Walker Hayes, Wife Laney Open Up About Medical Trauma That Killed Newborn Daughter Oakleigh Klover
In June, Walker Hayes, his wife Laney and their six children were mourning the loss of newborn daughter Oakleigh Klover, who died shortly after her birth on June 6. In a new interview with People, the country singer and his wife open up about how their family is coping with Oakleigh's death -- and the frightening medical condition that killed the infant and almost cost Laney her life, too.
To People, the Hayeses' recount the devastating day: Shortly after Laney went into labor, it was clear something wasn't right; baby Oakleigh's heartbeat disappeared, and Laney felt a constant contraction. The midwife the couple had hired for their planned home birth called 911, and Laney was rushed into emergency surgery.
“I remember going to sleep hoping the baby was okay,” Laney recalls. “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.”
When doctors began Laney's surgery, they discovered that she had suffered a uterine rupture, a tear caused by weakness in the wall of the uterus. Because of the rupture, baby Oakleigh was deprived of blood and suffocated. A nurse delivered the news to Hayes, also explaining to him that, because of the blood loss, Laney's life was also in danger.
“I just waited," Hayes remembers. "I really just hoped that this wasn’t going to be the worst day of my life, even though it kind of already was.”
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It took Laney's surgery team nearly two hours, and a large number of blood transfusions, to stabilize her: "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,’” Hayes recalls. “That is when I began to worry for my wife’s life, and of course I’m freaking out.”
After Laney's surgery, it was Hayes who had to tell his wife that Oakleigh had died. The couple, counseled by a stranger whose newborn child had died a few years prior, spent the rest of the day with the baby's body. Their six children, Hayes says, all took the news of their youngest sibling's death differently.
"Some were really sad. Some were like, ‘Can I go back outside and play?’" he explains. "It was tough to tell them.”
More than two months later, they're still grieving; Hayes has found comfort in performing, while Laney feels best when she's with her family. Compounding the couple's grief is the news that, because of the uterine rupture, Laney can no longer have children.
"I lost my last baby, and now I'm done?" she reflects. "That's hard."
Still, the Hayeses are grateful, they say, for the outpouring of support they've received.
“Laney and I have cried a lot, but one thing that makes me the happiest is how much love there has been around us," Hayes says. "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."