‘Miracle’ baby celebrates 1st birthday -Twin sister Saylor remembered by family, friends

By ALAN BAVLEY The Kansas City Star

JILL TOYOSHIBA/The Kansas City Star Birthday girl Maci got help opening a present from her mom, Amanda Tadlock, but was more interested in the ribbon. Photo slide show Previous story: So small, so soon A year ago, Maci Tadlock’s future was in doubt. Born 15 weeks premature, weighing 1 pound, 4 ounces, she was fighting for survival.

On Sunday, Maci’s biggest concern was grabbing fistfuls of pink frosting from her birthday cake as the cameras of doting family and friends flashed around her.

“We just think she’s an absolute miracle,” her beaming grandmother, Lynn Hobbs, said. “She’s perfect.”

In October, The Kansas City Star published a story about the struggles of Maci and her twin sister, Saylor, through the several months they spent at the newborn intensive care unit at Overland Park Regional Medical Center.

Saylor weighed just 10.5 ounces at birth. She died at the hospital in early August, days after her parents, Amanda and Isaac Tadlock, took Maci home to Iola, Kan.

Sunday was a bittersweet day for the Tadlock family. A day to celebrate Maci’s first birthday. And a day to remember Saylor.

About 50 family members and friends gathered at the fairgrounds in Yates Center, a town next-door to Iola, for Maci’s party. In a meeting room decorated with pink balloons, they took turns holding Maci and taking her picture. They lavished her with gifts of clothes and toys.

Ever since she was discharged from the hospital, Maci has been confounding doctors’ expectations, said Amanda Tadlock, 27.

“They’re really surprised,” she said. “She’s only a month behind in development. They said she would be almost four months behind.”

A physical therapist still visits Maci at home to teach Amanda and Isaac exercises to help Maci advance to walking. Macy is crawling now, and recently has been making attempts to climb up stairs.

Maci will need to start wearing glasses later this year, doctors say. But they can’t tell whether Maci’s nearsightedness is related to her prematurity or was simply inherited from her two nearsighted parents.

“Some people are scared to put her on the floor to crawl or to give her food,” Amanda said. “But I treat her as a very normal 1-year-old.”

After a rough start, Maci’s relationship with her older sister, 4-year-old Matilyn, has been growing strong, Amanda said.

Maci’s months in the hospital and early days at home had been stressful on Matilyn. She was constantly reminded of Maci’s fragility and the need to be careful around her. That has changed, now that Maci is a healthy 17 pounds.

“Mati is finally catching on to being a big sister,” Amanda said. “She actually goes and picks her up and gives her a hug and kiss.”

Matt Bycroft, the Tadlocks’ pastor at Rivertree Christian Church in Iola, described Amanda and Isaac as strong people.

“They went through three months of things I’ve never been through and are still on top,” Bycroft said. “It’s a rarity to find people like that. They’re a pretty good example to anybody.”

The need for that inner strength became abundantly clear shortly after the birthday festivities had ended. The family packed up Maci’s presents and drove the short distance to the cemetery where Saylor is buried. They gathered by the grave site to release dozens of pink and white balloons that drifted high into the clear sky.

“Every day we think of her and we miss her,” Amanda said. “She brought a lot of people together who hadn’t prayed in a long time.