In November 1999, my husband Craig and I received the glorious news that we were expecting our first baby. We couldn’t have been more excited. Of course, we immediately notified our family and friends and sprung into full baby preparedness mode.
Amazed by life
My pregnancy was textbook. I felt wonderful and was continually amazed at the life that was growing inside my womb. Once we learned the sex, we quickly settled on the name Maddison Grace. We were surrounded by wonderful Christian community in our neighbors, co-workers, family, and church family. As this was our first child, we were abundantly showered with everything we needed. Our baby girl was so loved, welcomed, and wanted before she even arrived.
The nine months passed quickly. My due date came and went with no signs of impending labor. The doctor ordered a precautionary stress test. The baby was healthy, and I felt great. A friend of ours was an OB/GYN and happened to check in during my test. I jokingly told him I wasn’t leaving the hospital until our sweet baby girl was in my arms. Apparently he passed along my wishes, so I was admitted and induced. We called everyone to let them know it was show time!
Labor progressed nicely. It wasn’t long before I was able to push. After a few pushes, Maddi’s head was crowning. The hospital staff began to prepare for her arrival. As I focused on the final push, everything suddenly changed. In an instant the monitor lost her heartbeat. The nurses became somber and began frantically relocating the sensors to no avail. In what seemed like a split second, I was in the operating room undergoing an emergency cesarean section. Thankfully, I had already received an epidural which allowed them to make the incision immediately to save our daughter. They quickly put me under with anesthesia.
Anguished by loss
My next memory was coming out of the anesthesia in the recovery room. As I opened my heavy eyes, I could vaguely make out my husband and pastor standing over me. Though they said nothing, I knew, in my heart, that Maddison did not make it. The first words out of my mouth were, “How do people survive moments like these without the Lord?” During the final push, my placenta detached from the uterine wall. Our precious baby girl was without her lifeline for too long to be resuscitated.
The nursing staff navigated the difficult circumstance with such care. They cleaned our baby girl, swaddled her, and kept her in an incubator until we were ready to see her. While this may sound morbid to some, it was a beautiful time with this gift from God we had anticipated for the past nine months. We were able to finally see her perfectly formed features and count all of her fingers and toes. We captured a few photos. They are likely my most treasured possessions on earth.
The next few days were a blur as my husband had to contact family, purchase a cemetery plot, and plan a funeral, all while taking care of me in the hospital. This is something no young couple ever plans to encounter. My initial grief was over the fact that he had to navigate this virtually alone as I was still heavily medicated. However, he exhibited such strength and courage through it all. He prepared a poignant speech to share at Maddison’s funeral. I knew it only came from Christ in him.
Sustained by our Father
While we never anticipated or pondered whether we could survive this, we had full trust in our good, good Father. His very real presence surrounded us through his Word and his church. Friends did our laundry and brought paper goods and meals. One prayed for God to burden her with some of our grief. Others planted a tree in Maddison’s memory. A neighbor mowed our lawn. Strangers wrote letters of babies they lost decades ago. We saw a grown man sob over her tiny casket and later repent for not spending more time with his family. Our names were on prayer lists across the country. Our small group came to the funeral home early so they could pray over us. We will never forget the kindness we were shown; it was overwhelming and undeserved. It was all a perfect picture of the love Christ shows to his people.
To this day, people still talk about our Maddison Grace. She was created on purpose and with purpose, no matter how brief her time. I can testify that God can and will use all things for our good and his glory. His mercies are truly new every morning. He is my Sustainer, my Comfort, my Peace. He has led me to share his goodness with many as a result of Maddi’s death. He has brought me alongside those who have suffered the same devastating loss. He tuned my heart to the gift of motherhood and called me to stay home with my subsequent children. He has allowed me platforms to be a voice for life. He has turned my sadness to joy, unspeakable joy. For that, I am eternally grateful, and I long for the day I see my beautiful daughter in the presence of my Rescuer and Redeemer.
From the tiniest unborn life to the elderly at the end of life, from immigrants and refugees to those trafficked against their will, all life matters to God. Join the ERLC in Washington, D.C. on January 17-18, 2019, for Evangelicals for Life, one of the largest gatherings of pro-life Christians in the country. Speakers include Russell Moore, J.D. Greear, Steven Curtis Chapman, Keith and Kristyn Getty, and more. Register now to join us.