Thursday, January 22, 2015

What is happy?

I feel like part of me is missing. Even in the moments when I am not thinking about Tenley and all that happened, I still feel this deep ache. It's exhausting living this way. Every day I get up and go through the motions. People ask me how I'm doing. I fake smile so people don't feel uncomfortable. I wish I could say... Horrible! I'm aching inside. It feels as though my heart has been ripped out of my chest. I have to try to function each day with this emptiness. The only word I can think to describe this is torture.

I don't remember what it feels like to be happy. It's been so long since I've felt it. I don't know what "having fun" is. I try to be more social and do things, but that doesn't make me happy. When I'm doing something I used to love I think about how easy it used to be to be happy. Now, happiness seems impossible. Sure I have calm moments, I can smile, sometimes even laugh. But it doesn't last long. A few seconds of numbness from the pain is all it is. 

I miss my girl. I want to hold her one more time. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Sundays are difficult. Tenley died on a Sunday, so each Sunday I count the weeks since I last held her in my arms. Seven weeks today. Every day I reflect on all that has happened, but Sundays I am consumed with those reflections. I think back to when we first discovered we were pregnant. We celebrated together that night. When we told our parents we celebrated with them at a dinner. We celebrated when we announced to our family and friends that we were pregnant. We had a celebration when we learned that it was a girl. And we celebrated when she was born. After she died these celebrations seemed so silly and sad. But today as I reflected I realized they were not. We celebrated Tenley's life from the moment it started. And we will continue to celebrate it.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

What Never Will

There are moments when the grief is so heavy that I feel like I cannot breathe. Those moments usually come after I have felt "normal" for a little bit. And the pain hits me like a block of cement. My chest gets tight, my heart aches, and I feel lost. Then I start to question the world around me and wonder how I got to this point. The pain is still so raw, as if she left me just yesterday, but it's been about seven weeks now.

I not only grieve the loss of Tenley, but also the dreams I had for her. While I was pregnant I would daydream about how our life would be when she was born. I imagined walking into her room in the mornings and her being excited for me to pick her up. I thought about how when she was hurt she would want me, her mommy, to comfort her. I was going to read her endless stories, teach her to sing songs to daddy when he came home, and do silly things just to make her laugh. But.... I will never see her smile or hear her laugh. I won't know the color of her eyes or if her hair was curly. I will never know if she was outgoing like me or quiet and thoughtful like Brendan. I don't get to go into her room each morning and greet her with a smile.

I torture myself with impossible questions- why us? Why did she get sick? Why couldn't anyone save her? Why didn't God intervene? While on Earth I will never have the answers, but I can't help but ask them. What mother wouldn't?

It's really amazing how someone so small who lived such a short time has impacted me so greatly. Being a mother, even for such a short time, is life changing. The love that I instantly had for Tenley is like no other I have ever known. That love is the reason that this pain runs so deep. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tenley Grace's Story

Tenley Grace came to us earlier than expected, and left us too soon. This is her story...

I was six months pregnant when, after a seemingly routine ultrasound, the doctor told us our baby was not growing as she should be, and we needed to check into the hospital right away. We had no idea that the next few days would change our lives forever.

At the hospital they found multiple complications with Tenley. She was a few weeks behind in her growth, there was not enough amniotic fluid, her bowels looked obstructed, and the cord seemed to be restricting blood flow. The doctor gave us different scenarios for possible outcomes- she may not make it to birth, she might make it to be birth and have brain damage and other disabilities, or she might make it to birth but not live long because of her health. I cannot express how overwhelmed we were listening to the doctor that night. We, wailed, like we never had before. What did I do wrong? How can this be true? Will I ever hold my daughter? Just a day ago we thought that everything was going to be okay, how wrong we were.

We both agreed that we would do everything we could to give our baby her best chance to live. That night I was up most of the night doing tests and they began monitoring her. The doctors said that this would happen until her birth, which could be months or hours away. But I was willing to do what ever it took to give my baby the best chance to survive. Every four hours I was strapped up with cords and monitors so they could track her heart rate. Each time I heard her heart rate drop mine did as well. I spent that night crying, praying, and talking to Tenley in my belly. I told her we could do this, we could fight together to get healthy so that I could one day take her home with me.

The next day brought more doctors, more bad news, more "worse case scenario" warnings, and more tears. Tenley's heart rate began to drop more often, but each time it would recover quickly. At this point I was beginning to accept the fact that I would be spending the holidays being hopeful in the hospital.

Saturday morning the specialist came by to check on us. He looked at her heart rate patterns from the night before and became very concerned. He decided to do an ultrasound to check her movement and heart rate. We found a steady heart rate, but she was curled in the fetal position and did not move for 45 minutes. Her best chance to live was if we did an emergency c-section, and had doctors watching over her around the clock in the NICU. Within minutes I was crowded by nurses and doctors prepping me for surgery. I was crying to them, telling them, "It's too soon, she needs to grow inside of me longer. She isn't ready... I'm not ready." They did their best to calm me and reassure me that everyone would do everything they could to save my baby girl. As they took me out of the room and we headed to the operating room I began to calm down. I realized that freaking out would not help her, me, or my husband. Brendan was with me the whole time, probably freaking out inside, but he stayed so calm and composed.

The surgery went well, and Tenley Grace Spencer was born on November 22, 2014 at 1:58 PM. Miraculously, she was able to breath on her own for more than a minute before they hooked her up to the machines. She surprised everyone by being the smallest baby ever in the NICU at that hospital. We called her our tenacious Tenley as she fought for her life. She was kicking and moving a lot and seemed to be doing so well, despite how shockingly small she was.

The doctor warned us that there is usually a 24 hour honeymoon phase before the complications begin. Despite our hopes that she should prove them wrong, they were right. For 24 hours Tenley did really well, and then the struggles began. They discovered that the bowel obstruction was so bad that her digestive system would not work properly. This meant that they could not feed her. Then she got an infection. She was so tiny and weak that she could not fight it. When we were with her on Sunday night she was no longer kicking and moving, she laid there sick and uncomfortable. It was so awful to see, we desperately wanted to take that pain from her. We felt helpless knowing that there was nothing we could do to rescue her from this. Her oxygen levels were going down rapidly and we needed to make yet another difficult decision, do we leave her hooked up while she lays there sick and dying, or do we hold her in our arms. We didn't know what to do. I felt like if we unplugged her, we were giving up on her and not giving her a chance any more. While taking some time to make the hardest decision of our lives, Tenley was making the decision for us. Even the best machines and doctors could not keep her alive anymore. We looked over at our tiny, frail baby girl and knew she was going to leave us.

Our parents joined us in the NICU to meet her, love her, and pray for her. Then came the best, and worst moment of my life. I held my baby in my arms for the first and last time. During the next 30 minutes we had with her, alive in our arms, we told her stories, I sang "Isn't She Lovely" to her, and we constantly told her how much we loved her. I kissed her face and whispered to her that she could go to heaven to be happy and healthy, and we would see her there one day. Then my baby, my precious Tenley Grace drifted to heaven while in my arms.

I wanted to take her pain...and I did. She is now happy and healthy in heaven, and I am left here with a deep pain that will never leave me.