It hasn’t even been three months since Walker Hayes and his wife Laney lost their newborn daughter Oakleigh Klover. But somehow, it seems like they’ve found comfort in keeping her memory alive in their hearts by telling the world their tragic story of what went wrong on June 6, the day Laney went into labor.
In a new interview with People, Hayes shares details about his wife’s uterine rupture that took the life of their baby girl. Oakleigh Klover was the couple’s seventh child.
“‘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 she died?’ I knew that was just going to crush Laney,” Hayes remembers thinking. And Laney’s own life was in peril, too, after the weakness in her uterine wall caused so much damage. During the surgery to save her life, Laney remembers going to sleep hoping that the baby was safe. “I had no idea I was in danger,” she said, “I remember feeling like I didn’t think it was all going to be okay, but still hoping.”
After Laney’s surgery — which took close to two hours — the Hayes decided to spend time with Oakleigh Klover’s body. “I didn’t know what was morbid, I didn’t know what was normal,” Hayes admitted. And Laney added that watching her husband hold their baby had her thinking of the impossible. “You think, ’Oh, please, just let her start breathing.’ She was swaddled, and she just looked like a newborn baby,” she said.
The details of the inevitable burial service that followed sound just as gut-wrenching as the hospital mourning that the family did: Laney’s father handcrafted a casket with an oak cross on top; Hayes and his sons Beckett, 7, Baylor, 9, and Chapel, 11, were the pallbearers; and everyone in the family took turns shoveling dirt into the small grave.
“It’s not easy to just say goodbye,” Hayes said, “even though she’s not there.”
Hayes occasionally shares glimpses of his family life on Instagram, even now, as they try to heal after losing Oakleigh Klover.