We are the Spinda family (John, Shanna & Stella Mae) from Murray, KY... on February 1, 2011 at 10:27am our beautiful baby girl, Stella Mae Spinda, was born at 26 weeks gestation. She weighed 12.34 oz and was 9 in long - Stella suffered from Intrauterin Growth Restriction (IUGR) which caused both her extremely small size and her being born premature. Stella spent five days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Norton/Kosair Hospital in Louisville, KY. She passed away late on February 5, 2011 from complications of her extremely small size. This blog was started when she was 23 gestational weeks old and we discovered her condition. It's original purpose was to keep family and friends updated on Stella's journey - we now hope to use this blog as a way to continue Stella's journey by honoring her memory and also as a way to support others who are struggling with infertility or have lost a pregnancy or baby.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Without Stella...

Two months and three days ago I walked out of the new NICU Pod J without Stella, I walked off the Labor & Delivery Floor without Stella, I walked out of Norton Hospital without Stella. Two days later I went to a funeral home and signed papers allowing them to take Stella. I was walking around the world without Stella. Two days after that I went to the doctor's office to get my staples out without Stella. Other women were in there for checkups with their babies. John and I sat in the waiting room without Stella. That evening after my appointment we left Louisville without Stella. I had come there three weeks before with her and I left without her.

I walked into my house in Murray, KY without Stella. John carried in her things - stuffed animals, clothes, blankets, cards, flowers, and much more. But we never carried Stella into the house. I didn't leave the bedroom for days. John brought me coffee and cereal in the morning and dinner at night. I mostly slept through lunch with help from the pain pill I was given for my C-Section. When I finally walked out of the bedroom a few days later I walked into a house that Stella did not live in. The days came and went without Stella. I started taking showers and brushing my teeth. I started riding in the car with John to go places. I didn't get out of the car at first, but at least I left the house.

I started going to lunch with friends. A mere three weeks earlier I had given birth, but I went to lunch without Stella. I started to function without Stella. The thought of functioning without her sometimes put me back into bed for a few days. But with the strength that she gave me I got back out of bed and faced the world without her.

I have done so much in the two months that I have been without Stella. I often wonder how...
How do I get out of bed without Stella?
How do I go back to work without Stella?
How do I laugh without Stella?

The first few days after she passed, while we were still staying at the hotel, while I was showering I would sometimes feel this overwhelming calm. For 30 seconds or so I could breathe, my eyes would dry up, and I felt like someone was hugging me. I told John about this after the second time it happened. I told him that it had to be God telling me that I was going to be okay. Those 30 seconds have turned into hours. The only way I can function is when I am feeling that "hug." When I'm not (which still happens several times a day) I feel like I can't breathe, I can't stop crying, I have this aching pain in my chest and upper arms. I'm not sure that I ever want that feeling to completely go away. That is my reminder that I am living my life without Stella. It's not enough for me to look into the mirror after taking a shower and see the scar where she came out of me. It's not enough that I do not have a car seat in my car, or to walk past her room and know that her crib is stuffed in the closet. It's not enough that the only toys laying around my house are dog toys or that the only two things that wake me up are my alarm or the dogs. The physical pain of losing her is something that I never want to go away. I never want to feel like I can completely function without Stella.

I wonder if God thought that I wouldn't be a good mom - so he took Stella from me. I wonder what horrible thing I could have possibly done to deserve years of infertility, years of aching to be a mom, to hold my baby and to look into her eyes and know that I created such a perfect thing. How could it be that I deserve to have all that taken away from me? Really what did I do? I don't just think, I know that I will be a good mother! There is no doubt in my mind. Maybe God doesn't think so and I guess that's all that matters.

I HATE that people that I don't know look at me and have no idea that I created a perfect angel. I hate that the checkout lady in Walmart doesn't know that I have tears in my eyes because my daughter died. But then at the same time I hate that I am now the person who "lost" her daughter. Like I misplaced her... Is she in the bottom of my purse, or maybe I left her on the kitchen counter? Nope, not there. But you don't want to say that I am the person with a dead daughter. That's not very sensitive, is it? So what do you say? How do you act around me? Do you pretend like everything is normal and the last 8 1/2 months didn't really happen? Or do you nervously ask me how I'm doing and tell me how strong I am for even being able to leave the house?

You think that you don't know how to act. Holy shit, I don't know how to act! I think... will it be weird if I just interject and start talking about Stella because that's all I really want to do? Well, what if I just want a break from talking and I want someone else to do the talking, how do I tell you that? Is it okay to talk about "when I was pregnant" like it was a normal pregnancy and I am a mom with a baby? What about when I just really can't take it, I have to go home, I just want to cry - how are you going to react? That's what I spend my time thinking about. I wonder, does everyone who knows about Stella look at me, cock their head to the side and think "aww, that's Shanna. Her daughter died."?? Or have you forgotten already and think "Oh yes, Shanna did go through something awful, but she is dressed, has makeup on, and is even smiling so everything should be okay by now. We can all move on and the sadness is now over." ?? Well, let me be the one to tell you that it just doesn't work that way. I will always be Shanna, the friend, the daughter, the niece, the wife of John who lost the most precious, most important thing in her life - her five day old baby girl Stella.