The Small Bird Story

A lot of people leave this blog feeling sad. Maybe even a bit disturbed or out of their comfort zone. Especially if they’ve never faced the loss of a child. But if you’re here for the first time, one thing I want you to know is that our story is more than a ‘something sad’ that happened. Yes, our daughter was born incredibly early. Yes, she was tiny. And yes, she died. But today… well today is a gift. And I know that more than ever because of her. Today I am still alive… still breathing… and daring to LOVE the life that we couldn’t share together. Losing a child is one of the hardest, if not THE hardest thing, for a parent to endure. But something about being so close to death gives you a new perspective… and a craving to live it to the absolute fullest. This blog is not just about her, it’s about the beautiful mess that she left behind…

A gift for you.

flying kites

The night Jenna was born our church was praying hard. Some were praying that she would be born on the fifth of May since five is the number for grace, and since they had heard the news of the emergency c-section late that night of the fourth.

Dr. Jen Arnold (from the Little Couple) was on the attending team of doctors at Texas Children’s that helped watch over Jenna her first few hours of life.

Jenna was born 1 lb, 1 oz on May 5th at 12:01.

From the very beginning we could see that God was all over this child. She was the tiniest baby I’d ever seen. The morning that they wheeled me in to see her for the first time, she was wearing a small red and white polka dot bow. The nurses were calling her a diva.

Jenna beauty2

She had tiny dark brown curls resting tightly to her little head.

She was covered in wires, tubes and gold stickers. She was our first baby.

I remember looking down at her, and believed with all my heart that she would just be spending months in the hospital. I kept telling myself that we could do this. It would be hard, but we would survive.

They told us the first 24 hours were crucial. When that passed, we breathed a sigh of relief. They said the same thing about the 10 day mark.

When she passed the 10 day mark, we were believing in our tiny miracle more than ever.

Of course, every day in the NICU was a roller coaster ride. No sooner would we tell our family members that she was doing well, that her saturation levels or whatever else would go down only moments later. We ended up opening a CarePage to keep them updated, because it became exhausting to call and text everyone.

I sat by her bedside nearly the entire time. I can remember holding back tears, and pouring them out in the milk bank, when I was alone. I felt like I had to be strong for her.

Thirteen days after she was born, at four o’clock in the morning we received a phone call in our Ronald McDonald Housing room. They told us to get down there, and that she would not be making it.

We rushed down there, called everyone we could. We spent the next eleven hours preparing, the best way we knew how, to say goodbye. I think I was in shock. Not once – not once – did it cross my mind that she would not make it. I believed with my whole heart that she would be the one to prove all the doctors wrong. I remember daydreaming about our take home day, and what a celebration it would be.

I suppose that is what brings you through this type of situation… hope. Beautiful hope.

We later learned that I have a blood clotting disease MTHFR, that causes blood clots in the umbilical cord. The doctors did know for sure what was wrong with our daughter at the time, only that she was extremely premature (smaller than a normal 29 weeker), and had many complications.

Losing her rocked my world to the core. It shook my faith, my dreams, my beliefs… my everything. It was like learning to breathe again, because inside a part of me died right along with her.

A few things have been like pillars in my life since her loss.

The love of God. Seriously, he continues to show me just how much he loves me in spite of what I think and how I feel about all of this. His love is truly amazing.

My husband. He’s pretty much awesome. He talks about Jenna, and helps me remember her. And I will never forget how he would stand over the incubator, when Jenna was in the hospital. I don’t think I ever loved him more.

Everyone else that empowers me and allows me to talk about her. People like Carly Marie, some of my best friends in real life, and a handful of family members. They make all the difference, in allowing me to talk about the daughter that made me a mom for the first time.

And last, but certainly not least… my rainbows. They are my world.IMG_0472

For child loss resources please visit this page.

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Comments

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    Linda A. says:

    Thanks for sharing jenna’s story. Now I know why your studio is called “little bird”. It is amazing what the internet can do these days—connect people with a similar cause or story. I miss my angel Peter James, and promised msyelf years ago I will never let anyone forget him. I pledge that until my last breath.

    Your work is beautiful. Jenna clearly is an inspiration for you.

    Peace and comfort

    An angel Mom, Linda

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    Franchesca says:

    Hey,
    Fran it is Michael thanks for the camera and were are the pictures of josphe?

    thanks
    Michael
    P.S. how many teeth does he have?

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    Olga says:

    Wow what a story. God sure knows the plans for our lives! I was wondering why you called it small bird. now that i know the meaning behind it, its so much more beautiful! i am glad i found your blog design and blog. God bless!

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    Wow! Thank you for sharing your story. I have been crying my eyes out this week thinking about all of the lost little babies out there. A friend just did an amazing tribute this week to those babies. I have two that were miscarried, and as I am pregnant again, my heart breaks for those mothers who held their babies, but never more than that.
    Amy @ Kitchen and Kids recently posted..Infant Loss and Remembrance Day – October 15thMy Profile

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    CP says:

    Our first baby was a beautiful little girl. She lived for almost 2 hours. It was devastating. Our second child is a boy who was born 4 days short of a year later. Our son is now 7 and we have 4 year old twins but we will never forget our first baby.

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      Franchesca says:

      I am so sorry for your loss. Your story sent chills over me, that is truly incredible. We were so afraid of our son coming on Jenna’s birthday, but thankfully he was born 2 days before. Thank you so much for reading our story.
      xoxo

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    Melanie says:

    Thank you for sharing and I am so sorry for your loss of sweet Jenna. I love that name Jenna.
    Thank you for creating the site with all the cards. I have quite a few friends who have lost babies and I never know what kind of card to get them or what to say.
    Thank you :)
    Melanie recently posted..Five Minute Friday: CatchMy Profile

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      Franchesca says:

      Oh wow, thank you so much for stopping by. It is our hope to help family and friends find some words through these cards in such difficult times. Much love to you xxxx

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    Jennifer says:

    I found my way over here from Angie Smith’s blog. Your story and Jenna’s story is beautifully heart wrenching. The work you do is so powerful and significant. Thank you!

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    kate says:

    Wow. What a beautiful story, a beautiful daughter and a wonderful blog! Thanks for sharing. I love to connect with other baby loss mamas.
    Our beautiful little daughter Elsa Meadowlark came and left us about 2 years ago too. Her three brothers and parents miss her terribly, but I feel like you do…that I’ll surely hold her again someday.
    Thanks for your amazing work!

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    Camila says:

    this is a beautiful story with a wonderful message. thank you so much for being strong so that the rest of us may be strong as well. i love blogs with a purpose and i am so glad i found yours. can’t wait to keep following.
    you can visit me at This+That. –Mila

    milathinksthisthat.blogspot.com

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    Andrea says:

    Such a beautiful story, thank you for sharing. I haven’t personally gone through the loss of a child, but I have a sister who would be 31, were she still alive today. Every year on her birthday, 3 days before mine, I go visit her & talk to the sister I’ve never met, but only know in my heart.

    I’m a new follower from So, hi. You can vist me at Love is… – Andrea

    andrea-loveis.blogspot.com/
    Andrea recently posted..Day 13 & 14 – 30 Day Blogging ChallengeMy Profile

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      Franchesca says:

      Oh wow, thank you so much for visiting and sharing your story Andrea. That is beautiful that you visit your sister each year on her birthday.

      big love to you,

      off to visit your blog :)

      xxxxx

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    Wendy Hagen says:

    So Cool
    “I design blogs and offer discounts for bereaved parents, couples facing infertility and families trying to adopt.”
    No blogging back when we lost our baby Faith, but I did send emails. I am a public processor.
    Love how you keep her memory alive in so many ways.
    Wendy Hagen recently posted..Insta-Pumpkins and PrayersMy Profile

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    Although I cannot imagine such a great loss as you have experienced, I am truly inspired by Jenna’s legacy. My name is actually Jenea as well, and I just got through listening to a sermon about paradigm shift. I feel like i am in the middle of that transition, but I wanted to tie up some loose ends on who I am before I become who God destined for me to be. On this journey to self-discovery, I aim to be aware of who I am, confront myself, and break down all that is Jenea, in the process of embracing my true self. I never knew the meaning of my name, although I have always been curious. I did a search and when “small bird” showed as the Hebrew meaning, so many things in my life clicked for me in this moment. Upon searching the meaning, I was blessed with the opportunity to stumble upon your blog. Your story about Jenna has touched my heart in such a way that I cannot explain. I have always known that I tend to greatly impact the lives of everyone I cross paths with, and this seems to hold true of your beautiful daughter as well. I now know what it feels like to experience the light of such a beautiful soul, the reflection of how others see me that I’ve never understood. I love that she lives on through your love and will forever impact other’s lives as she has mine. Thank you so, so very much.

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      Franchesca says:

      Dear Jenea, thank you so much for your words of love and encouragement. I’m so glad you found my blog, and that my daughter’s story touched your heart and life. It means more than I can put into words to learn that her life has meaning, and that she continues to make a mark in this world.

      Sending love and peace,

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    Ashley says:

    I found your blog thru Casey’s today. What an inspiration you and your family are! We struggled with infertility for 4 years(and 1 miscarriage) before being blessed with our beautiful son thru IVF and its great to know there are cards out there directed towards these hard times. My dream is to eventually use my blog to start a foundation to scholarship money for IVF for couples who can’t afford it and sometimes when I get discouraged about if I am ever going to get to that point…stories and blogs like yours help me to remember!
    Thank you!
    Ashley
    http://www.flatstoflipflops.blogspot.com

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    Michelle says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and for offering so much of yourself to others, both by sharing your story and with your designs and creativity. i came across your blog by happenstance and have been incredibly drawn in. Thank you.

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    Martha says:

    Just found you. I hate that you are my people…
    Martha recently posted..OMG! I Just Got Gwyneth’d!My Profile

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    Joy says:

    I clicked on your site because my brother-in-law unexpectedly died in his sleep in March leaving behind a 2 year old and my sister. I was so saddened to read of your loss! Thanks for sharing with us! I’ve just started a mummy blog after 13 years of infertility and am going to take a moment to look at your designs. Thanks for your site!

    Warmest regards,

    Joy
    http://www.PardonMyPoppet.com/PipSqueaks
    Pardon My Poppet ~ Pip Squeaks from the Mummy-verse!

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    DeborahJoy says:

    I love your site, so much love you have… we lost our daughter 2 days after Christmas 2001, so Advent is a painful time for us, wanting to be ready for Christmas with our sons (one born before, one after) but wishing things had been different too. We named her Hope, and I often see her name, dotted about the place.
    DeborahJoy recently posted..those babiesMy Profile

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    Laura says:

    Thank you for sharing Jenna’s story here. A beautiful mess is right. My life is all of a sudden illuminated by my sweet baby girl whom we lost on July 1. Honoring her short but amazing life is my new mission, right after taking care of her big brother and big sister (4 year old twins). Thanks again. Wishing you peace.

    Laura
    Laura recently posted..angelMy Profile

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    Beth says:

    Just discovered this place, and I’m so grateful. We lost our first daughter and only child at 31 weeks of pregnancy. She was stillborn, of no known cause. We named her Eve. I find places like this that honor both God and the loss so helpful. Thank you.
    Beth recently posted..One Month Later, Part TwoMy Profile

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      Franchesca says:

      Beth, I am so sorry for your loss of your precious daughter. I pray for your healing and comfort through this journey.

      Thank you so much for visiting, I had the chance to visit your site too, and look forward to following along. Sending lots of love,

      xxxx

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    Greyson says:

    Keep talking little mama!

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    Jen says:

    Thanks for sharing Jenna’s story. What a beautiful tribute you’ve made to her here at your blog!!

    Much love, Jen

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    Mrs. Baker says:

    I am a friend of Courtney’s from a faithfulness told. I came across your blog through her. I am sorry for your loss, but encouraged that you are reaching out to others in similar situations. May God use and bless you.
    Mrs. Baker recently posted..Baby DedicationMy Profile

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    sparklemama says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful Jenna. After reading your story, I cried for her and for your family, and said a prayer out loud in her memory. Thank you for sharing this blog with the world, and giving other angel Moms and Dads a place to share their grief and joy. Blessings and light to you and your family, and most importantly, to Jenna.

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    Jill Wilhelm says:

    Franchesca,
    What a beautiful picture of your daughter. I just imagine going through what you have gone through. My daughter was born a little more than 2 months early and weighed 2.11. I had never seen a baby that little. It was the scariest time of my life. I thank God everyday for her, and although they try to prepare you for what could happen, I just don’t think that there could be anyway. Your such a strong woman and mom, and your son is very lucky that you are his mama! He has an angel for his best friend :-)

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    Mariah says:

    Hey! I just found you through a list of somebody’s sponsors. Already, I’m pretty sure I love your heart, and excited to read more. So glad our great God is working through you!
    Mariah recently posted..Why I Love Wifing: A FutureMy Profile

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    Sarah says:

    What an amazing story! Thank you for sharing!!
    Sarah recently posted..Roses & Raindrops {WW #37}My Profile

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    Deborah says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! I had a miscarriage with my first pregnancy (at 14 weeks), it was so devastating. God brought us through it though, and we now have a 6 month old, Silas. He fills our hearts with joy, yet we’ll never forget our first baby!

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    Danielle says:

    Hi Deborah,

    I’m a new classmate of yours (Taking Flight) and wanted to tell you how much your story touched me. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss, but so inspired by the ‘beautiful mess’ you have created…

    Looking forward to class with you…
    Danielle

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    Stacey says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story we loss our son 39 hours after birth this past June who was born at 28w1d. Come to find out I have one single mutation for mthfr and one for factor II. Your words and stories are encouraging. Thanks again for sharing!

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      Franchesca says:

      I am so sorry for your loss Stacey. I found out after we fell pregnant with our son that I also have MTHFR, which we suspect might have affected our daughter’s growth. Sending big hugs to you, and prayers for a healing journey ahead.

      xxoo

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    Heidi Solomon says:

    This was my favorite thing you said, “What hurt the most after her death, was the loss of hearing her name on peoples’ lips. It felt like she never existed. Sometimes… it still does.”

    It’s been 5 months since our son, Jonah, died, and this is one of the things that breaks my heart the most. I have never heard anyone say this before – thanks for acknowledging this feeling. I’m so sorry for the loss of your “small bird” Jenna. Thank you for sharing your story.

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      Franchesca says:

      I am so sorry for your loss as well Heidi. I can totally relate to that feeling. It is almost like we dreamed them up, it’s such a relief to find even one person that will allow us to speak their names and talk about them with us. Sending big hugs xxxx

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    Sally Nash says:

    Hi, stumbled across your blog, thought it was wonderfull that you have gone on to have such a beautifull family, not forgetting the wonderfull Jenna.

    I am still in the grip of the greif, today is the anniversary of our son Austins funeral. Painfull as it is I have come along way growing into my new life and new body. Strength to us all.

    Best wishes,
    Sally UK

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    You are beautiful. Your blog is beautiful. Your family is beautiful. And your story is beautiful. I am so happy I have found your little space on the internet. Thank you for sharing your story and keeping Jenna alive in all our hearts. xoxo

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    Kelly says:

    Frannie, As always your posts are lovely. While I’ve been reading here for a while, I realized that I had never learned Jenna’s whole story. My daughter was stillborn at 27 weeks, and I was later diagnosed with a clotting disorder as well. Although my heart has been broken, reading your stories has helped me. Remembering Jenna with you. XO
    Kelly recently posted..Bereaved Mother’s DayMy Profile

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    Sabre Chrisawn says:

    You are such a strong person as was your little Jenna.

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    Merle says:

    Thank you for sharing your story again! I didn’t realize how tiny Jenna was when she was born! I also recently found out I have two gene mutations of the MTHFR and that is the reason of my four losses :(

  36. 36
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    What a story! My friend awoke me from a dead sleep to send me this website and another– I suffered my first loss almost nine years ago when my sweet and perfect son Miller was born still, full term. And just last week, after nine months of trying to get pregnant, I miscarried. Your website and story, as well as your outlook is beautiful. I’m so glad I was awoken and able to read this– as my heart hurt it was also uplifted by your outlook! Blessings!

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    Isla Maree says:

    Fran,
    I have not lost a child, I have two beautiful blessings Joshua 3 and Jessica 9, but I do realise how fragile life is and how quickly they can be taken away.
    Thank you for sharing your beautifully messy story – I am sending your blog to my sister in law that recently lost her daughter (10 months today).
    I am hoping your soft and sincere words will help her see the future as a place where she can be happy again.
    Your rainbows are beautiful
    Hugs
    Isla

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    Caitlin says:

    I just found your blog, and I just wanted to say – I understand. Our son Anderson was born at 24.1 weeks at 1.9 lbs. We endured those NICU rollercoaster days until we too got the midnight call to rush to the hospital because he wasn’t going to make it. 48 hours later, he died at the age of 26 days. I’m looking forward to exploring the rest of your blog, and I’m glad to hear about your rainbow babies. As soon as I’ve healed (it’s only been two months), we’re looking forward to having a rainbow baby of our own. Anderson was our first child, and always will be.

    Best,
    Caitlin

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    Erica says:

    I just found your blog and want to thank you for your beautiful honesty as you share the short life of Jenna with us. As a mom to an angel baby Seth and our two rainbows I can relate and find your words of loss and the beauty it inspires so true to my heart. Wishing you the best as life continues to open new doors for your beautiful family.

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    Suz says:

    I’ve jsut found out I have an MTHFR defect too. Which one(s) did you test for? Having had multiple PE’s I’m really interested in getting to the bottom of this.
    Suz recently posted..MTHFR – say what?My Profile

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