Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thank You!

First & foremost, I'd like to thank God for everything He has given us and for keeping our daughter safe from harm!

And the following, in no particular order:

Angel Velazquez
Norman & Pearl Hemberger
June Snyder
Veronica Kriebel-Drelling
Crystal Robb
Josh McClure
Aileen McClure
Dan Velazquez
Lisa Velazquez
Christina Snyder
Jessica Snyder
Andy Morales
Sharyl Geise
Robyn Heckman Conrath
Cliff & Joe S.
Fran & Russ Henz
Tara Henz
Pat Henz
Sean Henz
Jolene Byers
Sam Reynolds
Tara Russo
Diane Spoor
Henry Adlean
Ramsey Gregory
Jeremy & Danna Erb
Donna Jeremiah
Taylor Jeremiah
Joe Dannheimer
Robert Fisher (father)
Robert Fisher (son)
Ryan Bordell
Jessica Goudy Goshorn
Maryann Coberly
Terrie Smith Crone
Rebecca Harman
Bryonie Lynn Heath
Stephanie Colacitti
Kathy Diggan (our photographer)
Mindy Lewis (our social worker at the hospital)
Mystie Patton Moran
Lacy Sanchez
Deb & Peter Lucas
Melinda Woods
Mike Deitz
Chris & Nancy Derck
Doris Gunsallus
Irvin & Jean Reiner
Mike Bramhall
Sharon & Pam Paczkoski
Rosemarie Witt
Kathy Kelley
Mr & Mrs. Boyd
Lucy Aponte
Christine Pettersson
Michelle Wolfe
The Kelley Sisters
Amanda Head
Anthony & Holly Haas
Sarita Boyette
Kevin Shervinskie (funeral director)
Sheila S.
Ross & Allison Johnson
Leslie & Allen McCoy
Rachel Johnson
Danyelle S.
Tiffany H.
Sherri & Tom F.
Melissa M.
Helen Bandza
Trina Shinskie
Jason Beers
Reena Shingara
Ryan Beers
Lorri Moore
Katrina & Doug Munson
Jennifer Long
Many others who attended & helped at our car wash
Geisinger MFM staff
Geisinger Labor & Delivery Staff
Homeplate crew
All other Angel mommies for their prayers, love & support

Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. You will all hold a spot in our hearts forever!

(***If I forgot you, please forgive me! Send me a message on Facebook and I can add your name to the list. My deepest apologies!***)

The count is in!!

We have finally deposited all the money raised for Sophia's headstone into the Buried With Dignity account! We had one small set back. Unfortunately, there was no money left at our church, like we were told there was. Apparently, all the money was used to cover the cost of Sophia's services. I sat here trying to think of other ways to raise the money that we were now missing. Automatically, I felt drained. Like I had no more energy to keep moving forward. I was coming very close to settling for a cheaper stone. As these thoughts were running through my head, an old high school friend popped up at my house. At first, she scared the crap out of me!! (HAHA) I didn't realize she walked up on to our porch until she spoke. But what she had to say was something that made me feel completely overwhelmed with joy and more at ease. She told me that her and her hubby had talked and agreed to help us out with the last bit of money needed to pay for Sophia's headstone. I wasn't sure if I wanted to cry, jump up and hug her, or pass out! It's one of the best feelings ever... JOY! My baby will finally have the headstone she deserves.

So, this friend of mine, took me to the bank today so I could deposit the money. Final count in my hands: $1,180! Leaving the bank, I felt so good inside. Katrina (my friend who I keep ranting about) and myself chatted the whole way home. It was nice to be able to get out and away from kids for a little bit. Once I made it home, reality struck. This is it. I've lost my baby and she's not coming back. I'll never get to hold her in my arms again. I'll never be able to hug her tight or kiss her soft cheeks again. I'll never get to tell her just how much I love her and miss her, except in my letters to her. I'll never have the chance to feed her. I'll never be woken up in the middle of the night to do diaper changes. I'll never get to watch her take her first steps or watch her learn to crawl. I'll never be able to prepare her for potty training. First day of school, out the door it went. I'll never be able to kiss her boo-boos away. I'll never be able to tell her that everything will get better after a boy breaks her heart. I'll never have the opportunity to help her get dressed on her wedding day. It's all gone! I keep trying to remind myself today that she's living on in a much better place, where there is no such thing as hurt, or pain, or illness. But that just doesn't make it any easier to deal with.

So now, we wait until we get word that the money has been received. We have the wording all figured out. I can't wait to see how it will look. I'm very excited about that. But once that is all done, what do I do? I've been keeping myself busy with planning things to raise money for her headstone... and now it's paid for. I guess now is when I really begin to grieve... and grieve hard. I have to find a way to continue living, only as a different person. I'm not the "old Tab" anymore. I'm not sure how I will make it through with a broken heart, but I will try my very best.

Now I'll take a few minutes to share some pictures of Sophia's Carwash For A Cause with my readers :)
That's one way for a short person to reach the top!

Love this van!! 2 of my boys at the trunk :)

Work, work, work!

One of our many signs and many helpers :)

We washed anything with wheels!

Getting my hands dirty with the soon to be sister-in-law

Oh the sun!! Angel & I waiting for more cars

Brainstorming with Mom

And the day is done (My brother and I)


Thanks to everyone who has helped us during this difficult time, whether it was by donating, praying, or supporting us! We deeply appreciate it!

(More detailed thanks in following blog post.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Due date

Today is our due date! I can't believe it's officially here. I'm not sure how to express my feelings today. I'm just a big ball of emotions. I'm not sure if I should be angry, sad, at peace, etc. But I can tell you, I feel so many emotions all at once right now. This journey so far has been full of tears, pain, sorrow, grief, smiles, some laughs, and triumph. Me, no I do not feel triumphant. That part belongs to Sophia. She has been triumphant in the sense that she is no longer laying in that cold, dark grave. She is laying in the arms of Jesus. She gets to live an eternal life with Him. How great is that!? It's something we all dream of, living in a perfect world without hurt, without pain, without illness. And she has that! Her and all her angel friends...

Kolton
Rachel
Amelia
Elizabeth
Palmer
Anouk
Carleigh
Theo
KayLynn
Leilani
Angela
Aiyana & Bobbi Lynn
And those are just to name a few! She is one lucky girl to have so many beautiful friends. She also has one very special friend here on Earth... Katie Santasieri. I like to think that all these babies are watching over Katie. She has been such a blessing to her family & all their friends. She is one beautiful little girl!

I trust that Sophia will be at God's side on Monday morning, watching over her 2 1/2 year old cousin, Isaiah. My handsome little nephew will be undergoing brain surgery. I wish I could be there with our family... but I have so much going on and no transportation. He's such a strong little man. He may not be strong on the outside right now, but he has one of the strongest hearts I have ever seen. I know that God & Sophia will not let anything bad happen to him. Speaking of Isaiah, I have started a blog for him, to follow his journey with Chiari Malformation. Feel free to follow him Through The Eyes Of Isaiah.

Saturday is the big day! Sophia's Carwash For A Cause! I'm so excited. I really hope this will tie up all the loose ends and we'll be able to order Sophia's headstone by Mid-August. If not sooner. I'm excited to see who will all be there. I haven't seen very many of my friends since losing Sophia. I've basically secluded myself and only spend time with a select few people. I'm thinking that if it's a big hit, we may very well end up doing this every year & then donating the money to Anencephaly research. I think that would be another great way to keep Sophia alive.

I know that some of you are aware that I haven't been able to make it out to visit Sophia at the cemetery in about a month. I have been finding it unbelieveably hard to function to a full 100%. And I have been feeling very guilty for not being able to visit with her. After her funeral, I was going to visit with her every other day. Then it became every other 2 days. Then once a week. Then nothing at all. That kills me! It bothered me so much and had made me feel so guilty, that 2 friends of mine had agreed to take a walk with me one night to go visit with her. It's much cooler at night. No one is supposed to enter the cemetery after dark... but I just couldn't help it. I was hurting. I had to make sure her marker was still there. I had to make sure her flowers weren't knocked over. And I had to check and see if her grass was growing yet. I figured that if we got caught, I would just explain to whoever it was that I'm a grieving mother who has been overcome with guilt that I just had to visit her to put myself at ease. Needless to say, we weren't caught. We were very quiet and respectful, as always. We didn't stay long (we all had a weird eerie feeling while we were there). I'm happy to report that Sophia's grass is growing nicely in some spots. Other spots are still dried out and dead, but not like it was the last time I was there. Her marker is still there along with all of her flowers.

We wanted to go visit her today... what better day to do it then on her due date... as a family! Unfortunately, the weather kept us at home. I'm sure she understands. It's not much fun tracking all the kids to the cemetery on foot. We have quite a bit of flat land, but to reach Sophia, we have to walk up several steep hills. Mercedes & Javier are known to poke around when it comes to walking. I would much rather walk at a decent pace so I can get there faster. Hopefully we'll all be able to make a trip to the cemetery after the carwash. Not just as a family, but as a group of people who love & care about Sophia. Our helpers do not know about that plan just yet. But they aren't expected to drop everything and come along, but I figured an invitation would be nice. Maybe then more people would understand why we are working so hard on raising the money needed for Sophia's headstone. She deserves it!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

6 weeks (and a day)

I can't believe it, 6 weeks have gone by since Sophia's birthday... Happy 6 week Birthday, baby girl! Honestly, I'm still trying to figure out how I have made it this far and this long without her. I guess you could say that I'm not really "without" her. She lives on in my heart, and in my mind. Not 1 day goes by that I don't think of her or wonder what she would be doing now if she were still with us.

We have finally been able to set up a date and place for Sophia's Carwash For a Cause.  I can't wait... I'm so excited for more people to get to know my precious little girl and to spread more awareness on Anencephaly. Hopefully by the time I'm done, everyone in the world will know what it is. It's not as uncommon as doctors try to make it seem. It happens every day! As for the carwash, anyone who is interested in coming to have their car washed or to help out, we will be at AutoZone on Rt. 61 on July 30th from 12-? It will be $6 a car. Not bad, right? Not to mention, any money made during this event will be put towards the cost of Sophia's headstone. We are getting sooo close! I'm hoping that the carwash is a big hit and we'll be tying up all the loose ends and ordering Sophia's headstone in no time.

Now, I need to ask everyone who is reading this to please say a prayer for my nephew, Isaiah. He has Chiari Malformation and is expected to go in for surgery possibly this week. My sister has been told that things may change for him after surgery. He may not be able to walk, or talk, or see. It is a very risky surgery. Isaiah is only 2 years old and needs a lot of prayers.

One more prayer request for a very special friend of mine, Dawn and her baby, Katie. Katie will be born sometime later today. She was diagnosed with anencephaly on Feb. 22. I'm hoping that Dawn and her family get to spend lots of time with Katie. This, I'm sure, will be a very bittersweet time for their family. I'm sure Sophia will be right there waiting for her at Heaven's Gate. Dawn & family, you are all in my prayers tonight and always!

On another note, I have finally been able to meet my twin niece and nephew. They're gorgeous!! I thought for sure that I would have a hard time holding Shayna, seeing as how she is a baby girl. So I held Braedyn first. He's such an adorable lil guy. When the time came to hold Shayna, I was a little iffy about it. But once I got her in my arms, I didn't want to let her go. It was almost as if I could see some of Sophia in her. Thanks to these 2 little babies, my empty arms felt better for a few hours. It was very hard for me to fall asleep that night. I could still smell their baby smell on my clothes. Changing didn't help... I could smell it on my own skin. This made me miss Sophia so much more. On a scale from 1-10, it was at 1,000. I ended up asking God about a million questions that night:

"Why me?"
"What have I ever done to deserve this?"
"Why did you have to take MY baby?" 
"Why can't I hold my baby one last time?"
"When my time here is over, will Sophia even recognize me?"
"Does Sophia miss me as much as I miss her?"

And so many more. Life has been very hard the last 6 weeks, not to mention the last 5 months! Sometimes I feel as if I am making progress through my grief. Like I take 2 steps forward but then I get pushed back a step. But like Jenny says, it's still progress!

I feel this constant urge to plan things. Not things for myself, but things for Sophia. Things that I can do to raise awareness on this condition. Things that I can do so that more people will get to know who my daughter was and what she has done for us. I started making awareness ribbons... that went well for awhile. I started making keychains with her name on them... they still sell sometimes. I've planned a carwash... that's coming up. I wanted to put together a walk with the March of Dimes... the lady never called me back to meet us at the end of May. I would like to still get it together, but I don't know where to start. After that, I'm not sure what else I can do. And I feel as if once I stop planning things, I'm just going to fall apart all over again and I'm not going to have the strength to put myself together again. As long as I'm planning and following through with those plans, I'm okay... my mind stays plenty busy. Even nights are hard. Once I've got all the kids tucked away in their beds... my mind starts to wander. It starts to race in a million different directions. Like I explained to a good friend of mine yesterday, it's like being one person... and wanting to go in every which direction at once. And almost like your body is trying to separate from itself just to make it in all those directions. My mind is consumed with thoughts of Sophia and how this loss of such a beautiful person will affect me in the long run. Yes, I am still hurting now... but I'm still in the beginning. Hopefully soon I'll have a grief counselor to help me make sense out of this so called new life.


Special thanks to:

Sheila S
Melinda Woods
Ross & Allison Johnson
Lesley & Allen McCoy
Melissa M
Rachel J
Ramsey Gregory
Sherri & Tom F.
Danyelle S.

A very deep & heartfelt thank you to all of you for donating towards Sophia's headstone. And an extra special thank you to those of you who have been here for us through it all. THANK YOU!!!

(To make your donation towards Sophia's headstone, click the tab above that says "Donate towards her headstone")

Monday, July 4, 2011

NILMDTS pics!

I'm happy to say that we have finally received 30 of our hospital pictures from our NILMDTS photographer. I was having a pretty down & out day, like I've been having the last 34 days. Yesterday was no different. Until I decided to check my e-mail and I seen that I had a message from our photographer saying she was finally able to upload 30 pictures. I was beyond excited. I couldn't wait to see them. Which reminds me, I still need to reply to her. These pictures made my day so much better. 1 good day out of 34! All it took was to see that our love for Sophia was caught in the pictures. They're truly amazing! Now I'm sure you're all wondering when I'm going to shut up and share them with you. So I won't make you wait any longer!

To view Sophia's hospital pictures, go to Collages and click on Guests on the left. Next, it'll ask for a username and password. The username is Sophia Grace's Birth and the password is 23376. On the next screen, just enter your information. Then it'll bring you to the album. I think the site is experiencing some problems so in order to view them, you have to click on "Webshow" to the left or else you'll only see 3 pictures. Hopefully they'll get it situated soon. There is also a guestbook located on the site. It too sits off to the left. We'd love to hear from you!

There are many more pictures left. I'm really hoping she got a picture of all 7 of us together. Honestly, I can't remember much about that day, so I'm not sure what she got pictures of. All I know is, I can't wait to see the rest! She has done such a wonderful job. The wait was totally worth it! Kathy Diggan, if you are reading this, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!! Thank you just doesn't seem like enough. I'm so glad that you were able to meet our precious little angel!

I haven't been able to update lately because yet again, I've fallen sick. I'm starting to notice a pattern here. I guess I'm supposed to be sick on every holiday now. Last night was very hard for me. I hated to be out and enjoying the fireworks with the family. I wanted so badly to be sitting there holding Sophia and including her on everything we did. But, she made her presence known! Angel snagged his sisters cell phone and we sat there watching the fireworks and listening to "I Will Carry You". Before long, they shot off a firework that looked like a butterfly!! I'm not sure why, but butterflies remind me of Sophia. Everytime I see one, I know she is with us. So seeing this beautiful butterfly lighting up the night sky, was the sign I needed!

Just a little while ago, I looked in our newspaper to find this picture

It's a little hard to see, but that is our family all sitting on the curb watching the fireworks. I'd be the one sitting there in black pants :) Angel is right beside me, holding Javier. Jordan is sitting in front of me. Mercedes is sitting behind Angel, all wrapped up in a blanket. And Junior is sitting over by his Grandma.

I like to think that Sophia & her angel friends all had the best seat in the house! But I can only imagine how their poor ears feel! Either way, I'm sure they enjoyed our "Coal Cracker" fireworks!

Today is yet another Monday... God how I hate Monday's! 4 weeks ago today, we buried our daughter. How has it been 4 weeks already? I wish someone could explain to me how all this time just seems to have flown right on by while it still feels like yesterday. My life still feels as if it's on pause. I feel as if I'm a robot. Like someone else is controlling me... keeping me moving forward through all these days. It's so hard to explain and even harder to understand.

Tomorrow will make yet another Tuesday... I hate these days even more. Tomorrow will make 5 weeks since we lost her. I know this month is going to be one of the hardest yet. Technically, I should still be pregnant right now! I should still be feeling Sophia kicking and moving around. I had wanted to plan a prayer ceremony rather then a baby shower for the early part of July. I never had a chance to do that. Instead, I'm planning a car wash to raise funds for Sophia's headstone. This all seems so unfair. Sophia's crib and changing table still sits in its box. Her blankets and clothes sitting in a storage tote. Playtex nurser bottles still sit inside of its box, unopened. Bibs, hats, onesies, etc. still not touched! Ask me if I will part with any of those things and I will tell you... NO! Even though Sophia is no longer with us in body, these things are still hers. I will never part with them. They are reminders that Sophia was very real. She wasn't something I had made up. I have many many pictures of her. Precious and bittersweet memories frozen in time.

With that in mind, I will end this here so you all can go on ahead to view our beautiful girl!

***Sophia Grace,  we miss you so very much... and we love you even more! I wish I could put into words just how much, but there are no words to describe it. You have done so much good in your short time with us and have touched many lives in the process. I am so proud of you! And I'm so proud to be able to call myself the mother of such a strong little girl. You're my world!***

Friday, July 1, 2011

1 month...

ago I had to say "see you later" to my precious little girl. One month ago, I was the happiest, yet saddest mother in the whole world. One month ago, we had pictures taken of our family of 7. One month ago, several people shed many tears in my hospital room. One month ago, I was able to hold my baby girl in my arms for the first time. One month ago, Angel proved to me just how strong he was by tending to Sophia's needs (cleaning up after birth, cutting her umbilical cord, putting a dressing and hat on Sophia's little head, swaddling her in a blanket, and bringing her to me so I could meet this beautiful little girl.) One month ago, I felt part of my heart break and leave right along with my girl. One month ago, I thought for sure I was going to die, right along with Sophia.

But, I'm still here! I must be doing something right. Honestly, I believe it has a lot to do with the prayers that everyone has been sending. I believe that if it weren't for the prayers from all of you, I may not be where I am today. I think your prayers are what has pulled me away from going off the deep end.

These last 31 days have not be easy ones. Just recently, I decided to try to put myself in Sophia's shoes. If my mother would have lost me, would I want her to sit around the rest of her life with a pile of grief & sadness on her shoulders and in her heart? No, I would not. I would want her to try her best to enjoy what life she has left. And I'm sure that is exactly what Sophia has been thinking. I can almost hear her saying, "Mommy, please! Pick yourself back up. I haven't gone far, for I am still in your heart. I will be waiting in God's mighty Kingdom for you." So, I have decided that I'm going to start picking up the pieces of our lives. Our lives have been changed forever, but we still have a puzzle of a life to put back together... just with 1 big missing piece.

Right now, I want to thank all of you for your support, prayers, & donations! We would like to thank each & every one of you from the bottom of our hearts. Hopefully you're all reading this. Without you, we'd be stuck! I also want to thank Maryann and her husband from Buried With Dignity. You are both truly amazing and I'm so thankful that God has brought you into our lives! Thank you all <3

As of right now, we are at a total of $1,320 in donations towards Sophia's headstone. We're almost there! I can't believe it... this is truly a blessing. We still have a ways to go yet to reach our goal of $3,000 but we're getting there and that is all that matters. In time, Sophia will have the stone that she deserves thanks to many of you. I'm hoping to get out this weekend to snap a few pictures of the headstone we want for her so I can post it here to share with you all and to send to Maryann so her hubby can add it to the site.

On another note, I should be getting our hospital pictures back sometime within the next day or so (I hope). There seems to be a problem with the website that our photographer has been uploading them to. I cannot wait to see them! Once we get them, we'll be able to pick our favorite picture of Sophia and send it along to BWD so they can add her picture as well.

Life has many ups and downs, twists and turns, and bumpy roads... but it is times like these that show me there are still some good people left in this world. Many of them, I like to call friends. You are all just so wonderful. I don't know what I would do without you.

I also want to thank those of you who have commented on my last post. I'm glad to know that everything I am feeling is all normal. I question myself all the time. There is this burning deep down inside me that wants answers as to why everything happened the way it did. Questions that I will probably never know the answers to. And for now, I think I am okay with that simply because I know that time will reveal all.

Seeing as how today is Sophia's 1 month Angelversary... we went outside today to release a few balloons for her. This time, it was different. Angel picked up the balloons that you tie the big rubber band on and then kiddos can kinda bop it around with their fists... I'm not sure what they are called but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. He had them blown up with helium and brought them home for all of us to add our own special messages. Like the kids say, I wrote a book haha! Thank God for these big balloons. It was nice to see them floating up to the Heavens. As I sat on my porch steps and watched the balloons float away, it looked like they were all being pulled in a certain direction. So I sat there and told myself, "See, Sophia isn't far at all. She's just a few blocks away... look straight up and there she is." Call it strange but it seemed to comfort me in a way.

As I've said, life has been rather difficult since losing Sophia. But Mercedes, Junior, Jordan, and Javier show me every day that life is worth living. They never forget about their baby sister. Several times we have sat down to talk with Javier, seeing as how he is only 4 years old and doesn't seem to understand much of what has happened. We asked him if he knows where "Sissy Sophia" is. And he'll say, "Yea, her in Heaven with God." So that right there goes to show just how much he does understand. I can also tell that he misses her, just by the little things he does. While I was still pregnant with Sophia, he used to hug and kiss my belly several times a day and say, "I love you Sophia!" And now, one month later, he's still doing it. But he catches himself when he goes to say I love you. He has asked if I will have another baby. At this time, the idea of that is up in the air. We're not too sure. I have A LOT to talk to the doctors about and they just seem to keep rescheduling my appointment with no real reason. My primary OB has made me feel more like a disease then a patient. I'd much rather go back to Geisinger and see those doctors rather then the doctors at the Geisinger clinics. They just make my skin crawl and make me wanna scream til I lose my voice.

Ugh, I wish I had a camera to take pictures of the balloon release today. It wasn't very many, but to me, it was amazing. The kiddos loved the idea of writing their own messages to her this time. I'm sure it made them feel all warm inside, as it did for me.

I'm hoping to be able to go visit with Sophia again soon. I never realized how hard it is to walk 2 miles with 4 kids. And going uphill in the heat, not easy! But if I have to do it that way again, so be it. I just miss her so much. Everytime we go to visit her, I swear, I have a smile that goes from ear to ear. When we visit with her, I feel happy. We're all sitting together, as a family, and just engaging in conversation and including Sophia in those conversations. It's when it comes time to leave, I have a hard time. I'm finally able to control my tears for the most part (even though a few still escape here and there). But leaving her feels like I've just been punched right in the gut. There are times when I just want to run away and disappear. Disappear to Sophia's resting place.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rainy Days

All day long I have noticed that we may end up getting some rain. It did shower for awhile but then it stopped. I was thankful for that because we had made plans to go visit Sophia. I didn't want to miss out on seeing her. Or should I say visiting with her. I haven't been able to make it to the cemetery since Father's Day. I've been feeling really guilty for not being able to go at all this week.

So, we went to my parents house for a little family picnic. Honestly, I didn't feel like going. I hate going anywhere, unless it has to do with Sophia. If someone were to say, "Hey Tab, let's go visit with Sophia." or "Hey Tab, can you show me where Sophia is at?" I would jump right then and there. But if someone were to say, "Hey Tab, let's go out and do something fun." chances are, I would turn you down. But, I sucked it up and went anyway. Only because my dad had mentioned about going to visit with Sophia. That was a big deal to me. My parents haven't been able to get to the cemetery since Sophia was buried (June 6th). We all headed over to their house, ate some food, followed by lots of talking. Angel had noticed that the sky was starting to get dark again and a breeze had kicked up. So, I asked my parents if they were ready. Me, I couldn't wait! I was excited to get back to visiting my girl and just hanging out there. Within a few minutes, we were all packed up in the van and headed to St. Edward's Cemetery.

For some reason or another, every time I make it to Sophia's grave, I feel a heaviness lifted off of me. Like this is the place where I am SUPPOSED to be. Of course I'm supposed to be there. My daughter is there. She has been there for almost 3 weeks. How I wish I could've spent those 3 weeks with her. While we were all up there and engaging in conversation, the breeze had picked up again and there was no sign of the sun. I try to tell myself, "The rain is good. We need this rain to help the new grass to grow on Sophia's grave." But every time it rains, I panic. Automatically I start thinking that all the heavy rain will have an effect on the ground. I get scared that the next time I go to the cemetery, her grave will be sunken in. I also start thinking that all this rain is getting down into the ground and that it is soaking her. Some say I'm an "over-thinker". Maybe I am. I just worry about her. I worry about her all the time.

I still have nights where I just lay there and cry myself to sleep. Last night was one of those nights. This time, Angel was still awake when the tears had started to flow. He asked me what was wrong, and I just looked at him. He held me close and told me that he misses her too. I believe that he does. I'm sure we're both on the same level when it comes to how much we love and miss her. After a little while, he noticed that I was still crying and had asked me what I was thinking. I couldn't bring myself to tell him. I just layed there crying, wishing I still had Sophia here with us. It has been 25 days since we lost her. 25 days that I should've been carrying her. 25 days old. God, how I wish I could be spending those 25 days with her, here at home, snuggled in my arms. But I guess life throws new things in our directions. Things we never think will happen to us.

I'm not too sure how I'm even surviving all this hurt, pain, and heartache. But, I'm still here. I do believe that God has carried me this far. And I'm sure He will continue to carry me throughout the rest of my life. He knows just how much I need Him.

I wish I knew what my precious angel was doing right now. I wish I could hear her first words. I wish I could hear her first laugh, or watch her as she learns to hold her head up on her own. I wish I could watch her as she starts to crawl for the first time. I wish I could watch her take her first steps. For crying out loud, I wish I could have fed her. Atleast just once! Having Sophia with us for as long as we did and not having the opportunity to feed her made me feel horrible. I felt as if I was starving her. Somewhere deep down, I knew I wasn't. But it's just one of those feelings you get.

I'm starting to feel worse as the days go on. Noone knows but me. I feel like a bad mother every time I leave Sophia behind in the cemetery. I shouldn't be leaving her behind. I shouldn't be leaving her alone in that dark, dark place. Sometimes I wonder if she is crying out for me. Crying because she is cold and just wants to be nestled in Mommy's arms. These feelings are all so new to me. Am I wrong to be having all these feelings? Or are they perfectly normal? I wish I knew!

I also feel like a bad mother because I have yet to get a headstone for her. I thought we would have plenty of time to save up the money for it. But, unfortunately, our time was cut short. Sophia wasn't due to make an appearance until mid-July. Instead, she decided to come along on May 31st. We don't have anywhere near enough money saved to pay for the headstone we want for her. It's absolutely gorgeous. I'm sure Sophia would love it.

Thanks to an amazing woman named Maryann, we now have the help we need! An organization called Buried With Dignity has reached out to us and is accepting donations to cover the cost of Sophia's headstone. I'm sure it may take some time (hopefully not a whole lot) to raise the funds. But with the help of all of my readers, I believe we can do this together. No matter how large or small the donation, every little bit helps. And if we're able to go on and tell all of our friends about what they are doing for us, we may be able to reach our goal in no time! Special thanks to Maryann and all of those from Buried With Dignity. Without you, I don't know what we would do!

Wouldn't Sophia's grave look much more beautiful with a headstone?

I have been told within the last 25 days that I'll eventually have good days. I wonder when that will be. Every time I think I will have a good day, I start to feel guilty about being happy. How can I be happy when I have lost a child? My baby! I'm sure she would love to be able to look down on us and see that we're happy. But truth is, I'm not sure if I'll ever be truly happy again. When it comes to my kids, Sophia included, that is what makes me the happiest. Having the family that I have makes me happy. Other then that, there is nothing that could ever come close. My life has been changed forever. Take me as I am! I cannot change who I am. I am a grieving mother. I am a mother who has lost part of her heart the day I lost my daughter. Life as I know it has changed forever!

What does this mean for Mercedes, Junior, Jordan, & Javier? They all know they have a baby sister. A baby sister by the name of Sophia Grace. But what happens when their memories of her start to fade? What can I do to prevent that from happening? As a family, we talk about Sophia millions of times a day. We have her pictures all over the house. We go to visit Sophia together. But honestly, what more can I do? I want to keep her memory alive... forever!

I refuse to part with anything that belongs to Sophia, crib included (which is still in the box). Hopefully, when my time is up on this Earth, I can pass her belongings on to one of her siblings. I'm sure they will cherish them just as much as I do. Some people may think that I am being selfish with not wanting to part with her things. We have already had a girl ask us for Sophia's things because she doesn't have anything for her baby. I feel really bad for her, but I just can't give away something that belonged to someone as precious as my baby. These are all things that I treasure. Things that remind me of her, even though she never had the chance to sleep in her crib, or be changed on her changing table. Even her bottles, bibs, and crib set hold meaning behind them. She never had the chance to use them... but they were HERS! That's what makes them so special.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pictures to share

These little hands will hold our hearts forever

Admiring our gorgeous little girl

The love of sisters is like no other

The special bond between brothers & sisters

Nanny & Pap admiring their newest granddaughter

These tiny hands hold hope!

Such a beautiful moment frozen in time

Sophia Grace Velazquez
Born into Heaven on 05/31/11

The hardest day of our lives

Daddy's little girl

My 5 beautiful children.
Left: Junior & Jordan
Right: Mercedes & Javier
Middle: Sophia Grace

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

3 weeks...

and counting since we've had to say good-bye before ever having a chance to say hello. Why isn't there some type of manual to explain all these feelings I have been having? I've been told it's completely normal to feel the way I do. But most of these feelings, I've never had before.

3 weeks have passed since I had the chance to hold my baby girl in my arms and tell her just how much I love her. Life since losing our precious girl has not been easy for me. I thought that I had one of the best support systems in the world. I had so many people telling me that they would be here for us throughout this difficult time. 3 weeks have gone by... where are they? Have they all disappeared? Or are they afraid to come near us?

I have this urgent need inside of me to talk about Sophia. But it seems like noone wants to listen. Everytime I start talking about her, people try to change the subject or it seems like they're just not listening at all. Maybe they're afraid that they might say something that will hurt me in some way? I wish I knew!

Most people only shared our grief for one day. I've been living in this grief for 4 months. On May 30th, that grief only became much deeper. I wish people knew that I HAVE to talk about Sophia. I NEED people to listen. Yes, I may be able to come here and write about her and have many people reading what I have to say. But it just isn't the same as speaking the words. I've been bottling up my emotions for the last week or so now. I'm told, "Tab, you can't do that. You have to let your feelings out." or better yet, I get told, "Don't cry anymore. She's in a better place now." That very well may be. But it's not the same as having my girl here.

As parents, we believe that the best place for our children is with their parents. This way, we can see them every day. We can watch them grow. We can play with them. We can show them just how much we love them and care about them. And we can try our very best to protect them from harm. When we lose a child, we lose part of ourselves. We lose our future. We're stuck living with the guilt that maybe we could've done something to prevent such a bad thing from happening to our child.

But where do you turn to when we're told that there's nothing we could've done to prevent such a horrible thing from happening? What do we do when we're told that it "just happens"? What are we supposed to do when we aren't given any answers?

I've moved on past the shock & denial stage of my grief. I'm sitting between guilt & reality. I know Sophia is gone, and that hurts me deeply. I've been blaming myself for everything that has happened to Sophia. I blame myself for her having anencephaly. I blame myself for losing her so early, all because I was too stubborn to go to the hospital when I became sick. I blame myself for the hurt that I see on the faces of my children. I blame myself for everything. But then I question myself, "What could I do to change these things?" and the answer is always the same... "Nothing."

I've been told to surround myself with things that make me happy. Those things are my family! Sophia included. So that means many, many trips to the cemetery to visit with her. But yet when I go there, I get upset. I get upset because reality hits. My daughter is gone. She's buried right there. She still doesn't have a headstone. The only thing there to let people know that it's her is a small brown marker that has her name on it. Not to mention, bunches of colorful flowers. I get upset when I have to leave. I feel as if I am leaving her all alone. My baby should be with me!!

While I'm home, I swear I hear one of the kids calling out, "Mommy!" but when I say "What do you want?" they all tell me that none of them called me. I don't know why I would think it's the voice of Mercedes, Junior, Jordan, or Javier. It sounds like a very unfamiliar voice. I've asked Angel if he heard it. He says no. Am I hearing things? Or could this be Sophia's way of reaching out to me?

I'm not quite sure how I've made it through these last 3 weeks. I feel as if my life is on pause. There are times that it feels as if it has been an eternity since I lost her but at the same time it feels like only yesterday. These are all new feelings to me. How can it feel like an eternity yet only yesterday, all at the same time? It's rather confusing.

What I wouldn't do to be able to hold her in my arms again and tell her just how much I love her. Tell her that I would do anything for her. And also to tell her just how much we all miss her.



I'm sorry if this post seems to be all over the place, I just had to get some of what I'm feeling out of my system.
I'm hoping to add more pictures of Sophia very soon. But for some reason, Blogger will not upload my pics :(
Soon enough though!

Sophia Grace, you're 3 weeks old today! I'm not sure where all the time has gone, but know that I will always love you. You will never be forgotten. Here at home, we talk about you several times every day. Your sister & brothers miss you very much. They always talk about you or ask questions about you. Daddy loves & misses you too. He's been having a difficult time expressing his emotions, but I guess that's all part of being a man. Just know that all of us in our little family love you and miss you so very much. Words can't even begin to explain just how much.

Fly high above the clouds, my precious angel. <3

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tears that won't stop

I feel as if I've been neglecting Sophia's blog. I used to be so good with updating as often as I could. But so much has gotten in the way of that. My life has officially been turned upside down. I've been wanting to write this blog now for the last couple days and I just haven't been able to find the words, so please bare with me if things seem out of place.

Our journey on the other side has begun...

Sophia Grace Velazquez was born sleeping on May 31st, 2011 at 12:21am. She weighed 2 pounds 3 ounces and was 11 1/2 inches long. My little peanut. God, I miss her so much... I can't even begin to put into words just how much. She has really touched the hearts of many lives within a very short time. I feel so blessed to be able to call myself her Momma.

Now let me get on to exactly what happened that brought our pregnancy to a stop, so to speak.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I found myself to be very sick and not feeling well. It all started on Friday. I was feeling a bit nauseous and running a bit of a fever. First step, take some Tylenol! And I did. It seemed to have helped, so we made our way out for our local Memorial Day Parade. The kids had such a great time. But I found it to be very hard to walk that far. I couldn't wait to get home! Saturday comes, I'm feeling a bit worse. I started throwing up and was running a fever again. My first thought was that maybe I was dehydrated. So I started pounding down the water, took some more Tylenol and laid down for a nap while Angel took the kids down to the Heritage Festival, which they also loved. I spent most of my day laying around with a heavy head, feeling sick to my stomach, and with what I had thought were Braxton-Hicks contractions. I'll get to that later. I continued to pound down the water, just in case. I made my way to bed early, but found it hard to sleep. I was feeling very short of breath. Sunday came along, I felt the same way all day. Threw up several times, continued with the water, Tylenol, and plenty of rest. Noone did much of anything then. We made our way into Monday. I thought that I was feeling slightly better. But to be on the safe side, I told Angel I wanted to squeeze in a nap before we tried to fire up the grill, after all, it was Memorial Day. About 10 minutes later, I found myself rushing to the kitchen to throw up some more. I'm sure you all don't want to know about that, but it's part of the story. The kids ran to get their Dad. This time around, they were scared. I'm still not sure why. But he came in and asked me if I was okay and my usual response would've been "Yes, I'm fine. I just have to get this out and lay back down." But instead, my answer was "No." He asked what was wrong and I simply said, "We have a problem." He asked what it was and all I had to do was look down and his eyes followed. There I was, standing in a puddle of water. I tried to play it off as if I had possibly peed myself (which I knew wasn't the case) because I knew what his next words would be... and I was right. "That's it! I'm not taking no for an answer, you're going to the hospital! This is enough!" I knew he meant business and I didn't bother to try to change his mind. I told him that I needed to hop in the shower to quickly freshen up. Meanwhile, he was on the phone right away to my brother to have him come sit with my 2 younger kids, Jordan & Javier. Thankfully my older 2, Mercedes & Junior, were spending time with Grandma for the day. Next call, to one of my best friends. By the time I was out of the shower, dressed. and making my way downstairs, they were all here. By this time, I felt as if I was running out of air... so I knew it was time to go. I didn't wanna leave my boys! But I knew I had to, just to be safe. We piled into the truck, just the 3 of us, and made our way to the hospital, which is about a half hour or so away. On our way, my friend called the hospital to let them know we were on our way and what was going on. They said they would be ready for us, and they were. It felt like we made it there within about 10 minutes, but I'm sure it was a little longer then that. They took me straight into an exam room. Did the usual. Got myself into a gown, peed in the cup, and laid in the bed awaiting my IV (which I HATE might I add). A nurse came in to check my temp... 103.6! No joke. I couldn't believe it was that high, no wonder why I felt like I was on fire. Next step, they hooked a monitor up to me to keep track of these crazy "Braxton-Hicks". I just sat there watching the thing climb higher and higher on the paper. They had attempted to put on the other monitor that tracks her heartbeat, but they didn't... still not sure why. But when she laid it on my stomach for a minute, it read 152. I thought to myself, "Well, that's good for Sophia so I'm happy." IV time.... yuck! But I knew it was needed to help bring down the fever. Then to doctor came in to check and see if I was dilating. She told me I wasn't... which was a relief. She took a few swabs and went to look under her microscope. The 3 of us just kinda sat there waiting. I kept telling myself, "I knew it, pump me full of fluids and send me home." After a few minutes, she came back over and hooked up the ultrasound machine. Oh how I loved these. It gave me a chance to see Sophia kicking and moving around. This time, it was hard to see anything. I'm not sure if it was because the quality was so poor compared to the ones in MFM or because the light was on. But I just laid back and let her do her thing. Angel watched and pointed out Sophia's arm and leg. It felt like 20 minutes had gone by. I knew she was looking for something, but what? She told me there was alot of fluid. That was nothing new. And then a few minutes later, she turned around and said "I can't find a heartbeat. I'm so sorry." Immediately, I broke into tears. I grabbed ahold of Angel and cried uncontrollably. She said she was going to get another doctor to come in and take a look to see if he could find it. They were back within a couple minutes. He started scanning... about 5 minutes later, he agreed with the first doctor and apologized. Life as I knew it was over. I felt robbed! I wanted to scream like the woman across the hall was. But I tried to calm myself down because I knew it was now crunch time. We had to get a plan into place. And I had to calm down, because I was starting to have difficulty breathing because I was that worked up. I asked the doctor what their plans were, and she said I had to be treated for an infection, which they weren't sure where it was located, but that they had to deliver Sophia first. I knew that was coming! I was scared out of my mind. So, first thing out of my mouth was that I had to get my parents there, and quickly. I also wanted my kids to be there, but it was getting late and I didn't want them carrying on in Labor and Delivery, so Angel talked with my brother and he had agreed to watch the boys over night. Thank God for family!!! I was given some Tylenol for the fever. That is when I was told that these "Braxton-Hicks" were actually the real deal. No wonder why I was so uncomfortable the last couple days! Then the nurse also told me that when she was looking to put on the heart monitor for Sophia, she couldn't find her heart beat but didn't want to say anything until the doctors could prove otherwise. She said the 152 I had seen on the little monitor was indeed my heart beat. 152 for me? Not good!!! The doctors and nurses left the room to give us a few minutes alone. Sharyl, one of my best friends since childhood, ran to the nurses station for a pen and paper. She came back and I gave her the number to reach my parents at work. I was hoping she'd be able to catch them before they left. And I also gave her the number to call our priest and fill him in on what was going on. Thank God for best friends! She was able to reach my parents at work. She told them to stay put because she was on her way and had to explain something to them. She didn't feel as if it would be proper to explain such a thing over the phone. I completely agreed! The nurse came back into the room and showed us to our room. I couldn't want to be out of the exam room. We kept hearing the worman across the hall screaming in pain. We were told that she was about to deliver. I really wanted to be as far away from her as I could be because I know I wouldn't have been able to bare hearing a baby cry at this point. Loved my new room! It was at the very end of the hall, away from everyone else but right next to the NICU doors. The time was coming quick. They came in to do some more blood work. Ugh, how I hate needles. So, while we waited on my parents to arrive and wait for Sharyl to return, I decided to grab Angel's cell and update my Facebook status. I figured it would be the easiest way of letting everyone know what was going on rather then calling everyone and having to repeat myself a million times. Which reminds me, he had really poor service in there. Big bummer! But within minutes of updating my status, my room phone started ringing off the hook. Many condolences were sent. Some people told me they were on their way. And a call from my sister. She reminded me that I didn't have a camera! I wasn't even thinking that I was going to need one when I left the house. It would've been hard to find one anyway, seeing as how mine crapped out on me about a week or so earlier. She got to work asking people on Facebook to please bring me a camera and she'd pay them back. She even called the nurses station to see if they could take her credit card number and run to the gift shop and grab one for me. Somehow or another, I ended up with a camera. Thank you!!! Before long, my parents showed up. Shortly after, Sharyl was back. Or was it the other way around? I can't remember! Soon after, an old friend from school came by. Turns out, he was there earlier with a camera but was told that I already had one. The nurses said he could come back to my room to see me, but he didn't want to intrude. When I found out, my sister had called back again and I told her how bummed out I was that he didn't come back to see us. She told him via Facebook and before long, he was back and sitting in my room :) A little while later, 2 more friends showed up. I was greeted with big hugs and apologies. And soon after, 1 more friend showed up with food! Everyone was so thankful of her. I knew I had to have her there. She had lost a baby several years ago, but to something completely different, which I won't get into without her permission. I looked at the clock and I told Angel, "Well, I guess noone else is coming so I'm ready whenever they are." The anesthesiologist came in, explained some things to me, ha me sign a paper and said he would be back within an hour. He was right! That hour seemed to go by so fast. The nurses were coming in with their booties and hairnets and masks on. I knew it was time. I was scared! I started to cry, very openly, which is unlike me. Everyone gave me hugs and told me they would be waiting to meet Sophia after surgery. I was happy to know that these people actually wanted to stick around to meet her. They were already there for me, but I wanted someone there for Sophia too. Angel was handed his gown and told they would come to get him as soon as they were ready. Honestly, I didn't want to go alone. I didn't know these people! But I sucked it up. They wheeled me out and I cried the whole way to the OR.  They got me in, scooted me over onto the table. Within a couple minutes, the anesthesiologist was ready. I was prepared. Heck, I'm a pro and putting my back out for these needles in the spine. The medicine seemed to take affect right away. The nurse helped me swing my legs back onto the table. After they did a check to make sure I was completely numb, they put up the drape. I knew the time was coming and rather quickly. I started shaking. I couldn't stop it. The nurse had asked me if I was cold and I said no, which I wasn't. I told her I was just very scared. They grabbed 2 warm blankets anyway and wrapped them around my head while another nurse ran out to get Angel. Finally, some relief! I needed him with me. I needed someone to talk me through this and who knew exactly how I was feeling. I could see in his eyes that he was scared and nervous, just as I was. I started feeling some tugging. I looked at Angel and told him, "I'm pretty sure they're about to get her now." Right after I said that, we heard a large gush. Well, there went all that extra fluid that I've been carrying the last couple weeks. Mind you, this was my 5th c-section. Out of all of them, I never heard that sound before. You could hear it hit the floor and kinda drip off the table. Some more tugging and boom, there she was! A beautiful, precious baby girl. Our baby girl. Sophia Grace was actually here. Obviously not in spirit, but in body. Angel immediately went over to her little table and started taking pictures. After that, he was cleaning her up, putting her little hat on, and swaddling her before bringing her over for me to see. I just couldn't bare to see her until she was wearing her hat. I guess you could say I was afraid to look. Not because I thought it would make her look worse or whatever, but because it would make me think of how much pain she would've been in had she been born alive. I know, the doctors say anencephalic babies don't feel pain, but my mind tells me different. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. She actually had her eyes open! Gorgeous blue eyes! I fell in love right away. They let one of my arms loose so I could partially hold her. Tears flowing again. How I couldn't wait to be able to hold her. The doctors stuck by what they said and allowed Angel to stay in the room with me the rest of the time. I was happy for that. I didn't want to be left alone with strangers again. Don't get me wrong, these nurses and doctors were very sweet and sympathetic. But sometimes, you just need your better half :) Before I knew it, I was being moved back on to my bed. I don't remember being wheeled back to my room. I don't remember if everyone was still in my room waiting or if they came back when they heard I was out of surgery. I may have dozed off for a bit and I just don't remember doing it. But what I do remember is everyone being in awe over Sophia. I remember seeing some taking pictures. Everyone was crowded around Angel and Sophia. I let them go. I knew I would get my time with her very soon. After all, it was after 1am and I knew they would all be leaving soon and I was sure most of them, except my parents, wouldn't be coming back. And I was right, within a few minutes, everyone started clearing out. Lots of tears. Lots of hugs. And of course, goodbyes and being told just how beautiful Sophia is. I knew this. No matter what problem Sophia had, I always knew she would be beautiful. After everyone left, I finally had my chance to hold her. I just wanted to squeeze her so tight. But I didn't. I held her for quite some time and just kept telling her how much I love her and how sorry I was that things had to happen this way. One of the nurses headed out to call for the chaplain. He was such a nice man. He listened to us through the tears. He offered some kind words, that I unfortunately can't remember. He excused himself and said he would be back after asking us if we would like for her to be baptized. Daddy, Mommy, and Sophia time! We couldn't believe that the time was here already where we got to see her precious face and hold her close to us and tell her we love her and kiss on her. It was a bittersweet time. The chaplain came back, baptized her, prayed over us, and was gone shortly after. More time for us! It was pretty late though, I would say it was roughly 5am. We were some very tired parents! So we decided we would turn in for the night knowing the docs would be in bright and early in the morning. Their rounds are usually around 6:30 every morning. We had decided we were going to try to keep Sophia in the room with us for the night. Well, after waking up several times within minutes apart, thinking Sophia was crying, I had finally asked Angel if he could have one of the nurses take her for a bit so we could try to get some sleep. Even then, sleep didn't come easy. My mind just kept racing in a million different directions. I don't think I could process everything that was going on. Nurses came in and out all night to keep the antibiotics flowing and checking my blood pressure, the whole nine. Later that morning, our NILMDTS photographer showed up. This was a time I was waiting for. We had asked her if she could take some pictures of just the 3 of us before the kids got there. And she did. She is such an amazing woman. I loved the work she did for us on our pregnancy shoot. And I already couldn't wait to see what these ones would look like. Well, I was a mess! I didn't realize it but when I got in the shower before heading to the hospital, I forgot to wash the conditioner out of my hair. And when I noticed it, it was already too late. My wonderful social worker from the hospital washed my hair for me. I owe her so much! After washing my hair for me, she threw it into a quick french braid. Loved it! And I didn't even look in the mirror. Kathy, our photographer, started off by taking pictures of just Angel and Sophia. You could tell just how much he loves his baby girl. Daddy's little girl :) Next, Sophia was in my arms in the rocking chair. I was just admiring her beautiful face and stroking her cheek and noticed Kathy taking pictures. Angel popped over just as my eyes were filling up with tears and asked if I was okay. I was hurting too much to answer. Here I was, holding my baby, knowing I wouldn't be able to for much longer.
She took several pictures. We didn't get them all back yet, just a few to display at Sophia's service. This is the one I was talking about. After a few minutes, we decided we wanted a few pictures of Sophia by herself. When Angel took her from me, I actually fell asleep in the rocking chair! Once he noticed, he helped me out of the chair and put me in bed. I do not remember ever falling asleep. But when I woke up, everyone was gone. I was back to feeling scared all over again. As I was about to ring for one of the nurses to track Angel down, he came walking back into the room. What a relief! That was short lived because I got scared again thinking that since I fell asleep, the pictures were over and Kathy left to go home. I explained this to Angel. He kinda giggled at me and said no, that they were still there, they just wanted to give me time to rest. Thank God! At the same time, he told me my parents had made it to the hospital with the kids and that they were eating in the cafeteria and then they would be up to see me and to meet their new baby sister. Well, I had Angel ask one of the nurses if they could take Sophia for a few minutes so we could explain to them what they would be expected to see and what had happened. They gladly took her and within a few minutes, here came the kids!. I was so happy to see them. I gave them all lots of hugs and kisses. In walked my brother. My brother! I wasn't expecting to see him there. I figured it would all be too much for him, but he still came to see me and Sophia. I glanced over towards the couch to see my awesome social worker already explaining things to the kids for me. They seemed to understand and when we made it to that point, we asked for Sophia to be brought back in. Almost instantly, they all started to love on their new baby sister. All the while, Kathy is in the background snapping pictures of this time they were spending with their sister and bonding with her. I thank God daily for Kathy and the NILMDTS organization. Noone else would've been able to capture what she was. After a little while, it was Nanny and Pappy's turn for some pictures with their new granddaughter. Through tears, they were able to do it and make some memories at the same time. We had tried to get my brother to hold Sophia and get some pictures too but he said that was just a little too much for him so he got up and stood behind my parents for a quick picture or two. And then it was back to taking more pictures of the kids with Sophia. I want them to be able to remember her in some way, even when they're 50 years old! I'm sure pictures will help with that. Mercedes & Junior shed many tears during this time. And of course Mercedes reminded me of how unfair it was that God wouldn't let us keep her only sister. But I explained to her that just because her sister is now in heaven doesn't mean she doesn't have a sister. I told her she has an extra special sister now who she can talk to whenever she wants and she doesn't have to worry about telling anyone what they talk about. It'll be her own little secret conversations :) That seemed to help calm her down. And of course, Junior expressed how unfair it was that she wasn't allowed to stay. I explained the same to him. It seemed like emotions were really starting to take it's toll. I kept myself together and strong as much as I could. Not for myself, but for my kids, Sophia included. Around this time, Kathy ended our session and thanked us for allowing her to be a part of Sophia's life here with us. She truly is amazing. Thank you just isn't enough. I almost feel as if I owe this woman my life! We had the nurse take Sophia again for a little while so we could tend to the needs of the other kids and to get them to calm down. Not to mention, I was one tired momma! We finally got everyone to calm down. I thought maybe I would be able to get a cat nap in while I put cartoons on the tv for the kids. It didn't happen. They all wanted to spend time with me and ask me questions about how I was feeling and if it hurt to have Sophia. Just lots of questions. I answered them all the best way I could. Before long, they all seemed to be getting pretty hyper and wanting to run around. It was a bit much for 2 tired parents. Angel and I talked alone off to the side for a minute and decided that we might as well have them head home. It had been a long day and we needed some rest, and so did the kids. So we told them and got them prepared to leave. But I wouldn't let them go home without seeing Sophia one more time. They loved on her some more. And about an hour or so later, everyone left. Just in time too because my fever was spiking yet again. How I couldn't wait for all that to be over!! The kids were sure to call me once they made it to Grandma's house. They all wanted to tell me how much they loved me and couldn't wait for me to get home the next day. And how much they really love their little sister and how cute she is. I wished them all a goodnight, told them I love them very much, and we hung up. Just as Angel and I were about to turn in for another night of restless sleep, his brother came. Bearing food!! Unfortunately, nothing I could eat. Everything just seemed to turn my stomach and make me sick, even jello. I knew I was in bad shape. He stayed for awhile and took in as much as he could of his newest niece. Thankfully, he didn't stay long. When he left, we went right to sleep. I was hoping to hear good news Wednesday morning and be told I was able to go home. But, I wasn't given that news. I was told I had to stay for another day due to spiking that fever. They were still unsure where this infection was located, but thought it may have been in my uterus. We're still not sure, even now. So Wednesday, we didn't have any visitors, other then our social worker and hospital chaplain. We needed a day to just rest and hope that I could get to feeling better so I could go home the next day. We had the nurse bring Sophia back to our room as soon as we woke up, but after breakfast. We both held her and loved on her. But we had noticed some changes in her color, along with other things. We spent a few hours with her and then decided that she needed to be in the morgue and kept cool. I was feeling very selfish for keeping her with us for so long that it was starting to take a toll on her little body. And we didn't want things to be any harder for the funeral directors then it would have to be. It was very hard having to say our goodbyes and handing her over to the nurse. I bawled when she walked out of the room with her. I cried so much that my chest started hurting and I started feeling very weak and dizzy. I also started feeling very hot. I knew that was a sign of another fever spike, so I tried my best to calm down because I hadn't had a spike in my fever all day. They said as long as it stayed down for 24 hours, I would be able to go home the following day. Angel made the call to the funeral home to let them know she was ready to be picked up. That was so hard on both of us. All of this has been hard. So the rest of the day we just cuddled together, cried together, and talked about Sophia a whole lot. I found myself in the rocking chair later, staring out the window at the sky and saying, "I know you're up there somewhere. Just know that Mommy and Daddy love you very very much and we miss you with all our hearts." Before you know it, it was night time and we were ready for bed. But at this point, I was starting to feel some pain from my c-section. I asked for something for the pain, first time in all the days I was there. And asked if I could have something for sleep, because I just wasn't getting enough. Well, the pain pill was enough to take the pain away and put me to sleep for awhile. But I was awake again by 4am. I didn't bother to ask for the sleep aid because I knew I would be waking up a couple hours later to the doc and I wanted to ask her if I was able to go home. That time came and she said yes! I was so happy that I'd be able to go home and be with my kids. At this point, I needed them more then anything. They gave me one last dose of antibiotic and we were on our way. Our first stop when we made it back to town was to drop off my prescriptions and to put our pictures in to be developed. Then it was off to talk with the funeral director. I knew it was going to be a hard thing to do but I didn't think it would be so hard to keep myself together. I had tears in my eyes multiple times. After we got everything squared away, he showed us her casket. We didn't know it had finally come. It was beautiful! Pure white. Inside it was baby pink and very soft. I knew she would sleep comfortably. We forgot to bring a few things to him that we wanted put in her casket with her. So we got those things together, along with 1 thing from each of the kids and her outfit and hat from Mystie. Angel ran it down to him the next day and while he was there, he had to go over the death certificate information. It just seems so unfair to have to go over that rather then fill out the papers for a birth certificate. But he did it and has been trying his best to remain strong but has had his breakdowns, just as I have.

Fast forward to the now....
Everything still feels very raw. I'm feeling all sorts of emotions. My heart continues to break multiple times a day. I cry quite a bit but find it hardest in the morning and at night. I've been keeping myself rather busy during the day. But I'm always thinking of my girl. I wish things could be different. I wish I could be sitting here updating everyone on the new week we have with her. But instead, it has been about her birth and everything that goes along with it. Monday is the big day. Her funeral. I do not feel prepared in any way. I'm not ready for final goodbyes or see you laters. I just want to keep her! My body, mind, and soul is yearning for my precious baby girl. I'm hurting in ways I never knew were possible. One lady told me something the other day and I believe it to be true. "When you lose a parents, it's like losing your past. When you lose a spouse, it's like losing your present. But when you lose a child, it's like losing your future." I'm already thinking alot about the what-ifs and the should'ves. Please bare with me during this difficult time.

Some people have asked where they can send cards to. Here is that information:
The Velazquez Family
148 E. Independence St.
Shamokin, PA 17872

We would love to hear from you.

Thank you for following our journey thus far. But I believe, this is just the beginning!
The hidden pain that lies on a child's face is heartbreaking!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Please don't...

say that things will get easier... because they will only get worse before they get any better.

Please don't say that I am strong... because I feel very weak. I am only as strong as God allows me to be.

Please don't say that I'm a great person... because I feel horrible!

I really do appreciate the comments from those of you who tell me I am strong and a great person/mother. But there are times like these, where I do not feel very strong or very great at all. I came to the conclusion that I am going to leave everything in God's hands. But even then, that doesn't help to lift the blues that I have been feeling today.

I guess having 2 good days in a row was too much. I was asking for a 3rd, but I didn't get it. Am I really asking for too much? I don't feel as if I'm asking for much at all.

Is this God's way of punishing me? Does He look upon me as a bad mother? I try my best to do right by my kids and my family. I've always been known as the person that always puts others needs ahead of my own. I rarely ever think of myself. As long as everyone around me is happy, I'm happy.

Until now. I feel as if I'm the worst person to live with. I don't feel like doing anything. All I ever want to do is cry. And when I don't feel like crying, I feel like sleeping. Sleep is like my get-a-way from the reality of life. In my dreams, we have this beautiful baby girl who is one of the happiest babies I have ever seen. Our family sits back and watches her grow. She rarely ever cries. She always has a smile on her face. A smile that could light up an entire room. She's a spittin' image of her older sister.

And then I wake up and realize, it was all just a dream. At that point, I just want to cry. Why does it seem like my life is one big "joke"?

Yesterday was supposed to be "Judgement Day", atleast according to one person. I sat here almost wishing it was! This way we could all reach Heaven and live happily ever after. No more pain, no more sorrow. But of course, that didn't happen. Like the bible states, "No man shall know". People and their predictions... what a waste.

There are times when I feel very angry with God. Not because He put Sophia in our lives. But because of how much hurt He is allowing me to go through. I'm told it is normal to feel angry with Him. Just not to allow that anger to put a distance between me & Him. Keep Faith... that I have always been told.

Please do not take my vent in a bad way... I'm just hurting very deeply right now and need to get some of it off my chest.

Our love only gets deeper, thanks to you Sophia!

Happy Birthday (to me)

I have heard it said numerous times all week. I really do appreciate all the warm birthday wishes that everyone has sent. But the only thing I have been able to be happy about on this birthday, is the fact that I got to spend it with Sophia and the rest of my family. Other than that, it was just another day. I didn't do anything special. I just tried to "take it easy". I was asked several times by those closest to me, "What would you like for your birthday this year?" My response: "What I really want, I cannot have." Some left it at that and some begged me to stop because it was making them sad. Truth is, all I want for my birthday is to be able to keep Sophia with me, not just in my heart and mind.

Despite telling people that, or telling them that I'm getting too old for gifts, I still received a few. A couple nice, cool outfits for the summer (and something I can actually squeeze into), homemade birthday cards from my kids, dipped strawberries, and best of all, our pregnancy portraits from NILMDTS. I will get to that a bit later though. Nice gestures, but it just doesn't compare! I would trade nearly anything to be able to keep my precious little girl.

This week has been full of ups and downs. I had some really bad days where I didn't want to do a thing. And then days like today, where Angel and the kids decide, out of the blue, to set up a stand to try to raise money for Sophia's headstone. So, this afternoon, they all made their way outside to sell lemonade & hot dogs. Before long, people were stopping by. And most of them didn't want anything. They just wanted to give a donation and look at the pictures we had hanging on the pole of Sophia. Some of them asked questions, some of them gave us their condolences, and some just wanted to know what Anencephaly was. Sometimes I find it so hard to explain exactly what it is. So today, I left that part up to Angel. I just sat by, watching. Most people looked over at me with a look of sadness. I understand, it's heartbreaking. Believe me, I know firsthand/ But noone will ever know exactly what I'm feeling inside. Even those feelings are hard to explain to someone. I've tried, and they look at me as if I'm crazy.

As of Thursday, we reached 30 weeks. And I'm so upset that I do not have a picture to share. Something is seriously wrong with my camera (which we specifically bought to take pics of Sophia's birth). Angel tried to take it back to the store, but since it has been more then 15 days, there is nothing they can do. They told us to contact Kodak. No problem. I spoke with an online agent. She goes on to tell me that it's a problem with the battery. Okay, the camera is only going on 4 months old, still has a warranty. Then she tells me they cannot help me if I do not have a copy of the receipt. I've never been good at keeping receipts... ever! Now I'm stuck with a camera that cost us about $120 and it won't work. I'm so bummed out, that alone makes me want to cry! I was really enjoying being able to take pictures every week of my growing belly :)

Friday rolls around... I'm the big 26 now. Goodbye 25, hello 26. Doesn't feel any different. Honestly, I just wanted to sleep the day away and act as if it never happened. Thank God I didn't. I was hoping to get our NILMDTS pregnancy pictures back by my birthday... and I did! I was so excited to find the link to a website in my e-mail later that day. She sent us 3 pictures on Thursday night. I fell in love with them right away and was very excited to see the rest. So as soon as I noticed the e-mail, it was time to check them out. Absolutely beautiful! Stunning! I couldn't have asked for anything better. They turned out great! Here's a little peek:
Family pic!
To see the rest, please go to http://www.collages.net/. On the left side is the guest area. Click there. The username is Sophia Grace and the password is 23376. Login your info and it'll take you to the pictures. I tend to look at them several hundred times a day. I can't wait to be able to hang them up all over our house. Beautiful memories caught on camera. Beautiful memories that we made with Sophia. Memories... ugh, I'm really starting to hate the way that word sounds. Almost like all I'll ever have of Sophia is memories. I want so much more then that! Back to the website, once you're logged in, there is a guestbook on the left side. Please feel free to leave us a comment. We would love to know how many people are looking at our pictures :)

Kathy, if you're reading this... Thank you from the bottom of my heart! You and Ben did an amazing job. These pictures are just breathtaking. I love them so very much. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to meet with us. I will never forget you. You will always hold a very special place in our hearts! Thank you just isn't enough.

Back to our little sale today... we didn't get to stay out very long. The rain chased us back inside. But while we were out there, we were able to raise $64 towards Sophia's headstone. God, how I wish I could put that money towards clothes, diapers, bottles, stroller, etc. Thank you to all who stopped by today and enjoyed our hot dogs and lemonade, or just gave a donation. No matter how big or small, it helps! We deeply appreciate it.

I want to apologize if this post seems very unorganized. Truth is, I feel very unorganized myself lately. I have yet to start picking up the pieces to what used to be my life. They're still scattered all over the floor. And I just don't know where to start to put it all back together again. I'm not sure I want to either. As I have said many times before, this is a very difficult journey. One I had never expected to be on. One I had never truly understood. Even now, I don't fully understand it. And we've been on this journey now for almost 3 months. Maybe I will never understand. At one point, I knew just what I wanted to do with my life, aside from trying to be the best mother I can be. I was so interested in the Criminal Justice field and I was doing everything in my power to make my way there. But, I have officially given up. I do not feel as if my calling is Criminal Justice. I feel now that my calling in life is to help others, even in the slightest bit, to get through hard times like these. When they're faced with a fatal prenatal diagnosis, I want to be right there saying, "I know how you feel! I've been there. And this is what we can do to get through it... but only when you're ready." Now what profession would that be? I really do not know.

Oops, there I go again. Completely random. Maybe it's the fact that it's getting late. Maybe I should just go rest my weary eyes and leave blogging for another day.

Thanks for taking the time to read this "messy" post. And a quick welcome to all my new readers. Thank you for joining us on this journey. Sophia's Journey. The Velazquez Family Journey... whatever you want to call it :)
A family's bond, one that is unbreakable!
We love you, Sophia Grace

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hurtful comments...

are something I'm slowly starting to get used to. Within the last 3 months, I have heard several aimed in my direction.

"Why are the doctors going to continue to monitor her if you're just gonna lose her anyway?"
"You know, hanging ultrasound pictures up of her is like beating your head into a wall."
"Well, atleast it's almost over."
"Why would you put your baby through such pain?"

But the one that is really bothering me is, "It's better to lose a baby as a newborn rather then when they are a couple years old."

This statement wasn't made to me. It was made to my 10 year old daughter! This one statement really upset her. And when she finally came to me and told me about it, I was beyond furious. At that point, I wanted to make some heads roll! As a family, we are going through so much right now that we really do NOT need the rude/nasty comments. What we are doing is something we believe in. Every child, every baby, has a right to have a chance at life! What makes Sophia any different? Why do these people have to continue throwing salt on an open wound?

I wish this comment would've been made directly to me. Then I could've put this person in her place. But to have the nerve to say it to a 10 year old girl, who is hurting beyond this person's imagination, is just down right cruel! They have no idea what happens at home, behind closed doors. I find my daughter crying because she doesn't want to lose her only sister. She's just a jumble of mixed emotions. She understands that her sister is very special and will be taken right to Heaven when God calls her Home. But Mercedes still finds this very unfair, as do I.

She went on to tell my daughter that there really isn't a bond there when you lose them right away. Any REAL mother would know that a bond has been made between mother and child from the minute they find out they are expecting. That bond only gets stronger during delivery. I was very hurt, upset, disappointed, you name it! I guess it really wouldn't matter had it been a stranger to say this. But this person is part of our family (or should I say was). She has never experienced the loss of a child, and honestly, I hope she never does! I wish noone ever had to experience the pain that we have been feeling, along with many other families who have lost their babies.

I had an opportunity to confront her about this 2 days after she said it. But I kept my cool, I had to. She showed up for a combination party for 2 of my sons (their birthdays are 2 weeks apart) and my daughter's First Holy Communion party. I couldn't believe that she actually had the nerve to ask me, "So, how are you feeling?" I wanted to snap right then and there. But instead, I answered with "Eh." and kept moving. She didn't want to know how I was feeling. She should already know!

But I take pride in knowing that what we are doing with Sophia is very special. We're giving her a chance at life, no matter how long or how short. At the same time, we are showing our 4 other children the true meaning of unconditional love. When Sophia is called Home, she will leave behind a legacy. One that we will all continue to spread like wildfire. This precious little girl means the world to us all.

This journey has not been an easy one. I wouldn't wish this on my own worst enemy. But I can tell you this, I wouldn't trade our time with Sophia for anything in this world. God put Sophia in our lives for a reason, whether it be to teach us to love deeper, appreciate life more than we have, to become closer to Him, or because He knows we're strong enough to get through this and spread the much needed awareness. The reason is unknown!

During my daughter's First Holy Communion Mass, it felt as if God was talking to us through our priest. There was something he said that felt like it was directed right at me. I wish I could remember his exact words. But I found myself dazed after he spoke his words. It was along the lines of, all we ever want to do is to be good parents and point our children in the right direction so they may return Home. Maybe that wasn't it... but it's pretty close! I remember sitting there, dazed and thinking, "I will be bringing Sophia into this world, for a short period of time, and she will return Home and be with Jesus. Who could ask for anything more?" But I do ask for more. It makes me feel selfish. But I ask that He grant us a miracle and allow Sophia to stay here with her family. Like any mother, I do not want to give up my daughter, not even to God. But sometime within the next 9 weeks and 2 days, I will have to. And not by choice. But because that is what He wants.

**Sophia Grace Velazquez... much too beautiful for Earth**


Family Pic!! In back, Angel & me. In front, Junior, Mercedes, Javier, & Jordan. Special Guest: Sophia Grace!