Today, I’m letting a whole lot of people into what it was like to love and meet you face to face for those 12 sweet hours God gave us with you. Into what I would want to say to you about the day you were born, what it was like for your mommy and daddy to meet you. Your life was a life filled with love, great love and the greatest Love and we want people to see it, to see the love on our faces and experience the greatest Love that poured out of us, and out of you and into the lives of others. So here’s what I would say sweet Dasah, as we looked through the photos of your birthday together, and you cringed in embarrassment that there’s one of your bum, and I told you about the day you were born…
It was November 13, 2014, REALLY early in the morning. Your daddy and I walked into the hospital with nervous excitement, anticipation, hope and sadness as we knew that the day had come to meet YOU, Dasah Brielle Dennis, face to face. To love you face to face. To know you face to face. And to perhaps say goodbye to you, our second daughter… face to face. We had hoped and prayed that the miracle God would choose would be one of a miraculous healing of your brain and skull, or that he would sustain your life for at least a few days and we could bring you home with us. We had hoped for more time. But truth be told, anything less than a lifetime with you would not have been enough. What God gave was in so many ways different then what we prayed, different then what we had hoped for, but filled with its’ own sweetness, its’ own miraculous moments. The Lord filled your lungs with breath from the moment you came out, and he filled your lips with a voice that poured forth the sweetest coos and sounds that filled our ears, the OR room, then our recovery room, then our postpartum room. He gave you a voice, literally for your entire life. And he gave you strength, strength to lift your little head, to make facial expressions that made us all laugh with joy. He gave you the instinct to root for your mommy’s breast and for the first time, I was able to experience the joy of watching you, my little girl try to feed, a prayer I only dared to believe would have been possible. He gave you a grip in your mouth as your daddy and I took drops of my milk and fed you with our little fingers. And as your daddy and I sat in that hospital room surrounded by friends and family little did we know that the Lord was also filling that hospital with the “sweet aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15) as 20-50 of our friends and family (wearing Supporting C.A.S.T t-shirts and stickers… Come Along Side Them) were gathered at any given time from 5:30am that day to 11:30pm that night praying and filling the halls with praise as they worshiped God together and as my friend, Katie said “We were praising His name on your behalf”. Many of our medical team even put on the Supporting C.A.S.T stickers! Dasah, all of this was for you! Hospital chaplains made comments of how in all their years at the hospital they had never seen anything like what they saw that day, so much so that in some areas of the hospital, hospital staff were bringing other staff in small groups to just go and watch this little community lifting up their hearts to Jesus on behalf of your little life and our little family. Loving you that day brought joy, praise, laughter, tears and sorrow. Joy as we delighted in the life and breath God was giving you for those 12 hours and sorrow as we knew “good-bye” would come far too soon. But this is Love. And this is why we chose to carry you to term, to walk through a loss we knew all too well a second time… for love. For the love of you, our second born daughter. Loving you meant we would embrace joy and also sorrow. That we would willingly step into the heartache of loss because we knew it was worth it to give you life. And for the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ… who willingly came and gave his life so that we would have life. He laid down his life for our sake and because of his love, we can lay down our lives for you, sweet Dasah. “We love because he first loved us” (I John 4:19). So this is a piece of your story, a story of love in pictures, a story of a life that has touched thousands but only lived for 12 hours. These are your 12 hours and our 12 hours of loving you, our second daughter… whose 9 months in the womb and 5 months of knowing your life would be short was worth every millisecond that God gave us to love you face to face. It was November 13, 2014. And it was the day YOU were born!
Our wonderful nurses, Lauren and Sarah greeted us at 5:30am and immediately I knew as they hugged us with tears in their eyes, knowing our story, that we were in good hands. As I was prepared for surgery, Sarah asked if we’d want to listen to your heartbeat one last time. Oh the sounds were beautiful, and the tears began to flow as we hoped that this would not be the last time we would hear your sweet heartbeat…
Our family and Pastor soon afterwards came in to pray over the three of us, to love on us and speak words of truth of hope in the midst of the emotions we were experiencing. You can see in your grandparents, uncles and aunts eyes just how much they love you…
Little did your daddy and I know at the time that as all of this was going on stations of prayer were being set up in a waiting area below, blankets that had been prayed over were being passed out to family and friends as they set up camp for the day, flowers, treats were scattered and more friends gathered to pray, sing praises and await what God would do with your little life…
As our family left, they were ushered to see the team of people that had gathered just below them to pray for you… their niece, granddaughter, cousin about to be born… the sweet songs of praise filled that atrium into the family waiting area and it was like a little army had gathered outside our hospital doors to fight for you and our little family…
It was fitting that that was when we spent our quiet moment, just the three of us praying and listening to “God of Angel Armies” by Chris Tomlin as we surrendered over and over again our lives, you… our daughter to our God, who commands the angels, who goes before us… lots of tears flowed then…
I was so nervous and full of so many emotions as the time had come to meet you but I could not be more thankful for your daddy, who God has strengthened to be a picture of his grace to me, his comfort. Your daddy continually lifted our eyes to Jesus throughout the day and brought calm and comfort to my heart… you have such a great daddy, Dasah…
Here’s your big family, waiting and praying behind the viewing room and trying to catch any glimpse of what was going on! Sarah had told me, with a huge smile, right before surgery that when she went back to get the family to come to the viewing room, she was surprised that everyone in that waiting room followed her to a room that could really only fit a few.. but she let them all come!
And as we prayed (well, mostly your daddy prayed and I just listened and agreed), heard the song “It is well” faintly playing in the background, we finally heard the sweetest sound…. YOU! And as the curtain was pulled down, there you were and you were ALIVE! In that moment we also knew that your life would be short. I got really sad then. But that sadness didn’t last long, because as soon as you were in our arms, we were simply cherishing the fact that for that moment, God was giving you breath. Oh and the sweet coos and cries that filled that room and then filled our arms just never seemed to stop the entire day. After I stopped worrying about every little sound you were making I couldn’t stop thinking of how sweet of a gift it was, to hear your voice for your entire life.
These were some of your sweet sweet sounds:
Our family and friends squeezed into every inch of the viewing room to catch a sight of you… they couldn’t see very well so I made sure Daddy brought you over to give them a good view… I just wanted to show you off!
And as we spent the next hour or so in that OR room just delighting in you, kissing your face, listening to your voice, we were simply taking joy in the fact that God was giving us time with you!
Look at your face as you get kissed by your daddy… I think you really liked his kisses! You were your daddy’s girl… and look so much like him! You had a perfect blend of my nose and his, and you definitely had his chin and his dark hair. I think your personality was more like him too!
Kisses from me… pure joy!
Your daddy looking at you with the proudest daddy face… do you know how proud he is of getting to be your daddy, Dasah?!
As the surgery was finally over, I can’t even explain how excited I was to hold you and have some skin to skin cuddle time… and this was when you decided to show off your quite big personality and give a little performance for the cameras…
That face… oh how you made us smile, laugh and just adore you!
As we headed back to our recovery room, you began to root a lot. One of my prayers was that I might get to try to breastfeed you, I never had the chance to with your big sister, Sophie and only dared to hope that I might be able to with you. And so we tried… you and me! And though you didn’t latch on it was one of my most favorite moments of the day… to just know what it might be like to feed you as you just enjoyed trying to figure it out. A little bit later, both your daddy and I took a small spoonful of my milk and each had a chance to feed you little drops with our fingers. You seemed to really like that and enjoyed each little drop! God continued to surprise us with the sweet moments he gave us with you throughout the day and you continued to surprise us with how engaged you were, your facial expressions and your strength.
Feeding you my milk with our fingers…
Daddy giving you your first bath, changing your diaper and letting you chomp on his finger… you had a really strong bite!
That face… those hands… pure adoration…
More skin to skin cuddle cuteness time with you and seeing your personality shine…
and then the introductions began… Your grandparents finally get to meet you…
Your Aunts, Uncles and cousins come in to meet you…
and loved the little bubble show you decided to give them…
I think you were quite pleased with your performance and everyone’s reactions!
FaceTiming with your Aunt Mayra, Uncle Michael and cousins Alex and Ryder… look how excited they are to meet you!
Singing “Happy Birthday” to you… and yes, it is what it appears… your daddy put some icing on your nose, much to my dismay… he’s such a fun daddy! 🙂
You got to FaceTime with the little army downstairs after they had sung happy birthday with us and had their own birthday cake (which has its own story to tell a little later… yes, the cake… has a story)
Your daddy swaddled you up nice and tight in the blanket your Nini (my mom) had made you… and I love how your little hand was sticking out… because then I got to hold your hand a lot more!
We had our pastor lead us in a baby dedication ceremony as we, for the first time with you outside of the womb, dedicated you to Jesus in front of family and friends, submitting our lives and your life to whatever story God would have unfold for you. And you talked the whole way through it… I think you were giving our Pastor a run for his money!
And then the moment that many were waiting for… getting to share you with our family and friends and let them hold you in their arms. Oh how we loved seeing the delight and joy in their faces as they held you! And oh how I wish all of them and so many more people could have held you for so much longer.
Your Grandparents… Nini and Papa (my parents) and Mammo and Poppop (your daddy’s parents)
Your Aunts and Uncles… (Aunt Laurie, Uncle Nick… my brother in law, Uncle Gook… also called Luke :), and Uncle Dan)
Your Cousins… Isaac (holding you.. he did such a great job and took his job as the oldest cousin very seriously), Jordan holding Jude. Your aunt asked him after you went to be with Jesus what he would want to say to you and he said “I know you’re in heaven and I love you”. You have the sweetest cousins, Dasah!
Our best friends and friends who are like family to us and have walked with us so closely on this journey with you… we’d probably have you call them Aunt and Uncle as you grew up…
You even had some very special people who have been a part of both your big sister, Sophie’s story and Your story. They are part of our medical team who have become dear friends of ours. So, we invited many of them to come and meet you. We don’t have a picture with our doctors but we are so thankful for our OB and High Risk Dr. who both performed the surgery with you and have walked with us and supported us with you and Sophie. From our doctors, to our genetic counselor, to the nurses and ultrasound technician we saw every 3 weeks with both you and Sophie, God has provided a medical team for us that has become like family to us and we are forever grateful for their friendship, kindness and care. It was an incredible honor to introduce many of them to you face to face!
and you have to know Dasah, that your nurses, Nancy and Lynn… never stopped caring for you, listening to your sounds and making sure that you were comfortable your whole life. As a mommy, they are so special to me knowing they were always looking out for you.
Here is the Parrott family Christmas Photo (that’s what my last name used to be), and every year around thanksgiving we try to get a family photo for Christmas… and this year we were so excited that you were in it!
There were so many sweet moments with you… we loved just looking at your cute face.
Around noon that day our nurses began to notice that though you were breathing well, you were never quite getting enough oxygen. So, as we decided to give you oxygen, we also began to realize that we may not get to bring you home with us. As the bitter mixed with the sweet that day we still saw the Lord bringing us much joy in the midst of the sorrow we knew would come and embraced those tears as they came. But that is part of our journey, part of the reality of walking through a story such as ours, part of loving you… embracing the joy and the sorrow and loving you in it. You were worth every tear of sorrow and joy that fell that day and every tear that has fallen since…
Before our family and friends left to give us some time alone and time to move to our recovery room, they all laid hands on you, again entrusting you to the Lord and lifting our eyes to the One, the only One who was giving you breath.
We had many moments where the joy and sorrow mixed, that flooded over us as the thought of having to say goodbye to you just overwhelmed your daddy and I. But you know Dasah, when you love someone as much as we love you… you don’t ever want to say goodbye.
Sweet, still moments together as a family as we moved to our recovery room…
we spent some time taking photographs we had wanted to take, creating your footprint molds, and even watching you create your first piece of art, with a little help (and all this while you was sleeping). We think you’re a pretty good artist… your feet created the entire piece (except for the blue background). And we love having a piece of your artwork to hang on our wall!
The day quickly began to feel as though it was creeping away from us and we found our hearts becoming more anxious, trying to squeeze all the things we wanted to do with you into what we knew was a time that was becoming shorter and having a hard time just enjoying the moment with you. Elyse, who is our dear friend and stayed with us the entire day photographing your entire life, asked how people downstairs could be praying for us. We said “pray that we would be embracing the moments with you”. She later told us that around that time when she had sent the prayer request, there was a calm that settled in our room with you. How grateful we are for the little army that lifted our family up in prayer for that entire day!
As I was gaining more strength and able to sit up more it was so special to get to change your diaper, hold you in my arms more closely, and swaddle you myself several times. These were the simple gifts of motherhood that I so desperately wish I had had with your big sister, Sophie and God so graciously gave me with you. Who knew that changing a diaper could elicit such emotion of both sadness and joy. I know that this is the moment where you might be quite embarrassed that I’m talking about changing your diaper and even showing a picture of your little bottom… but this is my moment, my one moment to do what all parents end up doing at some point… embarrassing their child 🙂
We got you a really special outfit to wear, full of lace and comfy fabric. But putting outfits on a little baby isn’t quite the easiest… yet you seemed to sleep right through it! Your daddy and I were a great team dressing you! And you look beautiful in it!
Perhaps the sweetest moments with you were when, with tear filled eyes we read to you the letters your daddy and I had each written for you and prayed over you, just the two of us. Your friend Elyse, who loves you so much, was in the room taking photos and we knew it was emotional for her to just watch us… so we told her to put the camera down and come join us as we read to you the same book we read your big sister “On the night you were born”. We each took turns reading and those were moments with you I will cherish forever…
As we let some of our emotions out and enjoyed sweet time with you, we also wanted more people to get to meet you and love on you! So we invited our little army that had been praying for you all day up to meet you! That was so fun, to see so many of our friends and yours just delight in you, hear your voice and meet you face to face! We let everyone (who had washed their hands) touch your oh so soft cheeks. I loved telling people “do you want to touch her cheek?” and seeing how excited they were just to get to touch you!
I’m sure at this point your grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins were really eager to get back to see you… so we got some more time with them after your other friends got to meet you… and it was sweet just to all be in the room together enjoy time with you! You even got to FaceTime with a few more friends!
I’m not sure how long our family was there but after they left, we got some really special time with you… daddy got some skin to skin time with you and you just relaxed in his arms as he sat in bed with me and the three of us just enjoyed time together…you even opened your eyes a little for us! I put the bracelet on your hand the we’d made for you from the lace from my wedding dress and Elyse caught a really great photo of your daddy yawning, just like the one she caught with Sophie (I think she had been waiting for him to yawn like that!) We took your footprints, and I put one of your footprints in my bible next to your big sister’s… on the part in Isaiah where it says that one day God will swallow up death forever and will wipe away the tears from our faces and we’ll say that we waited for him to redeem it all. That’s our hope Dasah, in Jesus, in the hope he brings because he came and the hope he gives because he’s coming back. We’re waiting for him to redeem it all!
That day, before you were born and everyone was praying for you, your Nini had opened her bible and put her hand on a passage of scripture and I later asked her as I saw this picture what passage her hand was on. She said this “Psalm 34, that says ‘Those who look to Him are radiant and their faces are never covered with shame.’ One thing I had been praying for was that our faces would be radiant as we looked to Him at Dasah’s birth. There are so many radiant faces of our family and others as we all met her. When I tell others about her even now, I smile and I pray the Lord radiates His joy! She made us all smile.” As I remember this day, look at the photos, remember the moments of joy and sorrow… your life, in every way radiated the Lord’s joy into our lives and the lives around us. What a legacy your 12 hours of life brought. We are forever changed because you were here.
And so, at 8:25am you were born sweet girl and at 8:25pm you went to be with Jesus. We love and miss you so very much and the 12 hours God gave us with you were hours, minutes and seconds we re-live over and over again in our hearts and long for the day when we get to be with you forever. Hope has been a theme for our journey with you and the prayer for our hearts. That even in this, we would have hope. And Romans 8:25 says “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” We are hoping for many things Dasah. We are hoping for God to heal our sad hearts, we are hoping for God to still fill our home with the chaos of children, and we are hoping for the day when Jesus comes back and makes all things new and we get to be with him and with you and with your big sister, Sophie. The things we are hoping for have not come to be, and so we lift our eyes to him and we are asking him to help us be patient as we hope, as we wait for what we do not see. But… one day… One day we will SEE.
WE LOVE YOU DASAH BRIELLE DENNIS!
Your Mommy & Daddy
If your life has been impacted by Dasah’s story and you’d like to give a gift to honor her we have two options that would be incredibly meaningful to us:
- Give a gift in honor of Dasah to the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep organization or become a volunteer. This organization provides professional photography for those who experience infant loss to remember the moments however short you have with your child. And we are forever grateful for their tireless work to provide these services at no cost to the family. We have been blessed beyond words by what they do.
- Sophie & Dasah’s Sibling Adoption Fund: Kevin and I have both sensed the call on our lives to adopt even before Sophie was born. As we grieve the loss of Dasah, we do not know when we will begin this process, but we believe that part of Sophie and Dasah’s legacy will be a little brother or sister that enters into our family through adoption and we would love to invite you to be a part of that legacy.
Beyond our incredible family and friends who have and continue to be our Supporting C.A.S.T on this journey, we have to thank the following people for helping to make our time with Dasah the sweetest it could be…I know, I know, it’s like credits to a movie… but our story with Dasah has been made more beautiful by the countless men and women that chose to enter into a difficult journey and bring beauty to it by their love and care!
Scott Taylor & Amanda Kern with Now I Lay Me down to Sleep for being with us and documenting the lives of both our little girls, Sophie & Dasah. We are so grateful for you both!
Elyse South, our friend, who has carried the weight of grief with us as she’s walked with us photographing Sophie’s life and Dasah’s ENTIRE life. For staying with us the entire 12 hours and capturing every single moment with her. There are no words to say how thankful we are.
To the Florida Hospital Orlando Staff… oh my goodness… Our nurses, Sarah and Lauren who were with us that entire day and all of the nurses who cared for me afterwards. To Nancy and Lynn, our NICU nurses who stayed with Dasah, loved her and helped us to give her the best care. To the palliative care team, Jennifer and Jessica… you loved us and our family so well and walked us all through the most challenging of circumstances. To Dr. Mayor, our neonatologist thank you for helping to give us the sweetest experience with Dasah. And to our hospice care worker, Kendall, for helping our family and us as we cared for Dasah and hoping with us that we could bring her home. And all the other dr.’s, nurses I never met, or can’t remember your names but were a part of our story with Dasah, thank you.
To Dr. Al-Malt and Dr. Kjerulff for performing the surgery and caring for Dasah and I throughout my pregnancy and caring for her as you delivered her! We are so thankful for you!
And to the countless family, friends and strangers that have prayed for us and continue to pray for us and support us on this story God has asked us to step into.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!