Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fear Based Decisions

Every now and then, the media picks something and decides we all need to fear it. A few months ago we were all drying of ebola, remember? This time it's measles. I wonder what will be next?
Let me start this by saying that I am *not* anti vaccine. I am not entirely pro vaccine, but never at any point have I decided to not ever vaccinate my kids, ever. Jon and I have put so much thought, prayer, and research into this topic and we ultimately decided to take an approach we both felt very comfortable with: delay vaccinating until Chase was no longer breastfeeding, and then proceed to do them as we felt comfortable. There are certain vaccines I absolutely will not do (chickenpox, flu, gardasil, among others) and then there were those that I am pretty sure we'd do in time, and some I am on the fence on altogether. We worked with his pediatrician and he felt that given Chase's compromised immune system due to prematurity, this was a very reasonable approach.
Because we were planning to travel, we put some thought into getting Chase an MMR vaccine a little earlier than planned. We considered it for a while and then decided we were pretty comfortable with our original plan to revisit the *idea* of vaccinating him around 18 months or so. As the news continued to report cases of measles which were traced back to exposure at Disneyland, I had doubt fill the back of my mind. Were we making the right choice? I wasn't sure, and I prayed for answers. But none came. It's not the first time I've felt like prayer and study have brought me no answers but in the past when it's happened, it's been met with a feeling and sense of peace that there simply IS not a right or wrong and whatever I decide will work out just fine. This didn't happen, either. I feel like there is a right and wrong path, and the wrong path could very well be extremely detrimental to Chase's health and safety.
I continued to seek answers but none came. We were receiving extreme pressure from family members to vaccinate Chase. A constant slew of calls and texts poured in, most talking about how our decisions were "respected" but the "just love Chase and want what's best for him" and "are concerned." All of which I'm sure came from a place of love. None of which were wanted of received that way and added greatly to our frustration as parents.
I began to question if this unwanted pressure from family WAS my answer. I began to wonder if it was Heavenly Father pushing us in a certain direction. Despite my pleas that the subject be dropped it wasn't and ultimately I did what I swore we'd never do: we let others dictate what we do with our son. Chase received an MMR vaccine months before Jon or I- as his parents- were ready to begin this process with him. Months before we felt his body was ready. Months before his pediatrician had recommended we give it to him. I justified it in my mind: we were open to doing this in a few months, it's no big deal. We planned to do it anyway, what's a few months early? But I knew... we let FEAR and PRESSURE guide our decision making. This time the media won. Mission accomplished.
I knew it the moment Jon text me and told me it was done- this was not us following our "gut." This was us doing what we needed to to please those around us. Chase has spent the last 7 days MISERABLY fussy. I failed him this time. I'm supposed to be his advocate, and I caved.
Despite the fact we were good little sheep and injected our sweet baby with God knows what against our intuition, (because, you know... EVERYTHING the media says is true, true, true!) we are still feeling fearful. Not fearful of measles. No, that's hardly a huge thread to most, but fearful of what the repercussions might be for NOT following our gut, everyone else be damned.
Dear Loved Ones,
We love you, too. We also love our son. We ALSO want what's best for him. We appreciate advice and opinions and ask that you PLEASE, by all means, VOICE THEM! We are open minded individuals, we can handle it. But please, don't voice them eleventy billion times. Because we DO love you, we also hate disappointing you. We hate being failures in your eyes. We hate feeling alienated and judged because we don't always agree. We now you love YOUR kids, though you choose vastly differently than we do, we respect your decisions. We bite our tongues when you make decisions that we feel passionately are wrong, because they're YOUR decisions, not ours. And we know YOU are far more qualified to make decisions regarding YOUR family than we are. Likewise, WE are inspired to parent Chase.
We question if we are where we belong. We wonder now if we can be open and honest. Can we share thoughts and opinions, or does that simple open us up for ridicule even among family? Is this level of closeness healthy for us? These are things we currently do not know. It's not from a place of anger, or resentment that we are pondering these things. We genuinely have to figure out what is going to be best for us. These are the things we are using our "21 day quarantine" to begin figuring out as we at least entertain the idea of what opportunities lie outside of Utah county for our family. Truthfully? The space is probably much needed.

DISCLAIMER: I am *not* anti vax, nor do I discount their role in nearly eliminating certain diseases. You know that group of compromised kids who even medical professionals recommend delaying? My son is one of those. Though my research has fallen parallel, our traditional medicine pediatrician has been 100% on board with delaying vaccines for Chase. In HIS case, it was very, very warranted. 

Magical Weekend

Thanks to the incredible generosity of Jon's family, we were able to take Chase on his first Disneyland vacation this weekend. We had so much fun. I was a little worried about how he would do on the flights since we have never flown with him and road trips so far have not exactly been smooth sailing, but he did surprisingly well. We made it both there and back without wanting to crawl into a dark hole and disappear, so we have dubbed it a success. Really, can you hope for much more than that with a one year old? I think not.
We got to our hotel pretty late Thursday night. By the time we got checked in and settled in our room it was 2am. All three of us were tired, cranky, and so hungry. Chase was absolutely beside himself with the over stimulation of travel and then being greeted by enthusiastic family members. The second he was in our quiet room, he snuggled right down to sleep. Thank goodness.
Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday we played at both Disneyland parks. Chase was a little tired each day because he never sleeps as well away from home. Considering he was teething as well (One actually cut Saturday. Poor boy.)
He really did have a fun weekend and for the most part liked all the rides- some more than others. He actually really liked the Haunted House, the Little Mermaid, and Pirates of the Caribbean probably the most. He didn't like Toy Story or Dumbo. I think he did pretty darn good. Despite the distance between us, Chase took right to his Aunt Rachel and his Grandma. It was like they'd been around all along. I'm so glad- it's so important to me that he knows *both* sides of his family and how very loved he is. The proximity to my family makes that easy, but it takes a little more effort to know that we are closing the gaps on the other end to make up for the distance. This weekend reassured me just fine he's not forgetting anyone.
I was able to meet up with an old friend for a couple of hours one of the days as well and it was so nice to catch up, It really got me reflecting on friendship, what it means to me, and who matters... but that's a whole different post for a different day. (Perhaps coming soon!)
We were far from ready to come home and get back to reality. Grandpa always said it was best to end a vacation while it's still fun so you can't wait to go back again. We definitely did that. It's funny how living in San Diego my whole life, Disneyland just kind of lost its charm and wasn't all that exciting. Then we moved away and Jon and I have made one trip back (excluding this one) and it was more fun than when I lived there. It's also kind of funny how I really, truly, do *NOT* miss living in San Diego. For real, I will never even consider moving back, no way. But a part of me gets a little excited to take Chase for a visit- just to show him where I grew up. Not that it's all that important but still. He changes everything, and for the better. I love this little boy so much.
Now, experiencing the park with my own little one and watching the magic and wonder in his eyes as he took in all the sights, people, and characters brought a whole new level of magic to the experience. Now we are trying to figure out how we can possibly slip another trip (or two?!) into the budget this year. Probably not a realistic goal but hey, we can dream can't we?!
We are so thankful that this trip was even possible. It would not have happened on our own. Not. At. All. We really do just have the most incredible family.
I feel like I got just a little bit closer with Jon's family this trip. I'm not sure what set it apart than any other trip really, but it was so much more comfortable to me. Perhaps I've let my guard down just a little? I don't know. I tend to not let people in very easily, I suppose a product of feeling rejected by certain people in the past a part of me figures if I never let people in in the first place they can never reject me! But that's not really living. And I feel like now, finally, at 25 years old, I'm starting to let myself be closer to people. Quality people.

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Near, New Goals

A new year always brings with it a fresh spark of motivation to focus on personal development and making wanted changes. 2014 brought with it so much unexpected heartache and hurdles, we are optimistic as we look forward to a progressive 2015. But listing resolutions and reaching them are two completely different stories, and we have our eyes set on some pretty ambitious goals this year. I am a little concerned we are aiming too high and may set ourselves up for failure but at the same time when I look at the things we have managed to accomplish together already, I am convinced we can do anything we set our minds to together.
Jon and I sat down yesterday and literally made PAGES of goals for the year. We made a handful of long-term goals and then listed ways we can work towards achieving them, both together and individually. I am excited to work on this. We bought a white board that we are going to hang in the dining room, where we can see it as we sit to dinner every night as a family and keep our goals fresh in the forefront of our minds. We both do pretty well with list-type systems and I'm hoping that this proactive approach to reaching our long-term goals will help keep us on track this year.
I listed the couple of long-term goals we have chosen to focus on first, and then we have a few tasks we can do each week to work towards them. We have always been pretty good at regularly regrouping and having a "family meeting" to discuss what needs to be done but since we don't put it in writing a lot of things get missed. We plan to use this board to prevent that.
This week:

  1. Long Term Goal: Purge
    1. Go through all upstairs bedrooms
    2. Organize "to-sell" piles garage sale style in the basement
    3. Sell 5 items
  2. Long Term Goal: Emergency Preparedness
    1. Inventory food storage with expiration dates 
  3. Long Term Goal: Budget
    1. NO fast food stops
    2. NO unplanned/ impulse spending
    3. $25 grocery budget
    4. Make a list of ALL monthly expenses
The grocery budget may seem extreme for three people for one week, but it's to help us clear some stuff out that's either been in the pantry or freezer too long so we can eliminate food waste. Really, there's no reason we shouldn't be able to go one week spending NOTHING on groceries, but I wanted to leave a little wiggle room to pick up things to complete meals. $15 of the $25 is spent on our produce basket from the co op we participate in. I see stir fry in the future. This goal list is for Saturday through Friday, and then we will keep our same categories, but list new ways to work towards them. 
I also listed on our board the tasks that seem to get forgotten that really need to be done on a more regular basis, such as de-cluttering and vacuuming our vehicles, properly filing all bills, invoices, and other paperwork, and a couple of other basic things that seem to get easily put off longer than they should. 
I think what it comes down to, mostly, is just time management. We are awful at it and both tend to have some lazy habits. I really think if we can be more disciplined in budgeting our time a lot of things will ultimately fall into place as a result. 
Another thing we are working towards, which I never thought I'd do but.... I have decided it's time to get Chase weaned. We desperately want to add to our family, and feel strongly this is a vital part of doing so. He is down to only nursing at night to fall asleep, through the night, and once in the early morning. We are moving him to a mattress on our floor because it has been very frustrating for him to be so close to me all night and not have nursing time. I'm hoping that he takes it not too hard. I have every intention of keeping him close and not pushing him out of our room until he wants to. Truthfully, cosleeping has worked beautifully for us, and I'd have no,problems continuing indefinitely if I felt it was possible to do so AND night wean.  He will continue to get breast milk for several more months thanks to my massive freezer stash. We had a very early pregnancy loss this month, which we confirmed at the doctor this last week and while we are both feeling heartbroken over it, we are being proactive. Thankfully my doctor took one look at our difficulties with conceiving and said she is not going to make us wait the usual 12+ months of actively TTC before doing clomid, and she will write a RX for it as soon as I'm done nursing. My goal is by the end of the month. We'll see.