ADDISON, Texas - North Texas families who have felt the heartache of the loss of a child will come together this weekend for a remembrance walk. The event each year helps them cope.
Barbara and Victor Zepeda filled through photos as they shared their story with Good Day FOX 4. They lost their baby girl on Dec. 12, 2017.
Barbara said she had a normal pregnancy. But when it came time to deliver, doctors realized their daughter, Evie, was turned the wrong way.
All of a sudden, Evie’s vital signs dropped. Doctors rushed Barbara into surgery but Evie didn’t make it.
“The NICU medical director said, ‘I'm sorry but your daughter didn't make it.’ He held her. She was beautiful and perfect and asleep right there.” Barbara said. “They put her on my face. She was still warm. We were just in shock. What do you mean she didn’t make it?”
It turns out, Barbara’s uterus had spontaneously ruptured during labor, something that is very rare.
Due to the way Evie was turned though, she was basically acting like a tourniquet saving her mother’s life.
“She’s my hero. She saved my life,” Barbara said.
But knowing they wouldn’t be bringing Evie home to the room they had lovingly set up for her was heart-wrenching.
“It was incredibly difficult. It still is,” Victor said.
They wanted to remember everything they could about her.
“I kept telling myself, ‘You’ve got to memorize every single detail. This is all you will ever get to see of her is the next few moments,’” Barbara said.
Then came a gift.
An organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep sends volunteer photographers to hospitals to take black and white heirloom photos of babies that never make it home.
“We have them all over our house. We have them at work. I have a whole book of her photos at my desk,” the couple said.
Evie’s room is still set up. It’s now a quiet place for Barbara to reflect.
She said she and her husband are moving forward in the healing process. The love of their 3-year-old son has helped.
Barbara also now volunteers for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. She helps organize a yearly remembrance walk for those who have lost their babies.
It’s a great way for her to honor Evie, she said.
“I think we will always have Evie-sized holes in our hearts,” Barbara said. “I was given a second chance for a reason. I can choose to be angry and bitter and just kind of close up and keep to myself or I can show other people the love and the second chance I was given.”
This year’s remembrance walk will be Saturday morning at Vitruvian Park in Addison. Families will reflect and release butterflies after walking together.
The Zepeda family and Good Day’s Lauren Przybyl want to invite anyone who has lost a baby through miscarriage – as Lauren did several years ago – or if the baby was stillborn or died because of SIDS or sickness. All are welcome to attend.
For more information, visit www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/remembrancewalk/. Lauren will be the emcee for the event.