Marc was a dedicated fireman, committed to helping all those in danger. But when an emergency phone call required him to step up his game, it was his life that was never the same...
Brave and fearless, Marc Hadden was a true firefighter. From his first day on the job, he knew that he would do whatever it took to save a person's life - even if that was running into a burning building.
After all the vigorous training he had gone through, he felt prepared for whatever it was that would be thrown at him. However, nothing could have adequately prepared him for what he would experience in November 2011. The stressful and life-threatening event would change his life forever...
A Fulfilled Life
Prior to this fateful day, Marc was not looking to shake things up in his life. On the contrary, he felt entirely fulfilled by his work and home setup. He was sure that being a firefighter was his true life purpose, enabling him to serve the Myrtle Beach community with passion and commitment.
When he returned home each night, he could serve his other important duties - being a father and husband. Marc and his wife Beth were parents to their two boys, Will and Parker, and their family of four was a loving, supportive unit. There was just one thing that Marc still wished for - and he never imagined where he would find it.
November 14, 2011
Our momentous day in November 2011 began like any other. After kissing his family goodbye, he headed to the fire station, blissfully unaware of what events this 24-hour shift would bring. It was a slow morning, so Hadden spent time cleaning engines and working out.
By dinner time, the crew had worked up an appetite and sat down together for dinner at the firehouse. Mere minutes into their meal, a phone call stopped the firefighters in their tracks. Asking no questions, they immediately began to assemble themselves and head over to the location of the call.
"It was just a somewhat normal call," Marc told CBS News. As far as the team was concerned, it would be like any other job. On the phone, the woman had told them she was suffering from severe abdominal pain and had not known who else to call. So they packed up and headed over to help however they could.
While they knew this woman would be in better hands with paramedics than firefighters, their loyal dedication to the community meant they could not ignore any emergency call sent their way. There was no way any of them could have known what a life-changing event this would turn out to be.
It had been an instant decision to head over there, so they had not necessarily ensured they had all the right equipment. That being said, they were not too concerned about it. Thinking quickly and acting fast is what they were trained to do. Helping this woman with some abdominal pain shouldn't be too difficult.
As soon as they arrived on the scene, it was immediately apparent that they gravely underestimated the severity of the situation. "Very quickly, we realized that it was going to be a life-changer for us," Marc recalled to Inside Edition. This woman was not suffering from abdominal pain as she said. It was something else entirely...
Assessing the Situation
While the woman lay on the floor in pain, the firefighters came close to examine her. They informed her that she was not experiencing symptoms of appendicitis or bowel obstruction but of labor. These pains were contractions, preparing her body to give birth.
The Myrtle Beach Firemen were sure that despite being capable emergency workers, delivering a baby was beyond their area of expertise. The expectant mother needed to be in the hospital, tended to by specialist medical staff. So, they began to make travel arrangements to get her there as soon as possible.
The crew was knowledgeable enough to know they needed to monitor the minutes between her contractions to check how close to labor she was and how much time they had to get her to the hospital. When Marc noticed these intervals getting shorter, he notified the group they might not make it.
But no one panicked. This was exactly the type of fast-paced action they were trained for. As the clock continued ticking, they worked as fast as they could to get her into the truck and ensure she would make it through the journey to the hospital. Minutes later, they realized it was not to be.
"Pretty Serious Call"
"It was a pretty serious call for us," Marc explained to People magazine. But ultimately, they knew they could not make it to the hospital in time. "We got her on some oxygen, started some IVs, and literally were getting ready to leave the parking lot in the ambulance," Marc recalled.
"My partner said, 'We're about to deliver the baby right here,'" Marc continued. Although there was no official medical staff nearby, the firefighters knew they had no time to waste, and it was down to them to deliver the baby - right there in the back of the ambulance. Within seconds, they were doing just that.
A New Type of Danger
Childbirth is a stressful, sometimes dangerous procedure, even when conducted in a hospital with doctors and nurses. Not only can the child's life be at risk, but the mother's life can also be on the line. If this labor was to play out in the parking lot, the risks would be even more severe.
Comprehending that this woman and her unborn baby were at their mercy, they acted quickly and began to prepare for the onsite delivery. They didn't have time to wait, so they cut off her clothes and got straight to work. This was definitely not how they imagined their day would go.
Marc would never have believed he was capable of delivering a baby, but here he was, helping to bring a new life into this world. At that moment, he imagined this was as far as the whole saga would take him, and once he handed the baby over to the mother and dropped them off at the hospital, that would be it.
At best, it would be a wonderful story to come home and tell Beth. After that, he was sure it would turn into a distant memory that he would recall every few years to his friends and family. How could he ever have known this would soon prove to be just the start of a whole new chapter in his life?
Things Take a Turn
The labor was long and difficult, and Marc tried his best to help comfort the mother as much as possible. Finally, after what felt like a lifetime, the little baby girl was born! Holding her in his arms, Marc felt a sense of relief - it was all over; they had done it. This was until things took a turn for the worse...
The newborn baby had stopped breathing, and no one was sure why. They were already in over their heads with labor; this was taking things to a whole new level. "She struggled from the minute she was put in my hands," Marc told People. There was nothing they could do but give her oxygen and pray.
Holding Her Close
With the baby's condition worsening, the firefighters began to lose hope. After all that they had all been through, they had dreamed of a happy ending where the mother and her new baby would live to tell the tale of their survival. They willed this child to take her first breath.
As they watched over the baby and prayed her condition would change, they all gasped when the newborn finally broke into tears. "It was amazing to hear her cry," Marc told People. "I was tasked with everything to do with Gracie," Hadden told CBS News. "I helped her take her first breath."
Now the baby and her mother were both in stable condition; it was finally time for them to be admitted to the hospital. They needed to be checked over by the medical staff and given the proper aftercare that they deserved. When the backup arrived, Marc decided to accompany the mother-daughter duo.
While Hadden was filling out the required paperwork, he heard something that stopped him in his tracks. The nurses were discussing the new mother and the fact that she was looking to put the baby up for adoption "immediately." His mind began to race in response to this news.
Marc was familiar with the US adoption system and the difficulties it serves to those children forced to enter it. Kids can be moved from home to home until a permanent home can be found for them, often subjected to abuse and neglect in each place they go.
Having played such a huge part in this baby girl's birth and survival, Marc could not stand to think this was the path she would be sent down. Being a father of two himself, he connected so heavily to this child and the horrors she might go to. He needed to ensure she went into a loving home.
Meant To Be?
In addition to the feelings of fear, there was another component to this story that meant Marc had a personal connection to it. As if by some bizarre twist of the universe, he and his wife had been desperately wishing for a daughter since the birth of their youngest son.
Medical complications during Parker's birth led doctors to tell Beth she would not have any more children. "We checked into adopting, but it was way too expensive; we prayed on it," Hadden told CBS. He couldn't help but think this was all meant to be - was this girl the answer to their prayers?
"Throw my name in the hat if this baby's being put up for adoption," Hadden immediately said to the nurses in a somewhat joking tone. "You need to go talk to this mom," they replied, causing him to consider how serious he was about this plan. Did he really want to adopt her?
Marc knew this was not a decision to be taken lightly and was certainly not one to be made alone. Picking up the phone to Beth, he recounted the day's events, sending her a photo of the adorable child he had helped deliver. "He was ecstatic," Beth told People about the call. "Who in the world gets to deliver a baby in their lifetime?"
Paying Her a Visit
"Can we keep her?" Beth jokingly responded to the adorable photo of the newborn. Marc instantly recognized this as his cue to tell her about the baby girl's potential adoption. He would decide whether to share his great idea depending on how she reacted to this news.
Upon hearing the woman's tragic fate, Bath sprung into action and decided to visit the new mom and her baby in the hospital. Walking into the room just one day after the delivery, Beth saw this woman's face and knew she wanted to help. "My heart just went out to this woman," she explained.
By Her Side
Holding a prayer book and bearing a smile, Beth introduced herself to the woman as the wife of the firefighter who saved her life. As a woman's professional instructional coach, Beth was experienced in supporting people and wanted to apply her skills in this case.
Beth sat down by the woman's bedside and told her she wanted to help her in any way she could. Appreciative of her kindness and generosity, the new mother welcomed her in and accepted her offer of friendship. Within minutes, the women had bonded - talking about motherhood and their lives.
That was when the new mother began explaining to Beth her rationale for putting her newborn up for adoption. The woman truly believed that giving her to someone else would be in the child's best interest. While it was an extremely difficult decision for her to make, she felt it was the right one.
As she told Beth, she already had a teenage son who she was struggling to care for emotionally and financially. Her belief was that adding another child into the mix would not be beneficial for anyone involved. She wanted a better life for her little daughter.
As if on cue, the doctor came into the room to discuss with the woman her options for adoption. While Beth sat there silently observing, she watched the woman's face tense up as she listened. "I can't give my baby to someone I've never met!" she responded to the doctor with a concerned expression.
Recognizing this was her moment, Beth spoke up, telling the woman about her and Marc's struggle to have another child. As she absorbed the words that were being said, the woman understood what Beth was proposing. "I want you to adopt my baby," she replied with tears in her eyes.
For the new mother, it was the perfect solution to her problems. Like Marc, she was also concerned about how the adoption system would work out for her daughter, and she hated the lack of control she held over her fate. This loving couple who had helped and supported her from the beginning would love her in a way she could not.
The nurses then brought the baby girl into the hospital room, pulling up her crib in front of Beth, who got emotional at the sight of her. From the moment they locked eyes, it was true love, and everyone in the room could feel it. "I think we just had a baby!" she cried down the phone to Marc.
Together, At Last
From the point they received the mother's blessing, everything happened in a fast progression. Marc arrived back at the hospital, and he and his wife signed the adoption papers. It had been just 48 hours since the baby had been delivered in the back of the truck, and now it was time to bring her home.
As Beth and Marc drove towards their family home, they pinched themselves, unable to comprehend the blessing that had quite literally fallen into their hands. "To see my wife’s face light up when we brought Gracie home... I can’t even begin to tell you," Marc said to People.
Just one day after bringing her home, Marc and Beth settled on the name Rebecca Grace - Gracie for short. They couldn't wait for her to bond with her two older brothers and fully integrate into the family. But first, there were some more urgent matters to take care of.
Adding a girl into the mix would be a whole new type of challenge, something they had not really had the time to prepare for. For starters, she would need her own room, which was impossible in their current living situation. But before they had time to start worrying, help arrived...
Marc and Beth were pleasantly surprised to learn that the whole community had heard their story and wanted to help. Everyone was excited about the newborn addition who had arrived under the most unlikely circumstances. Most importantly, they knew that the new parents would need some assistance.
Wanting to give the baby girl the warmest welcome they could think of and reward the couple for their generosity, the community gathered together to fund an extension of the firefighter's home. Led by contractor Buddy Satterfield, an extra bedroom was added to their house.
Firefighter of the Year
"I don't know what we would have done because we have definitely outgrown our home. So, we're just truly blessed to have friends that will pull together for us like this," Marc gushed to People. Little did Marc know that there was more in store for him.
In recognition of his brave, fast-paced actions, which led to both the mother and baby surviving the ordeal, Marc was honored by the Myrtle Beach Fire Department. They presented him with the Firefighter of the Year Award, additionally praising him for giving the baby a loving home.
Part of the Gang
To the relief of her parents, Gracie settled into the family with ease. "The boys absolutely love her, and she loves them," Marc said. "She's a tough little joker because she has two big brothers who have trained her right," Beth said with a smile.
"She adds a lot of spirit; she's always making jokes and everything like that. It's fun!" Parker said to Inside Edition about his younger sister. "She has contributed to all of our lives. She is part of our family, and that is absolutely the way it is. We love her," Marc confirmed to CNN.
A Light in Their Lives
As far as Marc was concerned, the greatest reward of all was the daughter he had been given. Although he appreciated the good wishes and applause, he was most grateful for the opportunity to be Gracie's father. For so long, they had dared to dream of this life, and their wishes had been granted out of nowhere.
Now, a few years later, Mark and Beth told People that having Gracie in their lives and a part of their family is everything they willed it to be and more. "She's amazing," Marc gushed. Gracie's energy and carefree spirit light up their lives, and she loves to dance and practice gymnastics.
Considering the fact that Marc had been the one to save Gracie's life and bring her into this world, it's hardly surprising that the father and daughter duo share an intense bond. "I've always wanted a daughter; this is just amazing," Marc said ecstatically. As for Gracie? She's a real daddy's girl.
"She is my best friend. We share an amazing bond. We're tighter than thieves," the father of three noted to CNN. "Every day, I look forward to waking her up, getting her ready for school, then picking her up later on." Gracie and Marc often go on date nights, too, where they laugh and chat together.
Knowing Her Roots
As far as her origin story goes, Gracie is well-informed about the great triumph of her birth. "We told her pretty much from day one," Marc said. "I've taken her back to the back of the ambulance where she was born, so she knows – no doubt about it."
Not only does Gracie know her story, but she loves it too! The little girl will proudly recount her survival story to anyone willing to listen. "My daddy delivered me in the back of an ambulance and helped me take my first breath," she can often be heard exclaiming.
Happily Ever After
Looking back on their lives before and after Gracie entered it, Beth and Marc are overwhelmed by how much has changed for the better. Marc is no longer a firefighter after deciding it was time to retire, but he still volunteers at the firehouse whenever he can.
Most of his days are now spent with his family - the only thing in life he loves more than being a fireman. As for that fateful November day, Hadden told CBS News, "It was meant to be. Everything that happened that day changed: my station, assignment, the location. So many things happened that made us 100 percent sure."