Madison Grace Worsley

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What follows is a sad story, designed to help people work through the grief that follows a tragedy. If you're in a perky mood, return to my home page instead and listen to "Butterball" or something.

Madison's theme uses only three instruments: a music box (representing the child), a vibraphone(representing the mother), and a bass(representing the father). The tune is based on a hybrid scale that is Lydian mode with flatted third. Lydian is meant to suggest the brightness and hope of potential new life, while the minor third represents the sadness of unexpected death. Bittersweet.

Madison is the name of our stillborn daughter. My wife Cathy had a perfect pregnancy. No morning sickness, strong heartbeats, and excellent checkups. The last checkup was 12/16/96, less than two weeks before our due date. The doctor remarked how wonderful it was to see an expectant mother who never complained. She had gained just the right amount of weight.

When I got home from the grocery store at 6:00 PM 12/20/96, she told me her contractions had begun only 10 minutes before. I was delighted. With Christmas break just beginning, we would all have plenty of time together before I returned to teaching. We wrote down each contraction time. Everything seemed to be going exactly as the childbirth teacher had said.

Around 3:00 AM 12/21/96 the contractions were about 6 minutes apart and very strong, so we decided to go to the hospital. Checked in and went up to Labor and Delivery where Cathy was then prepared for the process by which we all came into this world. The TV was on in the room and, though the volume was lowered, I could see that TBS was showing old Elvis Presley movies all night. OK, I thought, I'll sit here and watch this stuff and wait for the big event! (I guess I'll never think of Elvis quite the same way again.)

The nurses searched for Madison's heartbeat that had been so strong and perfect every other time. It wasn't there! "Maybe she's going to be a breach," one said. The doctor was there in minutes. He hooked up the Ultra Sound and finally located the heart.

Pointing to a speck on the screen, he said, "There it is, it's not beating. The baby is dead."
I asked, "There's no doubt?"
He answered, "No doubt."

By then Cathy was in full labor and delivered normally in about an hour without a spinal anesthetic.

What happened? We still don't know and may never know. Perhaps there was a problem with the cord. We each held her briefly. Madison looked healthy. She had my mouth, Cathy's chin and feet, and our red hair. She weighed 7 lbs, 6 ounces.

At first we didn't want to acknowledge it. It was tempting just to move on and not even "waste" the name that we had so carefully picked out for her. We buried her with no name, but have since decided to put up a monument at her grave that says,

Madison Grace Worsley

stillborn daughter of

Arnold and Cathy

Dec. 21, 1996

This is our only child and though she did not survive, we are still parents.

It is very difficult now to go out and see a happy baby and wonder what Madison might have been like. My first emotion was anger at Madison for deserting us. It's as if she sneaked away at the last minute. Then there's the thought that "Oh, if they'd only taken her by C section after that last good visit." But I doubt that anyone would have done anything any differently. They are professionals and have performed hundreds of successful deliveries. There was simply no reason to suspect anything wrong.


Don't take anything for granted. Be ready for tragedy and try to see it as a chance to develop, not as a stumbling block. Don't try to get past it too soon. You can't do it! We will never be the same. I think in many ways we will be better. And we will try again!

We have found that we are far from alone in this tragedy. You may also want to visit a site called Hygeia. There is also a very similar case to ours that was of great comfort to us on April Tilley's page. Congratulations to April who now has a healthy baby, born 12/10/96 !!!
Congratulations also are in order for us for Joseph Lane Worsley, born 9/5/98 !!!!

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Written by Arnold Worsley 12/31/96 (portions added later).
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