Monday, April 21, 2014

Six Months in Pictures

So much has happened in the last six months. I can not believe our baby is half a year old. Time has flown by so fast, and yet on the other hand I hardly remember life before Chase. What a rollercoaster his life has been so far. 
Just days before his unexpected arrival, I thought I has 11 weeks of puking left to do. I had *finally* started showing and was excited to sport the belly.
But on October 7th, we welcomed the tiniest little person I ever did see. And though he was tiny, he was perfect. We named him Chase Albert and knew he'd be OK, but had NO IDEA what the road ahead of us held. 
The first few days were mostly a blur as we struggled to learn the medical terminology that now flooded our lives. So many prayers and well-wishes came our way. 
Nearly a week after we welcomed our little miracle, I got to hold him in my arms for the first time. I can't put into words how I was changed that day-but it was incredible. 
For two months, we watched him take steps forward and backwards. He had a bowel infection, a blood infection, a spinal meningitis scare, several blood transfusions, digestive problems, acid reflux, more apnea and bradycardia than I can count- several oxygen desats, and despite ALL of this, he has thrived. 
I had a new relationship in my life- with a breast pump. Every two hours, around the clock, for two months. I was determined for him to get the breastmilk his fragile body so desperately needed and I clung to the LAST detail of my postpartum experience that had not been thrown away. I got quite the freezer stash going- most of which has since been donated to mothers of adopted babies. 
On December 4th, 8.5 weeks after his birth, my little Buddy came home. It is, to date, the single best day of my entire life. Walking out of those hospital doors- WITH my baby- knowing we did not need to come back in a few hours for the very first time was such a relief. Sure, he had monitors and oxygen still, he was finally ours, finally with us. Finally ours, all 5lbs 1oz of him. 
We were so blessed to have Chase home for his first Christmas. It was a beautiful day spent with family. 
Surrounded by family, Jon and I have learned how to fill our new role as parents to the best of our abilities. Sometimes we do better than others. One month after his homecoming, Chase finally passed his second oxygen study and we were able to go wire and tube-free! No more monitors, leads, oxygen tanks and tubes!
Around the same time, he also *finally* learned to breast feed and we were able to kick the pump to the curb! It took a lot of work, a ton of tears, and a bunch of patience but we did it! 
In March, Chase took his first trip to Las Vegas to visit Jon's family! We hit bad weather driving and ended up spending the night in Saint George for a night. We learned the joy that is road tripping with a baby, and how it extends the travel time.... by a lot. 
March also brought with it a case of RSV. We spent three weeks back and forth between the doctor's office, suction clinic, and home... constantly wondering if we were making the right choices. We held him while he coughed, soothed him as he cried. It broke my heart to see him so sick. Breathing treatments every 4 hours, medications, and Essential Oils seems to make little difference most days. He spent most of those three weeks teetering between needing to be hospitalized and being OK to watch from home. My weight plummeted as I could not sleep in fear that he would stop breathing. Luckily after three long weeks of sickness, he got better. 
When he was healthy again, we went on our first stay-cation as a family of three. Along with my sister's family and mom we spent the day poolside at a hotel in Midway. Chase enjoyed the water so much!
He continues to get stronger, and healthier. He is such an important part of our family. He fits right in! He loves his cousins, and we spend a ton of time at Grandma Sharlyn's house. He is fascinated by our dogs and Annie and Mousse have taken a particular liking to our new little Buddy. 
Most recently, he celebrated his first Easter! We're glad the Easter Bunny found his way to Grandma's house- where we stayed the night. 
I can't believe 6 months has come and gone. He's come so far, our family has grown so much. I can't wait to see what the next 6 months hold... but if they could go by a bit slower, that'd be OK with me

Bubbles and Babies

I'm not the person I used to be.
I believe that life is fluid, and our idea of who we are are ever-changing as we press forward. The things I believed defined my very existence in previous chapters of my life aren't even things that I think twice about today. I feel I am at a place now that I know who I am- for the first time in my life I have priorities, plans, AND purpose... I don't think I've had all three at any given point previously.
In a former life (or at least it SEEMS that long ago) I was very adamant that I would absolutely *not* raise my family in Utah. I didn't like it here. It was to much of a bubble. I wanted more than that. There's a whole world out there beyond this community and dangit I wanted my kids to grow up experiencing it.
But then I got pregnant.
And as it often does, that pregnancy led to a baby.
And now I'm a mom.
And this bubble doesn't seem so bad.
In fact, I honestly don't care if the only friends my kids ever know are cousins.
I don't care if my kids never EVER see a Las Vegas billboard for XXX Pussycat Dolls Nasty Club.
The idea of my family setting roots and being a part of this silly little community is fine by me.
I want my kids to know who they are, and unlike this new trend in gender-neutral parenting and hands-off approach, I feel as a mom it's my calling to help guide them in their self-discovery- religiously, philosophically, morally. I'm using plurals here as I know in my heart Chase will not be an only child. I'm thinking of more than just him here.
 I still stand pretty strong that this place is severely lacking diversity, and I *DO* want my kids to explore the world and know different cultures than their own. I hope in a future chapter of our lives we can travel with them, show them places and things that I never have had the chance to see. I can't protect them from everything- and I don't want to. They have to know that there's more out there, but they can learn that without being bombarded by it. Making your own choices is part of discovering who you are and what you want. But I see so much benefit to this bubble now.
I'm thankful for neighbors who see Jon struggle to unload heavy furniture from the truck, and offer to help.
I'm thankful for a community not cluttered with pornographic ads because the general public doesn't accept it as OK.
More than anything, I'm thankful my babies will  grow up surrounded by family. Aunts, Uncles, grandparents, cousins... people who love them AND share a similar moral code. I'm thankful to know that Jon and I are not on our own to raise our kids, that we have the support of the people we love. As the old saying goes: it takes a community to raise a child, a
nd it's SO true.
Don't be fooled. there are things about Utah I don't particularly love. Winter is too long. Fall is too short. Property is too expensive. Orem is laid out REALLY stupid. I wish there were more cultural diversity.
I hope someday Shelly can move here. I hope someday Jon's parents will move here. (Because we for SURE will never, ever move to Vegas again. Ever.) In the world we live in, I can't think of anyone I'd rather surround our nuclear family with than... more family. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Boys and girls

There's this fad going on in parenting... Or perhaps it's not a fad at all and I am just discovering it. Either way, I think it's freaking nuts. The fad? Gender neutral EVERYTHING. Why? Because how dare you assign a gender to your baby/toddler/kid/teen. That's for them to decide!
Let's back up a minute.
I'm really a very accepting person. I recognize that many people struggle with their identity be it gender, orientation, or whatever. Dude. I get it. I desperately wanted to be a redhead in Jr. high. In all seriousness I am not making light of those struggles. I can't say I quite understand it, because I'm totally cool with the fact I sport lady bits and wouldn't change it even if I could. My intent here is not to shame anyone. I've got my own demons in the closet. Trust me.
 But, I honestly don't understand where the benefit is in pretending that boys are girls are just "it" until they're "old enough to decide what they want to be." And honestly, the mere idea of it kind of annoys me a little. I change about 8-10 diapers per day. Chase is indeed a boy. It's part of his identity. Wether or not he chooses to accept or change that at a later time in his life, is up to him. But here, now, today... He's a happy, healthy, 6 month old baby BOY.
So, having been born a boy, he will be raised as a boy. He's too young to have preferences now, but you bet we lean towards trucks, dinosaurs, blue, green, sports, and all manner of boy things. I would never dress him in dresses and pink and buy him barbies. Rather than worry that I'm pressuring him to be a boy, I feel I am teaching him to rejoice in the many beautiful differences between boys and girls, how we are so wonderfully opposite in so many ways, and yet so complimentary. Because, you see... while I could accept whomever my son grows to be I do feel an absolute duty to raise him in a way that teaches him who he is, where he came from, why he is here, and rather than leave his self-discovery to be guided by the media and friends and social pressure, Jon and I play the important role of guiding him. I wish more parents were more hands on in this way. Insisting that boys and girls are the same and that it's just society that inserts differences is silly. We are hard wired completely differently and pretending otherwise really just sets our little ones up for more confusion in my opinion.
But then again what more can you expect in a society that shames those who hold strong to religion and have beliefs beyond "Everything is right and good and ok and there is no such thing as right and wrong and how dare you think my lifestyle choices are possibly sinful!" I hold firmly that is is not our place to judge others. It's not. Chase will be raised to treat every human being with respect and love- regardless of race, religion. Orientation, or any other factor. But I also won't stand back while society lets him believe that there is no right or wrong. There is. Just as there are boys and girls.