Writer’s Block: Learning to raise a child and maintain a new home

Staff Writer
I cover the cities of Andover, Blaine and Ramsey. I have worked at ABC Newspapers since August 2007.

I’m back in the office after a nearly one-month hiatus.

Eric Hagen
Eric Hagen

I’ve never taken so much time off work before. My longest break was two weeks on a couple of occasions when I went to Europe and Canada. This recent absence was not for a traditional vacation but to stay at home with my new baby girl, Alexis.

I’ve heard from a lot of parents that sleep will be hard to come by. But experience trumps knowledge. It’s one thing to know what to expect, but until you go through it you cannot truly understand the message.

Alexis Marie Hagen was born at 7:59 p.m. July 20. She was 5 pounds, 8.5 ounces. She was big enough to stay in our hospital room. That first night I was paranoid about every tiny sound she made. We laid her on her back as we were told, but she often managed to roll to her side. She’s been a strong lady since birth!

The next two nights were much easier. Yes, we had to wake up at least every three hours to feed her. And nurses would come in between feedings to check on my wife, Becky. But we were able to get some sleep.

The first night home was rough. I think we slept an hour. She was having trouble settling into her new surroundings. It didn’t help that the house was warm since the air conditioning in our new home was malfunctioning.

Alexis did not like being woken up but we knew she needed to eat and grow strong. She started to get more consistent about her feeding times and became our natural alarm clock.

Becoming a new parent is overwhelming enough. But we had the added challenge of moving to a new home. We moved on July 15 and Alexis was born on July 20.

Both of us have lived in townhomes for the past decade so home maintenance is a new frontier for us. The biggest adjustment is lawn maintenance. I tried to wait out mowing the lawn in an attempt to wait for a great end of the summer sale. But after a month of no mowing, the back yard looked like a jungle and I had no idea what was living in the lawn. It felt great to get that lawn mowed and I’m sure our new neighbors appreciate it as well.

We met many new neighbors at the Night to Unite party. I typically am going to parties in other neighborhoods to get pictures for ABC Newspapers. Since I was still on my one-month leave I finally got the chance to go to a block party in my own neighborhood. It was a great way to meet the neighbors and I even found someone who works for a landscaping company. We have some mole hills, a lot of weeds and a tree that is leaning too close to the house.

I came back to work on Tuesday, Aug. 15. My colleagues did an amazing job of writing content for the newspapers and keeping the websites updated. A curveball was thrown when we learned that our sports reporter was taking another job. So Mandy Moran Froemming and Olivia Alveshere have been the only full-time staff putting together the paper for most of that one month I was gone. Obviously we have some great freelancers, including Peter Bodley and Sue Austreng, but I hope people appreciate what a tremendous job Mandy and Olivia did in my absence.

It’s been a busy month but I feel so blessed. I’m really excited to continue setting Alexis’ room up and adding our own personal touches to the house. And the holidays are not that far off. My wife found a cute strawberry costume for Halloween, but we are waiting to see how big Alexis will be. It’s such an exciting time for my family!

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