Food drive for Spartan Food Pantry all of Febrauary!
We want to share our heart shattering story with others in hope that our tragedy inspires all to lead with love.
Tyler and I met in 2006 while attending college at SIU Carbondale. We met on the volleyball court and our friendship blossomed into love. When we finally got married in August of 2013, we had hopes of starting a family and watching our children flourish. Being promoted to parents turned out to be a challenge for us as we struggled with infertility. After years of trying, we were approached by Tyler’s brother Andy and our sister-in-law, Katelyn. Even after having three children of their own, Katelyn showed her true selfless character by offering the gift of carrying our child through surrogacy. This offer was one that was made from love with no expectations of payback. It was truly a pure, honest, selfless offer to gift us with a child. We are forever grateful.
The first round of IVF went extremely well and on April 20th, 2017, Tyler and I welcomed our first son, Brixon Hawk Fillipp, into our family. Brixon was a healthy baby boy who weighed 9 lbs 10 oz and was 20 1/2 inches long. He outweighed Katelyn's biggest baby by more than a pound! We started to refer to Katelyn as our superhero from this moment on.
To the shock of our happy family, we found out that I was pregnant during the summer of 2018. We were thrilled that Brixon would be a big brother. This dream came to a grinding halt when our baby no longer had a heartbeat at 10 weeks into my pregnancy. Tyler and I opted to try and discover what happened to our baby. Genetic testing uncovered that the baby had Triploidy, a rare genetic disorder that is 100% fatal. For my first ever pregnancy, this was a hard pill for us to swallow.
Much to our surprise, our superhero, Katelyn, offered to be our surrogate for a second time in the fall of 2018. This would be Katelyn's fifth cesarean birth if she had another full term pregnancy. At first, we had thought about declining her offer. How could we ever possibly repay Katelyn for the gift of Brixon, let alone another child? Katelyn was persistent and eventually everyone moved forward with pursuing another round of IVF. This time, Katelyn became pregnant after the 2nd IVF attempt in December of 2018.
Tyler and I welcomed our second son, Beckam North Fillipp, on September 3rd of 2019. He was a record breaker for her pregnancies, weighing 10 lbs 7 oz and was 22 inches long. We decided to name our newest beautiful boy after Katelyn. Her middle name is Rebecca and Beckam means "of Rebecca's home" which seemed like the perfect way to honor our superhero sister-in-law.
Brixon and Beckam became inseparable. It was such a joy to see the love in Beckam's eyes when Brixon read him books or told him stories. The brothers were two peas in a pod. Brixon was so gentle and attentive with Beckam. Any little cry or noise made by sweet Beckam caused Brixon to come check on his baby brother. It was truly incredible to see the love blossom between these two brothers. Brixon couldn't get enough of Beckam and the feeling was mutual. The love they had for each other was fierce and instinctual. It was pure and true. It was love.
Two weeks prior to Beckam's birth, we found out that I was pregnant again. Not wanting to get our hopes up considering the Triploidy diagnosis from my first pregnancy, we were cautiously optimistic about adding a third child to our family.
On February 3rd, 2020, I received a call that no parent ever wishes to receive. Beckam was found unconscious at daycare and was being rushed to the hospital. I vividly remember feeling as if I was moving in slow motion, throwing my lunch in the garbage, grabbing my purse and keys and running to my car. I called Tyler on my five minute drive to the ER and then called my mother. I ran up to the doors of the ER and was immediately ushered to a private room for the longest wait of my life.
I slowly lost hope as the seconds dragged into minutes and minutes turned to an hour. I hoped with every fiber of my being that I was wrong. That my Beckam would be ok and that the doctors and nurses were running extra tests after stabilizing him before bringing us back. I called my sister, who is a pediatric nurse, to ask her if no news was good news regarding how long Beckam had been there without an update on his status. Her voice broke as she tried her best to reassure me that the medical professionals would be doing all they could to help Beckam.
We waited until Tyler, my mom, Tyler's mother and Tyler's dad had arrived at the hospital before we went back to see our sweet baby boy. Beckam was surrounded by a diligent team of doctors and nurses. They had managed to get his heart beating on its own but he was not breathing on his own. The attentive nurse was timing out her squeezes of the oxygen bag to fill his tiny, precious lungs while his body lay under warming lights with cords and wires attached to machines all around him.
We delicately touched his hands, rubbed his head, and sang him our families' lullabies. While I stroked his soft, fuzzy hair, I leaned in and whispered in his ear that I wasn't done loving him. We held each other tight and watched helplessly as our beautiful, perfect baby boy, Beckam, lay lifeless on the hospital bed.
We made the hard decision to have him airlifted to the closest pediatric hospital for further analysis and testing and made a mad dash to downtown Chicago. Traffic was our enemy as we were traveling during rush hour.
Thankfully, Tyler's sister, Melissa, was able to make it to the hospital well before us and called to tell us she had arrived. After speaking with someone to allow Melissa into Beckam's room, our hearts were shattered when we learned Beckam's heart had stopped beating and they were unable to revive him. Beckam was dead and we still had to make our way to downtown Chicago knowing there was nothing else any doctor or nurse could do to help him. The remainder of the car ride was torturous and tear-filled. The only comfort we had was knowing our sweet Beckam was being held by his Aunt Melissa and he was not alone.
In his hospital room, we held our baby boy. I tried to memorize all of his fingerprints. I tried to make my muscles remember how full they felt while holding him. I tried to burn the feel of his soft, fuzzy, double-cowlick hair into my hands and fingers. I held his feet in my hands to engrain to memory just how big his sweet, chubby feet were. Tyler and I took turns taking in all his features, his sweet, upturned nose, the shape of his eyes, how he felt when we held him.
It was torture of the cruelest kind. We were grieving our precious Beckam with our family while cries from other babies penetrated our silence. I remember being so jealous that those other parents had the privilege of listening to their children cry. I remember wishing for Beckam to take a breath, to open his beautiful eyes so I could peer into their depths, to let out one of his sweet cries.
Handing over Beckam's lifeless body to the medical examiner and walking out of the hospital without Beckam just was another twist of the already sharp knife in our hearts. I didn't have the strength to walk away. I physically couldn't stand. I was paralyzed with grief. We all were. We all felt heartbroken, helpless and empty. This is not the life we envisioned for Beckam, for us, for our family.
While navigating our devastating loss of Beckam, we learned that grief is not linear or logical. There is not one step that leads to the next. The loss of Beckam caused irrevocable changes in mine and Tyler’s fundamental beings down to our core. We are not the same people we were before nor do we want to be. Beckam’s short life has forever changed how we view everything. We no longer have room for hate or pettiness in our hearts. When your heart is shattered into a million pieces and will never be whole again, you no longer have the time or energy to pour into negative things. You are doing what you can to just function on a day-to-day basis without your child. Without our Beckam. As far as how grief has impacted my life, I honestly feel as if I am in a constant fog, my heart physically hurts, my arms ache for my sweet, precious Beckam.
During the darkest months after Beckam’s death, we welcomed our daughter into our family. Blayke Caragen Fillipp was born on April 24th, 2020, weighing 8 lbs 15 oz and was 21 inches long. She was a much needed ray of sunshine in our darkness. We took 4 letters from Beckam’s name and used them in naming Blayke as a way to honor him. Blayke’s arrival helped fill the void of extra time we had in our day to day lives with now only taking care of Brixon. While Blayke’s birth helped add much-welcomed chaos to our lives, there will always be a void.
Love from Katelyn was the catalyst that brought Brixon and Beckam into our lives. Love between Tyler and I was our core. The love and care shown to us by our family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers helped keep us from unraveling. We knew that the only path forward for us as a family was one forged in love. We knew that Beckam’s legacy of love that grew from his death was something we wanted to share with others.
We started leading with love September 3rd, 2020, what would have been Beckam’s first birthday. Since we could not celebrate our sweet boy on his first birthday as we had originally hoped for and planned, we wanted to spend Beckam’s birthday thanking others for what they did for us as well as encouraging them to lead with love. Our hope was that Beckam’s story would cause others to choose to be kind, choose to let go of grudges, appreciate what they have, and to not take a single day for granted. We wanted Beckam’s legacy of love to be one where others chose to love beyond measure. We took cookies and thank you cards to the local fire department that responded to the 9-1-1 call and administered CPR on Beckam. We took cookies to the police department that handled Beckam’s case. We stopped in with treats and a card to the doctors and nurses of the ER at our hospital to thank them for performing CPR on Beckam nonstop for 90 minutes. We took treats to our local fire and police departments to let them know they were appreciated.
We asked others to join in our efforts of leading with love to help spread Beckam’s legacy of love that had grown like wildflowers since his death. We know that everyone's idea of leading with love is different and we have welcomed all acts of love and kindness performed to honor Beckam and help impact others in a positive way.
On the 3rd of every month, Tyler and I have been partnering with local businesses in our area for our Lead with Love events. We've focused our efforts on the food and beverage industry first as those businesses took hard hits from the shutdowns caused by COVID-19. We are grateful that we have such engaged business owners in our community who have been eager to partner with us and our Lead with Love for Beckam campaign.
Each month, we donate $100 to a locally owned business and develop a game plan with the owner for how our donation can best be used to impact others. Locally owned businesses are the backbones for our community. They chose to plant roots here to help our local economy flourish. They are pillars for our community and town. We advertise on social media about which business is our monthly partner and encourage people in our community to place an order or visit that business for their next meal, cup of coffee, item of clothing that needs dry cleaning, etc. Our hope is that people in our community carve time out of their day and make plans on the 3rd of each month to visit our featured business.
The owners and employees who partner with us then hand out one of our Lead with Love cards to the patrons who receive a little off their bill due to our donation. These cards are used to help educate others outside our circle, of Beckam, his incredible legacy of love and encourage them to lead with love if/when they are able.
It has been a blessing to see the reach of Beckam's legacy of love. You can view these acts of love by searching
on any social media site. We welcome all acts of kindness and love to honor our Beckam!
Thank you for taking the time to learn about our tragic loss. We hope our heart-breaking story is one you will carry with you for the rest of your days and when the moments present themselves, you choose to lead with love. Be kind to others. Choose to forgive instead of hold a grudge. Let love overtake any hate in your heart. Love harder. Love stronger. Love beyond measure!