Early Monday morning, the 26th of November, I went to the emergency room with severe upper stomach pain. I'd had the same pain the previous Friday night, but this time it wasn't getting better. When I got there, the doctors said I had developed preeclampsia, and Penny had to be delivered as soon as possible. Not only that, but I had gotten HELLP disease, where my platelet count was falling and my liver enzymes were elevating at alarming rates.
At 10am on Monday November 26, 2012, Penelope Rose Stanley was born by C-section. She was 2 lb 10 oz, 15 inches long, and 34 weeks 6 days along.
She was beautiful.
They let me see her and kiss her before they took her and my husband to the NICU.
I don't remember much of that day. I hadn't slept since Sunday night and it was quickly becoming Tuesday. I remember seeing her briefly in her incubator as I was brought to my room from recovery. She had a breathing tube in her mouth and a feeding tube in her belly. But she was there.
On Tuesday, I was transferred to the Women's ICU, because my HELLP disease wasn't getting better. All I wanted to do was see my daughter. I was finally able to around 3:30pm, and again at 10pm. I got to hold her tiny hand, and she gripped my fingers. Those were precious moments.
Early Wednesday morning, we recieved a call from the NICU saying Penny'd had a rough night. She wasn't doing well and was on full oxygen. There wasn't much else they could do for her.
This was about to be a very long day.
Our families were in town, doing all they could, being there for us, supporting us, loving us. They were present when we had little Penny baptized by our pastors and a good friend. It was such a special moment. We know that baptism doesn't save anyone, but we wanted to claim that covenant promise for our little two-day-old daughter.
That evening, with heavy hearts, we gathered around little Penelope. My parents, my in-laws, and my sister in law surrounded my little family of three with love and tears. The nurses took Penny out of the incubator for the first time and I got to hold her. Oh! She was so small, so sweet, my little girl. We each got to hold her, hug her, touch her, love on her.
Then she was placed back in my arms. The nurses tenderly removed her monitors and tubes. Finally they took the respirator from her mouth.
Penny passed on at 9:15pm, Wednesday November 28, 2012, as her daddy sang "Come Thou Fount" to her.
I was the first and last person to kiss her.
We wept. I kept holding her, watching her. I knew she was gone, that her suffering was over. Ours is just beginning. How does someone know how much time is enough time to say goodbye? Is there ever enough?
I held her for a long time, trying to let go, trying to have that courage to know I'd never hold her again.
We cried. We prayed. We thanked God for the two and a half days He'd given us with our little girl. We wouldn't had exchanged them or changed them for anything.
Eventually I did let her go. I'm still not sure how. But I'm glad I took the time with her I did.
We're home from the hospital now. One week later. My HELLP disease is gone, but our mourning and grieving is only beginning.
All I ask is that you continue praying for us. We don't need new friends or pity. We need time and Jesus. Reality comes in waves, and we are still living this tragedy and will be for a long long time.
Penelope Rose Stanley
November 26 - November 28, 2012