Early Arrival

A Micro-preemie's Journey

By Sharon Cindrich
Photos by Glen Bashaw

Carter and John Madson knew their baby’s life was in jeopardy before he was born.

Each week of Carter’s very fragile pregnancy brought a series of new concerns. After being hospitalized near the end of her second trimester, Carter developed further complications and doctors decided it was too dangerous for mother and baby to wait any longer. Gus Thomas Madson was born 14 weeks early by an emergency C-section on November 2, 2013, just 26 weeks into his mother’s pregnancy.

He weighed just 1 pound, 3 ounces.

Gus was immediately transferred to CHKD’s neonatal intensive care unit. There, a team of neonatologists, respiratory therapists, neonatal intensive care nurses and countless other pediatric professionals worked around the clock to stabilize tiny Gus.

“They told us he had a 30 percent chance of surviving,” says Carter.

As family and friends reached out to support the Chesapeake couple, close friend and photographer Glenn Bashaw asked how he could help. “I asked him to come and take some great pictures,” John says, “so we could tell Gus his story later.”

Each week, Glenn arrived to take photos of Gus. And each week, Gus made small and steady gains. He came off the ventilator and was able to breathe on his own by December. He was transferred from his isolette to a hospital crib in January. And by February, his feeding tube was removed.

Finally, after 115 days in CHKD’s NICU, Gus was ready to go home.

“It would take days to describe the ups and downs we experienced,” says Carter of her son’s first months. “We will never be able to express the gratitude and love we feel for the nurses and doctors who cared for Gus. They made the biggest difference.”

A year later, Gus continues to impress doctors as he meets the developmental benchmarks for his age. While the Madsons look forward to the future, the photos of their son’s early struggles are a constant reminder of his fighting spirit and a rare glimpse at the incredible journey of a micro-preemie in CHKD’s NICU.