Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Stocking Full of Love...

Growing up in our house, opening our Christmas stockings were almost as much fun as opening the gifts under our tree. As we got older, we would find that our stockings were always filled with items that we needed...things that we used every day.
It was comforting this year, to find that Sofie's stocking was filled with much of the same...things that we need and that we use every day. A stocking full of love, hope, and celebration of life.

The amount of letters that poured into to fill Sofie's stocking leaves me humbled, and we shared a beautiful day as we read each one together. The words were so touching and simply perfect, that I decided that it is only right that this blog entry be comprised of your words to Sofie.
Here is a compilation of love letters to Sofie... Merry Christmas, baby girl. You are so loved.

Dearest Sofie,

About a year ago I watched as my good friend from high school was expecting her first child, a baby girl. I watched how excited your mom was with your arrival and I thought to myself, "this little girl will do amazing things."  Sofia, you are a beautiful angel, but I must brag and say that I was right, you continue to do amazing things. Little angel, you have changed my life.
You are amazing and have given me so many gifts. From the day your mommy told me that she was pregnant, I loved you.  I feel honored to have gotten to know you so early on,  I remember looking over to talk to your mommy and seeing a large kick or punch from you from across the office...we would laugh and giggle. I will always treasure these moments.
You are such a loved little girl. We talk about you every day!! Your mom and dad are so proud of you, we moms and dads are like that, you know. 
Although you are not able to be here physically, rest assured that you are in our hearts always. You have made so many lives "complete." You continue to inspire so many people. 
This time of year, many of us speak of wishes for peace on earth, that is one thing that you have brought to many. Your tiny beautiful spirit is doing so much. It is....showing us love, giving us hope, opening our eyes, rekindling compassion, bonding hundreds in a common understanding. Thank you, Sofie. 
The gift of your love continues to inspire others and bring smiles to the faces of children/parents through such a simple gift of a blanket...simple and beautiful much like yourself. 
Your life and love are the best gifts that I have ever been given, because they can never be lost and the value only increases!
You are pure radiance, you are light...filling the hearts of so many. And while I wish I could see you crawl around the Christmas Tree, playing with bows and getting into everything, I know that your Christmas will be nothing less than glorious. 
We wish for you sweet angel, on this day, that you feel the love and warmth that surround you on this your first Christmas Day!
I am sure that Heaven is drowning in pink up there. I believe that you make God smile every day. 
I bet you are excited as you attend the most special birthday party of the year! I bet great-grandma Angie is making her special Christmas cookies...please don't give too many to that chubby little dog who I know is following you around! 
Sofie, You are probably the most cutest and the most special angel I have ever known, I know my mommy loves you and your mama and daddy so much, because we ask God to watch over all of you each night. 
I think of you a lot, especially when we read "Guess How Much I love You", or I see a butterfly, or a beautiful sunset, or a particularly beautiful moon and now think, TTMABBG.
I'm glad that we are friends, even though it is in Heaven and not on Earth where our mommies and daddies want us to be, make sure to let your Mommy and Daddy know that we will be celebrating with Jesus this year so that we will not be alone. (ps. I hope you like this pink paper, I picked it out just for you!)
Sofie, you touched my heart. You are an amazing reminder that true love can be a comfort that helps people move forward.  Move forward with, and through their loved ones, their memories, and their gifts.
You have touched my life in a way that I can't explain. YOU Miss Sofia have forever changed my life. You are beautiful! Keep sending those butterflies!
I love you and miss you.

Thank you all for writing this Christmas Letter to our sweet, sweet girl. 
~ Sofie's Mama

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Christmas Wish...

Pretty, pretty girl, 
My heart doesn't have many words today; but as I listened to one of my favorite Christmas songs yesterday, I realized that it captures how I feel completely.While I would give anything to see you in your perfect Christmas dress tonight as we get ready for church, I understand that cannot be. 

So here is my new Christmas wish as we face the festivities that lay ahead, with a heavy heart that longs to watch you tear into wrapping paper, all while stealing the show with your beautiful self.  Instead today...
"I pray on ChristmasThat the Lord will see me throughI pray on christmasHe'll show me what to do
I pray on ChristmasHe'll help me understandAnd I pray on ChristmasHe'll take me by the hand...
I pray on ChristmasThat God will lead the wayAnd I pray on christmasHe'll get me through another day
I pray on christmas...He'll get me through another day
I pray on ChristmasAll our problems gonna be worked outI pray on ChristmasGod'll show us what love's about
I pray on ChristmasTo do your will each dayAnd I pray on ChristmasThat I'll be with you in Heaven some day...
I pray on ChristmasThat God will lead the wayAnd I pray I really pray on ChristmasHe'll get me through another day..." ~Harry Connick Jr. 

One more day closer until I can "be with you in Heaven some day". Merry Christmas baby girl. ~Mama

Monday, December 12, 2011


Sweet Sofie, 
The past 2 weeks, I had the honor of being able to share you, your life, and our story with the folks that your mama works with everyday. It was an intimate look into how our lives have changed since you entered the world.
As I sit down to write this, I am immediately struck by one of your e-cards that I just re-read the other day. It begins, "Dear Sofie, you were born to change the people around you forever. First, your parents, then everyone else. You have already made people look to God more than ever. Great start." 
I choke up every time I read those words, not just out of sadness because I miss you terribly but out of the sheer power of those statements. 
You were born to change the people around you forever, and that you did. Great start. 
When I look back towards the early days of our journey, I feel like I lost myself in the obvious lessons. You know,  "the life is unfair & terribly unbalanced" lesson. Sometimes it was hard for me to see through the cloud of tears in my eyes to recognize fully the most powerful lessons that you have taught not only me, but so many who have been touched by you. The lesson of love.  
For 10 months when people have asked me how I do what I do, (it's always a silly question to me and my answer is always the same.) "I'm just a proud mom who loves her daughter." I don't do anything differently than any other mom who puts their child first. 
When people have asked me how I let go of my anger and continue to face each day, my answer has always been, "I miss her terribly, every second of every day but, I love her even more than I miss her." I choose to focus on that love, even in those dark, difficult moments....I learned that from your daddy. 
Finally, when people have asked me how I feel like I have changed in these last 10 months, my answer is simple. "She has taught me how to live and love differently."
Love is everywhere to be found, when I think of you, sweet baby girl. 
Love gives me joy, strength, faith, and hope. 
Love is you.
As I prepared to share our story with the last batch of my co-workers, I reflected on many things from the past few weeks: A difficult Thanksgiving holiday, in which you should have been slinging sweet potatoes at your Daddy and me, but instead there was not a single food stain on our clothes from you; I breathed deeply as  we were hurled into the next Holiday season with reminders of just how special, amazing, and different this Christmas was supposed to be, as we experienced the joy of Christmas through the eyes of our 11 month old baby girl; but instead we celebrated you at the annual Remembrance Service for children who have left us much too soon. I reflected back to the first session of our work retreat, and was overcome as I kept playing and replaying some very wise words that were shared that day.
"Every sentence has a period".  Our lives on this Earth are final. "Every sentence has a period." Those words struck me, the minute they were spoken. My initial reaction was to respond with an, "I don't want a period at the end of my sentence, I want an exclamation point!" But as the week went on, and I thought about you, your daddy; and our beautiful family of three; you changed my perspective once again. 
Every sentence does have a period. It doesn't matter what kind of car you drive, how much money you make, or how successful you are...that period will find its way to the end of your sentence. It doesn't matter how much crying, pleading, praying, yelling, kicking, or screaming (trust me I know), we can not escape that period. 
But it isn't the period that matters, it is the words of your sentence that make a statement. (pun intended)
Think about it...every sentence that is read; be it clever, funny, sad, thrilling, short, long, run-on, grammatically correct or not; every sentence is read the same. The period is never spoken. It is assumed. It is there. We see it, we acknowledge and regard it, but it is not mentioned. What is mentioned, the parts that invoke feelings, emotions of love, fear, anxiety, thrill, joy, hope, or invites laughter; are the words of that sentence. 
The period is not what matters. 
The words of our "life" sentence is what matters the most. We never know when that period is coming, so we need to make sure that our sentence is complete and makes the statement that we want to make. 
Some sentences are very long, others are average length. Your sentence was much too short for your daddy and me, I do wish it had gone on for chapters and chapters. (But my heart knows that it still does). 
When I was sharing our story and our lives together, my head kept inquiring, "What is Sofie's sentence?"
I kept envisioning your short, sweet sentence over and over again....and it never changed. 
Love. Period. And that Sweet baby girl, is one pretty powerful sentence.
I'm not sure that my sentence is complete, but it is much more the statement that I want it to be today because of you. As long as my sentence has you in it, then I know it will be a statement that I can be proud of.  When it is time for that period to find its way to me, I hope that the Great Writer places your sentence just before and just after mine. Love. You encompass my statement; your life and our love, together, with your daddy's....those are some sentences that I think are worth reading. Love. 

"So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love..." 1 Cor 13:13

I love you, Sweet Pea. 

1 Cor 13:1-13
1 "...If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
2 And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated,
5 it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
6 it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the Truth.
7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
9 For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
11 When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
12 At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
13 So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love..."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow."

Sweet Sof, I am sorry for the delay in this post...It isn't as timely as I had wanted it to be. The words have been in my heart, and I hadn't realized that I had not yet finished this entry to you. Please forgive me. ~Your fuzzy brained mama ♥
My sweet Sof, 

Something amazing happened today. Something truly amazing. After spending a good amount of time visiting with you at your site today, having one of my heart to hearts with you...after many tears flowed freely down my face; I breathed deeply and headed home. Every second of that drive was spent wishing you would be there when I walked in. It's probably a silly thing to continue to wish for...but silly as it is, I know I will wish that forever. 

When I got home, I wiped away the tear stains that seem permanently attached to my cheeks somedays, and checked our mail. There was a package addressed to all three of us. Perplexed, as I hadn't been expecting anything, I opened it with care. 

I immediately saw an envelope  addressed to me and your daddy. It was from mama's old friend, Miss Claire, the one who climbed the Pike's Peak challenge in honor of you this past September...she is also the official creator of the original Team Sofie clothing line. :) 

She had enclosed a beautiful thank you card for a donation that was made in your name to support her climb. Her thank you was comprised of the most breathtaking photos of Pike's Peak, her exquisite journey to the top, and a sweet, sweet photo of you. 
It was perfect. 

My moist eyes then noticed a small white box that remained in the package. I pulled it out and noticed that the box was simply addressed to you. That sentiment alone filled my heart; but when I opened that box and saw what was inside for full heart....well it overflowed with tears of love for you. 

Miss. Claire sent you her gold medal that she received when she reached the summit of that great mountain. 14,115 challenging feet that she climbed & scaled all for you. I remember reading her comments when she finished and how moved she was when she received that gold medal at the top. And now that gold medal is yours.

As I tried desperately to see through my own tears and admire this beautiful medal...I couldn't help but smile. It shouldn't surprise me at all that YOU are the first member of our family (and likely only member) to receive a gold medal. You have accomplished great and wondrous things.  Gold medals are given out to the highest achievers...and well baby girl...that you certainly are. I am so proud of you. 

Weeks before you received this honorable gift, the world learned that a genius mind left this world to enter yours. Steve Jobs was brilliant and certainly gave a lot to this world. As media focused on his death and more importantly his life...I found myself intrigued and in the days just after you received your medal, his last words were revealed for the first time. I was moved as I read them in an article that also contained the Eulogy that his sister read at his funeral. 

She spoke of his, "sweet capacity for wonderment, his belief in the ideal, and the still more beautiful later." The words that really touched me with their power, were when she continued that, "Death didn't happen to Steve, that he achieved it."

I couldn't help but think of you and your beautiful gold medal. It is a reflection of your incredibly powerful life, your ability to change inspire... to radiate love. You, sweet Sof have achieved in life and in death.
 Death did not happen to you, you achieved it.
 You have achieved "the still more beautiful later"... and how I so wish that you were snuggled next to me this very minute, that I was washing loads of your sweet, sweet clothes, or changing yet another stinky, poopy heart can find peace that you are already where I will hope to achieve to day. I may never receive my own gold medal, I may never achieve the power to inspire love quite like you have and that is ok...because that day, whenever it may be, when we are reunited in that "beautiful later"...that will be plenty gift enough for me. 

I find solace that Steve Jobs' family and friends were present to capture his last words: "Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow." If the genius, logical & brilliant mind of Steve Jobs can be amazed and moved to those simple yet powerful words as he was about to enter "the still more beautiful later"; then how can I not believe that you have achieved complete greatness. 

I love you sweet baby girl, and I am so proud of you, today..tomorrow...and in that beautiful later. ♥♥

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Learning How To Breathe With No Air...

"If I should die before I wake
It's 'cause you took my breath away
Losing you is like living in a world with no air...

But how do you expect me
to live alone with just me
'Cause my world revolves around you
It's so hard for me to breathe

But somehow I'm still alive inside

You took my breath, but I survived
I don't know how..."

Dear Sof, 
Every day I am reminded of how difficult it is to breathe in this new world. Even after 8 months with you not here, I continue to be panic stricken when a moment takes away the little breath that I have left.
Today when I was leaving work, I saw a Christmas tree displayed and lit outside of our gift shop. My brain understands that the holidays are coming sooner than later…but my heart is another story. As soon as I saw those bright, white lights that lay perfectly on that tree, all of my breath escaped my body.
I’m just not ready to face the holidays without you here; the way that you are supposed to be.
 I know that we will still honor you and include you in our holiday festivities. 
We are already in process of working on a beautiful tree that will be available for donation to Akron Children’s Hospital, in your honor. We are calling it, “The Sofia” and it will be adorned with perfect butterflies and topped with a very sweet angel.
I know that we will still hang a stocking inscribed with your beautiful name, hung gently right between mine and daddy’s;  because having a stocking hung for you in our home that we will never be able to see you open, somehow hurts less than not having one for you at all.
I know that we will attend a remembrance service for you and donate a perfect gift for baby girl who is the same age that you would be.
You will be remembered, honored, and loved. 
But today, on October 18th, when I left work and my heart ran smack into that Christmas tree…I just wasn’t prepared. The reality of you not being with us for your first Christmas is just too much to swallow. Which is ok, because in that moment, I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t breathe at all. I could only ache.
I had always thought that any type of suffocation would be this world’s cruelest fate.  A feeling of absolute terror intertwined perfectly with absolute helplessness.  I have often watched movies that contain a drowning scene, and have witnessed the devastating results of a drowning patient at work, and my mind can’t help but wonder what those last, terrifying moments would feel like.
 I read that in a drowning death you first experience intense panic and an overwhelming need to keep your face above water. You frantically kick your legs but for some reason keep your hands still. You are silent, you don't try to say anything. You just feel panic. After a couple of minutes you realize that you are sinking. All of the air has now left your lungs. You start to inhale water and it burns as it goes down your throat. You can look up and see the surface, but you feel heavy. The water burns as it begins to fill your lungs…but then you feel at peace. You close your eyes and you succumb to death.
Many days I have felt this heaviness, this burning of a different sort. I’m not drowning in the traditional sense, but the panic and the helplessness are as real as if I were.
With each breath, your lungs become heavier, you are unsure if your body will be able to sustain their weight. Imagine an incredibly hot, humid, sticky day… a day where the air around you feels more like a solid than a breathable gas. With each breath, you are so aware of its thickness, that it takes a conscious effort to swallow in that solid air and gulp it down into those weighted lungs. 
That’s what air feels like with every breath I take, ever since you, my sweet girl, stopped taking yours.
But the human body is amazing, and its resilience to adapt is undeniable. I remember learning a while back that those who find themselves in high altitudes for long periods of time, adjust to compensate for the lower amount of oxygen supply in the air. Their bodies physically turn into an amazing machine as their breathing rate, kidney function, and blood cells all work together to sustain the body as it actually learns to breathe differently. an atmosphere with less breathable air.
I suppose that is what is happening to me.  I am compensating…adapting. The air I breathe is still painful; it burns with each breath of the emptiness that I feel without you. My lungs are heavy but my heart even heavier, which is ironic, because one would think that a broken heart should weigh less somehow.  Yet still, I am learning how to breathe differently.  I am learning how to breathe in this world of no air.
I will never be able to make sense of what has happened in this lifetime. I will never understand why babies have to die at all. I will never understand why this happened to you. I will never understand how our life got so off course.
But I will think of you, miss you and remember you with every breath I take for the rest of my life, and because of you, I will keep breathing, and just maybe that burning will one day turn to into peace. 
The lightness of air and the involuntary act of breathing at all; is something that I will never take for granted, if I should ever be given that gift once again. 
Maybe I’ll ask for that gift of "breathing naivety" for Christmas this year? Or maybe I can sleep through the holidays all together and just wake up in  January?
 I wonder what Santa would say if he pulled my letter out of his North Pole mailbox that read: “Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas this year, is my baby back.”?
I’m thinking that would put a damper on the holiday cheer. So there will be no letter to Santa for me…no Christmas Wish that just can’t be.
Instead I will wish that I feel you close to me through the holidays, and all the days that lay ahead. I will wish that I am able to close my eyes and imagine you in your perfect red, velvet Christmas dress that is trimmed in snow, white fur that we bought for you to have your Holiday photo taken in .
 I will hope that I can imagine your pure joy as you would play more with the wrapping paper than with any of the insane amounts of gifts that would have been bought for you, and I will once again find myself wishing with all my heart for a chance to catch an echo of your sweet giggles throughout the holiday celebrations…even if only in my dreams.
I love you, sweet baby girl, and so I will focus on you in those moments when I am left with no breath, and I will continue to breathe; even in this world with no air….no air. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Effect Of One...

Today wasn't an ordinary work day for was a conference day. I like days like these because I feel like they are a bit of a free day. Sure I have to be somewhere for 8 hours, but I don't have to be "on". I don't have to solve problems, tend to crises, or fill our gobs of paperwork.  I can usually sit back, relax, and let the conference do all the work.
The conference today was titled "The Effect of One", it was put on by our organ donation organization in the area. I go every year because it is a decent conference, it's cheap, and they provide a fabulous breakfast and lunch! (It's the little things in the life of a social worker). 
This morning, I didn't have any unusually high hopes. I paid for my CEU's, grabbed some yummy free breakfast and claimed my spot to kick back for the day. 
This conference was different than previous years. This year they had donation recipients share their stories. Heart-warming? Absolutely. Anything extraordinarily earth shattering? Not really. Until one speaker shared his story...his life journey as he learned of his need for a heart valve transplant to save his life. 
There was something about him, his words; the way he spoke his words; his life; the way he lived his life....he was awe inspiring. While I always have Sofie somewhere on my mind....for some reason she was right on the  surface of my heart as he continued to speak. 
Our stories are so different, yet the underlying message seems so similar. There is a message of uncertainty, hope, love, and faith. There is a life lesson of not only learning how to see things differently; but actually becoming a different person in light of our experience. 
When he finished speaking my friend leaned over to me and said that she couldn't stop thinking of Sofie as he spoke. 
I was so thankful to have my own thoughts and feelings of Sof validated in that moment.  
I was able to talk with the speaker briefly after he finished. I was nervous and could actually see my own face shaking as I spoke. I didn't share very much for fear of becoming too emotional in the moment but did get his contact information and will definitely be in touch with him. I'm not sure why our paths crossed today, but I can't deny that there was meaning behind it. The intensity was palpable and I'm glad I wasn't the only one who could feel it. 
He ended his story describing a cross country bike tour that he completed to inspire hope, he was the first heart valve recipient from the Cleveland Clinic to ever bike coast to coast. He began that journey in Oregon and finished in New Hampshire. He shared how when he got towards the end of that journey, he could see blue. A different blue than he had seen along his journey. His perspective had changed. The blue that he saw now, was the water on the coast, signifying the end of a long and challenging journey. 
I couldn't help but think of how different everything now looks through my own eyes since Sofie's birth and essentially her death; how my perspective on everything is so unbelievably different. I understand completely what it is like to leave the self that you once knew behind in a moment's notice, and be thrown into a whole new self that you haven't even had the chance to get to know. 
I know I'm still figuring out who I am in this new life; as Sofie's mom; as the mother to an angel. I know it will be a long and challenging journey ahead. I know that there will be days where the beauty of it all will take my breath away, and then there will be days that I will need to pause along the side of the road to simply catch my breath and days still where I will have to remind myself to keep breathing at all. I hope there will be days (and I do believe that they will come) when I will see color in the world again. And I know that along my life's journey, however long it will be, that I will yearn for the day when I will look up and see the beautiful color (whatever it may be) of the Glorious Light that will signify the end of my own journey and lead me once again to my sweet, sweet, baby girl. 
If this kind man can take his experience and ride his bike across our nation, 3,500 miles; with a heart that had been "broken", simply to inspire hope;  then I too can continue my journey with my own healing heart.   
Sofie, I love you, baby girl. I always expected that as your mama I would be teaching you lessons of life. Sure they'd start out small..."look both ways before you cross a street", "be kind to others", I'd teach you how to tie your shoes, how to bake cookies and how to properly decorate a cupcake, we'd teach you to be a good student (though I'd have saved the math lessons for your daddy), we'd teach you to respect those around you while ensuring that you understood that you also deserved to be treated with respect as well, we'd teach you to value the important things in life...the things that really matter. I don't know how we'd teach those and so many other things to you, and I can guarantee that we'd have made mistakes along the way, but we sure would have tried. I never could have imagined that instead, you would be the one who continues to teach me. You Sof, have taught so many of us that the effect of one can be powerful; that the effect of one can be immeasurable; that the effect of one can be life changing.  Through my love for you, today; the effect of one man brought me hope.  
Little did the conference organizers know that they had a special key note speaker today; inspiring hope without saying a word. I love you, sweet pea, to the moon and back, always and forever. ♥ The effect of one sweet baby girl continues....

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's A.....!!

One year ago today my sweet Sof, I had the amazing opportunity to see you growing inside of me for your 20 week ultrasound. You were amazing! I remember clearly, waking up in the morning and having butterflies in my stomach, I was so excited but also wanted to make sure you were healthy. Your Aunt Cathy and I went to the appointment and laughed hysterically as we watched your  active, sassy self. My favorite part of the day was when the u/s tech kept "flipping" the wand and told us that you did not have your hand up by your head as we first believed in one were covering both ears completely with each hand as if to say "I have heard enough!" I remember giggling through my joy-filled tears exclaiming that, "I thought I had at least 12 years or so before I had to face that look".
I never could have imagined that I would never even get the chance to deal with your pre-teen attitude. Call me crazy, but I would love to have the opportunity to face those pre-teen and teen aged moments with you...even the really bratty ones. 
Your 20 week ultra sound was the most special 45 minutes of my life. I watched carefully as they checked your ventricles, both heart and brain, to make sure they were perfectly healthy for you...and they were!
You were the picture perfect healthy baby.
We eagerly anticipated the moment of learning your gender and made us sweat it our for a bit. The tech continued to work for that picture, and finally almost 35 minutes into the u/s....the results were in! She froze the screen on the identifying parts and I immediately knew...Aunt Cathy was so excited as she kept yelling "what it is?! What are we looking at?!".
I cried as I exclaimed "It's a girl!"
I had been convinced that I was carrying a baby boy, would have bet my life savings on that. For being so in tune with you the whole pregnancy, boy did I misjudge that one. But there was one day, about a week before we found out, that I was driving in the car. Bruno Mars' "Amazing" came on the radio and as I turned it up loudly I said without hesitation, "Here's our song, Baby girl!" The moment I said it I laughed, that came out of no where...I then apologized to you in the event that you were a boy. But I guess my heart already knew. I was carrying a beautiful, perfect baby girl.
I called your daddy the minute the appointment was over, he was so sad to have had to miss it. We had decided we'd wait until we were home for him to learn of your gender, but he was so excited, he couldn't wait. He had me tell him over the phone immediately. He was so in love with you, already.
I had to go to work after your big ultra sound and could not wait for the day to be over.
When I called your daddy to tell him I was going shopping to buy you your first baby girl outfit, he proudly told me that he had already enrolled you in the class of 2029 of Our Lady of the Elms all girl catholic school.
From that day forward whenever we drove (and still drive) by that school, your daddy would joke that it was (is) "Sofie's school".
I was giddy as I raced into Babies R Us that day. I wanted to shout over the intercom, "I'm having a girl!"
I had planned on just getting one sweet daddy's girl outfit, but $75.00 later, I knew I was in trouble with a baby girl on the way! I could already picture what you'd look like in all of these sweet clothes.

And of course my favorite baby purchase ever was your perfect "Valentine's Day" dress. I fell in love the moment I saw this sweetly hanging in the store. I knew that you needed to have that dress, I just never anticipated just how special it would become.
It was the same dress that I slyly wrapped up to announce your gender to Grammie...I wrapped it so only the navy blue showed at first. Her eyes smiled when she saw the blue, assuming you were a boy, and then as she picked it up and saw the perfect red hearts and the adorable full length of the dress, her eyes sparkled with joy! You had stolen everyone's hearts.
I'm not going to lie, Sweet Pea, there have been moments when I have stared at your pretty 20 week photos, or when I have looked back on that day, when I have felt more pain than joy. I am so sorry for that. I have looked at those pictures and have been so angry that I can't warn the you in those u/s pictures or the me in pregnant photos about what lies up ahead. But I have decided that having those amazing moments with you, even while still inside of me; getting to peek in on your world, watch your active self and that personality that already seemed so apparent, falling absolutely in love with you as Sofia Isabella from the moment that was confirmed...those moments are nothing to be sad about. Those moments were real and I will treasure those sweet ones forever. From September 8, 2010 onward, you became, Sofia "Sofie" Isabella Dente, our precious baby girl. My heart would begin to feel a love that I have never known, a love that is so pure, so honest, so full, and all for you. As your beautiful prayer cards read at your services:
"Before you were conceived, I wanted you...
 Before you were born, I loved you...
 Before you were here an hour, I would die for you...
 This is the miracle of life."

I love you baby girl, it has been a true joy and honor to get to know you...really know you, Sofia Isabella, for the past year. Always proud to be your the moon and back baby girl, always and forever. ♥♥

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meet me at the sea shore...

Sweet baby girl, one year ago today, I was listening to your strong, steady heart beat, wondering if you were a she or a he. I was so in love with you already. Today, I am packing for our first big family vacation...without you. Today, I should be excitedly packing all of those sundresses, and  little bathing suits, even those questionable bikinis from Aunt Cathy. :)

 We should be excitedly mapping out our big road trip to accommodate your feeding schedule, but instead we'll just drive well into the night.
This vacation was going to be your first beach trip ever. I couldn't wait to see you play in the sand, dip those wiggly toes in the water, and watch the love in that hotel room for you, as your GAC (great Aunt Cheryl) and Badee (great Aunt Debbie) would have met you for the first time. Your daddy had bought you the sweetest, modest, one piece bathing suit, to match your beautiful self. ( I may still pack that one with me, just to keep it close by),
This is the last of the events we had "planned" with you, before you even arrived. And while everyday stings a bit because you aren't here...I am not sure if it is comforting or terrifying that this was the last planned event.
We are celebrating your Grammy's 60th birthday while at the beach, and your Aunt Judy had given you  a bunch of clothes before you were being this dress. It was going to fit you at this time of we had designated it your party dress for Grammy's birthday dinner. It seems to have lost it's "celebration" and "joy" effect now as it just hangs in your closet.
This trip is so bittersweet baby girl. Many times we thought of canceling. After all, this was not how this trip was supposed to be. But your daddy decided that we needed to go to continue to honor you...and honor you we will. While it will feel like we are even further away from you, if possible, we do have some amazing friends who are going to visit your site while we can not.
Daddy contacted a church right by our hotel and they are saying a Mass in honor of you on Sunday, and the whole family is going. I have asked everyone to pack their Team Sofie shirt (which they had already anyway), so that we can take a big family photo and still have you be in it with us...just in a very different way. Mommy and daddy have a few other ideas for keeping you close with us this trip. So, meet me at the sea shore, baby girl, so you can see for yourself how you will be with us every single day. Meet me at the sea shore, so that I can feel your warmth in the ocean breeze, imagine your giggles when the gentle waves would crash on your toes, and feel so close to you when we gaze up at the giant moon, where the ocean and the night sky meet.
Last year on our beach trip, was the first time that I really felt you kick...I woke up to three tiny taps on my left a little finger (or foot) just poking me...knocking 3 times. I can still feel those tiny taps when I think about it. Meet me at the seashore, baby girl, so that this year, while I can't feel you move from the inside or out,  I will  feel you alive in my heart. I love you, sweet pea. To the big, giant, moon over the beach, and back baby girl...always and forever.
Daddy's favorite pick for the beach trip :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dear God (and Sofie)

I fully recognize that many things I have said, done and/or thought in my new life can come across as odd or raise question, sometimes I hear myself and! But it is all a part of my new perspective on life...and death. See, my relationship with God has definitely been healing...there are still moments that I doubt or get angry, but overall, I would say we are definitely back on speaking(and listening) terms. But I do have to acknowledge that my praying style is now very different. I have always felt connected to the tradition of structured prayer, but most often found myself just sort of conversing with God. Today those conversations are always addressed to God and Sofie. Many days, I find myself talking to Sofie much more than I talk to God...I believe He understands.
I talk to Sofie throughout my day, I cry to her, ask her for inspiration and guidance, and just talk to her about well, everything.
Last night, my niece was injured...she was in the ER at the hospital where I work, which she refers to as "Sofie's Hospital"...*sigh* On exam  she was told that she not only needed stitches, but needed to go to the OR to have a surgeon do the repair, this meant she was going to be given medication to send her into a slumber for the procedure. While it was great to know that she wouldn't have to suffer the pain of stitches in a very sensitive was heartbreaking to witness her sheer terror. I watched her grab my hands and press them up against her clenched eyelids as tight as possible, with just enough room for sobbing tears to flow through..this reminded me of my own reaction in the delivery room when we first heard the words "brain damage". My heart ached for her, that I couldn't take away her fear or anxiety...once again I felt completely helpless. As we found ourselves alone in the exam room for a few minutes, she told me that she was so afraid to be "put to sleep" because she feared she would never wake up. I tried to comfort her, told her that just maybe she'd dream of Sofie and then she and I decided to pray to Sofie. We began Dear God and Sofie...we asked God and Sofie to give her strength, we asked Sofie to stay with her through her procedure so that she would feel safe, we asked Sofie to help her feel brave and to trust the doctors who were going to take very good care of her. For those few minutes, Becca seemed more calm, she seemed to breathe deeper with each word to sweet Sof. When I stepped away from that moment, I was so sad. It breaks my heart that Sofie isn't here and is only "available" to my niece through prayer and conversation. But it also filled my heart to know that my niece did find comfort in being able to not only pray to God for strength but also to Sofie; a baby girl that she does have a real relationship with, even though it is so different than it should have been. Today my sister told me that Becca asked her if she had stayed with her through her surgery in the OR. When my sister told her that she had not been not allowed, Becca didn't believe her. Becca said that she could feel someone holding her hand the entire time. Becca then replied, that it must have been Sofie.  I believe that it was.
I talk to Sofie endlessly. Her love; the love that she has inspired in me and the hope and meaning that I find in her, has led me back to a healing relationship with God.
God, thank you for the Gift of Sofie. Please keep her in your love and light. Surround her with pure joy and take good care of her for me, until I get there.
Sofie, I love you baby girl. Thank you for being with Becca and helping her to find peace and strength. Thank you for being such an active part of my every day. Please continue to inspire me baby girl. Help me to continue to spread the love that you have beautifully ignited. You are my whole heart. I love being your mama.
 Dear Sofie, maybe tonight I could feel your tiny hand in mine as I sleep, just in case I'll keep it open. ♥♥

Friday, July 29, 2011

Life lesson # 2,349 from a baby girl to her mama...

Today I am heading to my annual dermatology not for Botox (though my eyes could definitely use some!).  I love this doctor's office, it is incredibly posh and way over indulgent.  Typically when  coming here, I make sure that I am in a cute, trendy outfit, hair and make up well done, and looking my best. A bit vain...yes, but after all...these people evaluate people's outer self for a living!
Today, however, is different. I have that first day of school pit in my stomach feeling as I get ready. Today I find myself in this beautifully decorated, posh waiting room, wearing shorts, a ragged plain t-shirt, hair up and no make up at all.  The poor girl behind the counter is probably thinking...whoa...whatever she is getting done, they sure have their work cut out for them! Today's appointment feels daunting. You see, this is the last of appointments (believe me there were many) where the last time I was here I let them know I was pregnant. My doctor was so excited that not only did she document it in my chart but she scrolled it across the top bar of the computer screen. Now today...when that computer screen pops up, they will ask about the baby. My heart is heavy. 
My name is called and I am escorted to the exam room.
The nurse tech checking me in is very sweet. I cringe as she pulls up the computer screen. I wonder after this visit if it will scroll, "dead baby" across the top?
She says nothing. She asks me all  of the routine questions, "How much time do you spend in the sun?" "Do you still live at..." "Any medicine changes?" "Any recent surgeries or procedures we need to know about?". My heart gets caught in my throat...I gave baby died. But I don't think that is what she means. So I reply with a "no." That is it, she is done with her part. Phew. I feel like I dodged a bullet to the heart. Well to be honest, a bullet to the heart would be a blessing, it would be fast, basically painless, and it wouldn't cause agonizing suffering. 
Before the tech leaves the room, she spots my hand/footprint necklace. She comes closer to see it and asks proudly, "is that your baby's prints?" I respond proudly back with a "yes". 
I love my necklace with her tiny prints, but I can't tell you how few people acknowledge them (except from those who knew I was having them made). This was a welcomed interaction. 
I sit in the exam room for 45 minutes, freezing as the paper dress they have me wearing is no match for the room's arctic chill. I flash back to my last appt. I was 8 weeks pregnant. I was so excited to tell my doctor. She kept telling me how I was " just beaming", and having known of our earlier miscarriage, kept telling me that she, "just knew this pregnancy was going to be alright". (Something I will never say to any pregnant woman...because unfortunately no one can ever guarantee that. )
My heart hasn't yet found it's way out of my throat and I feel my eyes beginning to well up. Please don't cry, not yet, not here. This is the last time I have to tell someone that is expecting a joy-filled story, about the heartache that has accompanied it. (though my heart and my head knows this won't be the last time). 
I compose myself minutes before my doctor and the nurse come in. As they position me on the exam table...the nurse immediately asks me if my bracelet is a "mother's bracelet". It is my silver and garnet bracelet that says Sofie's sweet name. Again one that has gone seemingly unnoticed even though I have worn it every day. I nervously tell her yes and she says it is beautiful and tells me of the one she has as well. I feel like a normal mom. 
The doctor didn't look at the computer screen and doesn't seem to remember my joyous announcement from my last appt....I am more than fine with this. She flips me over onto my back and as she examines my stomach, she notices my "linea nigra". She asks if I have been pregnant recently. I gulp back my heart and tell her that I had a baby in January. She asks when, "the 26th" I reply. She smiles. She notices my necklaces and reads Sofia Isabella's sweet name out loud. She asks if this is our first. I say yes. She says that she has one born in January too, and that Sofia is going to be incredibly independent. If only she knew just how independent. She doesn't need her mama at all. *sigh* There is so little that I can even do for her. The exam is the over. I have made it through....with no tears, well not in the office anyway. 
I get to the car and it is a different story, the tears flow freely as my mind processes the morning. 
In the background a familiar song comes on the radio that I have heard countless times, but my understanding of the words are so different now:

 "Where is the moment we needed the most ?
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost
You tell me your blue skies fade to grey
You tell me your passion's gone away...
You're faking a smile with the coffee to go
You tell me your life's been way off line
You're falling to pieces everytime...

Because you had a bad day, you're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around...

Sometimes the system goes on the blink
And the whole thing turns out wrong..."

Isn't that the truth. I am having a low moment in the baby is so independent, she doesn't even  need me at all.  This is a difficult pill to swallow.  As I cross an upcoming street I notice it's blurry name through my tear-filled eyes. Legacy Drive. I replay this morning's events. I dreaded having to share with another person that expected a happy story, that my beautiful baby girl died. Today I didn't have to. 
I was able to share Sofie. I shared her perfect little prints, her beautiful name, and her birthday...only. I only shared that she lived. The part the matters the most. Her life is her legacy, not her death. She began  inspiring love, hope and faith the moment she entered this life...not because she left it. I begin to feel joy win out over the pain at my revelation. Sofie's life is her legacy! Just as I ask her out loud, "and you aren't done yet are you baby girl?", a beautiful, large yellow and black butterfly flies right across my windshield. Coincidence? Perhaps. Special? Definitely. She isn't done yet...she's got so much more to share. My baby girl may be independent, but just maybe she does need me. She needs me to continue her legacy, to continue to  share her life, so that she can continue to spread her love. I promise you, baby girl, your mama's not done yet either. I will always share your story, but more importantly your life, so that you can continue to awaken a sense of love in every heart that learns of you. I love you, sweet pea, to the moon and back, always and forever. ♥♥