Today was the Annual Family Day at school and we had an awesome time.  It was too sunny and too crowded to have my niece with us, so my nephew tagged along with us.

I love spending time with him without his parents because he behaves different when they are not around... He is more loving with me, he also respects me a lot and follows instructions... And of course, he cooperates with pictures (which he normally doesn't do).

There were some inflatables that they enjoyed a lot, but mostly it was the escalating wall that won them over. We also played dominoes and ate A LOT.  The sun was also unbelievable and that didn't help with the pictures, but I did get some good ones... Here are just a few... On the one just below, Mia is posing with her BFF.

One of childhood friends from school went with me and it was so nice to have her there. We also spent time with the daughters of another childhood friend from school and we took some pictures. Even though the girls are not in the same location I went to school at, it is still the same school...
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Duh! Right?

I have three bothers and all three of them "decided" they were going to have boys.  I was under the impression that the only girls were going to be my daughters.... and then my niece was born!!!

It's a completely different feeling and I know this beautiful feeling will only grow and grow. As much as I want to enjoy her as a baby, I can't wait to see how much will be to have a little girl running around with my girls.

Regardless the big age difference, I have the feeling she will be guarded and protected by my girls all her life. I think my two little brothers (they are my half bros from my dad) has not close down the baby making factory, but my older and I did... this means that my niece is the last of the grandkids for my mom. Who knows if this will be the only niece I would ever have.

I enjoyed A LOT taking pictures of her this weekend and this is just a little sample... (tons of pictures are posted on Facebook)...

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Yesterday was a very emotional day for me.  Not only I got to meet and hold my niece for the first time, but also my best friend had her baby boy. I'm 7 years older than her, and it feels like she is the little sister I never had. For that reason, I will treat her son as my nephew and I would love him as an auntie.

She had a very difficult pregnancy with lots of bedrest and progesterone injections... Making it to 36 and 5 days was a huge success! He was born weighting 6 pounds, 5 ounces and 18 inches long.

He is just as gorgeous as his mom and didn't have to spend any time in the NICU.  I also got to change a diaper to a one day old baby for the first time in my life! I'm completely smitten with this boy! !
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This is it! My task is completed! I didn't post all my happy days on my blog, but all 100 of them are on my Facebook. Being able to capture a piece of my happiness for 100 days in a row REALLY made me smile! No matter how many problems we may have, or how much we struggle, IT IS possible to smile everyday!
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I may not have my life figured out and I may not be rich, but I'm proud to say that I'm able to work on THREE things that I love: Graphic Design, Photography and Medical Interpreter. I was playing with the camera and it made me smile. I LOVE what I'm being able to catch behind the lens!
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I have been posting the whole week about my tiny girls, and this post feels the complete opposite. My niece was born earlier this month, and not only she wasn't born early... she was actually born passed her due date!

She's breastfeeding like a champ and acting like a big baby. Gotta love her chubby cheeks, and chubby feet! And those eyes are just beautiful... they are dark blue just like her brother had them at this age.
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Today I'm posting because of the "Preemie Awareness Day" with Mimi's Story.

This pregnancy was emotionally consuming since I found out about it. I was told to terminate the pregnancy THREE times because according to the doctors I was going to die because I had a pre-eclampsia with Mia 5 months before getting pregnant with her. Funny thing is that my blood pressure was never an issue during this pregnancy. Pregnancy was still labeled as high risk and I saw the doctor every 2 weeks since my prenatal care started. Also my doctor asked me to limit my activity level to the very minimum.

At some point during the second trimester, contractions started and they intensified in the third trimester. I also started taking L-Carnitine as according to my doctor, that was going to give the baby some extra fat. Because of the contractions I had several hospital stays, complete bedrest and was able to get two steroids shots

At 34 weeks, I was admitted again because I was getting 4 contractions in 10 minutes. The IV meds they gave me were able to keep them under control. However, I noticed Mimi wasn't moving. She would only move during a contraction. My doctor ordered a Biophysical Profile Ultrasound which measures 5 categories: Fetal movement, Fetal tone, Fetal breathing, Amniotic fluid volume and Fetal Heart Rate. Each category aims to get a score of 2 points. The result was: Very low level of amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios), no fetal movement after 30 minutes, placental calcification (looked like a placenta with 40 weeks of pregnancy), and the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around her neck.

For this reason, my doctor decided to performed a c-section,  He told me we were going to wait 4 hours because I had a full stomach. Then, a couple of hours later, Mimi's heartbeat started to drop and I was rushed to the operating room.

Mimi was born at 34,2 weeks weighting 4 pounds and 6 ounces. She got pneumonia and anemia, and needed blood transfusions. As I have an unusual blood, I had already researched for a donor and he rushed to help us. She was also born with respiratory distress, jaundice and was tube fed for 3 days. On day 3 she was transferred to an isolate with free oxygen. She ate for the first time on day 4, and that's when I held her for the first time. Just as Mia, she was discharged after 6 days in the NICU and needed 3 daily trips back to the hospital for IV meds. She was still with a little bit of low temperature when she was discharged, but she was fine.

She was discharged with almost 4 pounds (in the picture you can see how her head is the size of my fingers) and I needed to combine breastmilk with a high calorie formula for the first month (just like I did with Mia). After month 5 she refused to be breastfeed anymore.

As far as long term consequences, she has vision problems since age 5. She is also very petite and skinny for her age, even though she eats extremelly good. She is growing just at a very slower pace.
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For this week's ‪#‎tbt, I'm posting the same idea of the previous weeks... Pictures of all of us at 4 years old.....
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To continue with the idea of the "Preemie Awareness Day" posts, here is the post about Mia's story.

Mia's pregnancy started as a normal one until week 22 when the contractions started. This time I was able to catch them on time, and we were able to keep them monitored. By the third trimester the contractions were still present and an ultrasound at 32,6 weeks showed that everything was fine and that she was already 4 pounds.

At week 33,2 weeks, when the doctor checked my blood pressure, it was high. Urine test for protein came back negative, but the doctor still wanted to keep a close eye on me. At the following week at 34,3 weeks, my blood pressure was a bit high again, protein was negative, and I was sent for another ultrasound. At this moment I knew for sure that something was not right. The baby was 4 pounds which was the exact weight she was 11 days ago. I know ultrasounds are not exact, but I knew there was something more in this case. As the contractions intensified, I was prescribed with meds to stop contractions.

At 35,6 I had another doctor's appointment and another ultrasound. The ultrasound kept pushing for less weeks of pregnancy, but my doctor and I agreed on using the original due date. We knew the baby was not growing properly. My blood pressure was still high and my contractions were still present.

Three days later, I went to Labor and Delivery because even though I was on meds to stop contractions, I was feeling a lot of contractions that morning. When I got there, I was contracting, but I also had high blood pressure. They kept me in the Hospital from Thursday until Saturday. That day I was supposed to be 36 weeks pg (according to LMP), and that it when pregnant woman are suppose to stop taking the meds to stop contractions. But the doctor told me not to stop taking them until Wednesday that she wanted it to see me again.

On my next appointment I was already 36,4 (according to LMP).  My blood pressure was higher and my contractions were non stop. They sent me for EKG, echocardiogram and urine test, and everything came back normal. However, at this point, she was still as big as a 33 weeker and the doctor determined she had fetal growth restriction.  They prescribed me meds for the high blood pressure and I was sent home.

That night I started to feel some cramps all over my body (specially in the neck) and a tingling sensation. At the ER, my blood pressure was 150/120 and it took the emergency staff almost 3 hours to have it under control. I was admitted and they were giving me Magnesium sulfate for a few more hours when I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. A few minutes later, I was rushed to an emergency c-section as Mia was showing signs of distress.

She was born weighting 4 pounds and 2 ounces.  She had respiratory distress, jaundice, umbilical hernia and was tube fed for 2 days. She was discharged after 6 days in the NICU and needed 3 daily trips back to the hospital for IV meds. She was 3 pounds and 14 ounces when discharged (notice her head is the size of the palm of my hand on the 2 weeks old picture above).

The ped asked me to breastfeed on demand, and also a special formula with extra calories three times per day.  By the time she was a month old, she had already doubled her birth weight. The only long term consequences so far are some gastrointestinal issues and red dye allergies. She also needs a yearly special imaging on her eyes but still has not been diagnosed with any vision problems.
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In honor to the "Preemie Awareness Day", here is the first post I promised yesterday about the girls: Gaby's story.

I got pregnant with Gaby around my 22nd birthday.  I was a normal young woman with good eating habits and without any addictions (like drugs, alcohol and such). All my blood work were close to perfect and my overall health was peachy. The only "issue" with my health that I can think of was irregular periods and recurring cysts on my ovaries. For that reason, I found out about Gaby at around 9 to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

As soon as I found about it, I started my prenatal care and I did everything as I was supposed to. No real complications, just the regular discomforts of any pregnancy. By the middle of the second trimester, I started feeling discomfort and low back pain.  I mentioned it to my doctor, and she said it was normal.

As I first time mom, I didn't know what contractions felt like. They were asking me if the pain I was feeling was similar to menstrual cramps, but as I never had them, I simply didn't know. I kept reading about it and I found conflicting information. I insisted with my doctor, and she kept saying it was normal and sending me home. At this point, I was never hooked to the monitor to check for contractions.

One day at 36,4 weeks, I simply couldn't take it anymore and when they finally hooked me up to the monitors they noticed that I was actually having contractions. They were strong and every 10 minutes, even though I was not able to feel anything worse than a discomfort. Once they checked me, I was already 2 centimeters dilated.

Labor started at the next day and they were not able to stop it because I was already dilating. After almost 48 hours of bedrest, lots of contractions and starvation at the hospital, my water broke and Gaby was born vaginally a few hours later. She was considered “preterm” because she had an almost normal weight, however she didn’t cry right away and needed help to breath for a couple of days. She was diagnosed with Respiratory distress. The biggest emotional challenge faced with her birth is that there was no space in the NICU and she had to be transported to another hospital two hours away. I didn’t see her for 2 days until I was discharged myself. Also, she was tube fed for one day and also needed bili lights for jaundice. She was discharged on day 5 with minor jaundice left.

It makes me sad that this could have been avoided. If the doctors would have listened to me, the contractions wouldn't have been unnoticed until it was too late.

The only long term consequences so far are frequent otitis, sinus infections and also vision problems since age 5, including strabismus.
Posted by Anelys Perez On 3:40 AM No comments READ FULL POST
Today is the "Preemie Awareness Day" and even though it brings back sour memories, it makes me smile the fact that my girls are mostly healthy and growing into beautiful ladies.

There are three types of premature babies: 'micro preemies', 'preemies' and 'preterm babies'. My girls are considered preterm babies because they were born between 34-37 weeks of gestation. Mia developed Fetal growth restriction at 33 weeks, so she was the only one considered 'preemie' even though she was born after 34 weeks.

I can only imagine how horrible it is to have a baby born earlier than 33 weeks, and my experience is nothing compared to what those moms and babies went through. Still I'm only human, and I had dreams of holding my babies on my chest as soon as they were born, and I couldn't. All my babies were taken away from me as soon as they were born, and it was heartbreaking how I was not able to be in control over them, and to give them the love they needed... They received the medical care... that part is true... but not the emotional comfort they were used to while being on my belly.

Only a person that have been in this situation can understand what it is to see your baby crying and crying, and not being able to hold her because she needed to be inside of a plastic box! My head knew they needed to be there, but my heart only wanted to hold them close and sing in their ears and make them feel comforted and loved. They were sooo loved and I wasn't able to show them that.

I will be posting individually about the experience of each girl, but this first post will be about me. Why? Because it's easy to find information online about health related issues for the child, however, there is ONE thing that you hardly ever read about... The emotional scar that every mom of a baby born early can't run away from.

That doesn't seem important, and at the end of the day, it is not.  Still, I want to post about those little things I missed out... those little things that made me feel like a bad mom... those little things that made me think it was my fault... those little things that makes me want to hug hard every preemie mom I meet...

This may not be the situation for every preemie mom, but here are some of my own facts... Things I missed out and things I felt... and some other things that I would never know how they feel like...
1- I would never know how it feels to have a normal pregnancy without complications, or to be pregnant full term, or have a birth plan...
2- I would never go through the nesting stage during a pregnancy
3- I would never know what it feels to have everything ready waiting for the baby to be born.  In all three pregnancies they were born before I was even close to be ready.
4- I wasn't able to do skin-to-skin when my girls were born because they needed medical attention right away.
5- I wasn't able to hold my babies during their first day of life, because they were not allowed to be with room temperature.
6- They were not able to room in with me in the hospital, because they were in the NICU.
7- I had to ask permission to strangers to see and even touch MY babies, because the nurses and doctors were the ones in control.
8- I was not allowed to breastfeed them for the first few days, because they needed controlled IV feedings only.
9- After months of having my babies in my belly, after they discharged me, I had to go home baby-less.... No baby in my belly and no baby in my arms...
10- In Gaby's case, I couldn't even see her for 2 entire days, because she was transferred to a different hospital. This happens when there is not enough space in the NICU. Then, I needed to wait to be discharged myself to be able to see her.
11- I had to see them crying without being able to do ANYTHING about it. Then, after they were discharged, and I only wanted to hold my babies 24/7, I had to hear people telling me how it was not good for the babies to be held that much. I seriously wanted to punch every person that said that to me.
12- I wasn't able to have a good night sleep in forever... Not because my babies were crying, but because even though they were asleep, I was afraid something was going to happen in their sleep. I took me years to be able to sleep in peace, because by the time I was starting to feel comfortable that nothing was going to happen in their sleep, I already had a new preemie to worry about the same thing.

I'm sure there are more things but those were all that came to my mind. Now I will post about the experience with each one of the girls.... (post updated to add the links)
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Seeing those smiles today made me REALLY happy! Wonder if they would ever know the joy I feel with every single one of their smiles
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I have to say that this is one of the parties that I have enjoyed the most. Gaby's actual birthday was a month ago, but the best timing to do a party with a sleepover was this weekend.

I'm thankful that my daughters have always understand when I need to do the parties later on... either because of the budget or because of other factors, and they are always ok with my decisions. They simply get happy and thankful that I do something special for them, regardless of when I do it.

As it was a sleepover and only one mom was staying with me, I decided to have only three guests... That means 6 girls including my girls. Here is the invitation I made for her...

As it was a sleepover, I did a decoration for the night and another for the morning. For the night decor it was more focused on the Spa part.  Then, the morning decor was more focused on their breakfast.  It was already set up when they woke up in the morning. They were all thrilled!

The biggest hit of the night was taking a picture with every hour. The first picture was taken at 7pm and the last one was taken at 3am. They were all still awake at 4am, and I was dead! I was still able to hear their voices but I was unable to move to take the picture!

At every hour they were doing something different. The picture just above on the left was the 10pm picture when they were eating hot dogs and mini pizzas. I lost count of how many times they repeated! Then, the picture next to it is the midnight picture... They were showing off the spa dolls they did for arts and crafts..

Here is the 1am picture while they were eating pop corn and watching a movie. Then, the picture at 3am when I asked them to go to sleep but it took them over an hour to fall asleep.

They really had a blast and they are already making plans for the next sleepover. Here is the thank you note I made...

I will be posting pictures of all the designs on my business blog.  I will update this post as soon as they are up.
Posted by Anelys Perez On 11:23 AM No comments READ FULL POST
Gaby's party is tomorrow and I started organizing and decorating today.  My special someone helped me and it was too cute to see... That was the highlight of my day!
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For this week's ‪#‎tbt, I'm posting the same idea of the previous weeks... Pictures of all of us at 3 years old...
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I honestly don't know what's the deal with the camera and the "red aura" around me, but I guess it means that I'm full of energy and passion :p Anyway, I'm getting everything ready for Gaby's party and the hardest task of any birthday party I do is the CUTTING... I'm proud to say that it is ALL DONE... Very happy about it!
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After being the mommy of three girls and the auntie to three boys, God blessed my family with my very first niece! She was too comfy on her mom's belly that she decided that 40 weeks wasn't enough for her... She decided to spend a couple of extra weeks in there! But, the wait is over and she is FINALLY here!

Receiving that message from my big bro got me so emotional and so happy! I'm already in love with her and I can't wait to have her on my arms!
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The way that it supposedly works is that you have a nephew that is born the day he is delivered by his mommy. That is what happened with my nephew on the right... However I just found out TODAY that I have another nephew (on the left)... He was born almost 3 years ago, but to me, he was born TODAY. It is sad that we didn't know about him until now, and seeing him already bonding with his cousin, made me smile!
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Being pampered and having my hair done made me smile...
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Being able to get some caffeine to keep me from falling asleep (something that wasn't coffee) made me smile... It is also very yummy!
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