There were two major things I was doing wrong. Number one, I was using the wrong sized needle. I was using my #24 chenille needle. The best needle for this stitch is apparently a #10 sharps needle. I couldn't find a #10 sharps but I had a #9 sharps in my supplies. Just look at the size difference between the #24 on the left and the #9 sharps on the right.
The sharps is so thin and flexible and a bit shorter in length. Look how tiny the eye is!