Our world changed on July 14, 2015 at 3:30pm. My husband Ryan and my son Wyatt accompanied me to my 20-week ultrasound. We were going to learn if Wyatt was going to have a brother or sister. He was excited and wearing his “Best Brother Ever” shirt. It was that afternoon that we found out that we were having a girl… and she only had two of the four chambers of her heart, thus started our heart journey.
Maggie Rose was born on November 24, 2015 at 11:32am weighing 6lbs 12oz and 18 inches long. But Maggie was born not alive. The doctor lifted Maggie into the air for me to see her, she wasn’t moving at all. For 4 minutes I heard words like “There is no heartbeat” and I couldn’t see or hear my daughter. Then, Maggie received a miracle; she was given the gift of life a second time. It was obvious after she was born that there was more to Maggie’s story than we knew prenatally. Her heart defect changed to Double Outlet Right Ventricle with Hypoplastic Left Ventricle and Ventricular Septal Defect. We found out that Maggie’s brain, eyes, hearing, lungs and body all didn’t form properly. Maggie also didn’t move or make any noise.
Oddly, I never envisioned Maggie’s future outside of the hospital. It just didn’t occur to me. I was living minute by minute. The only thing I wanted Maggie to be able to do was reach for me. When my son, Wyatt, was 5 days old, he reached with his hand and touched my face. After Maggie was born I kept thinking, “How long will it be before Maggie reaches for me”. At 6 days old I was standing at Maggie’s bedside holding her left hand. Maggie reached up with her right hand, grasped my finger and slid her hand up my finger. My daughter did the one and only thing I wanted her to do. To give me a sign to show that she knew we were there, by reaching for us. The next day, Maggie went into heart failure and we put her on life support. That entire day I had been calling her a precious angel. Each time I did it, I stopped myself and said “Why am I saying this, an angel lives in heaven, not on earth”.
On December 2, 2015, Maggie spent the day with her family. My son, Wyatt got to give Maggie a bath, or Babydoll, as he sweetly always calls Maggie. We read “On The Night You Were Born” together as a family. Then Ryan and I were able to dress her in her very first outfit. At 2:18pm, Maggie’s doctor placed her in my arms and I began to sing to her. At 2:30pm, as I sang “Sleep in Heavenly peace”, my daughter took her last breaths in my arms. My daughter died of a broken heart. She wasn’t eligible for heart surgery because her heart couldn’t support itself. She also wasn’t eligible for a heart transplant because of all the other medical problems that she faced. We knew that we made the right choice for Maggie by removing life support, because we didn’t want to prolong her suffering.
Maggie’s body was completely broken, just like this world is completely broken. But when you looked at Maggie, you didn’t see her brokenness. You saw her love, you saw hope, you saw bravery, you saw God. But this little child who was so broken, fought and lived for eight days. She was born not alive and brought back to life. She fought for every breath for 701,880 seconds. Even when she was sedated and paralyzed she opened her eyes to see us only fifteen minutes before she passed away. Through God’s grace, He took this broken child into His arms, took her home and made her whole.
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