Joaquín’s Baby Shower

Throughout my life, one of my greatest blessings have been my friends; I seem to attract the best people around me. Because my pregnancy was full of so many complications, I was very close to not having a baby shower. I did not think I had the energy to help plan or simply attend one. However, a dear friend of mine, Kate from Dress Your Guests, talked me in to letting her throw one for my husband and I (we wanted it to be coed). I am elated that I listened to her, because now that Joaquín is here, I definitely would have regretted not having one. I owe Kate an abundance of gratitude, as she threw us the most amazing event in honor of our son. She worked with our favorite restaurant in town, Georges Brasserie, to create the baby shower of our dreams! The theme was “little explorer” and everywhere I looked was an incredible detail pertaining to travel.

Joaquín Alejandro Ledesma's Baby Shower Invitation

Joaquín Alejandro Ledesma's Baby Shower

My favorite detail of the shower was the giant passport “photo booth”. Guests were asked to take a polaroid picture standing in front of the passport, then put the polaroid inside of a baby book, and finally write a message to Joaquín next to the polaroid. I will treasure the kind words my family and friends wrote to our son forever.

Joaquín Alejandro Ledesma's Baby Shower

Optimized-IMG_5980Joaquín Alejandro Ledesma's Baby Shower

Joaquín Alejandro Ledesma's Baby Shower

Joaquín Alejandro Ledesma's Baby Shower

Joaquín Alejandro Ledesma's Baby Shower

Joaquín Alejandro Ledesma's Baby Shower

Joaquín Alejandro Ledesma's Baby Shower

Joaquín Alejandro Ledesma's Baby Shower

Joaquín Alejandro Ledesma's Baby Shower

The food was a delectable mix of international cuisine raining from Argentine empanadas to French crepes. Champagne was the drink of choice for our forty guests. In lieu of greeting cards, we asked people to bring Joaquín their favorite children’s book. The timing of the baby shower was perfect too, because the day after, I ended up in the hospital and then on bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy. During the following three weeks of bed rest I would often reflect on the special day and it instantly cheered me up!

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Cruise Plotter

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Joaquín’s Birth Story

I instinctively knew around my 31st week of pregnancy that something was wrong. My feet, face, and hands swelled up so much that I cried myself to sleep each night after work from the pain. I was gaining weight at an alarming rate, even though I hardly ate much due to my severe nausea and acid reflux. My blood pressure was extremely elevated, every single bone in my body was exhausted, and it was becoming more and more difficult to urinate.

Pre-eclampsia

This is an example of how badly my feet would swell.

However, it would take until my 33rd week to be officially diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, which required immediate hospitalization. Pre-eclampsia is an incredibly serious disorder of pregnancy that can lead to horrifying consequences. My doctor said I would remain in the hospital until I was induced, which he thought would be the following week, except I was bound and determined to keep my son, Joaquín, inside of me as long as I possibly could. No one could believe the recovery I made in just a few short days after a series of steroid injections. Where there is a will there is a way, especially when you are a mother. I was released on strict bed rest and while I was hospitalized two more times, I was able to make it until 36 weeks before my emergency c-section. The three weeks I was on bed rest were amongst the hardest weeks of my life, although during that time period my son gained almost two pounds and he was able to bypass having to spend anytime in the NICU once he was born.

Fortune

I received this fortune a week before Joaquín was born.

On 1-5-15, exactly 36 weeks pregnant, my blood pressure spiked to 180/120. My doctor had previously informed me that if it went above 160/110 I would be induced immediately. Due to the extreme exhaustion of pre-eclampsia and my scary blood pressure, it was decided that a c-section was the best way for me to deliver. I was told in five hours I would be meeting my son. My husband, Lucas, and I were both scared to death and excited beyond belief. This was definitely not how I had envisioned Joaquín’s birth story.

I am choosing to omit the details of my c-section, as they are very graphic. I am so grateful to Lucas, who sat by my head and when the tears streamed down my face from nerves he wiped them away with kisses and made me feel safe and loved. Within minutes of the initial incision, I was told to take a deep breath and as I exhaled I heard Joaquín’s cries. The surgeon told my husband to stand up and for as long as I live I will never forget the look on his face as he locked eyes with our son for the first time. It was truly the most unforgettable moment of my life! Sadly, with a c-section the mother is unable to see her child for a while, although Lucas described to me what he looked like and what was happening until they were able to bring him to me. After the fifteen longest minutes, they let me kiss my gorgeous baby’s face and then gave him to my husband to hold.

Joaquín Alejandro Ledesma

Joaquín’s first picture taken. He was 6.11 pounds and 20.5 inches.

Due to my high blood pressure, I was administered a magnesium drip for 24 hours. I would not wish this experience on my worst enemy. I knew it was going to be bad, I just never imagined it would be as bad as it was. I wanted to die. In fact, I begged to die. I was so elated when it was time to finally come off of it, but then the horrific pain kicked in. Since it had been a day, it was time for me to stand up for the first time. It is a cruel thing to ask of a woman who has just been cut in half, however it is medical necessity to prevent blood clots. Unfortunately, because my pain was so intense, every time I would try to stand up I would either throw up or pass out. It was not until I was given another round of morphine that I was able to to control the pain and finally walk.

The next four days in the hospital felt like a miserable eternity. All I wanted to do was take care of my son, but I had a lot of healing to do beforehand. Lucas and my Mom were my guardian angels. They never left my side once and took such amazing care of Joaquín and I. Nothing will make you fall in love with your husband more than seeing him utterly obsessed with your child.

Lucas and Joaquín Ledesma

Daddy’s first cuddle with Joaquín.

Despite the nightmare I experienced, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I cannot imagine my life now without my son. The amount of happiness he has brought to my husband and I is immeasurable — the best comparison I can make would be the happiness I experienced on every single trip I have ever taken all combined together. Pictures do not do Joaquín justice. You simply have to meet him in person. His personality is infectious. All he wants to do is cuddle and be cuddled and hardly ever cries. He radiates love, peace, and joy. We are so blessed!

Andrea and Joaquín Ledesma

Mommy’s first cuddle with Joaquín.

This is by far the most beautiful adventure I have ever experienced and the best part about it is that there is no end to it in sight. I do not have to pack up my bags and return home. My journey with this little guy is forever!

Where Can You Celebrate Chinese New Year? Why China, Of Course!

Don’t settle for a water-downed version of Chinese New Year (aka Spring Festival), at the nearest “Chinatown,” as nothing compares to celebrating the country’s biggest holiday in China itself. There are a myriad of celebrations, performances, as well as Chinese delicacies to eat and locations to tour.

Image by: Francis Tan [flickr]

Image by: Francis Tan [flickr]

China represents the enigmatic exotic heart of Asia, and choosing China tours at this most popular and significant holiday, New Year, will yield a memorable vacation. Here’s a look at how they’re celebrating in China’s biggest cities from 13 February to 5 March 2015.

Hong Kong

Night Parade and Entertainment

Floats, performing groups, marching bands, skaters, bikers and light display

Location: Tsim Sha Tsui streets

Date: 19 February 2015

Time: 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Entertainers stop to perform at:

  • Canton Road outside Harbour City Mall
  • Haiphong Road beside Kowloon Park
  • Nathan Road, the Golden Mile near Chungking Mansion

Hong Kong Pulse 3D Light Show

Location: Open Piazza, Hong Kong Cultural Center 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Date: 14 February to 5 March (dark 19 February)

Time: 8:30 p.m., 9 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Wong Tai Sin Temple

Your prayers will be answered if you pray for good luck and good fortune, and offer incense sticks

New Year Lantern Carnival

Location: Tsim Sha Tsui at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Plaza

Date: 5 March 2015

Lantern Exhibition: lit each evening during the duration of the Spring Festival. Naturally, dragon and lion lanterns will be featured, as well as Chinese symbols and Zodiac animals. Featured will be folk song and dances, instrument performances and acrobatic shows. Also included: varying folk craft and heritage exhibitions on topics like lantern making, dragon or lion making, Chinese painting, paper cutting and more.

Beijing

Since Beijing was once the capital of the Yuan, Ming and Quin empires, the temples have decades of religious traditions combined with public entertainment. Martial arts displays, lion and dragon dances, special sales and festival foods can be found at

  • Ditan Temple
  • Longtan Temple
  • Dongyue Temple

Guangzhou 

This large southern originally Cantonese city is often dubbed “Flower City” because it boasts gorgeous blooming gardens year round. Guangzhou’s Spring Festival flower fairs are the highlight of the city’s New Year’s Celebrations. Included: folk performances, and artists demonstrating and selling their paintings and calligraphy.

Plants have deep significance here and convey a different wish. Here the kumquat tree and fruit symbolizes “abundance of wealth” and good luck. In addition to kumquat trees, peach blossoms and peonies are the most popular “girls” at the flower fairs. The peach symbolizes longevity and wards against evil. The peony’s the flower of “richness and honour,” with the bright red ones most valued, for added good luck and prosperity.

Flower fairs to attend in Guangzhou:

  • Xihu Flower Flair
  • Donghu Flower Fair
  • Liwan Flower Fair
  • Tianhe Flower Fair

Shanghai

The city has a vibrancy that attracts the young and the music scene flourishes. Here’s where you can see performances:

  • Yuyingtang 851 Kaixuan Lu by Yan’an Xi Lu (entrance behind Metro Station)
  • Mao Livehouse 3/F, 308 Changqing Nan Lu, near Jianguo Zhong Lu
  • Wooden Box 9 Qinghai Lu, near Nanjing Xi Lu
  • Mixing Room and Muse 1200 Shibo Da Dao, near Shangnan Lu
  • House of Blues and Jazz 60 Fuzhou Lu, near the Bund
  • The Cotton Club 1416 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Fuxing Lu

Temple Praying and Ringing are also highlights. Look for events at

  • Longhua Temple
  • City God Temple
  • Jing’an Temple

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival (through 5 February 2015), the most noted events: Ice Lantern Festival and a snow sculpture festival.

Go for Chinese – the takeaway will astound you.

A Photographic Look At My Adventures In 2014

Compared to 2013, 2014 felt like a year without any travel, even though I visited two new countries and made countless domestic trips. Traveling became less of a priority though for good reason: I got pregnant! I am sure that the beginning of 2015 will also contain fewer trips, if any at all, however my husband and I are determined to make our son’s first international trip a memorable one. I had no idea how I would feel when I got pregnant in regards to slowing down with travel. Granted, being sick throughout most of my pregnancy did not help, but I was surprised at how easy it was to say no to some amazing travel opportunities. The love that I feel for my son (and I have not even met him yet) simply does not come close to the love I feel for travel. Having said that, I cannot wait to hit the road again with my new little favorite travel partner! With 2015 quickly approaching, I thought I would take a look back at the places I visited through photos:

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Banner Elk, North Carolina

Banner Elk, North Carolina

Saint Martin

Saint Martin

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina

Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos

Highlands, North Carolina

Highlands, North Carolina

Peaks of Otter, Virginia

Peaks of Otter, Virginia

Washington, DC

Washington, DC

New York City, New York

New York City, New York

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Happy Holidays to all of my beloved readers! Without you My Beautiful Adventures would not exist and therefore I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Blessings to you and yours in 2015. Lucas, Joaquín, and I send you all of our love.