The 38-year-old country singer and his wife welcomed daughter Oakleigh Klover Hayes on June 6, but tragically, the baby girl died. In a new interview with People, Hayes shared details of the harrowing day, revealing that his wife also had to undergo serious emergency surgery after already having gone through an emergency C-section. Laney's uterus ruptured, which is what caused Oakleigh's death.
“I just waited,” Hayes recalled about the moments when Laney's health also remained in danger. “I really just hoped that this wasn’t going to be the worst day of my life, even though it kind of already was.”
“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,’” he added. “That is when I began to worry for my wife’s life, and of course I’m freaking out.”
Thankfully, Laney recovered, but Hayes also struggled when thinking about how to tell her the heartbreaking news that their newborn daughter was dead. He ended up having to tell her multiple times as she drifted in and out of consciousness post-surgery.
”‘What do I do?’” Hayes said about what he was thinking internally. "'When Laney wakes up, how do I tell her? How am I the one to explain, it’s a girl, but you know, she died?’ I knew that was just going to crush Laney.”
Later, the couple spent the rest of the day with their daughter’s body at the advice of a woman who had also lost a newborn years before. They were able to hold her, and they also made the decision to bring in their eldest daughter, 12-year-old Laila, in the room.
“I didn’t know what was morbid, I didn’t know what was normal,” Hayes said.
Laney added, “Watching Walker hold her, you felt like she’s just going to wake up. You think, 'oh, please, just let her start breathing'. … She was swaddled and she just looked like a newborn baby.”
A few days later, the family buried Oakleigh, with Hayes' three sons -- 7-year-old Beckett, 9-year-old Baylor and 11-year-old Chapel -- serving as the pallbearers. Hayes also got a tattoo commemorating his daughter.
Since the tragedy, Walker says he's received so much support from fans and those who have been through similar experiences.
“Laney and I have cried a lot, but one thing that makes me the happiest is how much love there has been around us," he noted. "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.”
He also talked about seeing Laney in a new light.
“On the most random moment and on the most random days, I will think of how fragile she is, and I didn’t know that before, and that freaks me out," he admitted.
ET spoke with Hayes last October, where he talked about his love for his wife of 14 years.
“My wife is amazing," he said. "She’s my high school sweetheart. I met her in 11th grade. We’ve been on this journey hand-in-hand held tight together. She’s incredible. We have a unique family situation, obviously, in this business. I don’t meet a lot of people who can relate, but it works for us.”