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

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.

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