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!
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.