Maddie’s Story

Madeline Noelle McGrew

On October 1, 2008, we found out that we were going to be parents for the first time. We were so excited that we couldn’t start spreading the news quickly enough. In January 2009, we found out that our baby was a little girl. We immediately named her Madeline Noelle. The shopping began instantly and we started to plan for her arrival. We started setting up her nursery, registered for the baby showers and went to labor and delivery classes. We were determined for everything to be just perfect for our precious Madeline.

Then in April 2009, we experienced every parent’s nightmare. During a routine 32-week ultrasound, there were some abnormalities found. The doctor told us that Madeline had a cleft lip and that there was an abnormal amount of fluid in her brain. He was unable to diagnose her from this information and we were immediately referred to a specialist. Unfortunately we couldn’t get an appointment with the specialist for two days. While this seems to be a short amount of time, it was probably the longest two days of our lives. We knew that there was something wrong with our baby, but we didn’t have any real answers. We started to do all kinds of research on the internet and began to think of all the millions of things that it could possibly be. We hoped for the best and prayed for the best case scenario. The dreaded appointment finally arrived. We were so nervous to hear what the doctor was going to tell us. Immediately during this ultrasound, the doctor detected several other abnormalities. Madeline had clinched fists and her hands were unable to open all of the way. The four chambers of her heart had never formed correctly. She indeed did have a bilateral cleft lip and an abnormal amount of fluid in the back of her brain near the spine. The doctor told us that all of these were markers for a chromosome disorder called Trisomy 18. Of course, none of us had heard of this before and we still weren’t sure what this meant for our baby. Then we heard the words we will never forget, “Trisomy 18 is not compatible with life.” Our hearts stopped as we tried to comprehend what he was telling us. We had several other possible scenarios in our heads, but this hadn’t been one of them. The doctor performed an amniocentesis that same day and the results did come back to confirm that Madeline had Trisomy 18.

For the next six weeks, we tried to appreciate every moment that we had with her. We talked and read to her more often and cherished every kick we could feel her make. We even scheduled maternity photos so that we could make more precious memories of our time with her. As anxious as we were to meet her, we knew that she was stronger living inside the womb. On June 3, 2009, Madeline was born directly into heaven. Nearly our entire families were there to hold her, take pictures with her and witness her baptism in the delivery room. We were still able to bathe her, dress her, take her handprints and footprints and cut locks from her hair. It was such a sad time knowing that our first born would not live a full life as we had hoped, but it was still an absolute beautiful experience. The peace and love that filled the room cannot be expressed through words. It was the proudest moment of our lives.

Three days later we had a funeral service for Madeline at our church and immediately afterwards laid her to rest. We were overwhelmed by the number of people that came out to show their love and support. It was extremely moving to see how many lives our precious Maddie had already touched. There isn’t a day that goes by that we do not think of her a million times. She will always be our special angel.

Because Madeline touched our lives in a way we will never be able to fully explain, we wanted her memory to live on – not only through us, but by others. We were so blessed to have such close friends and family that helped us through this difficult time not only emotionally and mentally, but financially. We received donations from our family members to pay for nearly all of the burial expenses and medical bills. We were so truly grateful for this gift. It was so amazing to have the financial burden lifted in a time where that is the last thing you want to worry about. We felt so blessed and fortunate that we wanted to be able to do this for other families that were in similar situations. In order to “pay it forward,” we began Maddie’s Footprints.

Travis and Lori McGrew