Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jenna Belle

"She did more in thirteen days than most people do in a lifetime."
March 2009
It was my five month check up and we were anxious to find out whether or not our dreams of a little girl were true. Both grandmothers came along. For my mother, it was her first grandchild. The nurse measured and measured and measured some more. I looked at the ultrasound on the monitor and something rubbed me the wrong way but I let it slide since I was a newbie to this whole mommy thing. They sent the grandmothers away for my checkup and there they broke the news that something was wrong. The doctor could not tell me what, but she knew we needed answers and she could not give them. That day instantly turned from a dream come true to a nightmare. Her nurse staff squeezed us into a high risk clinic for an appointment in the late afternoon. We waited and got checked in. The doctor finally saw us. I thought surely this woman who is more experienced with problematic pregnancies is going to tell me that everything is fine. Surely she will know what bliss the pregnancy had been up until that day. (I was still fitting into most of my regular clothes and was feeling just fine). But she didn't. She gave us in more detail what symptoms she was picking up through the ultrasound. She gave us a myriad of possibilities but no answers. 

April 2009

Following the initial visit with my perinatologist at five months, the days in between the visits the grace of God sustained me. At six months, the doctor began to show a grave concern for my baby's restricted growth. She had grown some, but was now about two to three weeks behind where she should have been. She showed physical symptoms of genetic disorders. We went for a second opinion, hoping a fresh pair of eyes would give us a bleak of hope that my perinatologist was wrong. This doctor gave us more or less the same "diagnosis" by looking at the ultrasound. There were a few conflicting observations from the two doctors, which in itself gave me hope that they really did not know anything for sure. Aside from all this, my husband and I knew that God was in control. He could turn this thing around if He so pleased. 
We held onto hope and there was no harm in that. I learned when Jenna liked to move, which she did frequently. She would be pretty active in the morning and late at night right before I could fall asleep. I loved to feel her swishing around. It gave me a divine hope from Heaven that there was life. She was fighting, regardless of her condition or what the doctors would say. On the 23rd of the month, I was 28 weeks. A day prior, I noticed she had not been moving the way I was used to feeling her move. At 4:30 the next morning I could not bear it any longer. That night was restless and I had to know how she was really doing. My next appointment would not be for another week or so. I woke up my husband and the day that we thought would just be another busy work day turned into the beginning of our new life. I had called my OB before waking him and she instructed me to go to L&D immediately as that was the only place she could check anything out at such an hour. We followed her orders. On the way, I began to feel Jenna move for the first time in about 24 hours. When we got to the hospital, the monitor was put to my belly and a sigh of relief came over me. She was still alive. The doctor finally arrived and told me I would not be going home for a while. All the things that I thought were urgent had to fall into someone else's hands. That included teaching, running my eBay store, moving from an apartment to a house, and the list could go on. Somehow life would turn into living for my baby as all the cares of life would lose their significance. I never knew I would survive being still for as long as I had to be. My bed rest would last two weeks, and I would not leave my room for the first time after thirteen days. The thing that made these two weeks fly by was my church family coming to visit. They would consistently come by, sit and chat, ask how the baby was doing and tell me that they were praying. 
Thank you, Shady Acres.

May 2009 
One week in the hospital turned into two and everyday it seemed like she would be arriving much sooner than anticipated. On the fourth of May, I had what would be my last ultrasound. My doctor came in to see the baby and told me she was worried that we would lose her unless we took her soon. She was not getting the nutrition she needed to grow. Aside from that we were still perplexed why she was not growing. This was Monday night. She told me we would definitely deliver Jenna by Wednesday since Tuesday’s schedule was full. (Who knew you could schedule a baby’s coming? Like I said I am new to all this) She said the only way she would take her sooner, was if it turned out to be an emergency. 
They monitored her very closely and moved me into L&D that night. For an hour or so we watched with aching hearts and were told that she would be delivered that night. My doctor returned and it was the one of the most traumatic events of my life. I heard her say “You could lose the baby,” just as we were going to enter the delivery room. She was warning me. Thanks a lot. 
I later learned in the NICU, that we really did almost lose Jenna that night. We ran into one of the nurses that was there the night Jenna was born. She said they were completely surprised at Jenna’s condition when they took her. She was more premature than they thought. Thankfully, they had the respirator Jenna needed at hand. That night they told my husband there would be a 2% chance that she would make it. They rushed her to the NICU where they would keep her.   I was so anxious to meet my baby girl. The very one that I felt for seven months. The very life I carried inside of me. The one I would talk to, sing to, dream about and anticipate raising. But all my dreams would crash into a nightmare. I would put all my dreams on hold as I watched her fight for her life. She fought hard. And we would never find out what went wrong. She taught me and Pete some things. Life isn’t really about winning an argument, buying a house, getting your way, fancy things, or even getting the job you really want. It’s about Christ. It’s about what He did on the cross. It’s about trusting Him until you dare not trust a fiber in your being. It’s about learning and receiving a more perfect love. There are a few things I keep here on earth in memory of my angel (memory garden, scrapbook, her gravesite with fresh flowers…). I wish I could trade all these things and hold my baby girl tonight. But as long as I have breath in me, we will be separated. I got to know her. I got to see her open her eyes, change her diaper, and watch her facial expressions. I got to feel the softness of her sweet baby curls on her head. I felt the warmth of her tiny hand around my finger. Those are the moments I hold close to my heart. Sometimes too painful to dare think about. But she left this earth with the angels singing. I really believe that. No more pain, no more doctors, no more medicine. Just Heaven and the Lord. The One who gives us that blessed hope of a reunion one day. Until then I will hold those 13 days in my heart. I will think about her. I will miss her. I will remember her. I will tell the world about her. I will take it by faith that God makes no mistake. 

What others can do to honor her memory:
 
Appreciate life for the gift that it is, and spread the word about Abiding Hope Collages, which is what I started doing in honor of my Jenna Belle to help bereaved parents.

4 comments:

Jessica said...

Thinking of you and your angel Jenna today Francesca.

Jill said...

Thinking of Franchesca and sweet Jenna!

Lisette said...

Thinking of you Jenna on your angel day.
Franchesca, praying for your hurting heart. I know today is so difficult, ((HUGS)).

Franchesca said...

Thank you Jessica for remembering my Jenna! It means so much.

XOXO