Melissa McCrady seeks answers for her son

Posted at 8:29 AM, Mar 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-01 10:41:25-05

Former reporter and anchor Melissa McCrady covered hundreds of stories during her seven years at TODAY'S TMJ4. In many ways, she is now covering the most important story of her life. 

Her time in front of a computer these days isn't to research a story, something she did for years as a journalist.  These days, her research is all about Charlie. 

Charlie is almost one. He's the son of Melissa and her husband Al Cheslock. Melissa said she had an easy pregnancy. Al said it was great holding his son for the first time in the hospital.

"Obviously, our first child, a son and child, obviously you just love him so much," Al said.

But soon, they embarked on an emotional journey to figure out why their beautiful little boy wasn't thriving. His heart rate had dropped during delivery, he was born with an extra thumb and large birthmark, both on the right side of his body. Charlie wasn't breathing as well as doctors would have liked, but still, Melissa and Al got to take their new baby home.

"The biggest challenge was trying to be first time parents," Melissa said.

A challenge every new parent knows. But Charlie became more fussy. 

"He would take one to two ounces of the bottles and then scream bloody murder," Melissa said.

Charlie became more fussy and would cry non-stop. He also stopped eating.

"At first, we thought it was us," Al said. "We'd try to get him to eat."

At nine weeks, Charlie was admitted to Children's Hospital for a week, the first of many visits. 

'We saw genetics, we saw audiology, we saw ophthalmology, we saw GI, we saw ENT. We didn't see cardiology but as soon as we left, they said we want you to see cardiology," Melissa said.

They left Children's with a feeding tube, hopeful the worst was behind them. But it wasn't.

"From there, it was bad news, after bad news, after bad news. I feel like today, we still get bad news.  It's been nine months and I keep waiting for the good news to start coming and it hasn't," Melissa said.

Despite countless tests, including some of the most advanced genetic testing available, they still don't know what's wrong with Charlie.

Melissa says she's been told by two different doctors that they think he may have Charlie Syndrome, such a rare disease, that it hasn't even been discovered yet.

Dr. Beth Drolet is one of Charlie's many physicians at Children's Hospital.  She says Charlie is "undiagnosed" at this time. 

"People come here to get healed and get answers. And when we can't give them those answers, it's pretty frustrating," Drolet said.

Drolet said she thinks she will find an answer in the future.

So Melissa and Al wait, and passionately care for their son.  They still feed him through a tube and he receives therapy four days a week, trying to get strong enough to lift his head, roll over, reach for his toys.

Melissa said it's very difficult not having a diagnosis for Charlie.

"Is it just a rough start to life and he's going to thrive and he's going to be just fine? Or is this something terminal and he only has a few weeks or few months to live. We don't know," Melissa said.

"We just take it day by day. Both enjoy each day," Al said.

One top of everything else, Charlie recently had surgery for glaucoma and has more surgery ahead. Doctors removed his extra thumb for more testing but did not get any answers. Next, they will remove skin from his birthmark, in their continuing search for a diagnosis.

Melissa also recently quit her job, so she could stay home with Charlie, full-time. 

If you would like to follow Charlie's story, Melissa has an emotional blog that you can find here: