Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Element of Surprise

From my amazing friend Jen.
"The Wonderful Things You Will Be" by 
Emily Winfield Martin


So, in the last couple of weeks many of you have been asking me this very question....

it's a... from Erika Perales on Vimeo. I Love Lucy season 2

Whelp! That's all I can say too. Last week we had our 20 week anatomy scan and we totally could have found out what it is... but we held strong. We did not turn around to see the screen. Luis and I both looked at each other, wide-eyed... freaking out... realizing THIS was our chance... that all we had to do was give in and we'd be able to find out! All we had to do was turn our heads.... Oh MAN, we were so close to turning around. At least was

All we needed to know is baby is healthy, everything looked good, it's average size right now, with fairly long arms (like the Mezas) and has a super cute nose. The best part was it looked like baby was praying at one point, with its hands cupped together. I will assume baby was praying for "Papa." 
These are the eyes I was locked into so I wouldn't turn around.
Baby waving!
Baby praying!
When we told people that we weren't planning on finding out the gender, 99.9% of people said we were out of our minds. Like straight, CRAZY. But at this point, after waiting so long... I honestly don't care one way or the other. We are just so excited to be having a BABY. And I don't feel like I need to know what it is (other than a healthy baby) in order to plan and feel connected. I will say, when we were in Mexico... it was a bit challenging... and I ended up buying both little boy AND little girl stuff. And even when we went to Vietnam a few years ago, I bought a little blue AND a little pink kimono. But even once they're here... our baby boy will not always wear blue, nor will our little girl always wear pink.

Our next post will be about all of the registering and planning madness that we're in right now.... I think I will call it Baby Obsession.

And "Gender Neutral" is apparently really common now. Ducks and Frogs are no longer your only option! (Thank you God.) There are like a million colors out there and most look great for boys and girls. Also, we've already planned out how to make our "travel-themed" GN nursery. Oh... and that's actually a cool story. So, maybe a month or so into the pregnancy, I started thinking about nursery ideas. I'd shown Luis some images of blankets and wall-hangings related to travel, since we've been lots of places and since baby is our new "adventure."  Up until that point, I hadn't mentioned the idea to anyone else. Well, then like 3 weeks later Tina sent me a link to a GN travel-themed nursery! and was like, "...totally thought of you guys... It is perfect for Baby Perales." I was like NO WAY! She totally read my mind! We were thinking of the SAME thing! The link even had some baby blankets and decorations I'd already found. It's super awesome to see how in-tune Tina has been with us.

OH! one more thing... Last week Tina texted me that she ate pizza and the baby started kicking like crazy! Yay! Baby likes Pizza!!! It's definitely a Dominguez!!!

Here's a look at the video from the 20 week scan. the way, if you have a good eye for telling if a baby is a boy or a girl... keep it to yourself please! It had been almost 2 months since we'd seen baby (we had been used to every 2 weeks...) so when you see this, baby is HUGE! Size of a banana here. No longer just a tiny blueberry....

Anatomy scan from Erika Perales on Vimeo.
(You can watch a few other Baby Perales videos from our blog here.)

#TBT  Grain of rice status! 6wk heartbeat!
(You can watch a few more Baby Perales videos from our blog here, too.)

"Baby, it was so amazing getting to hear your heartbeat again! It had been way too long since we'd seen you. I can't believe how much you've grown! But the days are going by more quickly now! And soon we'll get to meet you, face to face! Thank you for praying for Papa! It's working!" 
---excerpt from a letter to our baby

Monday, January 18, 2016

The year of...


     It's been a few weeks since we've posted... and this was definitely not a post I'd planned on writing.  For those of you who may not know, my father had a major stroke on January 2nd. In the last two weeks, my family has put their lives on hold to take care of my dad and focus on his recovery.  In this time, I've thought again and again about what this post might look like. I've decided the only thing I can do is focus on gratitude.
     Experiencing something like this (at this particular time in our lives, with a grandbaby on the way) brings up a million different emotions... anger, shock, sadness, frustration... it's true for all of us affected. I honestly feel that the only way for me to cope and get through, sanely, is to focus on all of the things, big and small that I can be grateful for. Are there any?... Well, let's see....

We were all together when it happened... This was the first time we were all together (all 4 of us siblings) in Mexico for the first time in 15 years. This allowed us to be there for him and for each other. I can't imagine having been back home and only hearing about this.

We made amazing memories on this trip alone... We climbed pyramids, we danced, we laughed, we ate, we heard stories, we made plans....

Family was quick to act... my family rushed to his side and got him to the closest hospital as soon as physically possible. The entire family ran with him from the ring to the car... calling out his name, letting him know we're all here with him.

He got the best care possible... once we got him transferred to the major hospital, we knew that he was in good hands... they kept us updated, remained positive, and helped my dad make huge initial strides.

His hands... in those first hours once he was transferred and I saw his hands wave... I knew that he was ok. I knew that he was fighting. ...That he would get through this.

The positivity from my cousins... hearing encouraging stories from my cousins about people they knew who'd suffered a stroke, hearing the certainty that my family had in my dad's recovery... those positive words, vibes, and prayers started within minutes of this all happening, and I think it's the only way that I got through it. They kept me positive, and they continue to be that voice of hope and faith.... I still go to them for that reassurance. Thank you, thank you, thank you....

He gets excited to see me.... the first time I saw him back in California, I popped into the doorway, and he sat up as straight as he could and instantly began fixing his hair and face to make sure he was presentable.

My mom... She is strong. She is focused. We will all be there for her to help her with this new part of her life and make sure she doesn't have to face it alone.

Friends, strangers, and family are giving... of their time, of their ears, of their prayers, of their hearts.... Not only did people donate to our funds to help pay for the medical expenses, but they made us dinner, they helped us put away Christmas decorations, they listened to our stories, they texted and called, they let us voice our worries, they reassured us of the good things to come....

My dad is here. My dad can laugh. My dad can walk. My dad can smile and make the faces he's always made.

I can hear my dad's voice; my dad can hear me.

Tina... She is probably one of the world's best listeners. She has a prayerful heart and genuine compassion. She has been taking care of baby through all of this, giving me all the updates which I've been able to relay to my dad. Now at 20 weeks (half way point!) I am grateful to be this much closer to meeting baby. Our little one will be here soon. I think "baby therapy" will be amazing. :)

2015 had taught me many things, but the biggest is how out of control we are in this life. 2016 started with an undeniable reminder. There will be miracles and setbacks in this new journey that we're on. And as sudden and as shocking as this has been I know that it's completely in God's hands and I have no choice but to put all my faith in Him. All I can do is have hope that things will be better, and understand that it's a new day every morning. The mantra I have repeated for years and the one that I share with others (especially new mommies to be) is "Breathe in Faith, breathe out fear...." And so, I do. More so than ever.

While at the hospital in Mexico, I went downstairs to get Advil for our pounding headaches... Instead, I spent my pesos on these. They are the SOFTEST. When Luis and I left for California, I left one for my dad. I sleep with the other one every night.
My mom sent me a picture of my dad holding the slipper. 


Usually a New Year brings hope for changes, new starts and a quick look back at the year that was. It was the first time in a long time since the entire Dominguez family had packed their belongings and headed down south to Mexico City to celebrate the New Year.  We had spent several days enjoying meals and family celebrations. It was in these moments of joy that an unexpected stroke struck Pachu. No time to think just act. As fast as a Matador has to make a split second decision as a bull glides towards him, the Dominguez family organized and moved a fallen Pachu out of the ring and to the nearest hospital. No disagreements, no hesitation, just action. 
In those following minutes, hours, days our mind goes through all of the possibilities of what may come. The worst of what can happen dominates our minds. In these dark times, this family showed what it means to be one. Not just in words, actions and generosity, but most importantly in spirit. The overwhelmingly positive outlook on such a devastating moment powered the safe return of Pachu back to the United States. 
Everyone played his or her part. Those who talked, talked. Those who touched, touched. Those who organized, organized. Those who listened, listened. Those who gave, gave abundantly and those who prayed, prayed relentlessly. 
Being a couple of weeks removed now, this experience has begun what I will call the year of the Family. Not just for our growing family with baby coming, but for the Dominguez family who now needs each other more than ever to see what their journey with Pachu will be. I smile and thank God for He is faithful to those who seek Him and He is Gracious to those who listen. We are going to raise a baby with a family who are fighters, not fearful at the bull coming their way.  
The only picture taken of Pachu in the ring. Minutes before the stroke. 

"Baby... I want you to know that I believe, with everything I have, that Papa has been fighting for you. When he was in the hospital, you had just started kicking a couple of days before.... New Year's Eve in fact. Your kicks were super strong on the right side for the next few days... and that happened to be the side that Papa needed to work on. I told him how strong you were and how much you were kicking around on the right side and that he needed to focus on his right side too. I prayed that he'd even feel you kick. Within 2 weeks he was not only kicking his right leg... but by day 10 he was walking! Baby we love you and cannot wait for you to meet your "Papa." He loves you very much, and  has been looking forward to meeting you and finally getting to hold you in his arms. And with any luck, he'll get to dance with you and show you how to fight a bull."
---excerpt from a letter to our baby