For those walking the path of grieving the loss of a baby or child, we offer grace for the journey and a friend to walk with you... There are moments on this walk when we feel we cannot go on. Moments when a friend comes alongside us to point us again to the One who sustains us. A friend to lift us in prayer. A friend to allow us to lean on her as she leans on Him. A friend, who is not afraid to walk through the valley in the rain, with a storm mounting. She is not afraid, because the Lord is her strength and her shield. She is not afraid because she doesn't walk alone. And because He has walked with her through the valleys and the storms, He has sent her to walk with you. And He will carry you both through the rain, through the storm, through the unknown dark alleys to secure, dry ground. Whether you are a newly bereaved mother or a seasoned mom who has watched the Lord make beauty from ashes in your life. Whether you need someone to lean on or you are the shoulder that can bear the burden, we hope you will walk with us as we are walking with Him. We hope you will join us with our broken umbrellas, with all our little quirks and imperfections in our various stages on this walk, as His grace washes over us in the pouring rain.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Beautiful Story of Payton Rose

Thank you to everyone for showing such love and encouragement to Jenny last week!This week's featured mommy is not a blogger. She is my in-real-life friend, Deanna. She and her husband Jim attended the same high school as Tim and I...and Jim is our son's baseball coach. Jim and Deanna's son, Kenton, is also friends with our son James. It would be such a blessing if you would leave your words of encouragement in the comments on this post for Jim and Deanna. Your love, prayers, and willingness to walk with one another means so much and brings such comfort to a grieving heart.

And, now...Payton's story as told by her sweet mommy, Deanna Shoemaker...

Payton Rose Shoemaker
June 6, 2003 to July 9, 2003
Daughter to Jim and Deanna

Our precious Payton was born June 6, 2003 on a beautiful sunny day. She weighed 6lbs 6oz and was 19 1/2 inches long. I had been scheduled for a c-section right from the beginning of my pregnancy. The pregnancy went well; all tests and ultrasounds came back fine. It was a complete shock that she had such a severe defect when she was born. The doctor told us right as she was born that we would have a wedding to pay for someday……boy was he wrong!!! It was going to be a funeral instead. I knew something was wrong right away she was not crying, at least not like all those babies did on all those baby shows I had watched, and I could not compare it to Kenton’s birth because it was an emergency and I was put out. I asked Jim what was going on, he said she was moving around and kicking, and that they were giving her a bit of oxygen. The Pediatrician brought her over for a quick look, and then said they were taking her out because she was having a hard time breathing. Imagine lying on the surgery table and not being able to get up after someone tells you your baby is in distress….

Finally I get to recovery and I still have only seen Payton for maybe a minute, my OB goes to find out what is going on, everyone else at this time however is getting to see Payton having no idea that anything is wrong…

Our Pediatrician finally gets back with us to let us know he believes our daughter has a diaphragmatic hernia and will need to be transported to Toledo Children’s Hospital for surgery. I immediately want to know if she will be okay, and he believes she will be fine after surgery. Jim now has to tell family and friends what is going on, but we are not too worried at this time. Jim goes off to talk to family and friends in the waiting room while I’m in my room. I actually am pulling my hair back and putting on a bit of makeup so I look somewhat presentable for visitors.

Then all of a sudden I hear a code blue over the speaker which immediately I know is Payton, because I was the only one on the maternity floor at that time. I’m by myself and can’t get up, pushing the nurse’s button continuously until a nurse finally arrives, and she says she thinks Payton had a seizure but was not sure. They were looking for Jim and could not find him….

I later find out he was in the chapel just sitting with his mom praying for a miracle, but not feeling he had the right to ask since we were not avid church goers, Christians, but not an every Sunday ritual. Finally 3 hours after my c-section I get to get up and go see Payton. She grabs hold of my finger and looks at me and I just fall apart and cry. The medics from Toledo are there getting her prepped for transport, I just can’t believe this is happening, what did I do wrong, why did we not know? I had so many questions.

Jim now had to decide if he should stay with me or go with Payton, but the doctors encouraged him to get some rest that nothing would be done until the next day at least. So, now Payton is on her way to Toledo and we still have visitors coming expecting to see Payton, that was really hard to have to tell them she was not there……..I only had a Polaroid they had taken of her just before she left. Later when me and Jim were alone I fell apart again, but Jim was strong at this time, until around 3:00 in the morning when we get a call from Toledo that Payton is not responding to their treatment.

They need our permission to now transport her to Mott’s Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. They tell us she needs special treatment called ECMO that they cannot provide. We have no idea what they are talking about or what is going on but of course we tell them yes, we want Payton to get better, but now we are starting to worry a bit.

What is ECMO, why is she not responding, all we know is it probably is not good.

In the morning Jim leaves for Ann Arbor in tears not knowing if he will see his daughter alive when he gets there. I’m a complete basket case now, and have to wait for my doctor to release me from the hospital, but only 24 hours after my c-section I’m released and heading to see my daughter. Those of you who have had c sections know that you usually don’t even get out of bed for 12 hours and your hospital stay is at least 4 days, but I had to see my daughter.

My very good friend Linda along with her daughter Bree, my brother David and Kenton drove me to Ann Arbor, I swear she hit every bump, but actually she was only driving about 45, but I was still in a lot of pain. I have already talked to Jim and know Payton is already hooked up to the ECMO and doing better, so I’m not too worried at this point. But what is ECMO??? I have visions of this huge contraption she will be in and not even being able to touch her. But then I get there and walk into the NICU and see Payton hooked up to the ventilator with all these wires and monitors with things beeping and she is just laying there. They have to give her medications( Pavulon) that paralyze her to keep her from getting to excited, or her vitals get out of control. It kills me to this day to think about her on that drug. It was as if on some days she would look into my eyes as if to say “mommy pick me up, why are you not holding me……it just broke my heart.

I loved the days when she was able to move around and hold my finger, but it always made her vitals go up. I was also relieved to see that ECMO was not a huge contraption that Payton was encased in, it was quite amazing how it works and the ECMO techs were very helpful and honest when answering our questions. It also just so happens that the inventor of ECMO is at the hospital, I can’t remember his name, but I think he is from Australia and he came over and visited with us and told us how ECMO was helping our daughter. It was very fascinating.

We also found out that the little hole in her diaphragm was more than just a little hole. This hole had allowed all her lower organs to come up into her chest cavity. Therefore her left lung had not developed, her right lung had gotten a hole in it while they were bagging her in Defiance, and her heart was damaged due to all the organs pushing up against it. To look at her you would never know there was a thing wrong with her, but her insides were another story. She was on ECMO for 17 days and during that time had to be switched 3 times due to clotting problems, and as you all know that always set their progress back, but she did come off it, which was amazing the doctors never thought she would live without it. The had told us the day before they were going to be weaning her off ECMO in the morning and that we should hold her now because they did not think she would last long without it. They were at a point that once they took her off she would not be able to be put back on; her body was rejecting it too much.

So we hold our daughter for the first time and it is not the kind of hold I really wanted, she was hooked up to everything still and wrapped in blankets, I just wanted to hold her so close and hug her, but it was impossible, I whispered in her ear rubbed her head and ran my fingers through her hair, and Jim did the same, her SATS had never been so good. We had two of our best friends there with us at the time and they took pictures, however, we lost one of the friends who was just too overwhelmed with emotion to stay. We later found her just wondering the hallways, but I will never forget their support and love. We left that night joyful and sad at the same time, what would tomorrow bring how long would she hold on without ECMO.

We headed back to the hospital early the next morning, I want to be there while they take her off, but when we get there and walk into the NICU I immediately notice the machine is gone. The nurses are all smiling and come give us hugs, they are all amazed, Payton is keeping her own without ECMO, a glimmer of hope, Jim and I are just ecstatic. We go to the gift shop and bring her an angel bear and Kenton has pictures taped to her isolate. The next few weeks were an emotional roller coaster, trying to wean her off the ventilator to be able to go into surgery. The doctors at our hospital would not perform surgery while on ECMO, which I suppose I could have argued, but I never felt like they were not doing everything they could for her. There were many ups and downs during her one month and three days here on Earth, but Jim and I agree one of the better days was when we had our very own Hashbarger Reunion brought to us right at the hospital. You guys went above and beyond to raise our spirits, lugging coolers full of food and drink through and huge hospital. You all visited with Payton as well, making us feel very loved and helping us keep our faith strong that she would get better. Baskets were filled with gifts and treats, for Kenton and Payton both it was amazing!!!!!!!

Payton fought hard and she did not give up without a fight, the doctors did all they could, and she surprised them every now and then. The nurses were amazed at all the support we had from friends and family, they said they had never seen such support before. It was true Payton had many visitors every day; she had tons of prayers, and a family that loved her. She never did get stable enough to have surgery; we decided not to put her through it if it would not make her better. Besides the doctors said she would not even make it through a surgery if her vitals were not stable. Her SATS towards the end took longer and longer to bring back up which we knew was doing more harm than good. They tried Nitrous several times, Viagra, and eventually the oscillator vent, which I also hated!

I had asked the nurses earlier on in the month how someone would know it was time to let their child go, and they would say with a smile you will know. I told them I didn’t think I would and would never be able to make that decision. But when Jim and I got that call at home that July morning we both at the same time looked at each other and knew….it was time to let her go. Kenton had been with us through this whole ordeal almost everyday, but we chose not to take him on this day. We made arrangements for him and off we went. We made some calls to immediate family to head to the hospital to say their good byes. Upon arrival our favorite nurse Janet was in the hall and I thought “oh my God she is already gone” which is what I had prayed for towards the end. I would ask God if you want our Payton please just take her, don’t make us make that decision, but we soon realized the doctors and machines could probably have kept her alive for month’s maybe longer, but we did not want that for her, she needed to go back home, not our home, but the Lord’s. The nurse was just there to meet us and ask us what we intended to do. I had wanted her to be off the Pavulon, but they could not keep her SATS up without it, so Jim and I went in and kissed her, and talked to her, I stroked her hair, rubbed her tiny little feet and hands, I wanted to imbed everything about her into my head. I told her it was okay for her to go that Grandpa and Grandma would be there waiting for her (my parents).

We left the room while they unhooked her from everything and they then brought her into us in another private room. I was hysterical and did not want to hold her, but I knew if I did not hold her Jim would not either, and I knew he wanted to. So I held her for just a short time, which I now regret, I wish I would have brought clothes for her and dressed her, I wish I would have held her tight, but I just could not at that time. Jim held her for quite some time just gazing at his daughter; I was sitting next to him holding her hand. Grandma Barb and Great Grandma Lou held their Grand daughter as well as Uncle Dave; it was a very tearful event. Payton went home to Jesus on another beautiful day in July, although at the time we did not think it was a beautiful day …….we had to tell Kenton yet. He was only three, but smart beyond his years. We could not say nothing, I mean for the past several months he kept asking if his sister was done yet……..he had seen her, touched her, now she was gone. He was such a trooper, he told me it was going to be okay mommy…….we just need a hole in our roof and Jesus can drop Payton back down to us…….talk about heartbreak. The months passed and he asked many questions, all of which were answered honestly, he knew she was in Heaven with Jesus, and he knew when he saw mommy cry it was because she missed Payton and he would always be there with a hug.

Getting prepared for the funeral…….how do you do that when you are in such an emotional state of mind? Picking out a plot at the cemetery in tears, how do you choose a spot to lay your child to rest? How do you pick out the clothes your child will wear, going through the clothes you had bought for her to wear now never to be worn. How do you choose a casket, what music to play? I will not lie it was horrible I hated every bit of it, but it had to be done. The funeral director asked if we were going to have just a private service, and we immediately said no. He was a bit surprised, he explained that with young infants it is usually just family, but Payton had touched many hearts in her short lifetime and the day of the funeral they had to add extra chairs for all of her visitors. Though the day was sad, it was full of friends, family, and those who just wanted to help during our time of grief, we felt very blessed to have had our daughter touch so many hearts.

We still talk about Payton today, she is never far from our thoughts, and she is with us in our hearts forever. The cemetery that she is laid to rest at it just a mile from our house and we visit often. Every birthday we release balloons to her in heaven, every Christmas Eve we light a candle on her stone, and on the day of her death she always gets a visit. Her stone was designed by me and always has trinkets and flowers on it from family and friends who visit. The design on her stone is of an angel bear that was with her during her entire stay at the hospital, with roses for her middle name of course, and flowing ribbons, because our friend Jodie had made ribbons for everyone to wear to support Payton while she was in the hospital. They had a pink rosette with pale pink, blue, and yellow ribbon, and everyone wore them everyday in hopes that she would come home.

Five years later…….we have another daughter Tayah Grace, born happy and healthy on May 2nd, 2006. The pregnancy was an emotional one for me, I was worried the whole time, even after having high level ultra sounds and maternal fetal specialists the first few months of pregnancy. But never give up hope and let your fears get the best of you, God is with you always, and though he may not answer our prayers the way we want him to, he does answer them. When you lose a child hold them, take pictures( the hospital did this for us and sent them to us later on when we were in a better state of mind… glad I have them now) get footprints and handprints, locks of hair, you will eventually be glad you did………..keep a journal write down your feelings. I read them now and think “wow” I was really having a bad day that day, or look how far I have come. Don’t be afraid to get counseling, talk to your loved ones, let your emotions out and over time you will begin to heal, you will be a new you ……….

To read more about Payton and her family and the lovely art created by Deanna in Payton's memory, please visit their Facebook Page: Payton's Precious Memories


  1. Thank you so much, Deanna, for sharing your story. Thank you for including your next pregnancy, as that is the road I am walking right now. Payton is beautiful!!!!

  2. What a beautiful and devestating story. Your pictures of her are gorgeous, I know you treasure them. I am so glad the hospital took more pictures for you, too.

    And I love hearing that you still visit her stone and decorate it for her birthday and holidays.

    Thank you so much for sharing her with us.

  3. Such a beautuful baby girl...(((HUGS)))

  4. Deanna, thank you for sharing Payton with us. What a beautiful little girl! I am so glad that you continue to have such wonderful support from those around you.

    My heart was so touched as I read about you holding sweet Payton for the first time. The tubes and wires do make it impossible to hold your baby like you want to, but I know she heard your whispers and felt your love for her.

  5. Deanna, thank you so much for sharing Payton with us! She is just beautiful!

  6. Deanna, thank you so much for sharing. My heart goes out to you, Jim, and Kenton. Payton is such a beautiful little girl and so very special. I'm so sorry you have had to know the heartache of losing her. (((hug))) She obviously touched many lives and so many love her.

  7. Thank you so much is always so nice to be able to share her story. I know she has touched many hearts from the day she was born, and she still does today. Blessings to you all :-)

  8. Deanna,

    Wow, I'm having a hard time holding myself together. That was really hard to read. I could feel your pain and love for your daughter. Thank you for taking the time to share the story of your sweet girl. She is so precious. So beautiful. Lovely.

    God Bless You and Your Family.

  9. Deanna,
    Thank you for sharing your story and your little Payton. I'm so sorry you have had to endure such heartcahe,

    Love to you and your family.

  10. THank you for sharing your story with such honesty. I can hardly type through the tears. Such a beautiful girl! Hope--you certainly have HOPE to share with others...

  11. Deanna, thank you so much for telling us Payton's story. I am happy that she was able to touch so many lives during her time here on earth. She is an amazing and beautiful soul. I am sorry that you had to endure such a heartache, my heart goes out to you with many *hugs*

  12. Deanna,
    Thank you for taking the time to write this and share Payton's story. It was so beautiful and full of love. May God continue to cushion your hearts.
    Much love...Karen

  13. Deanna,

    I had to stop and start again many times as I wiped the tears from my sobbing eyes during your story. I have lost a child, but never like you. Now having a living breathing child I could not imagine going through what you did. Your story is amazing and thank you for sharing.


  14. Thank you for sharing your sweet Payton with us. Our situations are different, but I can relate to being grateful for the encouragement the hospital gave us (pictures and such).

  15. Wow, that is so amazing! So sad, and yet--I am glad you had time with your daughter.