Jenna Grace has anencephaly, a neural tube defect (NTD) in which the brain
and cranial vault are grossly malformed. A major portion of the brain is
reduced or absent. Facial structures are generally present and appear
relatively normal. The baby is either stillborn or lives a few minutes to a
The condition was officially diagnosed March 24, although a week before,
Chantelle had an idea something was wrong. She is an emergency room nurse at
Baptist Health in North Little Rock and a friend did an early ultrasound on
her baby. "We wanted to see if we could tell at 14 weeks if I was having a
boy or girl," said Chantelle. She knew something wasn't right when her
friend went to get the radiologist to take a look. They tried to ease her
fears by telling her that it just may be too early for them to see the head
clearly, however Chantelle knew they were implying her child would be born
She tried to downplay the seriousness of the first ultrasound to her
husband, Pat, to calm his fears. However the next week, it was confirmed.
The couple had to come to the realization that their baby would be born to
die. "So many people have said, 'Oh, you are so strong.' We know our
strength has come from God, but we don't really have a choice but to deal
with it. It's not us getting us through this. It's God." said Chantelle.
"It's through God's grace and all the prayers. There's no way we would
able to handle it without a relationship with God," said Pat. He says he
has lost count of how many different churches have placed them on the prayer
The Bisbees said some people have questioned their decision to carry Jenna
Grace full term. "Abortion is not a solution to us," said Chantelle.
"God has planned this child for us. It's not up to us to decide when she will die. I
don't consider her any less of a blessing than the child I already have
(Kylie, 3). I am just as anxious to meet Jenna Grace as I was my first
The couple does hope and pray that Jenna Grace lives long enough for them to
hold her and maybe even take her home for a short period of time. "It's
scary to think about because we know the time we have with her will be so
limited," said Pat. They have joined an internet family of other parents in the same
situation. One mother was able to take her child home for about 4 weeks
before the child passed on.
Many people have asked the Bisbees if there are medical procedures to save
their baby, and the response is "no." "You can't fix what there
never was to begin with. They just can't make a brain," said Chantelle.
"Even though God is there to comfort us, we still have a lot of pain,"
said Pat. "But even though we have been going through a lot of grieving,
have been so many blessings along the way."
One of those blessing came at the end of June. Their Sunday School class at
East End Baptist Church surprised them with $1,000 for funeral expenses and
$100 gift card for a day of pampering for Chantelle.
The group held a "secret" yard sale. They collected "treasures"
members of the church and even from co-workers. Golf clubs, televisions,
microwaves, video games, etc. (enough to fill six trailer loads), were
brought to Redfield's old Cranford Grocery store parking lot for the sale.
"We didn't want them to find out about it," said Walter Wills, their
Sunday School teacher.
The beginning of the sale was a little slow so Wills decided to wear a clown
hat and hold a sign in the street saying "Sale, Good Cause." Once
shoppers found out why they were having the yard sale, many opened their wallets even
wider. "Some would buy $5 worth of stuff, but write a $25 check," said
Wills. "This was even a separate community than our own. It was nice to see
people show love like that."
The Bisbees have already met with funeral home directors at Griffin Leggett
in North Little Rock. The cost of the funeral will only be about $400. The
funeral home donates a lot of services when handling the death of an infant.
The grave marker they have chosen will cost about $800.
Jenna Grace will be buried at Salem Cemetery on Arch Street. It's important
to us to have a funeral. "I want people to remember her and know her name.
This birth is significant to us. Jenna Grace will always be our child,"