Our cover mom, Nadia Castillo says of herself, “I’ve always been determined.” And now, she’s got a daughter who may just exceed her in motivation.
Nadia is a couture designer who, after traveling the world as a model, returned to San Diego and married her teenage sweetheart, Phillip. After joining the Marines, Phillip later became director of operations for a senior services nonprofit. Just before Christmas two years ago, they were looking forward to the birth of their first child. Yet in the delivery room, their eager anticipation turned to fear: their baby Bella was born nonresponsive. Her hands and feet were blue.
Say Goodbye to Fear
Nadia held her baby for just a few seconds before medical staff rushed Bella away to intensive care. Nadia and Phillip were in shock. They spent the holidays at the hospital, praying for their daughter and waiting for any information about Bella’s condition. Nadia remembers being afraid to leave. “I feared that if anything happened and I wasn’t there, I could never forgive myself.”
Nadia’s mother had volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House: “You need to go to la Casita [the House],” she said, telling them that they could take a break and still be close to Bella. The Ronald McDonald House became their “home away from home” next to the hospital. Here, Nadia and Phillip were able to sleep, eat, and gather their strength, knowing they could be back to Bella within minutes if needed. In the supportive environment of the Ronald McDonald House, Phillip and Nadia rallied together to become Bella’s “number one cheerleaders.”
Never Give Up
In her first weeks, Bella showed herself to be a fighter, and she hasn’t stopped since. She’s had six surgeries in her short life, and will have another surgery in December to make it easier for her to speak.
Nadia speaks proudly of her daughter’s drive during therapy sessions: Bella keeps pushing ahead, even with things that are difficult for her. She’s progressed to be able to stand independently and use a walker. At nearly two years old, Bella is curious and active, with her dad’s warm-hearted nature. Bella doesn’t give up, and neither do her parents.
Nadia and Phillip spoke about their experience at our ROMP gala in October. In Nadia’s words,
I am just one of many mommies out there with a story of a baby’s stormy transition. While nothing felt certain at the time, we knew we could always count on ‘la Casita’ whenever we needed it. It’s imperative that awareness— as well as fundraising—never stops.
Nadia donated a custom dress for auction that evening, and she and Phillip continue to speak passionately about the importance of the Ronald McDonald House.