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. ♥♥