I was just 20 years young when I had moved back to Kansas City from Boston, Massachusetts. I was working at a psychiatric hospital following a year of college. Two weeks after returning home, I discovered a big surprise! I was pregnant. I wasn’t in a relationship at the time. I wish I could say I was like Mary and got impregnated by the Holy Spirit, but that was not the case.
I believe I was seeking desperately to find what was for me in life and doing it all the wrong way. I would look for affirmation through poor decisions, compromising my values in so many ways. It wasn’t until I discovered a baby would be coming soon and I would soon be responsible for another person that things changed. I wanted to be a good representation for that new baby.
Thanks to my family, I had a place to stay and guidance along. I knew the only One who would help me ultimately was going to be God and I went 100% full steam ahead pursuing Him. I fell so in love with Him and was discovering everything new about myself in Him! I, more importantly, was getting the greatest revelation of all, how much He loved me and I knew I would be okay.
The pregnancy in and of itself would not be the only surprise as I prepared myself for motherhood. The big, incredible day that Bella was born turned into a devastating event (in my mind). The moment the nursed placed her on my chest, the whole room stopped and the voice of the Lord spoke into my spirit… He said, “She has Down Syndrome.” Then the activity in the room continued as the post-birth process happened. It was very quickly that the nurse saw signs of what appeared to be Down Syndrome and rushed Bella off for a more intense checkup. I knew when I watched my dad walk back into the room that what I had heard was true. This was the first time I’d heard God in this way so I wanted to believe I hadn’t heard Him. But I had.
I had to make a decision. Would I continue to follow the Jesus I was falling in love with or feel betrayed by Him for doing this and reject all that I had been learning about Him?
I remember sitting in my hospital bed, with Bella just a few feet away in intensive care, telling God that if this was Him and He had chosen the right person for this assignment, then He needed to show up and tell me what to do with all this. After a week in the hospital, Bella and I began our journey.
Physical therapists of all kinds came to the house to help us with different needs from the day we got home from the hospital. We are very privileged to live in a country that offers such great care! At about eight weeks into her little life, I met the incredible young man who would become her dad. Albert came in and rescued us from being alone. He played a major role in her early care. It was not easy being broke, having a child with disabilities, no education, a boyfriend new to our country who worked all the time… But I knew I was a daughter of the King and that was and has always been my qualification!
Bella is now 19 years old and is graduating this month. I am convinced more than ever that God was very intentional about her life. She is the oldest of our five kids and has a strong spirit. We have created an organization (Pujols Family Foundation) and thousands of families have been impacted because of Bella. She has been my great challenge and blessing all in one! I love to encourage mothers of new babies with Down Syndrome (or any disability) because I was once one. I can speak from experience about how to press through the lack of understanding and emotions.
I am thankful for Bella’s life!