FORSYTH COUNTY — Amy Adams was 23 weeks pregnant. On her fourth visit to the doctor, they found the Northwest Forsyth woman had no amniotic fluid and signs of stress in the womb, stunting the growth of her unborn child’s lungs.
Three weeks later, she gave birth to Madelyn. Her firstborn weighed 2 pounds, 4 ounces and went into respiratory failure shortly after.
“From the very beginning, (doctors) weren’t very positive,” Amy Adams said. “I wasn’t a believer yet, but I remember just thinking, ‘We’re going to get out of this.’”
Adams — red hair, but not the famous actress — will share her story Wednesday at the kickoff of this year’s March of Dimes fundraiser. The event is set for noon at Windermere Lodge in Forsyth County.
Madelyn started to heal, but Adams said she knew about the “honeymoon phase” before infections take hold. And they did.
MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant bacterium, found its way into the newborn’s lungs, filling them with cysts and putting her body in shock. After numerous rounds of antibiotics and medicines, she wasn’t getting better.
“That’s the first time they called me in to tell her goodbye,” Adams said. “My mom’s pastor was there, and they told him to come back so she could be baptized.
“They wanted to baptize her before she died.”
So Amy Adams decided to pray. She said she focused on Madelyn’s spirit, not the medicine or the MRSA. Not her failed lungs or her pigtail catheters.
“She was baptized and within an hour, all of the cysts in her lungs disappeared,” Adams said. “When I talked with the doctor, he said, ‘I cannot medically explain this. This is nothing short of a miracle.’”
After nearly six months, Adams took her daughter home.
Her experience with Madelyn — she also has another daughter who was born two years later at 8 pounds, 13 ounces and healthy — is why she is a special ambassador for March of Dimes this year.
Adams said she will tell her story if it encourages people to help the organization, which is a collaboration of scientists, clinicians, parents and business community members that works to improve maternal and child health throughout the country. Money donated goes directly to local chapters for research and support services for premature babies and their mothers.
In an average week in Georgia, 2,576 babies are born. Of those, 353 are born preterm and 23 don’t make it to their first birthday, according to information provided by Michele Beal, community director for the organization’s North Georgia division.
She said 75 cents of each dollar raised in Georgia goes to research, education and advocacy efforts. The average medical cost for a healthy baby is $4,389, but that number rises to $54,194 for a premature baby.
Adams said she wants people to know “how important this organization really is” because of the services it provides, and “the problem (of premature babies) is not getting better.”
While there were still some ups and downs along the way — including more cysts that disappeared and a three-week stint of paralysis — Madelyn is now a 14-year-old student at Horizon Christian Academy in Cumming.
She loves playing guitar and tennis and writes her own songs.
Adams said through her experience she has learned about her “faith. And don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all small in the end.
“I learn from (Madelyn) all the time. She has an outlook on life, an insight that most people don’t have.”