to me and I swear that thing saved me from ditching breastfeeding altogether. It didn’t completely take the pain away, but it helped me heal. It didn’t make everything suddenly get better, but it made it bearable. We did have some issues getting her to stop using that thing later on, but we made it through.
That first five weeks, we had H in the nursery. We’d made the decision while I was pregnant to not transition our guest bedroom into another children’s room. What if H didn’t end up staying with us and then the room was unnecessary for a while? Well, that’s where things went with her case. We didn’t need a second bedroom so we kept E in our bedroom in a rock-n-play. Those few weeks were really difficult. I was so used to H’s little sounds and noises, but learning E’s were really rough. It felt like I was just floating from day to day and time was flying by. Seriously… a blur.
But at her two-week check-up, I was advised by her doctor that it was okay for me to stop waking her up every three hours at night and let her wake me up. We went from every three hours to having a decent five to six hour stretch in there. (**Please note that I’m not providing any medical advice here or telling you what to do. I know there will be people who disagree with things I’m going to write about, but I’m journaling our experience, not providing how-tos because I’m not a medical professional.) Getting that little bit of extra sleep felt so incredibly heavenly. Suddenly instead of feeling like we’d just finished the previous feeding and she was eating again, I found myself missing her and really looking forward to that next time we’d get to snuggle up together. I felt like I was a better mom because I wasn’t as much of a groggy mess.
Things Everett Liked/Did in Month One:
- Eating. Never have we had to coax this child into being ready for her next meal. I lovingly referred to her as a barracuda in these first few weeks because she was pretty vicious and adamant about eating!
- Being swaddled. She loved tucking her little body into a tiny little ball. She kept her arms close by her sides and her knees pulled up tight. Some people say swaddling wasn’t for their child, but Everett loved (and still does at 3 months) that feeling of closeness and security.
- Bath time. I desperately wanted to begin a bedtime routine with her from day one, something along the lines of: bath time, change into PJs, last feeding, and read a book. BUT, I was advised not to bathe her but maybe once or twice a week so we’d try our best with this and just wipe her down on those off-nights. We were given the 4Moms bathtub and it’s absolutely amazing! She loved sitting in the bathtub, kicking those little feet, but man alive! Getting out, where it was cold, and then being changed into PJs was terrible!
- Her Fisher Price activity mat. Near the end of the month we took this out of the box and she would stare at the little birds as they circled by and occasionally a hand would make contact with one of the toys hanging down. I don’t think she knew that she was controlling her arms, but the music and visual stimulation was great for her!
Things Everett Disliked/Was Uncertain of in Month One:
- Clothes and diaper changes. Goodness – every single time we would change this baby girl’s diaper or clothes, you would think we were hurting her. She would scream and scream. Eventually the diapers got better and that stopped being as much of an issue by the end of the month, but clothes? No way, no how.
- Her wubanub pacifier. We’d heard great, great things about the soothies pacifiers. We immediately bought her two of them when we got home from the hospital (Dell) and try as we might, this little girl does not love them. (Even now.) She keeps it in her mouth for a few seconds and pops it out. Her favorites are the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature pacifiers.
- Falling asleep in the rock-n-play. This little lady would happily fall asleep in our arms. She loved it. As soon as we’d start that downward descent to put her in the rock-n-play, all bets were off. Her eyes would pop open and the process of soothing her would start all over. This didn’t really seem to improve until we transitioned her to her actual crib (at five weeks).
- Her carseat. Once those straps start wrapping around her little arms, Cryfest 2014 begins.
- Her swing. It took some getting used to on her part to enjoy being in her swing. We got the 4Moms Mamaroo, which we love because it’s quiet and doesn’t take up a ton of space, but she definitely enjoyed being held more than swinging for a hot minute during that first month. (Especially after 6PM until her bedtime – she preferred being wrapped up in the Solly Baby wrap with me than being in the swing while we ate dinner.)
- Tummy time. More appropriately called torture time. There’s photographic proof below of how much she despised it.
Her Eating Schedule:
- Until two weeks, she ate every 2.5-3 hours.
- At two weeks, her doctor advised us to let her wake us to eat after her bedtime feeding (which we tried to make around 7:30pm every night). This would mean she would eat at 7:30 PM and then she’d sleep 5-6 hours, wake around 1:30AM and then maybe wake again at 4:30AM, and finally be up for the day around 7:30AM. During the day we were told to keep waking her throughout the day so she’d learn day from night, would eat the majority of her calories during the day, and it would break her sleep cycle to help her regulate. That being said, I fed her every three hours during the day.
- My incision opened up about a week after having Everett. I don’t know the exact date or how or when or why. But it happened. And fluid happened. Oh, and tons and tons of pain. I was going to the doctor for myself multiple times a week during this first month. I was referred to a wound care specialist three weeks post-partum so they could treat me and help my wound heal “faster.” Ha. For the first two weeks of seeing this specialist, I went to appointments three times a week to have them pack the incision. The following week transitioned to twice a week.
- I need to get better about taking more photographs with my “real” camera as opposed to just defaulting to my iPhone. I feel pathetic when I look back at the few number of photos I took with my professional camera. Sigh.
One Month Stats:
Weight: 9 lbs. 6 oz. (50th percentile)
Height: 21″ long (39th percentile)
Head Circumference: 14.6 in. (61st percentile)
And so much for being a woman of few words. Apparently I had a lot to say, as I’m sure I will for month two! Until next time…