Little Women: L.A.'s Terra Jolé and Joe Gnoffo: 'We Want Our Daughter to Feel Like It's Okay to Be Different'
Since bringing home their new baby girl Penelope Charlevoix on March 16, Terra Jolé and Joe Gnoffo haven’t had a single night of restful sleep.
“[She was getting up] every two hours,” Jolé, who stars on Lifetime’s Little Women: Terra’s Little Family with fiancé Gnoffo, tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue. “Now it’s every three hours, but she’s also staying awake a lot longer, so when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she’s like ‘It’s play time!’ ”
After Jolé, 34, delivered Penelope via c-section, the newborn was quickly whisked into intensive care, where she was kept for three days.
“The nurses were taking care of her 24/7,” says Gnoffo, 39, who snapped countless photos and videos for his fiancée while she recovered from her c-section. “She had a bunch of tubes in her, an IV, her sugar was low, stuff like that. It was really hard on Terra not being able to see her.”
Both mom and baby were cleared to go home by day four, but that only presented another set of challenges for the reality stars, who have different kinds of dwarfism (Jolé has achondroplasia and Gnoffo has pseudoachondroplasia).
“We couldn’t get the baby in the car alone in the beginning,” Jolé says. “It was, ‘I’ll pass her to you, and you put her in.’ The stroller, we were like ‘Right, left okay, go.’ I was worried just coming home.”
In the last few weeks, the couple has figured out how to make life easier, like putting an extra mattress in Penelope’s bassinet (“It was too deep and I couldn’t get in there to get her,” Gnoffo explains) and refurbishing an old TV stand into a changing table.
“We expected these things being of our stature, but we didn’t realize we’d have so many modifications until we got home,” Jolé says.
The new parents are also figuring out how to protect their daughter as she grows up.
“She just happens to be a little person,” Gnoffo says. “Other than that, she’s going to be able to do whatever she wants. When you’re a kid, it’s the end of the world when someone makes fun of you. I just want her to be confident.”
“I want her to feel like it’s okay to be different,” adds Jolé, who’s no stranger to standing out.
With some of the hardest newborn days behind them, Jolé and Gnoffo are now soaking in every minute of baby bliss.
“We were so blessed to have a miracle,” Jolé says. We’re super fortunate to have her and each other.” Adds Gnoffo, who fell in “instant love” with his baby girl: “She is a little angel and that’s the perfect way to put it.”
Terra’s Little Family airs Wednesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Lifetime.
For more on the couple’s first weeks home with Penelope, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday