Time is very precious. It’s something that is taken for granted and flies by like the wind. Then, in the blink of an eye, it’s gone. Often, time takes the place as one single moment. And in that moment, something that is never forgotten, happens…
When my son was very young, my wife and I decided that we wanted another child. We’ve always wanted children, but at that time, we felt ready for another bundle of joy. I originally envisioned us having a ton of boys and one girl. But that vision quickly left after our first son. Just like any other experienced parent, we figured out really fast if having four, five, or even six kids was the wisest thing for us to do. So, after much experience with our firstborn, we figured out that a “few” more kids would be good enough. Having a few more boys is probably right for us. That’s cool. But, oh what a surprise, my wife thought differently. I’ve always wanted boys, but my wife always wanted girls.
Having a baby girl was my wife’s heart’s desire. Naturally, my wife loves everything “girly”. Pink rooms, big pink bows, pink babies, the color pink… Yes, my wife loves the overwhelmingly feminine shade of pink, the kind of pink that makes your eyes burn. This shade of pink is not even feminine, but more like a cutesy, pretty, princess pink, the kind of pink that Barbie would bleed. But, having a baby girl was what she wanted most of all.
You can imagine how excited she was when we found out she was pregnant. She started buying pink things and had grand ideas of having a pink nursery with random red-headed mermaids swimming all around it (painted by me, of course). Every now and then I would bring up the idea: Boy. I would say, “Babe, what if it’s a boy?” There would be silence, then an instant agitated tone that came from a pink-obsessed pregnant woman followed, “It’s going to be a girl!” Okay. I got it then and I still get it. Just say yes. So, I agreed; it’ll be a girl.
Over the next month, my wife was so excited, about everything concerning pink babies and pink baby things. And I was too. I went with my wife to every appointment, every awkward “check-up” and watched every movie concerning pregnant women and shows consisting of over emotional, crying pregnant girls. The conversations of having the right polka-dot boppy and breastfeeding was a thing. The heated debate of whether or not to wait to have her ears pierced as a baby was normal. The topic of obtaining pink frilly dresses and painting the nursery walls the color of Barbie’s blood was coming to an existence. Because, according to my wife, we were having a baby girl.
One day at a doctor’s visit, as my wife lay excitedly and I sat patiently, we were getting ready to hear our newest baby’s heartbeat for the first time. I remember as I sat, watching the doctor smear that jelly stuff over my wife’s belly, I thought of how powerful listening to a baby’s heartbeat for the first time was. I thought of how exciting and amazing it was when we heard our son’s heartbeat for the first time. The rapid thuds of my son’s heartbeat brought tears to my eyes. Life, is all I thought of. Every rapid beat of my son’s heart was filled with life. I cried. But this time everything was different… As I watched the doctor rub the Fetal Doppler over the cold-looking blue jelly, I noticed it took a little longer to find the heartbeat.
I distinctly remember that our baby’s heartbeat, the one that my wife swore was a girl, had a faint heartbeat. It was slower compared to my son’s. It was fainter. I remember how the doctor didn’t say anything at first. Her eyes were serious and didn’t light up the way I remembered they did when she listened to my son’s heartbeat. I thought it was because maybe this little life inside of my wife was going to be a girl. Maybe she will be small, much like my wife, I thought. That’s why; everyone’s different, I suppose. And that’s what I thought. The doctor said everything will be okay. So, that was that; everything was going to be okay.
I believed everything was going to be okay because my faith told me so. I believed everything was going to be okay because I prayed for my wife and my unborn child daily. The baby was going to be healthy and strong. I believed, and because of that, I knew everything was going to be okay. Everything was fine with the birth of my son. Everything has been great and God has blessed us immensely. Everything always worked out for our good, because I knew God placed a crown of favor over me and my family. My son was as healthy as an Ox and stubborn as even a bigger one. So, I knew this baby was going to be just as healthy.
Over a little time, we planned things accordingly. Well, I say accordingly but we basically just talked about baby names. We were at the point that we knew indefinitely what the baby’s name would be. In my opinion, it was too early to start painting a nursery pink, or began doing sketches of whimsical mermaids, but it was late enough to have names ready. Mainly, I wasn’t ready to be covered in pink paint or have mermaids on my mind. So, picking names was easy enough, I thought. If it was a boy (which it wasn’t according to my wife), I wanted to name him Luke Gabriel, or Gabriel Luke. Bam! Check. If it was a girl, I wanted a traditional biblical name like Esther, or an “old-school” name (that’s what my wife called it), like Anastasia, or Dillia, or even Beatrice. “Beatrice?! Why??” my wife dramatically questioned, as if I don’t know a good name when I hear one. My wife wanted something like Sophie or Olivia. She loves the short, cute names. She came to the decision that she loved the name Bella. Bella was short and sweet and hip. But I thought Bella needed to be the derivative of a name, like Annabella, or Isabella. That way, if we wanted, we could call her Bella. It was perfect! We both could have our pink cake and eat it too. It’s “old-school” yet, cute. After an extremely brief conversation, we decided that our new daughter was going to be named Isabella.
I thought that was a beautiful name, and my wife couldn’t wait to call her Bella. It was perfect because she was going to be our beautiful daughter. There were times when I went into daydreams, like I always did and still do, and saw myself calling to Isabella. “Bella, come pick up your pink clothes,” or, “Bella, clean up your pink toys before you trip and run into your pink wall and break your little pink head.” It was going to be so great. Everything was going to be just the way we (my wife) planned it. There were going to be pink things and piles of pink mermaid clothes with Isabella playing right in the center of it.
Since Isabella was her name, she had to be a girl now. You could only imagine how excited my wife was when she was going to her next doctor’s appointment. Because this next appointment would be another checking of the heartbeat, then the one after that would be when the doctor tells us that Isabella really was a girl. I’m sure she walked into that appointment with stars in her eyes, glowing like an illuminated bulb. But this next appointment was different. It even started off differently. Usually I went with my wife to every appointment. But for this newest appointment, I couldn’t go. I had to work. But I was sure everything was going to be okay. It always was.
I remember when I came home from work, I was excited. I was always excited to hear new information on our baby. I texted my wife because she would’ve been in the middle of the appointment. I waited for a response. It was a typical text. “Hey babe, how’s it going?” I texted. A few moments went by, then I finally got a response. The response wasn’t what I expected, and it made my heart drop. It was something that took me off guard. I was confused at first, then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I remember I was standing in our room. The light of the day was coming in through the glass doors, and I nervously held my phone in my shaken hand. “It’s not looking too good,” she responded. It was followed with a sad emoji, the one with the big teardrop.
I instantly fell to my knees by my bedside. I began praying. It was more like begging. I prayed, begged, pleaded, that everything was going to be okay. Everything was going to be okay. Everything had to be okay, right? God had favor over us. We were blessed. I’m a faithful Christian who loves Jesus with all of my heart, so everything had to be okay. God wouldn’t allow anything to hurt our precious unborn child, anything to hurt us, right? We were fine. Everything was fine. I continued to pray as I walked down the hallway and into our living room. I remember how the light coming in through the windows looked gray and filtered. Having been two weeks before Christmas, our Christmas tree was up, sparkling in the dull light of the day.
I texted my wife back. She responded that she would call me. And she did. I just knew that she was going to call me with news that had changed over the last twenty minutes. But the news didn’t change, and I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to hear. She called me, crying. I could barely understand her. “We lost our baby,” I thought she said. Did she really say that? I was confused at first. I was mostly in shock. All I could hear were the cries of my wife. She got off the phone so she could get home safely. I just stood there in the gray light of the day. Then it hit me, we lost our baby… That baby with the faint heartbeat was gone. That baby girl/boy was gone. Isabella, who was going to wear cute, pink clothes and play in a pink nursery with mermaids painted on the walls…was gone.
I sat on my couch and threw my phone. Even the Christmas tree that sparkled in all of its glory couldn’t put a smile on my face then. I began to cry. I began to sob from my gut. “Why, God?!” I remember I shouted. “Why?! What did we do to deserve this?! What did my excited, sweet, loving wife do to deserve such torment?!” I put my face in the palms of my hands and cried. My heart felt crushed. The last time I cried like that was when my grandfather passed away…
I had to be strong, I thought. I had to be strong for my wife. I wiped my burning eyes as I looked through the gray light of the window. I peered past our tree’s decorous arms which dangled with smiling, glass ornaments. The teasing bulbs that stated, “Baby’s First Christmas” irritated me. My wife pulled up. I remember how swollen and red her eyes appeared when she walked to me. I embraced her tightly as she cried in my chest. I silently cried too, but I didn’t want my wife to see. Besides the fact that I hate shedding a tear in front of people, I knew my wife had more of a reason to cry. Having a baby, especially a baby girl, was ultimately her dream, and just then, her fantasy. From that moment on, I had to be strong for my wife. I will never understand how it feels for a mother to lose a child. But I do know, as a father, how much it hurts.
The doctor wanted to schedule a D&C. If you’re not aware of what a D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure is, basically, it’s a surgical procedure in which the doctor dilates the cervix and scrapes tissue from the uterine lining. In my own words, they will be scraping my unborn child out of my wife. With that thought, and having the thought that the doctor could be wrong about our unborn baby, my wife wanted a second opinion. She was torn between trusting in God, trusting in her emotions, and trusting the doctor. We canceled the D&C and my wife decided to go to a specialist and have another ultrasound. She couldn’t bare the idea of having a D&C procedure performed when there was a small, tiny chance that our unborn baby might still be alive. Maybe the office’s equipment is not working properly, she thought. That’s what my wife thought: Isabella may still be alive. At that point, I knew my wife was hanging onto something that was gone. She kept trying to get back what was taken away. But I stood for whatever my wife wanted to do, and I knew that her having peace of mind was the most important thing for both of us.
I remember we waited all day to have a second ultrasound from a new nurse at a totally different facility. I remember my wife looked drained and numb as she sat and waited for the nurse to walk into the cold, disinfected room. The nurse turned the lights off, and the dimly lit counters were the only comforting thing in the room. The illumination from the ultrasound screen was unsettling. We saw the same ultrasound over again, which was silent and still. My wife accepted it then; I could tell by her silence. The nurse didn’t say anything but, “I’m sorry,” then left the room. We didn’t say much either, but accepted it entirely.
The days that followed were hard. They were even harder for my wife, which made me feel even worse. We rescheduled the D&C, then anticipated it as if it were doom before us. The morning of the procedure, and the hours that followed, were rough. My wife cried the whole morning. All I kept hearing her say was, “I wish we were here to have the baby.” And I did too. After the procedure, the doctor called me out into the hall. She told me that everything had gone well and that she sent a sample off to do a chromosomal test, which my wife wanted done. She also told me that the baby was bigger than she thought, and that felt like a punch to the soul when I heard that.
That day passed like the wind, and is now behind us. But the days that followed that moment still didn’t do any justice for my wife. With Christmas approaching and cheerful events happening, the thought of losing our unborn baby wiped the feelings of happiness away from us. My wife would randomly cry. She would randomly cry out in her dreams too, which I only knew…
I still remember the dreaded moment when my son asked about the baby. I told him that Isabella had gotten terribly sick and went to Heaven so Jesus could heal her. Being four, he wasn’t impacted by anything that was going on, but he loved Jesus and was content by that thought of Isabella living in Heaven with Him. He never asked about her after that.
Prayer was constant. I constantly prayed for my wife and our family. Many people prayed for us as well. People are so kind and loving. Many people said nice things, typical things like: “I know you’re a Christian so you will get through this,” or, “continue to trust in God,” or, “everything happens for a reason…” Those were all nice things, but, it still didn’t answer my question. Not only was my question not being answered, but all those nice things went right over my head.
After the initial question I had asked God, the “Why me, why us?” question, I began to receive messages from God. But the main message that I received was, “I will give back what was taken away.” That’s when peace and a sound mind came over me. Deuteronomy 30:3 says, “God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered.” I stood on that.
Even though the situation was still at hand, and even though my wife felt conflicted, we stood on the promises of God. It was all we could do. Because, why would a loving God take away an unborn child from its mother? Why would God allow such pain to consume a mother who did everything she was supposed to do as a mother? My wife took care of herself, knowing that the unborn baby depended on it. But, she began to have the reoccurring thought of: “What did I do wrong?”
My response to my wife was always: “God knew exactly what He was doing. There is a reason as to why it happened. Isabella had a weak heart to begin with. Only God knows all the details and why that was the outcome. But knowing that we will see Isabella in Heaven one day is what I keep thinking of. God will give back what was taken away.”
But I did see Isabella again. And she is the reason behind this piece of writing and the core of my art piece: Isabella. Having true faith is such a powerful thing. I had faith that God was taking care of my family. I had total faith in God and in everything that was taking place. I was thankful for my family and healthy son. We began to realize how blessed we were to have our healthy, smart son. And it’s funny, because we never knew the true sex of our baby. We believed it was a girl. Even though we truly didn’t know, we believed anyway. That’s true faith. Believing in something that is not physically tangible or seen, is having true faith. And God blessed me, giving me a dream of my daughter, which was the first of many more dreams to come.
During the night, I dreamt the strangest dream. It wasn’t even a dream, but more like a vision. I saw a young girl. She stood alone barefoot. She looked anywhere from 7 to 9 years of age. She had long brown, wind-blown hair that looked as if it were never combed. The flicker of a small smile was on her face. She looked like a mixture of my son’s face and my wife’s. Her eyes sparkled with a hazel-green light. Sitting atop of her head was a tiara of white flowers. She also wore a dress that went to her knees, which was made entirely out of gold ribbons. But strangest of all was that she held an old-fashioned pocket watch. The face of the golden watch was rather big and dangled from a golden chain. She just smiled at me, then I woke up…
The next few days, I kept thinking of this vision. I decided to draw it, because it wouldn’t leave my mind. I knew it was Isabella. I knew that God was telling me, that with time, we will see her again. And even though I didn’t know 100% that our deceased unborn baby had been a girl, I truly believed it, especially after that vision. I drew my vision of Isabella, then showed my wife. My wife hadn’t accepted healing of losing a child then, so I tucked the drawing away, placing it behind my art-supply bins. The drawing came out nicely, and is on an 18in X 24in sheet of mixed-media paper. Needless to say, it’s a bulky drawing which I had no intentions of painting. But it wasn’t until the next doctor visit that my eyes were truly opened, because the chromosomal test had come in. It was a rather loud confirmation from God.
We were told that the baby was a girl. And this baby girl had Turner’s Syndrome. We were blown away by the information. My wife’s intuition was correct, and my vision was correct as well. It was definitely a confirmation that we needed to hear. We understood that if we didn’t lose the baby that early on, that there was a high possibility that we would’ve lost her later on in the pregnancy. And if we had her full-term, she would’ve been born with a variety of medical and developmental problems, and there would’ve been a possibility of losing her later on in life.
No matter what, we would’ve loved her and cared for her unconditionally, but only God knows how much we could handle in life. Only God knows what our future holds, and what He has planned for us and our children. And for Isabella, I understood that her being in Heaven with the Lord was His plan for her. If we live our life on this earth, honoring God and his word, he will bless us tremendously, and walk with us through hard times. And believing and having faith in Jesus Christ is what brought us to our present state in life.
Over the next few years, I pulled that drawing of Isabella out and looked at. I usually pulled it out during the tough times in our lives when I couldn’t see what was going to happen. It was usually dusty, but still lovely. I’d look at her sweet smile, and the dangling pocket watch. Then, I’d put it back in its dark spot behind my art supply bins. But God had a reason why that drawing kept coming out from its dusty home. It wasn’t up until a few months ago that I painted it. And I painted it because it was time to accept healing. “Time” is the idea of the painting. I believe that God was telling me that with time, we will be healed, we will be blessed further, and we will see our daughter. Not only did Jesus die on the cross for our sins, but for our healing. As He was destroyed on the cross as a final sacrifice, we were made new because of His blood and broken body. Power is in the name of Jesus, and accepting healing in His name is powerful.
But it didn’t stop there. Over those years, we had a baby girl. You see, God blessed us with a baby girl just like he said He would. And can you believe that we named her Bella? Her name is Bella, and not the extension of the name Anabella or Isabella, but just Bella. Her name is Bella because she is an extension of Isabella, our daughter in Heaven. She is a gift from God, an answered prayer. Bella is the healing to my wife; she is the little girl who is dressed in big pink bows and loves to watch red-headed mermaids. She resides in a pink, princess nursery and throws her toys and clothes all over. She is the one who we fuss at, “Bella, clean up your toys!” or, “Bella, how could you possibly destroy the house in the blink of an eye?!” Her name is Bella Grace. Because she is beautiful, and by the grace of God, she is here with us today. She is healthy as an Ox just like our son, and just as stubborn. And I am amazed how healthy she has been thus far. As of right now, we can count on a few fingers the amount of times she had gotten sick, which wasn’t anything major. She puts a smile on our hearts and completes our family.
And one day, when she asks about the heavenly portrait of Isabella, we will tell her. Because now the portrait of Isabella is no longer just a dusty drawing that I pull out every now and then. I painted Isabella before Bella turned two. And right now, she hangs on the wall behind my desk. Because of her, I remember how good God has been to my family. I randomly glance at her, and know that no matter what happens, God hears us. No matter how far away He feels sometimes, He is right beside us. I also know that Isabella is alive. Because she is in Heaven right now, smiling. She is also alive as you look at her portrait and read this piece of writing. Isabella is alive in our hearts.
No matter what you’ve gone through in life, just know that God is there right beside you. Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and hold onto His promises. I will never know or understand everyone’s individual hurt. But I know all of mine and how God has helped me through them.
Just hold onto God, my friend. No matter what, hold onto Jesus.