Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I miss you.. Until we meet again.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Lovebug

On October 28th, 2009, I went into labor unexpectedly. I can still vividly remember every single detail as though it were just yesterday.

4 am: The contractions began. I tossed and turned. I paced back and forth.
6 am: I showered in hot water. Exactly what I shouldn't have done.
8 am: I called the perinatal nurse. She told me to go straight to Labor & Delivery.
12 pm: It was confirmed that I was 4 cm dilated and that Bella would be born shortly.
3 pm: I received the epidural.
6:34 pm: Bella was born.
8:30 pm: Bella was transferred to Oakland, while I remained in San Francisco.

There was a blanket of fog covering the sky when we arrived at the hospital. I can still see the bare white hallways leading towards the elevator. I can picture the big window in the operating room overlooking San Francisco. The sky had cleared, and the sun was shining. There were nurses everywhere in the room waiting for Bella's arrival. I can still hear the doctor telling me to push. I close my eyes and I'm able to see every single detail of Bella's little face, the look of dissatisfaction from being taken out of her safe place.

Child birth is an unforgettable experience. It's amazing. It's scary. It's like nothing else in this world.

On October 28th, 2010, we celebrated Bella's First Birthday. I might've gone a little overboard on her party, but honestly I'm so glad that I did. It had never occurred to me that it would be the only party I'd ever be giving her. It never crossed my mind that there wouldn't be more birthdays here on earth for Bella.
Bella's first birthday was reassurance that we had made it. That after all the obstacles and struggles, we had finally made it to the one year mark. It was an accomplishment, and I couldn't have possibly been more proud of her.

First Birthday's, First anythings are the moments that stay with you forever.

October 28th, 2011, we released balloons at the cemetery in honor of Bella's Second Birthday. It was a difficult day, yet beautiful all at once. I wanted nothing more than to curl up into a ball and wait for the pain to swallow me whole, but I couldn't do that to Bella. We gathered around the garden in the cemetery, and we released balloons for Bella. A butterfly flew right past us right before we sang Happy Birthday, and that was when I knew, Bella had been there amongst us.

This year for her birthday we gathered as a family to celebrate her life. I wanted to do something a little different and a butterfly release seemed fit for the occasion. The weather was perfect, and the butterflies lingered for a little while, as if to give us the opportunity to admire their beauty before they flew away. We sang Happy Birthday and released balloons up to heaven. The day turned out exactly as I had hoped; filled with love and gratitude for our sweet little butterfly, Bella.

The butterflies were safely tucked into these beautiful pink envelopes.
The butterflies waited for a bit before taking flight.
Bella, like the butterflies, was briefly a part of our lives and in that short time she made our world more beautiful.
Happy Birthday Sweet Girl.
We hope you and your angel friends loved your balloons.

 Happy 3rd Birthday my little Lovebug. October 28th, 2009, will always be the most incredible day of my life because of you. You changed my world in the best way possible, and I will forever be grateful. Mommy misses you always, and I want you to remember something important:  For as long as I live, you too shall live. I love you, more than you'll ever know sweet girl.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


 My little Bella,

Your birthday is only 10 days away.

There are some days when I have to work really, really hard to pretend that everything is okay. They aren't often, and it isn't always, but they are still there. Sometimes I wake up and find that I've been crying, and I know it's because you were in my dreams. There are days when I replay all of the events in your life over and over in my head, almost obsessively, to the point where I am once again filled with all the anger, sadness, and guilt. There are moments when I dare to imagine what life would've been like if you were still here; only to be reminded that I didn't, nor will I ever, have the luxury of seeing you grow up.

I often wonder, who would you have looked like? What kind of personality would you have had? What kinds of things would you have liked? But I always come up short handed because those are things I'll never know.

I've gone through all your pictures. I watched all the videos of you. I've read and reread all the medical reports, scrutinizing all the words, trying to find a clue. I wonder how in all that time, I didn't realize that we didn't have forever. How is it that I missed the fact that you weren't here to stay? I made sure to always ask about the worst case scenario first because then I'd be grateful for anything that wasn't that. I had never been so willing to move mountains for anyone, but when it came to you, I knew that I'd be willing to do anything. I had planned the rest of my life with you in it. I just don't understand.

I had gotten to a point where I didn't have to try to be strong. I didn't feel the urge to cry all the time. I felt that I had somehow managed to escape that ugly monster called grief. What a ridiculous thought. Grief has become such a part of me, that I didn't even notice it lingering next to me, waiting for the perfect moment to make its appearance. October has proved to be a tough month. Just knowing that your birthday is near, and that you're not here, is too much.

Bella everything reminds me of you. I was at the store and a mother kept saying "Isabella" over and over, looking for her little girl. It was like music to my ears. I find myself saying your name out loud just to hear the sound of it. I've watched your videos searching for the sweet sound of your voice. I have a video where your diva personality is so obvious. The way you'd stare at me intently until you were done listening, then you'd shrug your shoulders and let out a little sigh, and you'd turn away, looking for something more interesting. I find myself afraid to be alone again, just like those first few weeks after you passed away. I try to keep busy, I try not to think about it all, but it's just too hard.

I miss you, every moment of every single day. I love you more than I could ever have imagined possible. You are, and will forever be, my pride and joy.

Your birthday is bittersweet, that's the only way I can describe it. October 28th, 2009, will forever be the best, most amazing day of my life because of you. I wish that you were here. I wish that I'd be planning a birthday party, instead of trying to figure out ways to honor your memory. I wish that I could be ordering balloons so that you could play with them, instead of ordering them to be released in honor of you. I wish that instead of ordering butterflies, I'd be ordering your birthday cake so that I could watch your eyes light up with joy. I can wish all I want, but it doesn't change anything.

We will celebrate your life and the beauty that you brought to ours by simply being Bella. We will gather together as a family in honor of you, and we will give thanks to God for allowing us to experience such a beautiful blessing. I thank God everyday that I was given the gift of being your mother. I love you Bella, and there isn't a moment that you are not on my mind.

Mommy misses you more than you'll ever know. That won't ever change.

Isabella Valerie Dominguez

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Smile, embrace the change.

There have been quite a few changes in my life lately. I've got a whole new routine going on, school is back in session, and at the end of this month my brother will be leaving  me to go to UC Davis. These changes have been difficult for me because generally I'm not a big fan of change. I mean really, who is? I'm okay with small changes, just not the big ones. They scare me. I mean just the thought of not knowing whether the change will end up being good or bad? But I will say this, I can and will get through it. I have been dealing with big changes for some time now. And I truly believe that change does indeed help you grow. It changes you in ways you didn't know it could. I can thank Bella for that. She showed me how change can be scary and rewarding all at the same time. She taught me to look at the world much differently as a result of change.

It's funny too how sometimes change can make you see things so differently. Ever hear that saying, 'Two people can be looking at the same exact thing, and still see something entirely different'? When I was pregnant with Bella I totally understood how mothers could simply say, "I don't care whether the baby is a boy or girl... As long as it's healthy." I used to think that it was the most appropriate thing in the world to say. Really, I would think Wow, that's unconditional love, not caring about the gender of your child; Simply asking for their health. And I don't disagree with the statement entirely, just the 'as long as' that's thrown in there. Because my question is, what if they're not? Then what? Well, when I was pregnant with Bella I didn't really ask for God to make her healthy, and maybe I should have. Instead, I dealt with my new reality with fear and confusion over the change that was going to take place in a few short months. I was terrified honestly. I kept asking myself how I had allowed this to happen, and how in the world I would go through with it. Once it all started to sink in, and I convinced myself that everything would be okay, I started to actually look forward to this big change. I had started to plan my life around Bella; school, work, friends, activities, all of it. And just when I felt ready for all of it, change decided that it wasn't done yet.

When Bella was diagnosed with Spina Bifida, I was 18 weeks pregnant. I had already announced it to anyone that would listen. She had already developed a schedule when she'd move around, and I had already planned my days around those times. I would talk to her when I was driving to work, or school, or anywhere. I had contemplated names if she was a girl and if she was a boy too. In other words, I had already fallen head over heels in love with Bella.

I found out during the big ultrasound that something wasn't looking quite right.I had learned in one day that she was a girl. I also learned that no, Bella wouldn't be born healthy.. And so, on that very day, I kept thinking as long as it's healthy. It kept replaying over and over in my head, and I just had to wonder.. What happens when she's not healthy? What now? And I'll tell you how I made the choice that I did, without blinking an eye, knowing in my heart that it was going to be the decision that would bring on the biggest change of my life. I looked out the window of that Kaiser office, watching the busy street filled with so many oblivious people, and I realized that there was no longer a life without Bella for me. I knew on that very day that I would never be able to hear as long as it's healthy and think 'Wow, that's love.' Because on that day it became a conditional kind of love, and what I knew was that even if she wasn't entirely healthy, I was still completely in love.

My expectations had changed over and over again, because nothing was going my way anymore. She wasn't going to be healthy. She was going to need surgery. She'd be in a NICU for weeks after her surgery. So I hoped for an easy deliver. I hoped for a successful surgery. I hoped that these things would be our biggest challenges. Delivery was easy, but Bella was born too early at 32 wks and 3 days. Her surgery was even scarier because she was only 3.8 lbs, but she came out of it successfully. Her NICU stay went from a few weeks to 2 months.

CHANGE. It just kept coming after me constantly. Just when I'd start to relax a little bit and start to adjust to things, change would come in determined to move me in a new direction, to make me see things differently. My daughter was not healthy, but that didn't stop me from loving her. In fact, I think it only made me love her that much more. It made me really slow down and truly enjoy the beauty of being a mother. Delivery was not the way I had hoped it would be, but I was so grateful that she was alive and breathing. It made me understand the importance of being with her every chance I had. The NICU stay was what I had feared before her birth, but during her stay we were blessed to meet some absolutely amazing people. Her stay there made me that much more grateful when she came home. It didn't matter that she kept me up at night for weeks because it was exactly what I had been waiting for. And so.. Change had changed me for the better. Bella's arrival into my life had changed me in ways that I didn't know it would.. I found myself able being grateful for the smallest things.

There was a day that Bella had a Doctors appointment and I, of course, was running late. We were a few blocks from home, Bella was in her car seat with a toy that attached to the handles. The toy required for someone to swat at it so that the music would play. At the time, Bella was not reaching for too many things, let alone swatting. I remember thinking that at the next stop light I'd tap the little toy frog for her. I was running a mental list in my head of all the things I had packed, making sure that I didn't forget anything, and then I heard the music coming from the frog. I looked through the mirror and Bella was trying hard to reach for the Frog a second time. I was beyond proud, beyond grateful. And at that very moment, I couldn't help but think that change had really done something amazing. Change had brought me Bella. My very own beautiful Bella.

When Bella passed away, that was a change that I couldn't accept. I still sometimes can't. But I will tell you this much.. I am a changed person, and a grateful one.. Grateful because without change there would have never been a Bella to begin with. Grateful because now, I have known the beauty of being a mother, a mother to Bella, and my life is complete because of her. She may not be with me physically, but Bella is with me in everything. Everything. Because the stars are brighter now because of her.

So.. despite the fact that change isn't exactly my cup of tea, I know that things are going to be okay. I'm on a different adventure than I thought I'd be. My brother, who happens to be my best friend, is going away for some time, and I'll miss him but I know this is for the best. I'm adjusting to my job and my new classes. And I'm able to smile because Bella taught me that change brings new things; some seemingly bad, and some good.

Thank you Lovebug for changing my world. 
For teaching me what love truly looks like. 
For showing me that change should be embraced without fear.

I love you Isabella.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Tomorrow will be the 7th of August, and it'll also be the date that marks four months closer to her two year anniversary. Two years..

I didn't know what anyone meant when they said that there would be times that the grief would just sneak up behind you and swallow you whole. I didn't understand what anyone meant when they said that the simplest things would bring it all back like a jolt of lightning. I had experienced moments when the sadness would overcome me suddenly, simply by looking at a picture or seeing her belongings and knowing she wouldn't be back for them. All the things that triggered the sadness were expected. In a sense I knew that these things would cause me to hurt, and I hoped that they would. I looked at her pictures over and over, willing my heart to break into the tiniest pieces possible. I didn't get rid of her belongings, knowing that they'd be a constant reminder of what I was missing. My broken heart was my way of loving her. My broken heart was my way of keeping her near.

I found a new job, which was a huge step because I truly dreaded going to work everyday. I had stayed there because in a weird way I felt that I owed them; for giving me so much time off when Bella was born and taking me back after my leave. But I was so unhappy there and I owed it to myself to do something good for me. I really like my new job and the people are great, but this transition has proved to be a difficult one. I'm surrounded by new people that know nothing about me or my past. They don't even know that Bella existed. And that is one of the hardest adjustments for me.

I was shopping at Target the other day and I saw someone that looked extremely familiar, but I couldn't think of where I had seen him before. I continued shopping, trying to remember, but I couldn't figure it out. When I got to the register he happened to be in front of me, along with a girl who also looked familiar. When he turned to look at me, he said, "Where do I know you from?" And we stood there trying to figure it out. He started naming places and finally he said Kaiser, it dawned on me, he had been one of Bella's nurses. When I told him that he had taken care of my daughter, he replied, "You're Isabella's mother! How is she doing?" He had been her nurse in the NICU, and his girlfriend who was with him had also taken care of her. They didn't know she had passed away, and when I told them they didn't know what to say. They told me some of the memories they had of her. Another nurse was them as well, and she came over before they left to give me a hug.

Running into them was hard. It was one of those moments where grief grabbed my unsuspecting self and knocked me out of balance. Seeing them and hearing their voices took me back to those first few weeks of Bella's life. Those moments where I believed that our biggest challenge would be getting out of the NICU and finally going home. Those moments where I had been so naive to believe that our obstacles would be minimal because Bella was just so strong. The pain that enveloped me was so unforgiving. It didn't care that my heart had worked so hard to try to mend itself. It seeped through the scars and made sure that I knew it was there. It feels like losing her all over again. Only this time, I really am on my own with my pain. I can't remember everything about her and I'm so disappointed in myself for it. The second year has been a roller coaster of emotions. My breakdowns are more spread apart now, but it feels like they hurt that much more when they do happen.

And I'm scared. I'm scared for the future. I'm scared for change. I'm scared to lose Bella completely.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I'm scared to forget..

Around this time 3 years ago, I was pregnant with Bella. Three years. I mean really, where has time gone? And I'm not asking in that Wow, time flies type of way, I'm asking in that how in the world did I make it here? type of way. I look back at the road I've traveled, and I find myself wishing that I could take all the steps back. Wishing that I could just back track to that place where Bella was still here. 

Sometimes in the moment before I fully awaken, I forget that any of this happened to me. But then I take in the pink walls and purple curtains, Bella's clothes on the hangers, and the pictures on the wall, and I realize that it did happen; she really is gone. The reason that I haven't changed anything is because I'm afraid that those few seconds that it takes for me to actually remember might start to last longer. I'm afraid that one day I'll wake up and find that she isn't the first person to cross my mind. I'm afraid that it won't hurt so much, and honestly, I need it to hurt. I need to know that I didn't just imagine being the mother to such a beautiful little girl. Sometimes, it feels nearly impossible that this all happened. I feel as though so much time has passed, but then I feel like so much happened in so little time. How is that time became my worst enemy? When I was pregnant with Bella, I wanted nothing more than for the days to become as long as possible. The longer she stayed inside, the longer I could protect her. When she was in the NICU I wanted time to fly so that we'd be home sooner. When I had her home I wished time would stand still so that I could soak in every single detail about her. When we tried to wean her off the oxygen I wanted time to hurry up so that we'd be oxygen tank free. When the Doctors said there was nothing they could do, I wished for the days to last longer than ever because I wanted her to stay. And now? Well, now, I wish that time would just hurry up and be done with. I wish that I could just fast forward to the day when I could see her again. Has time always been this way? It probably has. The only difference was that I had never loved someone as much as I love Bella to really take notice. Time became my enemy somewhere along these past few years.

I think it's that point in time now where people expect that time has healed the wound created by losing Bella. And I find that now, I want to talk about her more than ever. It's almost as if I need reassurance that she was really here. If someone speaks of her, then it must mean that she was really here. It means that I'm not crazy. That I really did mother such a beautiful little girl. It means that Bella did leave an imprint on this world. It means that Bella still exists because her memory is still here.

I miss her. I miss her and I'm scared of really losing her. I'm scared that someday these memories that I'm trying to hold onto so badly will be gone. I'm terrified actually. 

I'll never stop loving you.
I promise.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"You know, through pain, you learn a lot about yourself--things you thought you never knew you wanted to learn. And it's kind of like those animals that regrow a part of their body--like starfish. You might not feel it now. You might not even want to grow, but you will. You'll grow the part that broke off, and that growing, that blooming-- cannot happen without the pain." -Kelle Hampton

I'm reading a book called Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected by Kelle Hampton. Kelle is a mother of two, her first daughter was born healthy and her second daughter was born with down syndrome. I stumbled upon Kelle's Blog when I was pregnant with Bella. I don't remember how exactly I came across her blog, I know that during that time I had just been given the news that something was wrong, so I'm assuming that this was part of the search results. I remember reading her blog and feeling so.. inspired by her and her sweet little Nella. I saved the link to her blog, and I'd come back to it whenever I needed a little boost. On some of the hardest days, when I felt like I'd never be able to make it, I'd turn to Kelle's blog. I'd read Nella's birth story over and over until I could convince myeslf that one day I'd be able to be that strong.
When Bella was born, I was a given our own story, our own journey, and I felt that I had become that kind of strong, like Nella's mom. Anyway, I didn't go back to that blog after Bella was born. I remembered it, but I just didn't really need it like before. Recently, I was looking for something good to read on my nook, and I came across this book! I instantly remembered Nella and her mom's blog and I just knew I had to have it. I've cried thoughout most of the book simply because it's all so familiar. It's just such a universal journey, in the world of parents of children with special needs; the hurt, the pain, the guilt, the unconditional love, the gratitude, all of it.

I have to admit that sometimes I look to other people's personal experiences, simply to feel it all over again. Because I'm afraid of forgetting. Because sometimes the pain just feels good. Because it takes me back to that place that I need to leave, but don't want to.

It's the way that I imagine that people that cut must feel. That intense pain that they want to feel in order to feel more alive. I cut, in some wierd way, by reading those blogs and books and watching videos of babies that didn't make it. I desperately need to feel that familiar pain. I cut deeper and deeper until it just doesn't hurt so bad anymore. Until I feel that I can breathe. Because it's not just me. It wasn't just Bella that didn't make it. There are others out there, and I need their stories in order to go on. And I cry. And I hate God. And then I love God. And then I realize that this is really a never ending cycle. I realize that I'm doing this to myself. I'm holding on to the pain with an intense grip because letting go is just much too hard.

My second Mother's Day without Bella. It was a strange day. I wanted so badly to be considered a mother, yet when someone said Happy Mother's Day, I couldn't help but feel that I didn't deserve that. I felt as though I didn't belong to that secret club that I so badly wanted to be a part of. Some people were very hesitant, and I can't blame them. It was an awkard, "Umm.. Happy Mother's Day?" simply because they had already said it to someone around me. I wanted it, but I didn't want it in that way. I didn't want a happy mother's day filled with sympathy. I didn't want that. Not this Mother's Day, not last Mother's Day, not in the Mother's Day to come. God, it sucked. Badly. That's not how Mother's Days should be. I saw facebook posts of all the moms that had recieved flowers and Thank You's from the fathers of their children, and I had to remove myself from my social network for the day because it was just a reminder of everything I didn't have. A reminder of what I wish I had.

It's been a rough week to say the least..

Saturday, April 28, 2012

We walk.. For the Love of Bella

Our team name is For the Love of Bella. The name just fits. It fits the way that Bella fit into my life.. perfectly.

This is our second year walking in the March of Dimes, and I'm really glad that we did. I'm not the most organized person in the world, but I really am working on it. Last year we arrived a little late to the walk, but this year we improved and made it on time! I did stay up until midnight the night before making sure that our tshirts would be ready, but that'll be something I'll work on next year. *fingers crossed* I'll actually get the shirts done in advance and avoid myself a lot of stress. Anywhoo, we arrived on time and we actually started the walk from the starting point, which was really cute because they played music while all the family teams started their walk. In total it's 6 miles, which isn't bad because I'd be willing to walk a million miles for Bella. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, and the view was great.

Before the walk started, a mother got up on stage to talk about her reason for walking. She talked about how all three of her children were born premature. She explained that her second child had been diagnosed with a form of spina bifida while she was pregnant and passed away on the day she was born. She explained how folic acid helped her to have a healthy little girl after that, and how grateful she is for all the research that the March of Dimes does for these babies.

It all got me thinking. She described what it felt like to have your child whisked away to the NICU right after being born. That helpless, horrible feeling. That feeling that I, too, have known. It just hit so close to home because here she was feeling just as robbed as I did; feeling just as disappointed as I've felt. The only difference was that she had moved forward. She seemed so determined. I'm still in a place of confusion. A place where the light at the end of the tunnel seems so far, far away.

I feel cheated. I feel robbed. I know that everything has it's reasoning behind it. I know that the truth is that most of the time when things happen we won't truly understand why. I just wish there was some way to understand even a little bit. Some way to know that I'm not just a horrible person being punished for something I might've done wrong in this life or in a past life. I never had morning sickness. I didn't feel achy or cranky or irritated. I didn't have the luxury to be able to complain about a big round Belly because we didn't make it that far. I didn't have someone to decide on her name with. On the day Bella was born my mother was in the delivery room with me. I decided on her middle name alone; quickly without much thought because I just needed to get discharged in order to go see her. I didn't get to hold her right away, until 6 weeks after she was born. I drove myself home from the hospital after I had her, and then straight to Oakland to see her. I was told by her surgeon that she'd never walk in words that could've been easily reciting the weather instead of my daughters future. And you know what scares me the most? That I feel as though this has all turned into simply I didn't get to... I find myself feeling that way a lot. I feel like I'm only thinking about me, me, and me. Bella was the one that despite it all, fought with every ounce of strength she had. She was the one that, despite being born early, used every ounce of her strength to cry. She came into this world as deterermined as could be. She, at 3 lbs 8 oz, endured a major surgery that most people would never even be able to fathom. Bella is and will always be my hero. So, as I go down this list of 'I didn't get to's' and 'I'll never be able to's' I can't help but think of how much I don't have a right to complain. I can't help but realize that I've witnessed a miracle; that I've been blessed. I'm the mother of an angel.

So as we walked for the love of Bella, I couldn't help but to feel proud of our journey. I felt proud of walking in the March of Dimes. I felt proud of being Bella's mom. And next year, we'll walk again because the hope is that someday, no one else will have to go through what we went through. That every baby will be born healthy. That no mother will have to experience the pain of having to say goodbye to soon, or have to sit in a NICU for weeks because their child was born too early or with a birth defect. Someday. Someday.

Bella had a mission and I believe from the bottom of my heart that she fulfilled it. She taught us about unconditional love and compassion, patience and determination. She opened my eyes to a whole new world. Bella made my world a better place, and I hope to someday make someone else's world better too, because of her.

I love you Lovebug, and not a single day goes by that I don't miss you more than yesterday. You are, and will forever be, my pride and joy.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter

It's strange how some holidays are harder than others. I don't know what makes them different, but some just are. Easter was hard for me last year, and even harder this year. We spent one Easter together. It was raining really hard. Bella was wearing the cutest Easter outfit, completely inappropriate for the weather, but it didn't matter because she'd be inside the whole time anyway. She spent the beginning of the day with her dad and his family and the rest of the day with me and my family. I know exactly what the contents of her Easter baskets were that year. I remember being sad that I had to "share" her that day, and then feeling guilty because I knew how important it was to let her dad and family spend time with her. I'm not exactly sure what it is about Easter that gets me, but it just does.

Easter Day 2012
Bella always has so many gifts
She continues to be spoiled, even now.

And because there isn't room for EVERYTHING inside
her bench has to be decorated too.

I'm sure that in heaven Easter is far better than here.
I know that you're smiling down on us,
my heart won't let me believe otherwise.

I've been dreaming about her a lot lately. Somtimes she's still a baby and sometimes she's older. Sometimes I'm with her and other times I am desperately looking for her. One dream in particular, I was looking for her, wondering why we hadn't been to physical therapy in so long. I kept saying that I was a bad mom because I hadn't been taking her. In my dream I kept asking where I could find Bella so that I could take her to her appointments. I could see someone holding her at a distance, and then I realized that we hadn't been going to physical therapy because Bella wasn't here anymore. It all came back, all of the emotions and the questions. I could hear myself crying, but I just couldn't wake up. I was short of breath and I was terrified. When I did wake up, I felt so unsettled. My heart was pounding, my mind was racing, and I just couldn't shake the feelings.

I don't cry a lot, and I wish that I could. I wish that I could put aside how other people might feel if I really told them how I feel. If I could only stop saying, "I'm doing okay." when really, I'm far from doing okay. I wish that I could just answer honestly, and not feel bad about it. The truth is, I've put everyone else's feelings before my own, and I'm not exactly sure who I've been trying to protect; them or me. I don't trust myself not to fall apart if I don't hear myself say that I'm doing okay. If I would even begin to say out loud the way that my heart truly feels, I don't think I myself could handle it, let alone someone else. I'm completely broken. I'm exhausted. I'm feeling defeated and weak. I'm disappointed in myself, in life, in God. I'm still fairly angry with Him, and then grateful at the same time. I miss her immensely, and every single day feels longer than the last.

I must tell you though, that I know that Bella is always with me. I just know it. I can feel it. And on some of the most unbearable days, I try to remember how brave she always was. It'swhat I use as my motivation to make it through each day. Bella was brave, much braver than I could ever be. She smiled despite everything that was happening, and as her mother I owe it to her try and do the same. She is my hero, and will always be.

Someone gave me this orchid to remember Bella by.
The card read:
"White orchids are elegant and modest..
Their pure color symbolizes innocence, humility, and grace..
A reminder of your daughter."
That was in January, and it's still going strong.
I don't believe that's a coincidence.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Lately, she's all I can think of.
Everytime I close my eyes, I see her.
I see the life that could've been.
The one that I believe should've been.

This is the last picture that I got of Bella awake.
It was December 2nd, 2010. 

 Everyone had already gone home. It was only the three of us left in that hospital room. Bella had been baptized earlier that day. It wasn't the way that it should've been done. There was no beautiful white dress. There wasn't a priest of our choice. It didn't happen in church.
I had once believed that we had time to do that. I had been putting it off, and then I was slapped in the face by reality; time was not on our side.
That picture, that moment, it just keeps replaying in my head. I close my eyes and I see Bella grabbing for the toy. I hear myself talking to her, telling her what a silly girl she is. I feel the strength of her grasp. I remember how it felt to have her tug with a determination that I thought would save her.
I took a total of seven pictures that day. Seven. I should've taken more, but I didn't. And now, I'm trying my hardest to remember the rest of that day. The following days. The days before that day,

The memories are blurry, and it's a very scary feeling. You know, I don't even remember the exact words that the doctors said. I should remember. Those were words that changed everything. They were words that led me to believe that we had lost our battle. They had given up, and somehow, so did I. Which is why, I'm trying so hard to remember the exact words. It won't change anything, I know that. But I wish I could convince myself that there really was no other option. That I didn't just give up on her because they had.

I'm feeling really guilty lately. My mind has been wandering back to places that I didn't even know existed before. From the very beginning, when I first found out that I was pregnant all the way to the very end. I've managed to question every decision, and I know that it's not getting me anywhere. I know the past can't be changed. It's just that I don't understand, and I need to. I failed Bella in many ways. I was so young and inexperienced. I had decided to go through with my pregnancy because I had fallen in love with Bella. I honestly believed from the bottom of my heart that love would get us through. I was very naive. I had nothing to offer Bella. I became a single mom at 20 years old, determined to give Bella the best life that I could. I didn't care that Bella's dad wanted nothing to do with any of it. All I knew was that Bella was mine, and that I loved her enough for the both of us. Sometimes I think that that's why God took her back. Maybe I wasn't meant to be a mom. Maybe I loved her too much for our own good.

Even if that were the reason, I'll never be able to love Bella any less because I just simply can't. I'll never stop missing her. I'll never stop wishing that I could've been a mom for a longer period of time. It just won't happen. I know what it's like now, to be a mother. I've known what it is to bring another human being into this world, and it's changed me completely.

What I'm really trying to say is, I've just been missing her.
I'm assuming that this is grief at it's finest.
She would've been two years and five months old this coming Wednesday.
I don't even need to look at the calendar to know that.
My heart just simply knows.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dear Bella,

School has started again. Once again, I'm rushing here and there and everywhere. I find myself pressed for time every single day. Sometimes I wonder how I did it with you here. Maybe that's the part of being a mom that no one really tells you about. The part where no matter what kind of day you have or how many things you have to do, you can always find time for your child. I remember that when we were together, time didn't exist. It was simply you and I. It was perfection. I've found comfort in these past months to be able to go sit at your spot, just to be with you; to know that only a wall separates us. It's exactly where I should be. With you.

I was waiting for school to start because I needed my mind to be busy. I needed to be able to think of anything else. Of anything that didn't remind me of how much I miss you. The truth is, it's impossible. I miss you. I find my mind wandering back to all of it. From the start to the end. It just keeps replaying over and over. I haven't been able to go visit you every day, and it's made things that much harder. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep it up forever. I knew that someday I'd have to stop going daily, but I almost feel like it's the least I could do. If you were still here nothing in the world would keep me from you.

The holidays were hard. Harder than I could've ever imagined. Your absence was just so prominent. It was as if everything was there to remind me of what I was missing. Every little girl I came across seemed to be 13 months. All their moms were glowing. And I, well, I was dying a little more inside each time. Remember our neighbors from the hospital? I found myself looking at her mom's facebook all the time, and I felt jealous. Yes, Bella, jealous. I feel guilty even admitting that. I'm happy for them. They seem to be doing so well. She's growing, and she looks so much stronger. I just often find myself wondering how things would've been for us. There is no comparison, I know. It's just that sometimes my mind gets the best of me, and it just doesn't know how to understand. My heart gets in on the action too, and it simply doesn't know how to stop loving you so much that it hurts. Her mom is young like me. Her daughter was sick, sicker than you. And they get to be together. I guess what I'd really like to know is, why not us? It's a dumb thing to even feel this way, but sometimes, I just can't help it. I miss you, and there is no reason in the world that will make that go away.

I took your bassinet out. That was hard. You never even slept in it because I always needed to have you next to me. Maybe a few times you'd start out there, and then I'd bring you right back to my bed. I needed to hear your steady breathing. I needed to know that it was still you and I. I wish that I could just bring you home and have you be the first thing I see in the morning.

I dream of you sometimes, and there hasn't been a time when you didn't look happy. I hold on to that. I am convinced that wherever you are, you are no longer suffering. It's the only thing that keeps me going. It's the only thing that will allow me to get up out of bed each morning. I love you Bella. I love you more than you could possibly imgaine.