By Katie Teutsch
On February 29, 2016, my husband Kyle and I became forever changed. We entered unexpectedly and unwillingly into the “I can’t even imagine” life. Our 13-day-old daughter, Peyton Elizabeth, slipped away to heaven as we held her in our arms.
Kyle and I both waited our entire lives to find love, get married and start a family. Once we found each other in our late twenties, we imagined the rest would come easily and effortlessly.
We were married on May 9, 2015. Our wedding was a dream come true for both of us. It was everything we could have ever imagined and more. I look back at our wedding photos now and I hardly recognize that couple. We were carefree, excited and on top of the world. We had no idea that in less than a year later, the world would come crashing down on us.
You see, as human beings there is a natural order in life. You expect things to follow in a certain precise way. When that order is broken, the entire world is right. You could never imagine the pain. However, we are here. We are breathing. We are carrying on with life and hanging onto one thing–Hope.
I could go on for days, months and possibly years about my pregnancy, traumatic delivery and birth, along with the life and death of our sweet Peyton. Instead, in honor of Pey, we choose to focus on love. We focus on all she left us with. We focus on good. We focus on finding happiness, joy and hope in our sorrows and grief. We focus on Peyton’s love in the air and all around us.
For a newborn baby, who in her short life endured so much pain and struggle. A baby who was on life support hours after birth. A baby who we never got to hear cry, only grunts after birth of her gasping for air. A baby who we never got to see open her eyes, smile or yawn. Peyton had an unbelievably sweet, calm and loving presence about her. I am honored to be her mom. I wouldn’t trade this heartache for one second if that meant not knowing Peyton or ever getting to feel her presence.
She set my soul on fire. She taught me more about life in her precious 13 days, than I probably will ever learn in an entire lifetime. Peyton taught me unconditional, unwavering, unstoppable and never ending love. Her sweet little spirit lives on in all of us.
She has made our marriage incredibly strong and sweet. She has given her mommy and daddy a deep connection and also appreciation for each other. Far beyond what we thought we already had or could have ever imagined. That was a gift she gave to us.
I couldn’t think of a better way to honor Peyton’s life, than to live ours the best way possible and continuing to spread our story of what she has taught us, along with our experience and what we have learned thus far.
Which is this:
I wish I had the ability for other people to view the world thru my eyes, without having to experience this horrible, gut wrenching heartache, sadness, unique and lifelong grief. So the next best thing is for me to try to explain it, in hopes that anyone reading this will soak some of it in.
1.) There is nothing more important than life and love. NOTHING. Material things, possessions, vacations, property, concerts, homes, clothes, cars etc. etc. I promise everyone – you would trade it all in a split second to get a loved one back. You would live in a box naked if you had to. Once you lose your child, even if you had everything you could ever want – the pain will never leave. It is then you will truly understand the meaning behind the quote, “Money can’t buy happiness”.
2.) What and who matters. You will find yourself intolerant to almost everything. It is a blessing and a curse all at the same time. A curse because you will lose people in your life that threaten your happiness in any way shape or form. This is not only necessary, it’s survival. A blessing because you then make room for effortless love and unconditional support – it’s enough effort to even have to breathe after loss. You’re not a bad person. You are choosing to live. You truly don’t have to go through child loss to apply this to your life. Go where the love is.
3.) Don’t sweat the small stuff. I used to stress about the most trivial things. Little did I know, that stress was nothing compared to what Kyle and I would endure. My car always had to be perfectly clean, my home perfectly clean, all the laundry done. I had to be on top of everything 100% of the time. While I don’t consider this to be a bad thing, after losing Peyton it definitely doesn’t come first. If dishes are in the sink, but the sun is setting and I want to go for a walk with Kyle and our puppy Harper, I go. Whereas before, I had to do the dishes first. Sounds silly, but my point is this; don’t miss time with your loved ones over things that can truly wait an hour, a day or even a week. You’ll get it done, but we all aren’t promised tomorrow. Those moments are so precious and sometimes you don’t realize how precious they are until they’re gone forever.
I’ve had people make comments about how calm Kyle and I were in the NICU, when they would have been falling apart. No one would ever want to see those moments when they told us they had to put in vent in shortly after birth because she stopped breathing on her own. Or the hours we waiting during her brain surgery. Not knowing at the time anything went wrong during her birth. No one would ever want to see the moment they told us out of nowhere that our daughter wasn’t going to make it. Trust me when I say it would haunt you forever, because it haunts us daily.
We had two choices after that. Wallow in self pity? Cry, scream and go crazy for the next ten days? Or show our daughter the best life possible. Show her all our love. Show her a calm, sweet and happy life. We chose as parents to put aside our grief and put Peyton’s needs first. Was this easy? Not for a second. Was it perfect? No. But we gave her the best life we could and those are the precious moments I am talking about. Never let those moments slip by.
Peyton – my darling. Our buggy. We miss you. We love you. You my love, are permanently in our hearts. You have enriched our lives. We will find you one day in heaven, and we will never let you go. Until then, thank you for the love you left in the air.
Katie Teutsch resides in Whitmore Lake, MI with her husband, Kyle and lots of dear family and friends. They are looking forward to hopefully extending their family with hand picked siblings from Peyton in heaven. Katie and Kyle are starting a nonprofit organization called “Pink for Peyton – love is in the air” that focuses on just that. Love. From hospital staff, to strangers and to people who don’t know what to say to someone grieving. How we can make this world a better place by sprinkling nothing but love everywhere we go. Katie is also an advocate for hydrocephalus along with safe birth deliveries and honesty in the medical field when mistakes are made. Her hope is that no family ever has to suffer again for mistakes that could so easily be prevented.