Raleigh March for Babies

The March for Babies here in Raleigh was today. We had a pretty big team marching for Maddie.

Marching for Maddie
From left to right, that’s: me, Catie, Dave, my sister Tracy, (sitting) baby Austin, my cousin Cat, Elizabeth (in the stroller), Tony, and Megan. We’d never met Megan before today (if you’re reading this, hi Megan!), but she was super fun and a very good sport about us lagging behind with our slow toddlers and general foolishness. (We really are sort of a goofy bunch when you get us all together.)

purple manicure
That’s right, I painted my nails purple for Maddie. And I felt the need to document it with photographic evidence, since it happens so very rarely.

Tracy & Catie on the March for Babies

The walk was good. It was a little hot, but not as brutal as the weather forecast predicted. Also, no thunderstorms – that was the other thing on the forecast that had us worried. We felt a few random drops of rain here and there, but not even enough to call it a drizzle.

I told Elizabeth to smile

The kids had the most fun after the walk. There was a DJ playing all sorts of dance music at the finish line, so the kids (who had either ridden in strollers or been carried for the entire walk) needed a chance to burn off some energy.

my girl makes a run for the DJ booth
I got Catie the smallest Maddie t-shirt I could get, and I still had to knot it in the back so it wouldn’t look like a dress on her. The part that broke my heart was that when Catie saw the shirt this morning, she pointed at it and said, “Maddie!” She knows her face from being on my lap so many times when I’ve read Heather’s blog. I almost cried then, but I just said, “Yeah, baby, that’s Maddie.”

Throughout the day, she kept pointing at her own shirt, or mine or Dave’s, and screaming “Maddie! Purple!” Yeah, sweetie. You got it.

after the finish line

Elizabeth in her purple ballerina dress

After a while the toddler energy was contagious, and we all had to dance too.
Catie on Tracy's shoulders

Dave, Catie & me

And we had to snuggle on some babies.
Austin & his mommy

There was one guy who came over to us to ask about Maddie’s story, because he read her dates on our t-shirts. I told him, and he told us that he has 2 daughters, both of whom were born around 26 weeks. One of his daughters is now 8 years old and the other is about to turn 13. He thanks the March of Dimes for them being here and healthy today. Talking to him for just a couple of minutes was really moving.

Oh, and I believe that when you factor in the almost $200 that my cousin raised through bake sales at her office, our team raised a combined total of almost $1,000 for the March of Dimes. So that’s a pretty great day right there.

for Maddie

Yesterday I wrote that post about Maddie being in the hospital, asking for prayers and well wishes. I was worried and a little freaked out, but I thought that surely everything would be alright. Maddie’s been in the hospital before, and she’s always pulled through. She’s a baby, for heaven’s sake. Bad things don’t happen to babies, right?

Unfortunately, I was wrong. Last night I was going to bed, and thought I’d check Twitter on my iPhone one last time. I hadn’t heard an update about Maddie for a while, and I was hoping to hear some good news before I went to bed. I saw an update from Heather, that just said, “Madeline.” It was followed by this link, and when I read the post that said Maddie had passed away, I sat up in bed and started saying, “Oh no, oh god no, oh NO.” I burst into tears, and ran downstairs to tell Dave. I barely managed to get the words out, I was crying so hard. I sat down at my laptop, left a comment on Heather’s blog and sent a few tweets about it, but I honestly can’t remember what I said because I was sobbing and shaking the whole time.

I just can’t wrap my head around it. This isn’t supposed to be the end of Maddie’s story. She wasn’t even 17 months old yet. We were supposed to be reading Heather’s blog in 4 years as she talked about Maddie’s first day of kindergarten. We were supposed to commiserate and laugh along with her in 12 years when Maddie became an insufferable teenager. This just can’t be right. Tragedies like this don’t actually happen to people in real life, do they?

I keep thinking of something I read once: that if you lose your spouse, you’re a widow or widower. If you’re a child who loses your parents, you’re an orphan. But there is no word in the English language for a parent who loses a child. I think that’s because the idea is just too horrible for us to comprehend. It goes against the way the world is supposed to work – the next generation is supposed to grieve the loss of its elders, not the other way around.

Last night when I finally tried to go to sleep, I ended up continuing to read the updates on Twitter, tears dripping onto my iPhone. I desperately wanted to go get Catie out of her crib and bring her to bed to sleep with us for the night, but I didn’t. I don’t remember what time I finally fell asleep. I slept horribly, I kept waking up and thinking about Heather, Mike, and baby Maddie. When Catie woke up, I heard her on the baby monitor, singing the theme song from “Thomas the Tank Engine” quietly to herself in her crib. I started to cry thinking about how lucky I was, and how unfair the world is sometimes. Heather and Mike don’t deserve this pain. Nobody does.

I am just devastated and gutted by this tragedy. It may not seem like much, but if you’re as moved by the Spohrs’ story as I am, please consider giving to the March of Dimes on Maddie’s behalf. They do a lot of work to try to help premature babies like Maddie. Here’s the link to Maddie’s MoD page.

Madeline Alice Spohr, 11/11/07 - 4/7/09

Rest in peace, baby Maddie. You’ve touched the lives of so many, even those who never got a chance to meet you.