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‘Mother’s Day Will Never Be the Same.’

Two years after Elena’s death, I try to understand why I was given a child just to lose her. 

Silhouette of a woman against a black background
Photo by Molly Blackbird via Unsplash

On Mar. 27, 2017, I was at a regular checkup, having just had an ultrasound. I was told my unborn baby was too small, and this was a cause for concern. Her placenta lacked oxygen, so in order for her to live, I needed to deliver her within 24 hours. I said, “I’m not ready.” But, ready or not, Haylee, one of my first loves, entered this world 12 hours later at 4 pounds 11 ounces. Over the next two days, I forgot what sleep was.

Haylee was what I had been praying for. A lot of people have walked in and out of my life. As Haylee’s mom, I was going to be different. Motherhood was something I could control. If I couldn’t get my life together for me, I could do it for her. 

I’d been with her father for a little over a year. He was controlling and abusive. In a perfect world, I thought that after my child was born, maybe the abuse would stop, the stealing would stop, or the drugs would stop. 

Instead, it got worse as the years went on. Each year, I welcomed a new child into the world. I was a mother of six by the time I was 23.

But the violence eventually hit a high point. I was facing an extreme amount of pressure with eviction and repossessions looming. Plus, underneath the surface, I was still struggling with untreated postpartum depression. But simple moments with my children always re-rooted me where I needed to be. I lived for my children. 

Then one day, while giving my four-year-old daughter a bath, I noticed a questionable bruise on her back. Her explanation was that, “Daddy told me Junior did it.” There were consequences when I confronted him. It ended in gaslighting and abuse. Within the blink of an eye, he went from abusing me to abusing us. 

On Nov. 27, 2021, I called a hotline to get a bed in a Fort Worth, Texas, shelter for me and my kids. They explained they didn’t have room at that location and I would need my own family room because I had five children at the time. They said they would have space after a family left on the 29th. That night I packed a getaway bag and got all our documents together. All we had to do was play it safe and wait. 

But while I was attempting to get us out, he hit my three-year-old daughter Elena—an attack that eventually killed her.  

On Dec. 1, 2021, I had to make one of the most difficult decisions any mother can make. My little girl was on life support and trying to tell me she was tired of fighting. All I could do was listen. I pulled her off life support. I had nobody. All my relatives were angry that I failed to protect myself and my children. They asked why I stayed. They insisted I should have done this or that.

After Elena passed, all my other children were placed in foster care. I soon found out I was pregnant with my sixth child. I know I wasn’t the world’s best mother, but life without them was not worth living. I attempted suicide multiple times. 

After being hospitalized, I was arrested on Dec. 23, 2021, due to what happened with Elena. This led to a conviction of Injury to a Child/Elderly/Disabled SBI by omission and failure to protect and provide medical care. I was sentenced to 15 years. My ex-husband received 30 years. 

I’ve spent two years incarcerated without my children. I’ve spent each year depressed, grieving the loss of a child, and the loss of all my children. If I am forced to do my entire sentence I will experience 16 years without them.

Mother’s Day will never be the same. It will now be my motivational holiday. A reminder that it’s not about me. It’s about getting it together for them. Staying strong for them. Giving my little girl something to look down on and smile. 

Mother’s Day reminds me to help end intimate partner violence by speaking up about a subject that is often considered taboo, raising awareness about the collateral damages that can occur from intimate partner abuse, and letting women know they are not alone.

May 12, 2024. Two years after Elena’s death, I try to understand why I was given a child just to lose her.