As many of you know we had so much happened in the past couple years. However, 2018 was a huge year for milestones and growth! Emma + Selena have grown so much + are learning new things all the time. They both undergo special therapy weekly to help developmental + physical skills. As parents we are beyond proud of them both and can't wait to see what they learn in 2019!
Our first-born Emma, is two years old and has yet to say "mama" or complete phrases. With a speech delay we have had to really focus on new ways to communicate with her. She has learned sign language for different things like food, more, and want (just to name a few). Her baby babble has really increased which is great because it shows us her attempting. She understands a lot of what we say, but doesn't try to say ever repeat phrases later on. She will pick certain words to repeat and sometimes will repeat a new word that we are trying to introduce. Her therapist is always really impressed with the amount of understanding that she has learned and how she attends at during activities. She has given us major props for really working with her because she can see the improvements weekly. I have different projects for Emma to work on that I have made myself, picture flashcards, tons of books, and of course arts + crafts supply. This year I really want to focus on her behaviors and get potty training done! She has started small tantrums due to the frustrations of communicating what she wants or feels. This is I'm sure a normal 2-year-old thing, but we really try to focus on calming her and redirecting the behavior to a positive one. Learning as we go! Potty training is a whole other story. She was introduced to the potty at 1 and understands to sit + go, but won't stop herself from going in her pull up. We have tried different methods to help motivate her to tell us but so far rewarding her with a sticker has seemed to help her understand a bit more, but we have to keep her on a schedule. Really big goals for Emma in 2019!
Selena. Oh, our little Selena. You would probably believe me when I say that she is very strong. I mean she did fight thru the NICU and has continued to fight her prematurity status. When I say this little girl is all attitude and then some, we mean it. She has a really strong character + loves to do her own thing! She will not stop at the word of "NO" and that can only mean that she'll be super ambitious, right?! (Positive thinking!) In all seriousness she may have a tough girl outer shell but she has such a loving spirit. She loves to play chase with dad, sister and her fur brothers Bear + Balto. Loves to climb + play with every single toy and non-toy. Selena will laugh at the most random things + gets really excited when daddy wants to get her. This year we are also going to work on her speech delay and hand-eye coordination. Selena is definitely a lot like me (her amazing mother) but she has a lot to still catch up on.
As for me, this past year has had to teach me a hard lesson of self-care. For those who don't know we lost our son in 2017. His loss really put me in a whirlwind of emotions. I will always grieve his loss and somedays it's harder than others but I have to stay strong. These emotions started to cause anxieties to germs, routine mishaps, and constant worries over little things. Mark has always seen me as an emotional woman but I think 2018 really took its toll on me mentally. At 27 years old I was diagnosed with shingles. Yup, shingles. It was not a fun experience and I still have their markings on my skin. UGH! The reason I got them was due to my high stress and very low immune system. Honestly, I was super stressed about the girls and them being on track with our therapy goals, making sure I'm doing every possible thing in my power to enable better learning skills, and then normal insecurities we face as women, wives and mothers. So yeah, I learned to really be self-aware and to take a deep breath mentally. This year I want to continue to focus on my health, mentally + physically but also try to grow myself as a blogger and entrepreneur in my illustrations. 2019 is a clean slate and will only be the year that I make it to be. I want to be happy and inspire others! I want to see my girls thrive and be a part of their every milestone! I want to see my husband happy, and confident in his goals and also in my mental state. I want no worries for him and want him to see that I am trying to better myself and give myself that self-love and care that we all need. These things will in all make me happy, and I am so excited to start this journey and share our amazing milestones with you all!
Selena and Emma watched the movie Coco and fell in love with the music, colors, and characters. If you haven't seen the movie Coco, it is a really cute movie that is based in Mexico around Día de los Muertos. It had a special meaning because their brother passed away last year. The music and songs made for this movie truly touched our hearts, and that is why we chose to do this for Selena's first birthday party!
We had so much fun creating a true fiesta for Selena and our family. I had an aunt help me get some cool Mexican decorations from Amols in San Antonio! Coco was not available anywhere in store for decorations, so we had to really get creative. I hand drew all the characters for the goodie bags and happy birthday banner. I also had my aunt help turn plain colored bags into small piñata style bags. We had a beautiful cake made by El Bolillo Bakery. Our pizza and wings were provided by Sicliy Pizza and the location of the party was at We Rock The Spectrum!
Everything came out great and more importantly all the kiddos had a lot of fun! I was able to see Emma run around and have a ball! We were happy to spend the time with our family and also included Mark Anthony. His ashes were behind the cake. A small gesture to always have him included, especially on his first birthday in Heaven.
Thank you to our family who came to celebrate our miracle baby's first year of life. We love you all and appreciate everything you have done for us and especially been patient with this journey. We know that Selena and Emma are truly blessed to have the family they have.
Our story is one that is hard to tell over and over. For those who know about the loss we suffered, it was one that no parent imagines to ever go through. For those who don't know, our son, Mark Anthony II passed away at 16 days old in the NICU.
I was blessed to come in contact with Connie Gomez who runs Houston Latina Bloggers. We were able to connect and I instantly put myself in this amazing group of women. They support, and share with one another. I love that! Being able to be apart of something and share my blog and talents is a great way for me to feel reconnected. Especially through this time of being confined for our preemies health.
Through Houston Latina Bloggers I was connected to an amazing photographer, Anel. She owns Tender Nest Portraits, and captures beautiful moments. Anel reached out to me because of how touched she was by our story. She offered to capture moments of our family but also honor our son who passed away last year in July.
Anel...I want to personally thank you for that. The pictures you captured are beautiful and I love that his tiny bear was present with us. Some may not know the sentiment behind that particular bear but for us, it holds a key value. A memory. A moment in time where we never want to re-live but we will always remember.
I wanted to share all of the beautiful pictures with everyone, and also share the true story we were capturing..LIFE. Our son may not be with us anymore but we live on, and we make sure to never forget him. We are thankful for the love we share as a family and the strength that has grown between my husband and I. We aren't perfect but we love each other more than anything..Mark is my soulmate and I'm so blessed to see him be an amazing father to our children. Our girls are growing daily and Selena has proven her strength and amazes us with her progress. Emma is the most rambunctious child and has a playful spirit that I hope never fades.
Christmas is always a time of happiness, family, and seeing little ones believe in a magical tradition. I remember going to my Grandmas house and spending the night then waking up to tons of family in the morning and opening presents. Those were the best Christmases!
Mark and I have started our own little tradition that he brought over from his family. I absolutely loved it when he showed me and it is now our new Aguilar tradition.
The Family Ornament
Each year we pick an ornament and have our names all put on, and yes we even include our fur babies. They are family too! This year we got to add our twins, Selena and Mark Anthony. It's never easy, remembering the loss, and all the details in his final moments. I believe that he waited for us, and felt no pain as he went to be with God. Our little angel is always going to be watching over us.
Seeing Selena grow is amazing. Mark had noticed in the NICU how her head had a line running across the top. We thought it was a IV or something, but then her nurse explained to us that it was her skull still forming. The bones were not fully expanded and so they slightly overlapped. Now seeing her you don't see that. We got to see her grow outside of the womb, and that alone is remarkable.
Embrace the imperfections of your body. Those imperfections are merely the scars of endurance, and self perseverance. Our bodies age and with age comes new phases in our lives
The first scar is seen above, right below my belly button. This scar was from when I was two months old. My mom says that I kept vomiting, and nothing they fed me would stay down. As all parents do, we call our pediatricians and seek advice. They told my mom that it was probably just a stomach virus. When it was not getting any better my parents decided to get me checked, and that's when the doctors felt an obstruction in my stomach. I was instantly rushed into surgery. The doctors took x-rays and could see that my intestines were tangled, but because I was so small they couldn't see how much of the intestine was damaged. Which is why they had to start surgery right away. They told my parents that if the intestine was severely damaged, that I would have to be fed through a tube the rest of my life. After my surgery they estimated that I would be in the NICU for about two weeks before getting into another room before discharge. They gave me some type of medicine to help show the doctors that if my intestines started to work this medicine would show up in my stool. After 24 hours they saw the medicine and were shocked to see that my body was already starting to heal and function properly. My mom said that I was in the hospital for less than two weeks. I survived and pushed through odds, because of the love, prayers and support my parents gave me.
Mark and I were excited to learn about having twins, but then our pregnancy called for an emergency c-section at 25 weeks. We were scared, and didn't know what to expect for our twins, or how we would get through this. As they brought me into the operating room, my emotions just spilled out of me. I became so anxious, scared, and worried. Mark was brought in after I got my spinal shot block, and everything after that was just making sure our babies got out safe and alive. My OBGYN was supportive the entire time. She held my hands before Mark came in, and she talked to me during the procedure to give me peace of mind. When she started to call out "Baby A is out...Baby B is out" I began to cry. These tiny babies were now about to start their fight and we had to watch them on the sidelines.
I'm thankful for a life that I didn't need to be fed through a tube or worse and how I was able to carry my twins. Giving birth may not have been the way we would have wanted, but the fact is we were blessed to have twins. My scars carry stories, emotions, and pain. After 16 days our son passed away, and my c-section scar is a constant reminder of why that happened. The guilt I feel is always there, and I pray that God will free me from those chains. It's not an easy walk of life, and my scars aren't the same as yours. We all struggle to face reality and sometimes our body image is the one thing that prevents us to move forward and succeed.
We all have chains that bind us to different emotions and today I want to encourage you to start working on breaking through and finding yourself again. I have been able to accept mine more, and sharing this picture to the world isn't scary at all. It's breaking my silence and showing who I am. It shares the intimate moment with my baby, Selena and it shares the body that has been broken and shattered due to loosing her son. I believe in such a big GOD, and I know he has given me strength to push back and find my way. I'm not perfect and don't ever want to pretend to be, but I am truly thankful for the scars I carry and you should be too.
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