Austin Family and Children Photographer | Magan's Lens » Austin Family and Children Photographer, Magan Blasig

For almost a week, I’ve had something on my mind after hearing a few remarks made by a couple with older children. Their conversation has been floating through my mind and I just need to get this out there. Here’s how part of the conversation went:

I was sitting with my back to the line at Chipotle, Everett sitting to my side and Dustyn sitting across from me, and we were enjoying a quick lunch out. The couple leans up against the half wall behind me, peers over, and sees our calm baby girl. The wife, in a very bitter tone says, “Those were the days when things were easy. Think anyone is going to tell them things are going to get more difficult?” (Come on, did she really expect me not to hear what she was saying?) The husband replied with something sarcastic and snarky, much like, “If they only knew what they’ll be going through when their baby is our kids’ age.” What’s really stood out to me, though, was the woman’s remark.

Written out, it doesn’t seem that her comment was very offensive, but I suppose I just haven’t been able to stop thinking about it because no one takes on parenthood and thinks it will be easy. No one expects a baby that sleeps through the night from the get-go. No one knows exactly what to expect when sleep schedules change or when your baby is fussy for no apparent reason. In fact, if I go back a little farther, the whole process of getting pregnant wasn’t easy. (I know it’s easier for some than others, but that just wasn’t all what I personally expected.)

And I guess that’s my point: each stage of life is completely different for everyone. And my second point: nothing can be taken at face value; things may have seemed calm with Everett on the outside, but man, we were out and about for a reason. I needed a break and some fresh air.

I would say our first three to four months felt relatively simple for us. No major complications. But the day that woman made the remark, I’d probably woken up a few times that night. Everett probably had at least an hour long stretch where she wasn’t sleeping, but was instead playing in her crib or crying, while I sat there not knowing why we were going through such a drastic sleeping change and how to get her back on schedule. I am in a mommy group on Facebook and the first few weeks of parenthood were pure hell for some. Roles have reversed. My good sleeper is now practicing her push-up and crawling form in the middle of the night in her crib.

It exhausts me to think about how often things are compared. How there’s this mindset for some that just have to do it better / suffer more / be first / always be right / have things worse than you. I wish instead we could cheer one another on and say, “Hey — you know what? You’re doing a great job.” Or, “Today might be hard, but it’ll get better.” Don’t trump what difficulties I’m suffering through with yours. Don’t one up my child’s triumphs with your baby’s successes.

Parenting is BIG and SCARY and it really does take a village.

There’s a huge, huge difference between having a conversation with a friend who needs advice and wants to know what’s worked for you and being made to feel like you’re doing something wrong when you’re simply just trying to get something off your chest. There are a million ways to do things. Probably more. Not one of them is perfect or fool-proof because no child is predictable or formulaic. And throughout this whole parenting journey, there will be highs and lows. Those lows frighten and scare me; I have no idea what lies ahead and God help me when we reach the teenage years.

But hopefully I’ll have some people on my side who are saying, “You’re doin’ good, Momma. You’re doin’ good.”

IMG 0237 The Controversy of Comparison

Because every post deserves a photo, here’s my sweet little lady. <3

  • July 17, 2014 - 3:28 pm

    Christine - You’re doing a great job, mama!! You are wonderful with E!! And I completely agree with your entire post! It’s very hard not to compare yourself or your children and when that happens usually defending yourself or your methods is quick to follow and then it seems to go downhill from there! Let’s just all get along and raise our kids the best we can! =D

  • July 17, 2014 - 8:43 pm

    Amanda - Magan, you’re doing such a great job! No matter how frustrating or tiring it gets, at the end of the day Everett is happy, healthy and very much loved! Any one of us will tell you that. We all love you and we love E! You’re not wrong about how it feels to be compared or have your baby compared, it’s awful, and it hurts and makes me angry. And it’s not easy. Cash was a breeze for a while, now he’s angry and over-tired a lot of the time because he won’t sleep. It has me at the end of my rope. But I know that someday, no matter how far off that day is, it will get better.

  • July 17, 2014 - 9:53 pm

    Kimberly - You’re doing fabulously. And I love your truth here. How much better the world would be if we all were kind. Or even encouraged strangers more often. This line of thinking in regards to comparisons also carries over to single life. Smh. It’s like people think there’s something wrong or feel compulsive pity for single folk. It’s one more thing I have to stay true to myself with and strive to not be offended by. My new line of thinking is, “Does it bother me when I’m by myself? Then it shouldn’t bother when others are around.” It’s a hard process for us highly sensitive folk, but we’ll get there. :)

Everett Third Month 01 Everett: Month Three

Things Everett Liked/Did in Month Two:

  • Airplane. She loves being lifted over our heads and raised in the air. She holds her body tight and rigid and looks down at you with big, wide eyes and a bright smile
  • She began blowing bubbles and started making the “baaaa” sound as she would try to blow bubbles. Up until this point, her sounds have been very aaaahhh sounding with the occasional times it sounds like she’s saying a “maaaa” sound. I don’t associate that “maa” sound with her trying to say “mama,” but moreso figuring out the different consonants she can say.
  • Everett loves being outside and often falls asleep when we’re on walks. She’s unsure of the wind and blinks rapidly when we’re walking on a windy day, sometimes getting fussy so I have to put the umbrella down farther to block the wind.
  • She began to like touching and grasping objects. When nursing, she loves to hold onto my shirt or hold onto a blanket when she’s in the carseat. I learned the blanket trick would help her feel calmer in the car so I typically always have an Aden + Anais muslin blanket on hand for her. Later in her third month, she really began to enjoy pulling toys up to her mouth, particularly a little elephant we have. She squawks at him (best way to describe the sound, I swear) and likes to gum the teething parts.
  • At the end of three months (three or four days before she turned 4 months), she began giggling while we were shopping in Sears. Dustyn was talking to a salesperson and I was hiding and making silly sounds. She just released the best giggles. I was thankfully able to get a video of those first little sounds. My hands have never moved so fast trying to whip out my phone.icon smile Everett: Month Three
  • She drools constantly, blows bubbles, and babbles often — has a raspy sounding voice.
  • She loves watching and smiling at other children, especially H.
  • She discovered her tongue. Her hands are constantly near her mouth, little fingers covered in drool. I took her to the doctor because I thought she had a cold and I was told everything she was experiencing was “teething.” My mom says I got my teeth really early, but so far, none for Everett. Maybe she’ll just be one of those babies that experiences the symptoms for a looooong time before one pops through.

Things Everett Disliked/Was Uncertain of in Month Two:

  • Her swaddle. I ordered the next size up in her swaddles. I tried swaddling her with one arm out, alternating the arm each time so she’d get used to a little bit of freedom. This method worked well for a few friends of mine, but Everett was really bothered by it. She would still jerk that one little arm and wake herself up. I would go back to swaddling both arms thinking she just wasn’t ready. At an appointment she had a few days before she turned four months old, our nurse practitioner, Gwen, recommended that we quit the swaddles cold turkey and stop replacing her pacifier when she dropped it at night. (This was another source of wakefulness during naps and nighttime as she put two-and-two together that she didn’t have it if she woke up.) So we did. We stopped swaddling her and for two days, things were a little bit rough, but it was a much, much easier transition that I’d build it up to be in my head. I was expecting it to take AGES for her to adapt, but she really has enjoyed the freedom. (Gwen said if they’re breaking out of the swaddles, they’re wanting to work on their motor skills development so it’s time to say adios. So glad we did!)
  • She didn’t mind being held by other people, but seemed to like to know where we are when she’s with someone else. This is definitely more of an uncertainty, not a dislike. She also really likes facing outward when she’s being held so she can observe and see other people; I find that a lot of people tend to want to snuggle her close to their bodies and she’s just a baby who likes to see the world. Once that adjustment is made, things are pretty a-okay.
  • Still not the biggest fan of tummy time. She became a pro at rolling from her stomach to her back, but cannot go the opposite way (back to belly). You’ll see in the photographs how agitated she gets when she’s on her belly too long. Silly girl!

Her Eating Schedule:

  • She continued eating every three to four hours. I tried being a little more relaxed about it as opposed to having a written schedule. I spent a few weeks during the third month not eye-balling the clock and letting her take long naps if that’s what she wanted to do. I noticed that her nap times were great – super long – but there were days she would only get in four feedings instead of five and those nights she seemed a little more restless and she would wake up earlier than normal, 5:45 instead of 6:45 or 7:00. At the end of the month, I returned to a more written routine with nursing her around 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, and 7pm for her to be in bed by 7:30pm. I mostly just made sure her days were consistent; my alarm clock was set for 7am so if she wasn’t up by then, that’s when I’d wake her to begin our day. Her bed time is nearly 7:30pm every day unless something comes up. She’s like clockwork – she begins to get fussy if we’re pushing her too late in the evenings because she’s ready for bed. However, if she’s napping and she wakes up at 10:15 and not exactly 10:00, I let her sleep. Her first and last feedings are the two I’m most rigid about.

Personal Notes:

  • Many people have described her as “very happy and calm.” She’s very go-with-the-flow and happy and smily 90% of the time. Unless she’s hungry or we’re pushing nap time, she doesn’t have a care in the world.
  • She still cannot wear shoes (her feet are too small).
  • She mostly wore size 0-3 month clothing, but because the weather is undeniably warmer, I took out and let her start wearing 3-6 month outfits. Some of the straps on the tops fall off her shoulders and I’m using smaller bottoms left over from other outfits, but it’s been really fun getting to see her in bright, summery colors. (I wish my wardrobe could be replaced as frequently as a child’s is.)
  • It was an incredible joy to celebrate Memorial Day WITH our baby girl this year; last year we found out on May 27th, after spending the day celebrating with our friends.
  • Mother’s Day was a little bit bittersweet. For someone who has been a foster mom, how do I categorize this day when that little girl isn’t with us (all the time), yet I’m spending it with my first biological child? I just had to think of it as my “First Mother’s Day with Everett.” It was amazing, however, that we got to spend that whole weekend with H. We went swimming, took her to see cows on my parent’s property, and let her feed fish. That little girl absolutely LOVES the outdoors and I love being able to let her have the freedom to roam and explore. I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend, and H’s mom was so sweet to think of me and give me a really sweet Mother’s Day gift.
  • I’m terrible at remembering to put Everett’s amber teething necklace on her every day. Terrible. I tend to leave it next to her little bath or take it off in her bedroom when we’re preparing for her bath and…well, I’m just not consistent. She’s a huge drooler when she doesn’t wear it so you’d think I would learn, but this is just something I need to get better at doing. I do believe it helps.
  • Seeing her in the crib without her swaddle makes me feel…sad. It’s a sign of a milestone we’ve hit and something that’s in the past. She likes the freedom and the option to move. While we were swaddling her, as it got warmer, we were only putting her in a onesie inside the swaddle. I felt like I had all of these adorable pajamas we weren’t getting much use out of because I didn’t want her to be too warm. Well, they’re for sure getting used now. Inevitably every morning she spits up on the pajamas she’s wearing during her very first feeding of the day. It’s like she knows if she does that, she gets to temporarily be a naked baby.icon wink Everett: Month Three
  • We saw both the appearance of a pretty significant bald spot on the back of her head (from sleeping on her back in her swaddle and somehow still managing to scoot all over her crib) and the disappearance of her hair this month. It’s still absurd she had as much hair as she did when she was born; I do love her round little fuzzy head very much now though!
  • Where we are with our foster daughter, H: her biological mom has continued to let us see her every other week. There’s only been one exception so far and that’s because I was photographing back to back weddings the weekend we were supposed to see her. We took H to dinner and spent the early evening with her before returning her home. She still refers to us as Momma (or Mommy) and Daddy. We try to incorporate our names so that she’s aware of who we are; we’ve never been certain if her family knows that’s what she calls us. Now that she’s back home, we’re a little uncertain what exactly is best for her. She’s so incredibly happy when she gets to see us. Every single time I am just so incredibly thankful for that little bit of extra time I get to spend with her and see the little girl she’s becoming.

Everett Third Month 29 Everett: Month ThreeEverett Third Month 30 Everett: Month ThreeEverett Third Month 31 Everett: Month ThreeEverett Third Month 32 Everett: Month ThreeEverett Third Month 33 Everett: Month ThreeEverett Third Month 34 Everett: Month ThreeEverett Third Month 35 Everett: Month ThreeEverett Third Month 36 Everett: Month ThreeEverett Third Month 37 Everett: Month Three

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While I have a little bit of time, I’m going to attempt to get caught up on these blog posts! (eep.) I’ve been keeping track of notes in post drafts, but it’s sitting down to look at the photographs I’ve taken that is holding me back from publishing them. One of my biggest complaints about myself at this point is I don’t feel like I’m capturing enough with my professional camera. My darn iPhone already catches her eye. So help me if I’m feeding her and hold my phone. She loses interest in eating and tries to see what I’m doing. (How in the world do these things happen at such a young age??)

Perhaps the reason I’ve been prolonging this post for so long is because it’s probably going to be the toughest for me to write. As I’m sitting here looking through photographs to share, I’m remembering this month more and more. It all boils down to this:

Everett’s second month of life is the month our foster daughter, H, returned to her bio family (just one week shy of us having her in our home for a year).

There are so many beautiful, wonderful, amazing memories I have with Everett. Things I felt so, so proud of her for accomplishing. I felt like I connected and bonded with her more and more. But at the same time, 10 days into that month, my heart just felt like it was ripped from my chest. I was clinging onto the final days with H. Feeling conflicted over how to make her feel as absolutely loved as possible before we said goodbye to her. She didn’t realize what was happening. She didn’t know why we were sitting on the floor singing the ABCs and tears were streaming down my cheeks.

She had no idea.

I was so nervous about what things were going to be like for her, but I ultimately felt like this prayer just wasn’t answered for me. I had been on bended knee praying for this little girl to stay in our home so we could make her a permanent part of our family. And it wasn’t happening. I felt so conflicted that I wanted her to stay because her mom had done all she needed to. Why was it so hard for me to let go of this child when the courts thought this was in her best interest? I cried and cried and cried. And I still am. And I still do. A big, big piece of my heart is with H.

In Everett’s second month, we said goodbye to H. We packed our car with all of H’s things. We attached a little trailer to the back of our car so we could take those things that didn’t fit inside. (I’ll share a photo below. It was quite a site for those also driving down I-35 that day, I’m sure.) We ate all of her favorite things; let her snuggle in our bed more than usual. We held on tight. We took lots of photos, many of which I had teary eyes.

That will forever be one of the hardest moments of my entire life. I’m typing it and remembering it and God, it hurts so bad. I just ache for that beautiful little girl. We dropped her off and there were promises made that we would be allowed to see her and stay in her life. I wasn’t sure if that would be true. I hoped and prayed it would be. I was scared and nervous and sad and heartbroken.

Without friends and family, I don’t know how we would have survived through the days and weeks that followed. I sat on the couch a lot and cuddled and held my beautiful baby girl, E, that I was so immensely thankful for. I clung to her. I happily ate the Tiff’s Treats friends sent our way, and desperately tried to figure out how to piece myself back together. Emotionally, I just didn’t know what to do with myself. Everything else seemed so minor by comparison. I felt like I had completely lost a piece of myself.

Within days of H returning to her family, I told Dustyn that we needed to make the nursery into Everett’s room so that it didn’t become a room I never visited. I felt like I needed to entirely rip off the bandaid and transition Everett into the room so that it wasn’t just tied to every memory of H. I packed up the remainder of her things that we didn’t send. I filled the drawers with E’s clothes, and placed her diapers in the changing table. The toddler bed was reverted to a crib for Everett. At five weeks, we began having her sleep in her own room as opposed to continuing to sleep in ours.

That was not only good for me emotionally, to see that space become hers, but it also helped all of us get more sleep. We were keeping her awake — I’m a tosser and turner, Dustyn’s a snorer. Everett is a grunter and whimpers sometimes while she’s asleep. Our stretches of sleep gradually moved away from five to six hours to sometimes ten hours, and by eight weeks, a full 11 or 12 hours.

Magans Lens Everett Month Two Notes 10 Everett: Month Two

I shed a lot, lot, lot of tears this month. Every time I thought about H leaving us, I would break down and cry.

Magans Lens Everett Month Two Notes 11 Everett: Month Two

Beginning to pack H’s things was the most difficult thing; I didn’t know what to send, what to keep. I wanted to give her everything. I wanted her to have absolutely everything I could, but it wasn’t very logistical.

Magans Lens Everett Month Two Notes 13 Everett: Month Two

Our car packed full of H’s things with this little trailer attached so we could take her cars. She received these as gifts for Christmas and her birthday. :)

Magans Lens Everett Month Two Notes 12 Everett: Month Two

We did a little “Who does your baby look like?” game in my mommy Facebook group. I submitted this. The answer was a resounding “Daddy!” :)

Magans Lens Everett Month Two Notes 01 Everett: Month TwoMagans Lens Everett Month Two Notes 02 Everett: Month TwoMagans Lens Everett Month Two Notes 03 Everett: Month Two

Magans Lens Everett Month Two Notes 14 Everett: Month Two

Magans Lens Everett Month Two Notes 04 Everett: Month TwoMagans Lens Everett Month Two Notes 05 Everett: Month TwoMagans Lens Everett Month Two Notes 06 Everett: Month TwoMagans Lens Everett Month Two Notes 07 Everett: Month TwoMagans Lens Everett Month Two Notes 08 Everett: Month Two

Magans Lens Everett Month Two Notes 15 Everett: Month Two

The nursery transitioned to Everett’s room.

Things Everett Liked/Did in Month Two:

  • She began rolling over from her tummy to her back. She began to tolerate tummy time just a little bit more.
  • She had a little bit better head control and wasn’t so wobbly. She loved peeking over the shoulder of whomever was holding her so she could people watch. She lost a big of interest in being held as snuggly as she did before.
  • Her activity mat was a continued hit. She began to have better aim when reaching for the objects and trying to grab things.
  • We purchased this fisher price chair and used it in tandem with the Bumbo. The FP chair gave her a bit more support because the back of it goes higher than the Bumbo does. She loved sitting in it and watching people; she did not use the toys or even care that they were there at this point.
  • Her swing. She drastically changed from not really caring to be in this thing to enjoying it and cooing while she was in it. I didn’t keep her in there a whole, whole lot, but it was a huge lifesaver when I was pumping and could not hold her while doing so.
  • She began smiling A lot. She is the happiest little lady to wake up in the morning. She would see my face when I approached the crib and bust out big, big smiles. Best. Feeling. Ever.
  • She loved being talked to. And she tried to talk back. She would very happily make lots of ooohs and ahhhs back at me.

Things Everett Disliked/Was Uncertain of in Month Two:

  • Her two month shots. I mean… that whole process was just a terrible few days. Seriously. Fevers, clinginess, broke out in a rash all over her face. Took her back to the doctor, thought she had eczema, etc. She screamed bloody murder when she got the shots and cried herself to sleep on the way home. BROKE MY HEART.
  • Her swaddleEvery night she became a swaddle-ninja and would escape. Sometimes she would sleep just fine if her arms moved in her swaddle, and others we’d have to go back in and redo it. That thing was a blessing and a curse.
  • She hated the carseat. Unless she had a pacifier she wasn’t happy. If we were both in the car, one of us needed to sit in the back with her. We had a mirror and toys for her, but they didn’t seem to phase her. She wanted to see someone, and would often spit her pacifier out when she was happy again, but then that upset her because she didn’t have it anymore. It was a cycle.

Her Eating Schedule:

  • At her two month checkup, her doctor advised me to stop doing a middle of the night feeding and to send Daddy in to soothe her. He said her weight-gain was on target and she was over the necessary weight to be able to sleep through the night. Dustyn was on board so I stopped going in to feed her and this magically helped her stop waking and we moved to sleeping through the night completely. (Aside from those darn swaddle ninja nights.)
  • Her doctor also advised me to stop waking her to eat at 3 hour intervals and to let her sleep and wake up on her own, but to not let her go more than four hours without eating. I felt a little bit of freedom in not having to constantly watch the clock as closely, but continued to track everything in an app to make sure she was eating frequently enough.

Personal Notes:

  • I continued regularly going to wound care two times a week for my open incision. They tried to insert a vacuum pack to help it heal faster, but within hours of having it inserted, I called Dustyn in tears from the extreme amount of pain and discomfort it was causing me. It was more painful to have it in than to be without it. We went to an emergency clinic and had them dope me up on some morphine so I could have it removed. I decided it was best for me to not have that to carry around, even though they said it would potentially help me heal faster.
  • This month I felt like we got on a good, good routine. I finally began to understand Everett’s cues a little bit more. I could tell when she was sleepy and what she was needing without feeling like I needed to go through a big mental checklist to figure it out.
  • She wore newborn clothes until about 6 or 7 weeks, then transitioned to 0-3 month clothes. (I cried while packing up the newborn outfits.)
  • She began to recognize our voices and could figure out what general area we were in in a room, especially later in the month when she was able to turn her head a little bit better.
  • I began doing walks around our neighborhood, albeit very short ones. My incision still didn’t feel the best, but I was feeling super caged in and needed to get out!
  • Three weeks after H returned to her bio mom, she was allowed to spend the night with us! That day felt like the best day ever. I was excited and elated and on cloud nine the entire time! I hadn’t been sure if we would continue to get to see her or if those would be empty promises. That relationship is something I’ll continue to write about in upcoming posts as it progresses, but I guess my final note is that despite knowing as a foster parent that we could “lose” her, it was difficult and hard. But as I sit here today, I still wonder if we should continue. We’re inactive right now, but part of my heart still feels like maybe this isn’t the end for us. So all that hurt and chaos we experienced above, and all those tears I’ve shed, they’re not for nothing. That little girl shaped and molded me into the mom I am today. I have some of the best memories because of her. There are other kids that might need us too. I’m not entirely sure our foster care journey is over; this last year wasn’t for nothing. Maybe I felt like my prayers weren’t answered in regards to adopt H specifically, but many others were. Many.

Two Month Stats:

Weight: 11 lbs. 8 oz. (58th percentile)
Height: 22.8″ long (67th percentile)
Head Circumference: 15.2 in. (58th percentile)

Magans Lens Everett Month Two Notes 09 Everett: Month Two

  • June 11, 2014 - 4:15 pm

    Katie - Of course I’m in tears reading about sweet H because I know how much you love that little girl and how much we all miss her. I love how open and honest you are in your posts – you show what motherhood is really like and truly about. I’m so thankful to have you as a friend and a role model to look up to in a few months when I enter the world of mommy-hood :) *hugs* friend!

  • June 11, 2014 - 11:34 pm

    Dianne - Tears here too. Just beautiful. We love and miss H too! xxoo

  • June 11, 2014 - 11:36 pm

    Dianne - And we love Everett too! What a beautiful little doll.

  • June 17, 2014 - 11:03 am

    Ellice Y - Magan, I followed this blog a while back when you shared some of the gorgeous wedding photos you took on Twitter, and today as I was going through Bloglovin, I clicked on this post and began to read. I’m sitting here in tears at work (they are literally rolling down my cheeks–I’m trying to act normal so no one will ask why). Thank you for sharing your story; it touched my heart so much, Magan. I can’t even begin to imagine the many emotions that you have felt, happiness and sorrow at the same time. H is such a lucky child to have you and your husband in her life. And Everett–what a doll! She is such a beautiful little girl (and I can definitely see some of her momma’s features as well as her daddy’s!). Isn’t it amazing how fast they grow and change? I don’t have one of my own yet, but one of my best friends had a little boy in February of this year, and I’m constantly amazed at how much he changes every time I see him.

    I enjoyed reading this post, friend. I can’t wait to see more updates from your sweet family :)

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.

First Month With Everett 01 Everett: Month One

(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.

First Month With Everett 02 Everett: Month One

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.

First Month With Everett 03 Everett: Month One

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.

First Month With Everett 04 Everett: Month One

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.

First Month With Everett 05 Everett: Month One

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.

First Month With Everett 06 Everett: Month One

(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.

First Month With Everett 07 Everett: Month One

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.

First Month With Everett 08 Everett: Month One

Photographs taken by our great and very talented friend, James Dvorscak. My hair and makeup done by Angela Parker of LucieMarie.

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.

Personal Notes:

  • 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)

First Month With Everett 10 Everett: Month OneFirst Month With Everett 11 Everett: Month One

IMG 9595 Everett: Month OneIMG 9636 Everett: Month One

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…

  • May 7, 2014 - 11:18 am

    Katie - You are such a great mom and that little girl is SO loved. I know I was there while you were going through all of these emotions and my heart was breaking for you…but reading your recap of it all really made me realize how wonderful and amazing and STRONG you are. You are truly one of a kind and a great mother (and friend)and E and H are so so lucky to have you in their lives <3

It seems apparent that it’s been a long, long time since I updated this blog. It has been. A lot has changed in the last year. We were foster parents. I was pregnant. I had a baby girl. Life… us… everything has changed. I wrote for a little while on a completely separate blog about trying to get pregnant and then for a while throughout my pregnancy. Unfortunately I didn’t make it beyond journaling past the halfway mark of my pregnancy. While I was going through the hurt of trying to get pregnant, I wrote anonymously. I decided that maybe someone might want to look at that for encouragement so I’ve actually decided to “close” that blog and imported everything into this one. SO.. that being said, you can now go back in time and read what pains/struggles/hurts/triumphs/etc. I was feeling.

There’s so much to update you on that I’m just going to start with Everett’s birth. I can’t possibly go back farther than that to really remember things correctly. Being pregnant, even 11 weeks ago, seems like a distant memory. I miss it so terribly much because it felt like such an extreme privilege and pleasure. I think all that sadness built up over time while we tried to get pregnant that when it FINALLY happened, I could feel nothing but pure joy.

Let’s start with February 2nd, though. Or maybe February 1st since that’s when my contractions began. Our next door neighbor, Jax, turned two and there was a big birthday party for him that day. We attended the party. I felt nothing. No signs or symptoms. I sat on the floor and played with our 18 month old foster daughter. Fast forward to that afternoon and we went out to lunch with some of our other neighborhood friends. Again, nothing. No Braxton Hicks contractions. Nothing. In fact, I had a c-section scheduled for February 5th because our doctor thought Baby Blasig was going to have trouble with my potentially small pelvis. I was a little bit mourning the idea of possibly not going into labor on my own. I wanted to feel that rush of telling Dustyn, “OH MY GOSH! I think this is it!”

After dinner, we played with our foster daughter in her Little Tykes car. We took a very, very small walk around the neighborhood. We weren’t gone long, but on that walk…I started to drag. I couldn’t keep up with them. I felt slow. Things in my body seemed shifty, and maybe every now and then I’d have a little contraction, but I really thought it was such a busy day that I was maybe a bit dehydrated. Signal me going home and beginning to guzzle water. I relaxed on the couch, curled up with a book or watched TV (which of those, I can’t remember – maybe both). Around 10:30PM, I told Dustyn I was for sure having contractions. I opened my app on my phone and began keeping track of them. They weren’t nearly close enough to head to the hospital; at that point, they were approximately 30 minutes apart. This is the point where I consciously decided to stop eating and continued to drink water. I knew if I did go into labor and needed a c-section for sure, I would need to not have eaten.

My contractions continued, but we tried to get some rest. Like normal, we went to bed, but I laid in bed until maybe 1am. The contractions were getting closer and closer. I couldn’t sleep. I’m not sure if it was the pain or the excitement. I took a shower to try to relax my body, again still a bit in denial that I was actually going into labor. I sat in bed while Dustyn snored away. (Seriously, the man had no idea that I had yet to sleep or that my contractions were getting closer together. I remember looking at him and thinking, “How can he possibly be sleeping!?”) I woke him up after my shower and we continued to wait things out. By 2:30, my contractions were approximately every 14-15 minutes apart. In a few hours, the time had halved. We decided to call our parents to let them know what was happening; they live approximately an hour to an hour and a half away so we knew they’d want to make their way to Austin quickly. They all arrived sometime around 5:30 or so. When they got to our house, my contractions were 5-6 minutes apart. That’s around the time the nurse had said to head to the hospital when I took my birthing class; Dustyn did call to let them know we were on our way and also asked what to do since I had a c-section scheduled. They told us to check-in like normal so we packed up and headed to the hospital. (This, of course, was after we phoned our neighbor Justin who so graciously gave up his Sunday morning of sleeping in to come to our house to take care of our foster daughter. We didn’t want to disrupt her schedule so she spent Super Bowl Sunday hanging out with Justin and his wife, Katie, once she returned home from an out-of-town trip.)

At the hospital, they confirmed that I was 3 cm dilated and that my contractions were about every 5 minutes apart. They kept me for a while after being checked in to see how I progressed. In an hour I had progressed to a 4. They then had Dustyn and I walk circles around the delivery floor for an hour to keep the contractions progressing. This was like the Hour From Hell. Really one of the most painful that I remember. I would walk and a contraction would hit. I would lean against the wall or squat until the pain passed, then continue walking. The nurses joked with me that I was a “waller.” They said they liked watching how each woman responded to the contractions. I just don’t know what else I could have done. It was so difficult to walk through them!

Everett Blasigs Birth 01 Introducing Everett, Our Daughter

While we were doing our circles, I told Dustyn that we needed to take my very last bump picture. Though I didn’t blog all of my weekly photos, I did continue taking them. I looked quite a mess – crazy hair, no makeup, and the awesome, awesome hospital gowns. My expression says it all (as you can see above). After walking for the hour, they rechecked me and I had progressed more, my contractions intensifying so much that by the time they got me to my room, I was ready for my epidural. I debated so much whether or not I wanted to try to labor without one and let me simply say that I am so, so glad I decided to do it. (aside from the itching – a side effect of it that was super irritating). They checked me into the room at I-don’t-even-know-what-time. Maybe 10-something? I have no recollection of time. It seemed to pass by so quickly. I’m sure it didn’t feel that way for everyone waiting, but things just moved so fast for me. I suppose that’s good because my body eventually stalled out.

They gave me pitocin to help me continue to labor. My contractions got so close and intense that they hit a threshold where they couldn’t even increase the pitocin anymore. I remember the nurses twisting and turning me in just about every position known to man. (That’s something I suppose I didn’t realize pre-labor. Labor is like a painful version of horizontal yoga.) My right leg was completely numb from the epidural. I had zero control over it so moving into any position felt incredibly difficult. I felt so bare naked and minute by minute was losing any bit of modesty I walked into the hospital with that morning. The nurses had to help me with practically everything. Dustyn was a trooper and made sure I was propped comfortably and became a pro at maneuvering the position of the pillows.

I remember starving. I hadn’t eaten anything since approximately 6pm the evening before (unless I had snacked on something small between that time and 10:30pm) when we went out with our friends. The nurses brought me popsicles (the delicious rainbow Bluebell ones – sweet heaven!). I felt so tired and wanted to sleep so badly, but there was also so much anxiousness. I wanted to be aware of what was happening, to talk with the people who were there waiting with us (my mom, my grandmothers, my sister-in-law, Leslie). Sleep felt so difficult. I think I faded in and out for a while. My awesome Ob/Gyn wasn’t available to deliver our baby (who if I didn’t mention it yet, we did not know the gender of). We had the on-call doctor who pretty much from the beginning tried pushing a c-section. I discussed wanting to try to have her naturally with my nurses who were the best supporters a girl could ask for. They were very much on my team. I had been told that maybe my pelvis was too narrow, but another doctor told me she thought I’d be just fine. No one could say precisely until I was in labor, so we just waited it out.

I got to a delusional point though where my hunger and tiredness began to really affect me. Probably between 9 and 10pm (again, these times are just estimates because I don’t remember exactly) I began throwing up. The doctor was brought back in to check me again and he pretty much told me that our baby’s head was at an angle that wasn’t going to allow me to have her naturally. All the twisting and turning I’d been doing hadn’t made the baby move. At 11pm, the call was made that I would be having a c-section. At that point, all I wanted was to hold my baby.

Everett Blasigs Birth 02 Introducing Everett, Our Daughter

I should probably note that these are all iPhone photos so excuse the poor quality. Dustyn needed a little assistance getting into his scrubs.

Everett Blasigs Birth 03 Introducing Everett, Our Daughter

Once Dustyn was dressed, we took one last photograph of “just the two of us” before I was wheeled away. Don’t I look fabulous? (insert eye roll)

Very, very quickly, Dustyn was dressed for the operating room and I was whisked away. More drugs were pumped into me. My arms were stretched to my sides. I was so, so, so out of it. This part all feels like a dream. I don’t remember it much at all. The photographs from this time make me cry and the ideas I had of what it would be like to hold my new baby weren’t how it felt at all. I felt very not-in-control of my body. I continued to feel nauseous. No one told me that the surgery was actually beginning. I vaguely remember feeling tugging, but no pain. We knew that she had swallowed meconium in the womb so there was no big “first cry” moment because they wanted to prevent her from swallowing more.

In summary: Everett’s birth happened very, very quickly.

Once she was born, they allowed Dustyn to peek his head over the curtain to announce the gender. The doctor was a little bit of a jerk because he gave Dustyn a hard time not begin able to see properly thanks to the umbilical cord, therefore making it difficult to say if we had a baby girl or boy. So the doctor announced it for us and made a bad joke about Dustyn. (Grr.) I was 99% sure we were having a boy. I am positive I’d even began to think of the baby as our chosen baby boy’s name. I was shocked, SHOCKED, SHOCKED when they announced girl. They whisked her away to take care of the meconium, clean her up, and weigh her. Dustyn brought her over to me as I was being stitched up and I tried so, so hard to hold her. I had zero control of my arms. The angle was awkward. It wasn’t that amazing moment I dreamed of, holding my baby girl for the first time. I cried. I cried because I was so excited. Because we had a daughter. I cried because I wasn’t in control over my body. Even because I was exhausted – emotionally and physically. The drugs were completely knocking me out. All I could think of was sleep, beyond the fact that my daughter was healthy and safely delivered.

I did ask that instead of her being taken to the nursery that she be transported to the delivery room with me. Due to the hour, nearly midnight, this made it impossible for our families to see her that night. Dustyn was able to go to the waiting room to announce her arrival, but everyone had to end up going back to our house because I needed to recover for an hour, attempt to nurse her, and then Everett’s blood sugar level continued to dip below the number they wanted it to be at. I tried breastfeeding her in the recovery room, but again, it felt like an out-of-body experience. I couldn’t hold her well because my arms were jello. I kept slipping into a light slumber and didn’t even feel it was safe for me to be holding her. When they told us skin-to-skin time was needed to help improve her blood sugar level, I asked Dustyn to do it because I just had no control over my body. She was so adorably tucked into his t-shirt where they sat for a while. And I slept. We weren’t actually wheeled to our room until approximately 4am. Maybe 5.

The nurses took Everett to the nursery after we arrived to give Dustyn and I a little bit of time to sleep. We were back up by 8am, anxious to see our baby girl, and ready for our parents and foster daughter to visit so they could meet our sweet baby girl.

We are so incredibly excited to be parents to this little girl. Nearly every day it catches me off guard that she’s ours. I think a little bit of my mindset needs to be altered because as we were foster parents for a year, I continually thought about her returning home and being reunited with her bio family. I remember one day, maybe in week two of being home with Everett, turning to Dustyn and tearfully telling him that no one was going to take this baby girl from us. There would be no worry that she would leave us. That was a huge revelation for me because it opened my eyes to the incredible amount of anxiety I’d felt for a year as I fell in love with and bonded incredibly with a little girl who did return to her family.

But that’s a whole ‘nother story. I suppose this is as good as any stopping point to introduce you to our baby girl, Everett Hayes Blasig.

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Everett Hayes Blasig
Date of Birth: February 2, 2014 at 11:53PM
Weight: 7lbs., 9oz.
Length: 19.5″
Notes: We were so, so shocked to have a daughter. Also, she was born with hair. A head full of it!