My Dearest Preslie,
I wanted to make sure I wrote everything down so I wouldn't forget. Although you are absolutely unforgettable, I want to make sure the memories of you will never escape me.
I still remember the day I found out I was expecting you. I remember it like it was yesterday. That news had brought such light and hope of a future to your very, very sad parents. We cautiously welcomed the news and began preparing for our future with you. I can honestly tell you, I had never been so happy in my life. I could hardly wait to find out whether or not you would be Kyler's little brother or little sister, so we set up an early "gender scan" ultrasound so we wouldn't have to wait too awfully long. Tears filled my eyes as I read the words, "It's a girl!" displayed on the screen in front of me. I just knew that you would be your mommy's spitting image, my "mini-me" and most importantly, my best friend. How I couldn't wait to begin making memories with you.
Nearly three weeks later, my life was forever changed, yet again. An ultrasound had confirmed what we had been dreading: you weren't growing quite as quickly as you should have been. I sobbed as the doctor warned me that you probably wouldn't make it. How could this be happening again? How would we survive that again? Your dad and I returned home and made the decision to continue fighting for you. We weren't giving up that easy. Week after week, appointment after appointment, you grew. Slowly, but you grew. And your strong, little heart beat loudly during each ultrasound. What a phenomenal baby I had growing inside me. You were so strong! I spent nearly three months on bed rest at home making sure I gave you every possible chance I could. And it worked. You finally hit the 1 lb mark and I was admitted to the hospital for closer monitoring. I couldn't believe the day had finally come…the day doctors believed never would. I stayed in the hospital for 27 days, listening to your strong heart beat on the monitor three times a day and I had the amazing pleasure of seeing you on the ultrasound three times a week. I was so in love with this strong-willed little girl we would soon welcome into our family.
I hit 32 weeks and it was finally time for you to come. Your dad and I had never been more scared in our lives, but we were ready to do whatever it took to get you here. As I lay there on the surgical table, I saw the doctors hand you over to the NICU team. The room was filled with the sound of alarms and loud machines but I could still hear your sweet, whimpering cry…as if to tell me you were okay. They were finally able to secure your breathing tube and they quickly wheeled you out of the room. After what seemed like the longest 3 hours of my life, I was on my way to the Children's Hospital to meet you for the first time. Preslie, you were absolutely, stunningly perfect. In every possible way. From your dimple-chin to your crooked baby toes, I was in love. You wiggled around inside your isolette every time we came to visit you. I will never forget the first time you touched my hand, my heart stopped for a moment and all I could think of was how incredibly proud I was to be your mom. You beat all odds, Preslie. You survived a very shaky pregnancy when no one thought you would. You were so brave. I hope you knew deep down, underneath all the sedations and pain medications, that we were there. Your dad and I were there. Every single day. And we would stay all day long, just staring at you. You gave us the greatest gift we had ever received: your time. Something that we were robbed of with your brother and we are so thankful that we had this precious time to spend with you. We were able to read books to you, hold your hand, change your bed sheets…we have photographs and memories of you that will forever be imbedded in our hearts.
After an eight day struggle with your oxygen levels, I was awakened by a phone call from the doctor in the early morning hours of September 17, 2013. She informed us that your oxygenation was decreasing and they weren't sure what else they could do for you, as they had already adjusted the ventilator to the highest setting. Your dad and I sped to the hospital as quickly as we could in order to be with you. Once we arrived, we had to make the most difficult decision of our lives: whether to take you off support or allow you to keep fighting. Once the nurses placed you in my arms, your oxygen levels increased substantially. We decided to let you fight but also decided that if it was your time to go, we wouldn't stop you. I couldn't believe I was finally holding you. It seemed as though I had waited a lifetime. You were even more beautiful up close, outside your isolette. I couldn't stop staring at you, your eyebrows, eyelashes, perfect hands and feet. What a miracle you were, Preslie. Your dad and I both held you close as your stats seemed to remain stable. We really thought you were going to be able to push through this. After cuddling you for a while, your dad placed you back in my arms. Almost instantly, your heart rate dropped from 142 to 60. I looked to the doctor for some guidance and he confirmed what we could see on the monitor. You were dying. Right there in my arms, I was losing you and there was nothing I could do to save you. I held your hand and kissed you as the doctor removed your breathing tube as to allow your passing to be quick and painless. They ensured me that the pain medication was still being given through your IV and that you would go peacefully. I held you, rocked you and kissed you as you gasped for air. My heart was broken. I'm so sorry I couldn't save you. I would have died in your place if I could have. Could you hear me tell you how much I love you as I was holding you? I just couldn't stop saying it. You opened your eyes and you looked at me. I told you that you were so brave and that there wasn't a prouder Mommy on this Earth. And I meant it. I am so blessed to call you my daughter.
Your dad and I were led into a quiet room where we could have a moment with you. Your heart was still beating, slowly. The nurse and I had dressed you in a small, white gown. It will be the only piece of clothing you would ever wear. We spent hours with you. Kissing you, holding you and telling you how much we love you. You were so beautiful. I was stunned. We were staring at a miracle.
A couple hours later, the doctor came in to confirm that your heart had stopped. You were finally at peace, out of pain, no longer hooked up to tubes, wires and medication. I felt a sense of peace in my heart in knowing that your big brother met you at the gates of Heaven. You were finally together again and I am sure he missed you so while you were gone. We were able to get a mold of your hand and foot, stamp your tiny hands and feet on a card and take as many pictures as our hearts desired. But that will never be enough. We then walked back to your bedside and I gave you a bath. I put a fresh diaper on you and held you just a little while longer. I will spend the rest of my life wishing it could have been more. I never, ever wanted to let you go. We laid you on your bed and walked out of the room and I couldn't bear to take another step. I ran back to your bedside and I fell on you and I asked you what I was supposed to do. Where was I supposed to go from here? How would I live without you? These questions still haunt me and I hope you will help me find my way as I journey through life without you. There are so many things I wanted to teach you. To do with you. To help you with. I will never walk into the NICU at CHKD and travel to Pod G, bed 34 and sit with you, talk with you, read to you. I will never reach inside your isolette and hold your hand. Never touch your tiny head again or stroke your dark, brown hair. Never sit by your side and read you another book. I will never see you cry again as the nurses changed your diaper or tried to get your temperature. I will never get to dress you up in all the pretty things I bought for you, never give you a bubble bath, never see you run to the arms of your Daddy as he returns home from work. I will never nurse you, never feed you the milk I had been pumping since you were born. My freezer is full of that milk and I'm not quite sure what to do with it now. It was yours. YOU needed it. I will never forget the moment I had to walk away from you. The nurse sobbed with me as I held you for the last time. She cried with me as I gave you away, never to see you again in this lifetime.
The day before you died was the best day we had with you. I was able to change your diaper for the first time and your dad was able to give you a q-tip taste of some breast milk, which you thought was very yummy. We left the hospital that night feeling so wonderfully optimistic. We just knew you were going to make it. Little did we know, there were other plans for you.
Preslie, please know that I did everything I could have done for you. I laid on bed rest for you for 100 days, spent nearly a month in the hospital and had a C-section in hopes that you would survive. And you did. You gave me the most wonderful eight days of my life. And the six hours we spent with you on the morning of your passing will always be my favorite memory. I don't regret any moment of our time together both during pregnancy and after. If I had known that all of our hard work would only allow me eight precious days, I would do it all again. I would have loved you and fought for you anyway. It was always so hard to leave you for the night but we knew the nurses loved you and they would take such good care of you. You were their "peanut" and mama and daddy's "princess." Oh how we love you and long to hold you again. I'm so sorry for all the pain and agony you were forced to endure during your short time with us. You are out of pain now, sweetheart. And for that, I will try to find peace. I love you more than I could begin to express to you. I will ALWAYS love you. You will ALWAYS be my sweet, sweet baby and I will ALWAYS be your Mommy. I will see you soon, Princess. I love you. I love you. I love you. I can't say it enough. How I wish I could give you just one more kiss. Please help me survive this again. It took everything in me to build myself back up after Kyler died and I'm not sure I have any strength left. Please be my strength when I feel broken. I need you to stay with me as I endure the rest of this life without you. I love you, Preslie and I never thought the day would come that I would have to learn to live without you in my life. I need you now more than ever. I will see you again, soon. I promise. Until then, stay close to your brother and continue to play in Heaven until we meet again.