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.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back in time...

I have been thinking today about what life was like without Sophia. It has only been a month yet it's almost like I can't remember what it was like. I damn sure know that I never want to be without her! But all this thinking on the one month anniversary of our family being united brought me back to the beginning. Four years ago this month I was getting ready to start student teaching. I had just finished up my Master's comprehensive exams (and if you have every taken them you know just how stressful they are!) and I was ready for my last step before graduating with my Master's in education. Not only was I getting ready to student teach but John and I were trying to conceive. Last month marked the four year anniversary of John and I's trials and tribulations of trying to expand our family. However that is not where the story starts...

October 9, 2007 Red Lobster Akron, Ohio My 25th birthday. John and I had stopped preventing pregnancy a few months before but weren't really "trying." I looked at him during dinner and said "Well we better get pregnant within the next two months." He was sort of thrown by this demand and asked why. I answered "So I can have my first kid while I'm still 25." John thought it ridiculous to put a time limit on children but didn't object to bumping up our "not preventing" status to "trying to conceive" status. After a few months of giving it the college try (which we are good at seeings how we have been to college a total of 5 times between the two of us) we decided to take a break.

Fast forward back to July 2007 - we got more serious about ttc (trying to conceive), counted days, bought ovulation kits, etc. I remember how optimistic I felt in August, just sure that I would be pregnant by the time graduation came. Well graduation came and went with no pregnancy. By this time most of the people around us knew that we had been ttc and would bring it up in everyday conversation. Not only was it frustrating month after month when the test came back negative but we then had to answer questions from almost everyone we knew. Clearly I'm not a very private person - a few hints may be: I HAVE A BLOG! However discussing your failures is not something either of us were ready to do.

As the months and years rolled by I started becoming more and more bitter. I was bitter at everyone who was having children, I was bitter about moving to Kentucky, I was bitter about not being able to find a job in Kentucky. I did many things that I am not proud of including acting like a fool to some of my best friends when they got pregnant. The pain inside me was eating me up and it was like I just wanted someone to notice how bad it hurt. I have an amazing and supportive friends and family who I think may have believed they knew how bad I was hurting but in reality could not. It is impossible to know the pain of not being a mother when all you have ever wanted in this world was to be one. I spent years being angry, jealous, bitter, etc., etc. I sometimes wish I could go back and fix all of my wrongs, go to the baby showers that I just couldn't bring myself to go to, actually sound and be happy for friends who were adding to their family. But we can't go back and really should we? Those years made me who I am today; the person, the mother, the friend, the wife. I don't think I have anyone who still harbors any hard feelings for my behavior in the past. If so I would hope that they could tell me so I could apologize.

It wasn't until my counselor told me last year that she didn't think I was ready to have another child that I felt my attitude beginning to shift. At first I was so very angry at her! Who was she to tell me that I'm not ready? I've been ready for the past 4+ years! After the initial anger past I started to see the person I was and how much unresolved grief I was carrying around everyday. So I made a decision to pull my life together and be happy. Yes, I just lost my daughter. Yes, John and I had been trying to bring a child home for years. But why did this have to stop me from being happy? I dove into work, exercise and my marriage. I Zumba-ed three times a week so I could shake my booty. Shaking my booty makes me happy (always has). :) I strived to be genuinely happy for friends and family who were expecting. The list of work that I put into my life could go on and on. The goal: being happy without a child. I had set backs, I had bad days but I can honestly say that I had more good days than bad days!

When we finally got the call about Sophia I had myself in a place that I never thought I would be. I was beginning to feel peaceful about where Stella is - it'll never be "okay" that she doesn't get to grow up with us but I'm at peace with the situation. I feel like everything fell into place so perfectly. Everything happened just as it was supposed to happen. I still have bad days (even with Sophia) when I cry because I miss Stella. But that doesn't mean that things aren't exactly the way they should be. I'm a better mother to Sophia because of everything I went through with Stella.

If I would have gotten pregnant within those first few months of 25 who knows if I would have appreciated the gift that children truly are. I can honestly say that I do now!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gotcha Day!

We were in the car and on our way to meet and pick up our girl! Nervous excitement was coursing through my veins. I was texting and texting and texting everyone I knew. My phone was having a difficult time handling all of the incoming texts and calls. About an hour into our 2  1/2 hour drive I got a call from Rita (the director of Catholic Charities). She didn't sound very good and I was instantly panicked. She explained that Sophia's grandparents had showed up at her bio parents' house, blocked them in with their car and were causing a scene on the front lawn. Rita continued by saying that the police were called and that her bio parents were requesting for her to come over to help deal with the situation. She assured me that they still very much wanted John and I to take Sophia home. Rita told us to continue on to the church that we met at just two days prior and that she would call if anything changed. We continued the drive feeling a little hesitant but also optimistic. When we finally pulled up to the church we saw Sophia's bio parents getting out of their car. I immediately knew that everything was going to be okay! I jumped out of the car (I think before it was even fully stopped) and ran to their car. Sophia's bio mom looked awful - her eyes were red and swollen and she just looked like she had been through hell. I gave her a big hug and asked if she felt okay. She seemed very appreciative of my care for her. She introduced us to her mom and her sister while Sophia's bio dad was getting her out of the car.  Sophia had a beautiful flowered dress on with a bow in her hair. She looked suspicious of what was going on. We all walked into the church as a group and Rita was there to greet us. Sophia was put on the table in her car seat and her bio dad got her out. He gave her a kiss on her head and handed her to me. It was the most amazing moment. Rita took Soph's bio parents to the other side of the room to fill out paperwork while we had a chance to get to know Sophia. It was a little weird and akward because her bio grandmother and bio aunt continued to sit with us. I felt a little judged and sort of like I just wanted my own time with her. But really it was easy to overlook their presence when I was holding Sophia. I fed her, John had a chance to hold her and then the screaming started.... blood curdling, vein popping, someone's trying to hurt this baby screaming. John and I were trying everything, her bio grandmother was yelling out things to try, and her bio mom looked as if she was about to snap. Rita encouraged John to go to the car and get the Sophia's things that they had brought for us to take. Finally I was alone with my daughter! But the screaming continued. I could feel that her diaper was as heavy as a brick, I wondered if it had been changed all day. Her hair was soaked with sweat. Once John came back in with our diaper bag that we had brought we were able to get her diaper changed, put her in a comfortable onsie, and dab off her face with a wet cloth. John took her and started rocking her... Sophia was asleep within a few minutes. She knew she was finally able to rest.

Rita took a picture of the three of us leaving the church, we put the girl in the backseat, and I climbed back there with her. The three of us were off, headed home! Sophia slept the whole way home. Once we got home I just wanted to hold my child and I made the first mistake as a new mom... I purposely woke a sleeping baby.   : -O   Sophia didn't stop screaming for three hours! Sabrina, Heath, and Kenzie came over to meet Sophia and bring us much needed baby items.  They set up Kenzie's pack n play in our bedroom so Soph could sleep with us, while other neighbors were stopping over to meet the newest Spinda. Later Sabrina brought us dinner. The girl just kept screaming. Finally we got her calm and she slept for 6 1/2 hours the first night with us. Amazing!!

Sophia's first day with us wasn't a full day but it was a day full of LOVE!! She learned very quickly just how loved she is. Sophia is getting bigger and bigger each day, she is becoming more expressive with her emotions, her little personality is slowly become a HUGE personality. Sophia smiles so big each time one of us goes to get her out of her crib. She knows who loves her and she knows who her mommy and daddy are!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Little Sister ~ Big Sister

Is there a more perfect time to write my post about Sophia's adoption than when I'm feeling so overwhelmed with love for her that I've been crying on and off for the last 1  1/2 hours?

Most everyone know some details but very few know all the details that surround Sophia's adoption and the time leading up to her adoption. If you are one to want to know all the details, keep reading!

John and I had made the decision to start trying to get pregnant again a few months ago. We decided to keep this pretty hush-hush and only tell a few people. Of course we hoped that getting pregnant would be easier this time around but nothing can be guaranteed. We certainly did not want constant questions about our attempts at conception or how we were going to deal with my blood clotting disorders as innocent as they may have been. I started seeing a new fertility specialist (whom I love!), taking fertility meds, and John and I got to work. ;) The first month of medication my blood tests reviled that I ovulated and had an excellent progesterone level. Unfortunately the month did not end with a pregnancy, however my doctor was very optimistic that I would be pregnant within the next few months. While we were, as can be expected, very nervous about my ability to carry a healthy baby we were also very excited at the possibility of becoming parents again.

July 11 - I went to a routine, mid-cycle check up at my OB's office. She is very thorough and had me come into the office about every two weeks. So I'm sitting up on the table in the exam room (pantless) when I get a call. I sort of wiggle off the table while holding that tiny little paper sheet trying to keep the goods covered in case the doctor swung the door open, grabbed my phone and hopped back up onto the table. I was shocked to hear Rita, the director of Catholic Charities on the other end asking to speak to John and I together. I explained that I was at the doctor alone and that we could call her back as soon as I got home. She was kind enough to tell me that she had good news (which I had already guessed) and to call as soon as I was with John. So yes, I had to continue to sit still, waiting for the doctor to come exam my baby maker all the while I was completely loosing my mind. I must have drove about 90mph home and when I walked into the house I found John sort of freaking out on the couch. We called Rita back, put her on speaker and listened as she told us about the couple who had chosen us. She went into detail about the situation, explained that Sophia's biological parents really liked us and that they were expecting this all to happen very quickly. It wasn't until Rita told us Sophia's name that we were sure that God was leading us right to our daughter: Sophia June. Soph's biological parents named her Sophia June - it was God who decided that she belonged to the family who had a daughter with the middle name Mae. Two S names, Mae then June - not something we did on purpose but that God did on purpose.

We set up a meeting day for Saturday, July 14 and had to make it four days without completely freaking out. Of course John and I told some people about our meeting with the biological parents but for the same basic reasons we kept our attempts at pregnancy quiet we decided to keep this meeting pretty quiet. We struggled with how much preparation we should do for bringing a baby home. I went back and forth about washing all the little girl clothes I had for Stella. We ended up trying to focus on just getting through Saturday and no baby clothes were washed in the process.

Saturday came and we drove the 2  1/2 hours to meet Sophia's biological parents. John was wearing his cute new button down shirt and I had on my new dress. We were dressed to impress! We showed up a few minutes early and found ourselves locked out of the building. As soon as I got off the phone with Rita, who assured me that she was less than 10 minutes away, a very nice looking couple got out of their car and started walking toward us. Panic raced through my body as I realized that I was about to meet the biological parents of our daughter. There was no agency representative who would serve as a buffer. This was it - we had to introduce ourselves and strike up a conversation with two people who held our future in their hands.  

The meeting lasted about hour. We hit it off with Sophia's biological parents and we left the meeting with the understanding that they were to call Rita on Sunday with their final decision and a pick-up date for us to come get Sophia. The hitch... Sophia was staying with her biological dad's parents. They had been taking care of her for the past few weeks and had NO idea that adoption was even being considered let alone planned. John and I decided to try and be as optimistic as possible including going to Toy r Us and spending a few hundred dollars. A few more people were let into the loop, however we continued to try and keep everything quiet from the masses. We spent Sunday painting Sophia's room and trying to keep our hands steady from the anxiety we were feeling waiting for the call from Rita. By 4pm we could no longer handle it and we called Rita who assured us that as soon as she had heard from Soph's bio parents she would call us. By 8pm we had completely melted down and were beginning to lose hope. Rita called with the bad news of no news. Sophia's bio parents had not called her and she was reluctant to call them so late. She assured us that she would call them on Monday morning. John and I went to bed praying for peace and guidance.

Monday morning I was awoken by my phone ringing. As I ran around the house trying to find my phone our hope was beginning to be restored. I answered the phone, pressed speaker and jumped back into bed near John as quickly as possible. We both listened as Rita told us that Sophia's parents wanted us to come and pick her up in a few hours!! The meeting with the grandparents lasted over 9 hours on Sunday and left them drained but determined to give their daughter the life they felt they couldn't provide for her. After hanging up with Rita, we leaped out of bed and began what must of looked like two insane people trashing a house but was instead us getting ready to go meet and bring home our new baby girl. Clothes were being thrown everywhere, John tore into the car seat box and got started trying to figure that out, it was a mad house here!! After what seemed like hours we finally got on the road... headed to pick up our DAUGHTER!

Part II Bringing Home the Girl will be posted soon.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hope

Today I felt this nagging sense that I needed to head over to my blog and catch up. My last post was the night before Thanksgiving and so much has happened since then. As I read back over my post I'm brought back to the pain that I was living in at that time. I realize how much I have come in the last 6 months. I also noticed that I have three drafts saved that were never posted. One from Christmas, one from Stella's birthday, and one random one from February. I'll never be able to remember why I didn't post those, but there must of been something holding me back. I hate that I didn't get all of my feelings out from Stella's birthday and her angelversary! But I refuse to beat myself up about it or try to force out some sort of post about that time. The feelings that I was feeling on February 1 and 5 are different from the ones I'm feeling today. I can not capture them nor will I try. What I am going to do is capture all of my feelings of hope and get them posted up on this blog. I think it's about time that Stella's Journey included some HOPE!

I have just updated our "adoption" tab in the blog to include important events that have taken place since we began the adoption process almost 10 months ago. But here is where I'll talk about how this makes me feel. Sort of like counseling. "And Shanna when you think about the length of time that you have been waiting to hear from the adoption agency, how does that make you feel?" ...Hopeless is one word that comes to mind. But it's a feeling that I won't let in. So I have to settle with shitty. F-ing annoyed. This isn't like a pregnancy due date. I have no idea when the call will come. John has no idea when the call will come. The agency has no idea when they will make the call to the Spinda's. We just have to wake up every morning with the hope that we will get the call today. And we have to go to bed every night knowing that God has not created our child yet and that is the reason we didn't get the call. I do better on same days then others. More recently I've been doing everything I can to ensure that God will place the right child into our home. We have decided to adopt an older child (6-10 years old) from the Special Needs Adoption Program through the state of Kentucky. I'm a special education teacher who can't ever stop talking or thinking about her kiddos. John and I are one of the best husband and wife teams you will ever find. We could offer so much to a child who has had nothing their entire life. We are ready to bring a special needs child into our home. I'm so excited to go to the training on Tuesday and to get started with everything we will need to do to proceed. I feel the best when I'm working towards a goal. I can't just wait around expecting something to happen... I want to make it happen!! After we are approved by the state of Kentucky we will then be on two waiting list. (Catholic Charities and the Special Needs Adoption Program) Double chances!

Hope is the reason I get out of bed. Hope is the reason I am able to function. My whole world is surrounded by hope. It is the one thing I cling to with both of my hands. I have hope that our family will be completed when He is ready.

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