The day is approaching quickly. These past few days have been such an emotional roller coaster. I feel the need to write, only because talking about this isn't possible. I don't think I can do it without shedding a tear or two..
October 28th, the day my little angel made her way into this crazy world. I remember the day, as though it were just yesterday. I remember the calmness; I'm not sure I'll ever understand where it came from, but it was there. My trip to the hospital was a blur; nothing exciting, simply a drive there. It never dawned on me that on that very day I would officially become a mother. I expected this to be a false alarm, like the first time. Bella wasn't supposed to be born for another two months. I walked into labor and delivery, and I remember worrying about whether I'd make it to work on time. It was around 9am, and all I could think of was if I'd be out of there before 12. A nurse was waiting for me; she took me into triage and hooked me up to a fetal monitor. She kept asking me questions, not sure what they were, but I answered them; I'm sure of it. Of all the questions, I only remember one, "Are you afraid?" I didn't look at her when she asked, I couldn't. I didn't want to admit my fear out loud, if I did Bella might hear me. Silly, I know, but I couldn't bear the thought of not being strong for her. In all of the commotion, I hadn't noticed that my contractions were less than 5 minutes apart. The pain was not excruciating, it took my breath away at times, but it was not unbearable. The doctor came in and announced that this was the day. Isabella was going to make her way into the world, whether we liked the idea or not. I remember being excited to finally meet my little sunshine, but I instantly felt guilty; I knew she wasn't ready to come out yet, she needed more time. She needed to be bigger and stronger for the surgery that was to take place soon after her birth. I remember panicking at the realization that Bella would have to be transferred right after birth to Oakland. Who will ride with her in the ambulance? Will she be big enough for the surgery? What if something happens on the way? The Bay Bridge was closed that day, so that would mean that she'd have to be taken all the way around to cross the San Mateo Bridge. I prayed that by some miracle she'd come out completely healthy. I prayed. I thought He didn't hear me.
The room was full of family and friends, all patiently waiting for Bella to make an appearance. We talked and laughed nervously, no one wanting to touch the subject of her being so small, and the possibility that she wouldn't make it through. Bella's heart was racing; I could hear the thumping in the background. It was beautiful. Never once did it falter, her heart was beating strong, and I knew she was fighting.
I remember the Doctor coming in to take me to the operating room; my mom went with me. The room was bright, almost too bright. There was a huge window that overlooked San Francisco. I remember watching the people go on about their lives, they looked so carefree. I almost wanted to just go join them. I wanted to say, "Hey, I've thought about this, and I think I'm not ready. Can we hold off til December?" Right. Like that was going to happen. The delivery was quick, three pushes and she was out. Isabella Valerie entered this world, this crazy world. The first thing I noticed was the hair! My goodness; it was everywhere, her back, her shoulders, you name it. She was breathing, trying to take a deep breath. This was the only glimpse I caught before they swept her away. The doctor rushed out of the room with her, and the door closed behind her. I was speechless. Everyone talked to me, I know they did, but I don't remember any of it. I sat there in complete aww, she was really here. The doctor brought her back in and by this time they had cleaned her up and wrapped bandages around her lower back. There is the opening; I'd forgotten it was there. I had been so wrapped up in her being born, that I'd completely forgotten about the Spina Bifida. The doctor leaned Bella in for me to give her a quick kiss and again she was whisked away, off to the NICU she went.
Suddenly, reality struck; I could no longer protect her from everything. Bella was a part of this world, and all I could do was try my hardest to protect her, but the reality was that we were no longer one. She was now her own little person. My stomach hurt, not from having had a baby, but from the sudden realization. They wheeled me back to my room, where family and friends were waiting. They talked excitedly about having caught a glimpse of her as she was taken to the NICU.
When I was finally able to make my way into the NICU to see her, it was heartbreaking to see my baby so helpless. She was strong, there was no doubt of it, but it saddened me that life was already hard for her. The doctors were working hard to get her transferred to Oakland so that the neurosurgeons could take a look at her. They let me know that I would not be going with her. I had to wait until I was discharged the next morning. All I could think of was the drive there. How would I survive knowing she was on the road?
The ambulance crew came to get her; they were going to transfer her into their incubator so that they would be able to drive her safely. My mind was racing with all the possible things that could happen, I couldn't believe God. Had He not heard me? I looked over at one of the guys taking Bella, and on his arm was a tattoo of the Virgen de Guadalupe. It was then that I knew, she'd be okay. He was telling me so. I cannot explain the reassurance I instantly felt, in my mind, this was the sign I needed. I'll never forget that man or that image.
The next morning I made sure to be discharged as soon as possible. I remember the drive to Oakland; it seemed like the longest car ride ever. I just wanted to there already. Bella had been taken into surgery hours before and I wanted to be there when she got out. I anxiously waited in the lobby of the Oakland Kaiser for what seemed like an eternity. At last, the doctor made his way down to the lobby, he said, "The operation was a success. I managed to close the opening in her spine, despite the little skin I had to work with. However, she's paralyzed from the hips down.. She'll never walk." His update was as though he were talking about the weather. No emotion, no empathy, nothing. My heart was broken, the pain I felt was unbearable, I cried uncontrollably right there in that lobby; I didn't care who saw. I let it out, and when I was done, I collected my emotions and promised myself that I wouldn't let them get the best of me anymore. There was a little girl waiting for me on the 4th floor, that needed me to be strong. She was fighting for life, and I had to be right there with her, fighting every step of the way. I don't know where I found the courage to get up and keep going, but I did.
Today, Bella keeps on fighting, and all I can do is try to keep up. I have to be her rock because if I'm not, who will be? There are days when I just cry and cry, cursing my stupid luck, my daughters luck. Sometimes I wonder why us? why not someone else? and then I remember.. Because we are strong, and we can do this. Because God trusts us enough to handle this, and we will.