We Made History This Week!!!

I was recently approached by the editor of the Canadian Medical Journal of Sonography who asked to include my story, The Ultrasound Miracle in the journal. This is the first time in the history of the journal that they included a story from a patient. So here it is, my miracle, on the cover of the journal! And here is my story, officially in print in a medical journal which will be read by sonographers all over the country! It was a pretty incredible feeling to see my sonogram photo (or as I see it, a photo of my two daughters) on the cover of a medical journal. It’s pretty amazing that my story will reach the medical community in this way. I hope my story touches many more people and opens them up to a new reality where love never dies.

Journal cover and article © 2018 Canadian Journal of Medical Sonography

From Flashbacks to Breakdown

I went on a trip last night, back in time to 3 years ago. It wasn’t something I was expecting and took me by surprise. The flashbacks were intense and flooded me with panic. Watching the band play, dancing and having fun, how could I be so carefree hours before my entire world was about to shatter? I was clueless as to what was about to come.

The panic was suffocating me. Tears streamed my face; I couldn’t see and my legs were seizing. I needed to get out of the building but couldn’t see or walk. Tom took me by the hand and led me to the exit where I was finally able to open my eyes and breathe. I regained my composure and went back inside but instead of enjoying the concert, I tried to focus on anything other than the flashbacks that wouldn’t stop. Is Aria ok? Is something bad going to happen again? I shouldn’t have come! I fought back tears until the last song was over.  

My best friend was was so excited when she found out her favourite band was coming to our hometown. I attended the homecoming concert the night before Bella died. It had been my first night out in months. Last night, I felt like I was living that night all over again with a different awareness, knowing something terrible would happen. 

The arena was set up the same way and many of the same people were there. I have been more focused on the date of Bella’s anniversary than the events leading up to her passing and didn’t give it much thought, but while driving to town last night I realized that it may be difficult to be at this concert. If it wasn’t for my friends’ excitement about seeing Walk Off The Earth, the band that helped her through her grief after losing Bella, I wouldn’t have stayed but felt this was something I needed to do… for both of us. 

After the last song, the lights came on and as soon as I spotted my friend, I ran up to her and said “I did it! I got through it!” She hugged me then held me as I fell apart. The tears wouldn’t stop; the pain felt fresh and raw. I wanted to scream and run away. Memories were flashing before me, worries flooding my mind. Panic, regret, and pain. It was as though no time separated Bella’s death from the present moment 3 years later.

This is grief. It returns when you least expect it. Sometimes it will make its appearance when you’re in public, but this is beyond anyones’ control. Last night, I decided to stay and try to take control of my grief, but I lost the battle. I had a breakdown in public. I re-experienced trauma and released my pain in front of people who know me and many more who do not. 

It took a lot of strength and courage to get through last night. After the concert, I met one of the nurses who tried to save Bella. We talked for a long time and I am so deeply grateful for the words we exchanged. I am so thankful for all the people who tried to save my baby girl. Meeting her made it all worthwhile!

Grief isn’t linear. It ebbs and flows like the ocean. It’s unpredictable and sometimes has a life of its own. I felt like a failure last night but as I’m processing it, I’m seeing it in a different light. I miss Bella so much. I can’t erase what happened. I can’t go back in time. I can’t change a damn thing about any of it! But I can experience every aspect of this loss and grow from it. All I can do is try my best to #StayStrong❤️

Waiting on Grief at Christmas

Christmas is over, the new year is here, and I’m still waiting for grief to make her appearance. I have learned to embrace grief because she reminds me how important Bella was to me. In her absence, the reminder of love is replaced with guilt. I don’t understand why grief has remained absent this holiday season.

I knew it would be a different kind of Christmas this year, quieter than usual. Our focus was on our little family as it was our first Christmas that we were all together. It was Aria’s first Christmas and it was also our first Christmas with my youngest step-son. It was a beautiful love-filled day and seeing the excitement on the kids faces along with witnessing the love they have for one another was magical.

Christmas Day was also the anniversary of our engagement. Last year, Tom changed the meaning of Christmas for me by asking me to marry him. Christmas is now a day we celebrate us, our love, and the beautiful life we are creating together.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I surprised myself by founding joy in the little things. I enjoyed buying gifts for the kids every time I went into a store and I actually enjoyed wrapping gifts this year, something I used to find great pleasure in but haven’t enjoyed at all since Bella left.

Maybe this is a sign of healing. I am no longer certain that I can predict my grief, and even with this guilt that I feel, it’s much easier to deal with than a broken heart.

In the midst of grief, it may seem as though you will never find joy again. Christmas is an especially difficult time for anyone grieving as it is a time we focus on our family and when someone important is missing, it’s impossible to let it go! It’s a sad time for many…

But I’m here to offer hope. The holidays don’t have to be difficult forever!

For me, it was about finding a different focus at Christmas. Yes, Bella is missing in the physical sense, but her presence remains strong. She was playing with her sisters toys often throughout the holidays and we were often awoken in the middle of the night with a song coming from the toys in the living room. One night, the toys were rotating and as one song would end, another toy would begin playing a different song. This went on for quite some time. These occurrences remind us that Bella is still here.

For loss-parents (or anyone grieving) some days will be about survival and the focus will be getting through one moment at a time. But not every day will always be difficult. Not every Christmas will be difficult either. I’m thankful I have found another focus at Christmas and I hope that anyone who had a difficult holiday season this year can find a new focus next year.

As for my guilt, I understand that my lack of sadness cannot diminish the love I feel for Bella. It also doesn’t take away from how much I miss her and wish she was here. By accepting my reality and choosing to live a life of happiness, I am making myself and my family a priority. I’m sure grief will visit soon enough, but rather than try to understand her absence, I choose to accept and embrace this joy I feel. I’m certain that Bella doesn’t want me to feel sadness. She reminds me that “love heals,” and I am so blessed to be surrounded by love.

Some days will always be harder than others. Today is one of those days. Not because I’m laying in bed feeling the waves of pain, or because I have no energy, or because anything happened to upset me. Today is a difficult day because I feel the emptiness inside of me. I’m making efforts and that can be quite a challenge.
I still find it difficult to do anything with Hudson that would have involved Bella. It’s not always easy to be out around other kids, especially those close to Bella’s age or who are close to the age she was when she transitioned. Today we went to the high school where they had inflatables for the kids. I sat and watched the kids play. It felt abnormal. I never get to sit when I’m out with my kids. I’m always too busy chasing Bella. I’m not sure that I’ll ever get used to not chasing her. Looking over at the inflatables for the younger children, I felt that I should have been there, in the other room, with her. Instead I sat on the bleachers feeling broken. 
I’m feeling pain today. Missing Bella is a physical pain. Sometimes it feels like I’m being stabbed, other times it feels like my heart is literally being ripped out of my chest. Today, the pain is an ache that I feel deep in my heart. It’s a pain that will never fade completely. So how do you deal with it and continue living?
You just DO! Because you have to. It’s definitely a choice, but to me the alternative would be too difficult for those surrounding me. I do it for them. My family is okay as long as I am. I have to be okay because if I’m not, I couldn’t bare to let my loved ones down, to see them worry needlessly and feel more pain. 
Life isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be. I believe that we chose to experience the things that life throws at us, and someday we will know why. I now understand why I went through everything I did up until my baby girl left this realm. I went though it all in order to make me strong enough to get through this. I’m not sure I’m as strong as people make me out to be, but I know that I’m not weak. We are what we believe ourselves to be and what we choose to be. I look at my son and promise him that I will be strong for him. He depends on that. I am also strong for myself because I know I deserve to live. Bella wants me to be happy, so I also live for HER! 
I cried as I wrote this then went to the washroom to freshen up. I looked in the mirror and noticed that Bella’s urn pendent left a mark on my chest which would be strange to anyone else because nothing was pushing on it but I’m used to odd things happening around me. We always give Bella credit for these things. I questioned if I should post this and the response I got was “she wears her heart on the outside for all the world to see.” So here it is. Thank you Bella👼🌈


July 29, 2014

Reality is now starting to sink in and my strength is bending ever so slightly. This is a positive thing as I am tired of not feeling the pain. Most people ask for drugs when coping with a tragedy yet I’m asking them to take me off the drugs and let me feel the pain. I’m ready for it. I’m strong enough now that I can handle it.

These last few days have been more difficult for me but I’m still not able to cry. I feel sad, but that’s as far as it goes. A huge part of me died and I’m frustrated that I can’t cry. As much as people say to give myself time, I believe how I am feeling is not part of the natural process. I feel that I am overmedicated because some people thought I tried to commit suicide, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not only do I want to live, I want to HEAL and I want to be HAPPY because that’s what Bella would want and it’s also what Hudson needs. In order to get there, I need to FEEL instead of keeping this band-aid on the wound. It’s time to rip that band-aid off and let myself bleed so that a scab can form and recovery can officially begin.

My heart is shattered and it will never be the same, but I am confident that it will heal. I will have a million scars where it’s broken, but those scars will be beautiful reminders of how Bella touched my life. She has forever changed me and I’m so blessed that I got to know heaven’s most beautiful angel. She was a gift sent here for me. She changed me. There is no going back to how things were before I met her. I would never want it to. But it’s time to plan my recovery so I can find my new normal.

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” – Anne Lamott

It’s time I learn how to dance again. #StayStrong

July 26, 2014

I’m always the last one to bed and the first one up. My family have been staying close. Hudson and I are back to staying at my parents place since we got back from our trip, in the bed Bella was in when she left this world. It makes me feel closer to her. My sister came to spend the night with us again last night.

I am so fortunate to have such an amazing family. I used to think what we have is the norm but now I see that it’s actually very rare.

My parents are very loving and have always been supportive of me. My oldest sister, Lori, has always been my idol. She is 12 years older and was always more of a second mother to me than a sister. Dina, the middle sister, and I didn’t get along too well growing up but it was typical sibling rivalry. Her opinion of me has always mattered more than she knew. Things have changed as we have grown and we have a new level of closeness that only comes with maturity.

Lori’s daughter, Bailey, is 12 years younger than me and is more like a sister than a niece. She was my doula at Bella’s birth and she has been most helpful with the things that need to get done since Bella’s departure. The 3 of us and Hudson spent a few days together this past week and it was more like 4 sisters.

I always knew I was blessed to grow up with my grandparents living so close. My Granny lived in the downstairs apartment of my parents house (where I have now been for 7 years) and my Nonna and Nonno lived a few houses from us, where Nonna still is. Bella was so fortunate to have been so close to her Nonna Bis. They say each other every day and had such a special bond.

Granny and Nonno are now with Bella. When she has come through with messages, Bella mentions my Grampa the most, whom I sadly never had the opportunity to meet. It sounds like her and Grampa have a close relationship now and he was the one to carry her over to the other side, although my entire family was there to welcome her. He also helps her look pretty by putting bows in her hair, which it’s clear she is very proud of.

I don’t know where I would be right now without my family. They have been the ones keeping me strong, mostly because I see that they need me to be. I’m the glue right now and as long as I hold things together, we will be ok. When I had my breakdown, I saw what it did to them, so I have no choice but to #StayStrong for them.

Yesterday, I met with two professionals, one who is making sure I am well enough to care for my son, and one who is helping me cope. In discussion with them, I realized that as long as my family needs me to be strong, I don’t think I’ll be able to let go and allow myself to feel the pain of losing Bella. I think I need to get away from here, away from my family, away from the obligation to stay strong for everyone else so I can be a mess and not feel guilty for it or worry how my pain with affect anyone else. I realize that my strength is coming from them but it’s also preventing my ability to fully grieve. And that’s ok. When the time is right and they don’t need me to be so strong, then I will finally be able to let go.

“Family is not an important thing, it is everything!” – Unknown

July 20, 2014

It is impossible to know for certain how much time you have on this planet. Some people I’ve talked to have told me they believe they will die young, whereas others have thought they would have died decades ago but are still here. I think Bella was aware of her limited time here and so she made the most of every second. We can all learn something from that.

No matter how much time you have, whether it’s months, years, or decades, it is but a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things. In our reality, no amount of time is ever enough, especially when it comes to the amount of time you have with your child. It defies natural order when a child dies before their parents. There are widows and orphans, but there is no word for someone who loses a child because it’s unthinkable. But I would rather have had the time I did with her and go through this unimaginable heart ache, because not knowing her would have been much worse.

Bella has taught me so much, and one of those things is how important it is to make the most of every moment you have. Life for us changed drastically a year ago when her father left, and things were very challenging even before that. But what I thought was “hell” ended up being a blessing in disguise. Bella helped me develop patience, taught me to survive with very little sleep, and showed me that despite what goes on, life doesn’t stop. No matter what you’re going through as a parent, your duties don’t stop. And now, I need to be strong so I can be a good mom to Hudson, because he deserves nothing less. And despite what we were going through a year ago, we still found a way to make happy memories every single day. Memories I don’t even remember yet because I still haven’t looked at the photos (which will be a part of #ProjectLife so many of my future posts will be my first time seeing these photos). When I look back on those dark days, I’ll see and remember only the happy moments.

I kept saying how life became so complicated when Bella was born. It’s amazing how quickly the “worst 19 months of my life” instantly became the BEST and most cherished time I ever could have hoped for. I had no control over what happened a year ago, just as I had no control over losing Bella. The only part of life you can control is your reaction to it. I choose to react with love. If I can have this attitude after losing my baby girl, I think anyone can do this.

“We’re all gonna die. We don’t get much say over how or when. But we do get to decide how we’re gonna live. So do it. Decide. Is this the life you wanna live? Is this the person you wanna love? Is this the best you can be? Can you be stronger? Kinder? More compassionate? Decide. Breathe in. Breathe out, and decide.” – Richard Webber – ‘Seal Our Fate’

And so we will continue to create those happy moments. And we will #StayStrong