Country singer Walker Hayes and his wife, Laney, experienced heartbreak on the day their seventh child was born.
On June 6, Hayes took to Instagram to reveal that their newborn daughter had passed away:
It is with great sadness that Laney and I share with you the news that our sweet Oakleigh Klover Hayes was born this morning at the hospital and now is safely in heaven. Thank you for honoring our privacy as we grieve.
Now Walker and Laney are opening up to People about the day Laney gave birth.
The couple didn’t want Laney to potentially give birth in the car on the way to the hospital — which had almost happened to Laney several times before — so they originally planned to have the baby at home with the help of a midwife.
However, soon after Laney went into labor, in the early morning hours of June 6, the mom began experiencing “alarming symptoms.”
Laney began experiencing what felt like a non-stop contraction. She explained to People:
“[My daughter] was in my abdominal cavity, and that’s what all the pressure was. but we didn’t know that then, obviously.”
The baby’s heartbeat was fading, too.
The midwife called 911, and as soon as Laney and Walker arrived to the hospital, the obstetrician ordered an emergency c-section.
“I remember going to sleep hoping the baby was okay. I had no idea I was in danger … I remember feeling like I didn’t think it was all going to be okay, but still hoping.”
No more than an hour later, Laney was rushed into emergency surgery. Meanwhile, a nurse explained to Walker that their baby girl didn’t make it.
Walker recalled the thoughts that were running through his head as the nurse explained what happened:
“‘What do I do? When Laney wakes up, how do I tell her? How am I the one to explain, it’s a girl, but you know, she died?’ I knew that was just going to crush Laney.”
Then the nurse hit Walker with even more bad news.
During labor, Laney experienced a ruptured uterus, which deprived the baby of blood flow and caused her to suffocate. Laney’s survival was also in question.
According to Healthline, a ruptured uterus is a “rare, but serious childbirth complication that can occur during vaginal birth”:
It causes a mother’s uterus to tear so her baby slips into her abdomen. This condition affects less than 1 percent of pregnant women. It almost always occurs in women with uterine scars from previous cesarean deliveries or other uterine surgeries. A woman’s risk of uterine rupture increases with every cesarean section.
Laney told People that the obstetrician described that it looked like “just an explosion.”
Walker said he waited, unsure of whether his wife was going to survive:
“I just waited. I really just hoped that this wasn’t going to be the worst day of my life, even though it kind of already was.”
“Surgery just seemed to never end, and someone would continue to come to me and say things that I didn’t really understand like, ‘We may have to use this much to replace this blood.’ That is when I began to worry for my wife’s life, and of course I’m freaking out.”
After a two hour surgery and a massive blood transfusion, doctors were able to stabilize Laney.
As she continued to drift in and out of consciousness while recovering from the trauma, Walker endured the difficult task of telling his wife time and time again that their daughter didn’t make it.
Thankfully, Laney survived.
Laney, Walker, their 12-year-old daughter, Lela, and two close friends spent the rest of the day cuddling the newborn baby before laying her to rest.
The midwife brought in a woman who had lost her baby four years before to help Walker and Laney with the initial grieving process, which included holding their newborn baby. Walker recalled:
“I didn’t know what was morbid, I didn’t know what was normal. But she began just walking me through the process. … It is a miracle she was there.”
“Watching Walker hold her, you felt like she’s just going to wake up. You think, oh, please, just let her start breathing. … She was swaddled and she just looked like a newborn baby.”
The couple decided to name their daughter Oakleigh Klover. Walker has since tattooed her name and her footprint on his arm:
Walker described the day his family laid their baby girl to rest as the “worst.”
Laney’s father built his granddaughter a mini-casket and each of their sons helped by filling in the tiny grave:
“You just never expect that you’re going to be burying your child. … It’s not easy to just say goodbye even though she’s not there.”
Both Laney and Walker admitted that nearly three months later they are still trying to heal emotionally. And Laney is still recovering from the physical trauma from that day.
Walker has found solace in performing, while Laney takes comfort in being surrounded by her six children and her husband:
“Laney and I have cried a lot, but one thing that makes me the happiest is how much love there has been around us. We’ve had the most remarkable questions answered and advice given from people around our neighborhood and in meet-and-greet lines. People walk up to me and tell me their life, and it’s like, geez, thank you for sharing. I don’t even know these people.”
And though their six children are more than enough for her, Laney admitted that it has been difficult to accept that she can no longer carry another child.
She said to People:
“I lost my last baby and now I’m done? That’s hard.”
Laney said she wants her children to know that they are “enough,” but that it is still okay to be “sad about missing Oakleigh, just like they are. It’s a process, and it will be forever.”