chante's story

Here is Chante's story, in her own words: 

"Motherhood, simply stated, is a journey. There are ups and downs, joys and heartaches, laughter and tears. But, when all is said and done, the greatest honor, privilege, and blessing in life is to wear the badge of motherhood.

My journey began on April 7, 2011: I was home alone that night, yet I didn’t feel alone. We had not been trying to get pregnant, but I was sure I was. I stopped to question my sanity before heading to the store to buy a pregnancy test. Next thing I knew I was standing in the checkout line with six pregnancy tests in hand (I had to be sure). My heart was pounding. Home seemed so far away, so, I took one in the store bathroom. POSITIVE! I literally squealed for joy! Still, I had to be 100% sure. Five pregnancy tests later, I was pretty convinced that this was really happening. Joy, pure and utter joy, was my only emotion! I had waited my whole life for this moment and it was finally here.

May 18, 2011: I started to bleed that morning. It was a cold and rainy day and I was over a thousand miles from home in the tiny settlement of Nauvoo, Illinois. I was 11 weeks pregnant and madly in love with the little person who was growing inside of me. My husband drove me to the nearest hospital - a small hospital in Carthage. I sat silently in the car; I felt too much pain to cry. As I stared out over the Mississippi River I thought of all of the women who had buried their children here in beautiful Nauvoo so many years ago. I began to pray silently, "Please God, I am not strong enough to lose a child. Please let my baby live". Most of that hospital visit was blur to me, but after an ultrasound, blood work, and a physical exam we found out our baby was strong and healthy. However, I had a tumor imbedded in my uterine wall. It was about 3 times the size of my baby. The doctor was calm, but honest. “You shouldn’t feel confident in this pregnancy until about 24 weeks…” His words pierced my heart.

June 7, 2011: I felt my sweet baby move for the first time. He was a little gymnast in my tummy!

July 27, 2011: Twenty week ultrasound…IT’S A BOY!!!

August 3, 2011: I woke up early that morning; I wasn’t feeling myself...my body was weak and tired. I was almost 22 weeks pregnant, so close to being in the safe zone. I refused to accept the fact that something could be wrong.

August 4, 2011: My pain was worse. I could barely get through the day. The doctor said it was merely ligament pain.

August 5, 2011: It was our one- year wedding anniversary. Instead of heading to the romantic hotel and get-away we had planned, we were on our way the hospital. I was in so much pain I couldn’t even speak. Diagnosis: A degenerating fibroid. In other words my tumor had out-grown its blood supply and was beginning to deteriorate (die). Prognosis: a full recovery and ultimately a healthy baby.

August 6, 2011: I was sent home from the hospital. Still, the pain was ever increasing. I could hear my mom’s voice in the other room; she was quiet but firm as she spoke to the doctor. “She’s in labor; contractions are 5-6 minutes apart”. Her words sent chills down my spine. I had not let my mind go there this whole time. 

When we arrived back at the hospital a nurse came in to check me. “…she’s dilated to a 3. I am so sorry”, her voice shook as she spoke. In that moment I felt an overpowering wave of strength. I literally heard a voice whisper, “Thy will be done”. A doctor came in and told me there was nothing they could do – my son would be born and he was too young to resuscitate. I began to cry. This was it. I had only a few hours left with my sweet son inside of me. For the past 22 weeks I had never been alone. Everything I did or didn’t do was for him. Tears streamed down my face as I fought to speak, “I don’t know if I can have this baby just to lose him…” Again, the words entered my mind, “Thy will be done.”

August 7, 2011: Dre’ Alexander Stutznegger was on born August 7, 2011 to his adoring parents John and Chante’ Stutznegger. His mother battled courageously to give him life and he struggled just as courageously to maintain life. Dre’ was beautiful and perfect, but he needed to return to his Heavenly Father so he was allowed just a short 2 ½ hours on this earth to be held by his parents and given and name and a blessing. We are all deeply mourning the loss of our beautiful baby Dre’, but through faith we know that his loving parents will see him again.” --Alexis Janique Bradley (Sister)

As the weeks past, I found myself questioning if I was ever really a mommy. Did those two short hours that I held my beautiful son in my arms count? Had this journey of Motherhood come and gone? With time I have realized that my journey has just begun. I am the mommy of an angel. Maybe I have yet to raise him, but in so many ways my sweet little Dre’ is raising me. Some think of mothers as teachers, but in this case I am the student; being taught by my angel. His memory reminds me of my purpose on this earth and I have been given a tiny glimpse of the joys that await us after this life. It is as if I have my own heavenly cheerleader. There are times I can almost hear him saying “You can do it mommy, keep on going!”

So, maybe my journey has yet to be filled with late night feedings, dirty diapers, runny noses, kisses, hugs, and cuddles. But I am a mommy still the same. Some hold their babies in their arms, but I will hold mine in my heart forever. I pray for the day when I will be able to have another baby, but until then, I am honored to be the mommy of an angel."


if you are interested in participating in this project, please email me at jackienorrisphoto @ gmail.com
I am currently located in the Bay Area of California, but travel to Utah frequently. 


alli s. miles said...

This is beautiful, Jackie! I love it. Choking back the tears.

Andrea said...

Beautifully, written, Chante. My mom had a baby at 32 weeks and he only lived a few hours. I've always felt that Brandon (the baby) is another older brother but he's just watching over me from heaven. I know we will all be together someday; a part of my family and I will get to know him. I believe he was so special that he only needed to be here on earth long enough to get a body and then Heavenly Father took him because his strong spirit was needed more in heaven. It is still hard but I think your baby was too precious to stay here. What an honor to be his mother. I'm sorry for what you've had to go through but I admire your faith; "Thy will be done."

Unknown said...

Beautiful Jackie! Love you.

Ashley said...

These are such lovely photographs. Thank you for sharing.

Chante, I have friends whose children are no longer with them for a number of reasons. In talking to these sisters and hearing their stories and witnessing the love in their hearts, my thoughts on motherhood have evolved.

I believe that motherhood isn't because of birth, care or blood. Motherhood happens when you love a child so much that your heart always holds them close, especially when your arms can't. You're a mother in the most sacred sense of the word.

Thank you for sharing your story of your cherished son. It's hard to do, but so brave. Many wishes and prayers to you on your journey to continue to build your family.

Unknown said...

Your strength is heavenly and amazing! Thank you for sharing this experience you are so inspiring!

Trent & Tara said...

THanks for sharing she is such a beautiful person inside and out. really!! love the pics.

Stephanie said...

Such a beautiful story. This is a wonderful project, Jackie. Keep sharing!

Brittney said...

This is so tender and sweet. The pictures and the story is beautiful. I am so impressed with this sweet mother. I have always felt so strongly that motherhood begins before we have children, Eve was named mother before she had children and the same is still true.