A story of love, loss and blessing (religion)

Published 3:27 pm Thursday, October 29, 2015

Family fun: Sean (left) and Chay Shaneyfelt (right) gave birth to Graeme Shaneyfelt after cases of infant and pregnancy loss. (Contributed photos)

Family fun: Sean (left) and Chay Shaneyfelt (right) gave birth to Graeme Shaneyfelt after cases of infant and pregnancy loss. (Contributed photos)

By Chanel Bingham | Special to the Advertiser


As most people know, October is the month that has been set aside to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. However, many people may not realize that October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

On Oct. 15 of each year, families come together to remember those precious lives that have been lost but never forgotten.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to sit down with an amazing woman who shared with me her journey through infant and pregnancy loss and the beautiful testimony that she now shares with others.

In December of 2004, Chay Shaneyfelt and her husband, Sean, were overjoyed with the news that they were expecting their first child. For the first few months of her pregnancy, everything was routine. They even found out they would be having a boy. Then, unexpectedly, at only 21 weeks, Chay began having problems in her pregnancy.

Reminders of loss: The Shaneyfelts lost Clay and Cannon after premature births.

Reminders of loss: The Shaneyfelts lost Clay and Cannon after premature births.

It started out with what was believed to be pain from a urinary tract infection. Chay was examined by her doctor and put on bed rest. The following evening, the pain intensified to the point that she was taken to the emergency room. It was there that she discovered that she was already 10 centimeters dilated.

Unsure of what this meant for their baby, a nurse gently explained to the Shaneyfelts that their baby’s heart would beat for only about 20 minutes before he passed. Young and afraid, Chay initially made the decision not to hold her baby after he was born. However, after some words of encouragement from a kind nurse, Chay changed her mind.

“As soon as I saw him, I was in love,” says Chay. “Sean had been singing him the song, ‘You Are My Sunshine,’ throughout the pregnancy, and when he was born, he sang that song. Although he never took a breath, he turned his head toward Sean when he heard his daddy’s voice.”

The Shaneyfelts’ baby lived for two hours with a heartbeat, allowing for their family to love on him and say their goodbyes.

A few days later, they held a funeral service for their baby, whom they named Clay, and picked up the pieces of their broken hearts.

In 2007, and with the assistance of fertility treatments, Chay became pregnant again. Only this time, due to her previous history, the doctor decided to sew her cervix closed at 16 weeks, giving her a better shot of carrying her baby to term.

Sadly, at her 16-week appointment, Chay had once again began to dilate. Though efforts were made to try and delay birth, Chay delivered her second baby prematurely, with baby Cannon living only moments outside the womb.

Chay said she and her husband were in disbelief at the loss of their second child.

“It was such a shock to us because we thought we had a plan in place,” says Chay. “I never asked God why this was happening, but I did have a lot of pity for myself because I am only human. I would wonder if I was ever going to experience motherhood and getting to bring a baby home,” she said. “The hardest part of losing Clay and Cannon was that I didn’t get to bring home my babies. Instead, I got to bring home a box that had memories of my boys. These boxes contained the only things I had of them like their umbilical cord clamp and knitted hat.”

Healthy birth: Chay Shaneyfelt with son Graeme shortly after his birth. Graeme is a healthy 5-year-old.

Healthy birth: Chay Shaneyfelt with son Graeme shortly after his birth. Graeme is a healthy 5-year-old.

The Shaneyfelt’s third attempt at pregnancy also ended in tragic loss, with Chay suffering a miscarriage in May of 2009.

Once again, the Shaneyfelts had to say goodbye to a child they knew for just a moment but would love for a lifetime.

Then, in December of 2009, Chay found out she was pregnant once again. From the beginning of her pregnancy, she was monitored continuously. She was seen weekly by her doctors, with ultrasounds being performed every few weeks. At 12 weeks, the doctor sewed her cervix closed, and she spent her entire pregnancy on bed rest.

At 28 weeks, Chay went in for her routine appointment, and it was discovered that she had already begun to dilate. She was immediately sent to labor and delivery, where she was given medicine to boost the baby’s lung function. She was then placed upside down in a hospital bed where she remained for two weeks.

On June 29, 2010, at 2:34 a.m. and at only 30 weeks into her pregnancy, Chay Shaneyfelt delivered baby boy Graeme, who weighed in at a petite 3 pounds and 14 ounces.

Chay recalled this very special moment.

“He came out and he screamed, and then we screamed. It was the most beautiful sound in the world to hear one of our babies cry,” she said. “I will never forget that beautiful sound.”

Today, Graeme is a healthy 5-year-old who plays youth football for the Thorsby Rebels.

As we closed our time together, I asked Chay about the role her faith played in this difficult journey.

“I would honestly say that I hope and pray that through this entire process that people have been able to see that we did not turn our backs on God, and God didn’t turn His back on us,” she said. “This journey has strengthened my testimony, and now I can tell you what God can do for you.”

Chay also shared that she has a much greater appreciation for motherhood.

“I don’t think had we not gone through this experience that I would have appreciated being a mother like I do now. You hear people say motherhood is a gift from God, and it really is a gift,” she said. “We have a very rambunctious 5-year-old who I promised God that I would teach and lead him in His ways. I am honored that God gave me a chance to bring up one of His children. I truly mean that; I am honored.”

“Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3

Chanel Bingham is a freelance writer, blogger and public speaker. She resides in Thorsby with her husband and four children. You can visit Chanel at www.thepolishedcanvas.com or on Facebook at The Polished Canvas. Look for her next column in a future edition of The Clanton Advertiser.