My dearest Sophia,
I didn't think I ever wanted to be a mom until I had you. I had this fantastic marketing communications job that had me overseeing three countries, a terrific boss that I enjoyed working for, and lots of cool benefits. At the time I was at the peak of my job at Northwest Airlines, and on top of the world. My job was my kid, and I thought I had everything I wanted in life--a loving husband and a successful career--well, until you came along and turned my life topsy-turvy.
My pregnancy with you, Sophia, turned out to be a pretty fun experience. Everyday, I would talk to you in my tummy, play music for you to listen to, swim for your exercise, and pray that the Lord would bless you. When the time came for you to be born, we had a scare in the hospital, but the Lord protected us both and you were born this chinky-eyed, adorable baby girl that I fell deeply in love with.
Everything they say about meeting your child for the first time is true, and so much more. The love I felt for you was bursting and so wonderful that I cried. All I wanted was to hold and watch you all day long--I could not believe you were mine. At that moment, the traveling, corporate woman who thought she'd most likely go back to work eventually, decided in her heart to never look back and become one full time, stay-at-home mama, without a yaya.
To this day, I have no regrets in making that decision. I got to witness your every milestone and magic moment you made, and was there for every laughter, tear, every teaching and learning moment. I loved being your mom and all the things that came with it. The breastfeeding, the bathing, the dressing up, and playing together. Even driving you to school, ballet, soccer, swimming, tennis lessons, Hi-5 shows in the mall, playdates, and fast forward to bringing you to the mall for hangouts, chaperoning at 1D, Selena concerts, driving to and watching your all your tennis tournaments, every school program since preschool days at The Bridge School, you name it--I was there, and relished it all.
I watched you grow from a giggly, bright, happy baby to a brave, energetic, bubbly little girl, to a kind, selfless, gracious, compassionate, amazing 17-year old soul--one that in about 17 months will be off to college--Lord willing in Spain, but very far away from home, and from me.
What will I do when you're gone Sophia? What will fill my days? No more tennis training nor Sunday afternoons hitting balls with me in San Juanico, no more school shows, no more friends’ houses to pick you up from, no more Zara, Mango, H&M shopping trips and burger dates. No stories in your room at night about your “kilig” moments with Josh, or the new scoops in school. I won't be able to watch and witness your every triumph and success, wipe those tears during the low moments, and pray often with you and for you. Sigh.
When it was determined that I had to bedrest during my first trimester or else risk a miscarriage, all of a sudden, nothing else seemed to matter except you growing inside of me. And even though it was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make, I quit my beloved job without batting an eyelash so that I would have a safe pregnancy, and you would be unharmed.
You'll have to save those moments for me and relive them through Viber calls and visits. In the meantime, I will treasure each magic and mundane moment we have left before you head off to university. And while I am a bit sad that that day will come soon, I cannot praise and thank the Lord Jesus enough for blessing me with a daughter like you. I look at you and see a faithful God who gave us this incredible person. I love you very much, Sophia. I pray that you would continue to grow to be a woman after Christ. I'll always be here for you cheering you on. To infinity and beyond Sophia-wia. I am forever your proud mama. Thank you for turning my world upside down.
Love you mucho,
To my dear, sweet Sabina,
Your big sister, Sophia, was 5 years old when you were conceived. She was praying for a baby sister for the longest time and squealed with happiness when we told her that her prayer was answered. It was Sophia who declared one day that, "my sister's name will be Sabina." During the months leading to your due date, she and I would plan all the things you would do together, the matching outfits you would both wear, and Sophia would lay out the Barbie and Bratz dolls she would share and give to you.
When you were finally born, it was the happiest day. I cried when the doctor handed you over. You were another beautiful baby girl--my heart was beaming, and I couldn't thank the Lord enough for this incredible being. I now had two precious daughters, and life couldn't have been any more perfect. For the next few months, our home was a picture of joy, happiness, and sheer delight. You were an easy baby, so relaxed and good natured, never fussy, and so content. You would look at me with those sweet eyes of yours, and I would forever be captivated by you. Sophia was ever the doting Ate, who checked in on you all the time, and was very protective. She loved you so much, Sabina. We were a happy family that was over the moon with you. Then, one day, without any warning, something went horribly wrong. You couldn't breathe and your chest started caving in as you gasped for air. Dad and I brought you to the emergency room where you had become lethargic. Your bloodwork showed that your metabolic systems were crashing and had we not brought you to the hospital then, they said you would have slipped into a coma. You were only four months old.
Then, one day, without any warning, something went horribly wrong. You couldn't breathe and your chest started caving in as you gasped for air. Dad and I brought you to the emergency room where you had become lethargic. Your bloodwork showed that your metabolic systems were crashing, and had we not brought you to the hospital then, they said you would have slipped into a coma. You were only 4 months old.
Everything happened so fast and was a complete blur. You were brought to the pediatric ICU, and I cannot even recall how long we were there. Was it 5 days, a week, more? It was the worst nightmare that didn't want to go away. I couldn't hold you, nurse you, cuddle you as you were connected to an IV among other things. You were also barely awake and slept most of the time. I was absolutely terrified; and that idyllic life as I knew it changed completely.
But as I look back on those dark, awful days, days that I'd rather forget, what I do want to remember is that the Lord Jesus never left our side. In spite of it all, God showed just how much He loved our family and that He was taking care of you and was in total control. He orchestrated so many miracles, Sabina: a doctor that opened a lab during the holidays to get the test results, an expedited passport and US Visa, the best metabolic doctor at Stanford that was waiting to see you with an 80% hospital discount, support from so many, countless prayers, and much more. Truly God was faithful, and continues to be.
Fast forward to the present. You are an 11-year old with a rare, genetic condition called Mitochondrial Respiratory Chain Disorder. To date, there is no cure. Because of this debilitating disease, you cannot sit on your own, you cannot stand, you cannot walk. You cannot feed yourself, much less dress yourself. You are totally dependent on others for your care and survival. You have also never learned to talk.
Fast forward to the present. You are an 11 year-old with a rare, genetic condition called Mitochondrial Respiratory Chain Disorder. To date, there is no cure. Because of this debilitating disease, you cannot sit on your own, you cannot stand, you cannot walk. You cannot feed yourself, much less dress yourself. You are totally dependent on others for your care and survival. You have also never learned to talk. The dream of two girls laughing, singing, and dancing in our house, never came to pass. There have been no Barbie dolls played, and no princess role plays between two sisters. Yet, as heartbreaking as it is--you, my dearest, precious Sabina, are a miracle all your own.
While you may not have been able to do any of those things, you have been able to give us so much more. These past 11 years, you've given us nothing but love--a pure, unconditional love that has no boundaries or limits. You've taught us compassion, kindness, and patience. You've given us true joy and happiness that doesn't come from things, but from people and relationships.
You will be 12 this year. 12! You will have outlived 50% of babies that were diagnosed with your condition. I continue to pray that you will be part of the 25% that live to be 21. But I refuse to dwell on statistics because I know your life is in the mighty hands of Christ.
You've given us multiple teaching moments in faith and character building, as well as how to laugh and enjoy the simple but important things in life. Most of all Sabina, you have been a testimony of the saving love of Christ; His grace, and mercies that are new every morning. Praise the Lord!
Sabina, you will be 12 this year. 12! You will have outlived 50% of babies that were diagnosed with your condition. I continue to pray that you will be part of the 25% that live to be 21. But I refuse to dwell on statistics because I know your life is in the mighty hands of Christ, and He has been holding you in the palm of His hand since you were born. In the meantime, as we live one day at a time by His grace, let me tell you my sweetest Sabina, that you are a truly special gift from the Lord. The Bible says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. And I echo Sandi Patti's song which says you are a masterpiece. I am extremely blessed to be your mom, and that I get to enjoy you each and every single day. I love our daily cuddles, one million kisses, and the extraordinary way you communicate with all of us. I love you so much my baba; I know when you look at me and embrace me, you tell me you love me too; and that makes everything all worth it.
Love you forever,
Letters by Candy Ochoa