Friday, December 11, 2015

One Week With Dominic

Dominic Julio Castro was born just seven days ago. Dominic is a name I have loved and I love its meaning: "belonging to the Lord." Julio is Victor's stepfather's name and the man our boys will know as their grandfather in this life since Victor's father has passed away. He is a selfless, serving, and kind. We hope Dominic will emulate. 

I am so in love with this baby, even if he is a more dramatic newborn than his brother was. By that I mean that this photo shoot took several tries, as you will see with his crying faces ha. He weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces and he is long. He's so skinny!
^^His pose: both fists up ready to go^^
If he's a mama's boy, I will know why. I have learned how fast fast fast this newborn stage goes, so I just want to snuggle with him all day, and he totally indulges me. He will take a nap with you for as long as you want. I think those luxurious naps will end when my wonderful mother in law leaves, so I am soaking it up!!

Now things in the photo shoot got...interesting. Joseph loves Dominic. Dominic didn't want to take pictures. So, our sweet J who loves the camera totally stole the show!! 
 ^^kisses for his crying brother^^
^^big feet, little feet!!^^

 If that wasn't interesting enough, let's try to get some with the three of us!
^^this may be my favorite. Real life^^

 These boys are my treasures. I am so grateful to have these pictures to remember this time in life that goes by so fast. Thanks to my sweet husband for taking them!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What I Learned Giving Birth the Second Time Around

Going into this pregnancy, something that was always on my mind was how and if it would be different than my labor and delivery with my first baby. There were things I was hoping would be different, while other things I had kept reminding myself to soak up certain moments more fully, because that experience and what you learn and feel from it is so fleeting. This time around I learned so much more about myself, and I came to be more aware about the nature of our relationship with the Savior. I had this talk on my mind a lot that night. 

I have had my mother in law here helping with J--it's been such an enormous blessing. I knew this meant that for this labor, I would be facing some of it alone. I really needed her to be there for J rather than try to comfort or help me, so some of the hardest moments were right before going to the hospital when I was laboring alone in my room, knowing that I needed to get through that pain on my own with no help from others. Laboring at home was so much more painful this time since it progressed a lot faster the second time. Contractions were long and intense but thankfully the between times gave me enough relief--even if it was only for four minutes at a time! Watching a Flip or Flop marathon on my ipad and eating Sonic pebble ice was what helped relieve me a little bit and made the time not feel so strenuous so if you're looking for labor ideas there you go haha. 

While I had prepared myself to conquer most of the labor process alone, I also knew that getting to the hospital meant that I would be getting help I could not do for myself, like actually delivering the baby...and getting an epidural ;) So that gave me hope. When I got to the hospital, I was told I was dilated 6cm. I did it! I wasn't turned away and they began prepping me for birth. Things progressed pretty quickly, and by the time the epidural kicked in two hours later, I was already at an 8. So things were still getting more and more painful as they were getting it all ready. 

Something else I learned about myself in this setting is what works best for me as far as comforting goes. I didn't realize it until this birth, but compared to the nurses and doctors at the Naval Hospital where I gave birth before, these nurses were much different in a way that was much better for me. With my first birth, the nurses and the doctor delivering me were kind of acting more like cheerleaders: trying to get me pumped up and motivated to push through the pain. It must have been the whole military mindset. Now I realize that does not work for me, and I think that's why things were harder for me. My nurses at the hospital here in Monterey were more like encouragers. They gently encouraged and talked me through each contraction building and coming down. It was just what I needed. They even coached Victor to gently hold my hand (to keep the IV flowing mostly ha) which was nice, since before I didn't want anyone touching me through contractions. Poor Victor!

I also learned (or had it reconfirmed) how much I loved it just being Victor and I in the delivery room. We were discussing again whether we should have asked someone to come in and take pictures for us, but when it comes down to it, I always say no. Since my mother in law had to stay with our older baby, it really was just the two of us this time, and it was just such a special and sacred thing to just savor with him. I'm still grateful that he was able to snap these pictures though :) Hope you don't mind the kind of gross ones. 

btw click here if you want to read about my first time giving birth
This one is blurry since it all happened so fast--did I mention I only had to push three times in like three minutes and then just like that he was out?? That was awesome!! Since I was more with it this time, the doctor let me reach down and pull my sweet baby directly onto my body. You can be like my mom and sister and say that's gross, but I don't care. It was a surreal experience!
I love this man. He is such a wonderful father!
I just want to end this with these beautiful words which helped me so much. Thank you Jeffrey R. Holland, for ultimately saying what I have learned from all this, and most importantly, helping me feel closer to my Savior Jesus Christ. 

"Bear, borne, carry, deliver. These are powerful, heartening messianic words. They convey help and hope for safe movement from where we are to where we need to be—but cannot get without assistance. These words also connote burden, struggle, and fatigue—words most appropriate in describing the mission of Him who, at unspeakable cost, lifts us up when we have fallen, carries us forward when strength is gone, delivers us safely home when safety seems far beyond our reach. “My Father sent me,” He said, “that I might be lifted up upon the cross; … that as I have been lifted up … even so should men be lifted up … to … me.”

But can you hear in this language another arena of human endeavor in which we use words like bear and borne, carry and lift, labor and deliver? As Jesus said to John while in the very act of Atonement, so He says to us all, “Behold thy mother!”

Today I declare from this pulpit what has been said here before: that no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child. When Isaiah, speaking messianically, wanted to convey Jehovah’s love, he invoked the image of a mother’s devotion. “Can a woman forget her sucking child?” he asks. How absurd, he implies, though not as absurd as thinking Christ will ever forget us."

Thanks for reading, if you made it through! And Happy Sunday. 
xoxo Annie

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

My Christmas Nativity Scenes

I stole this tradition from my mom. She loves collecting Nativity scenes from around the world. Her collection now is seriously impressive and puts mine to shame. It's because everyone knows about her collection and will bring her back Nativities from around the world as their gift to her. My collection right now is based solely on Nativity scenes that I have brought back myself from my travels.

Unfortunately, there are countries missing, simply because finding a Nativity there would be next to impossible, like China, Thailand, and Bali. But other places we have had luck. Every Christmas we have been able to add to our collection and hopefully this upcoming year will be no exception with some traveling we hope to do! It's my favorite part of my Christmas decor and the Christmas season.

These two are from Romania. They represent different geographic zones of the country.

 We got this yellow one on our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. This style is very traditional for most Nativities there. My mom had one almost identical when I was little.
 These two we got when we were in Budapest, Hungary.
 We got this one from Hawaii. I love it.
 Oh, I love my Japanese kokeshi Nativity. It has been the most expensive one I've bought, because it is commissioned with a Japanese artist, since Christianity is not the dominant religion. I love it.
 We found these two on our last day in Hanoi, Vietnam. A lucky find in a shop that had a few Christian items. It also helped we were there over Christmas time.
This one's figures aren't very Vietnamese, but the hanging hat mobile thing was found everywhere around Hanoi!
This white one I got way back when I went to Peru, and this year, my mom gifted me the other one when they traveled to Zimbabwe, so I guess it's the one in the collection where I didn't go. Forgive me. 
Yay for the Christmas season! I love it so much. Do you have a Nativity collection? Post a pic so I can see it!