Rebekka and Randy Hauskins were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their baby Hayden Ruth in 2010 to complete their family when tragedy struck.
“Hearing the nurse and doctor say, ‘Your baby has no heartbeat’ — it’s just the heaviest sentence you could ever hear,” Rebekka tells PEOPLE, describing the news as “complete devastation.”
“I just remember at one point saying to my husband, ‘I just want to die.’ It’s just so painful,” says Rebekka, who is also mom to two other daughters, Madison, 13, and 5-year-old Josie.
Hayden was pronounced stillborn on July 6, 2010, at 32 weeks. “She passed from an umbilical cord accident,” Rebekka says. The death, she adds, changed the course of her life forever.
“Your life is completely changed from that moment on. You can never go back,” she tells PEOPLE. “There’s pre-Hayden and there’s post-Hayden in our lives. It changes the direction of how you do things. It changes your perspective on everything. It was such a devastating moment that it’s one of those things that’s just ingrained in your mind forever.”
As the Happy Valley, Oregon, couple worked to cope with Hayden’s death, they made monthly payments on the $1,000 hospital bill from delivering their deceased daughter. Knowing the pain of the monthly notice, Rebekka and Randy have set out to make sure other parents who have experienced the same tragedy don’t have to worry about the hospital bill that follows such a heartbreaking death.
In January 2011, the couple founded Hayden’s Helping Hands, a non-profit organization that foots families’ bills from stillborn deliveries. Since it’s start, the family has covered the costs for 44 families, which has amounted to just over $40,000 in funds, Rebekka says.
“What caused us to want to do the foundation and to create this legacy for [Hayden] was really the love that you have for a child,” she tells PEOPLE. “As a parent, all you want to do is to raise healthy, strong children and there’s so much love that’s involved in being a parent. We didn’t want her little life to be in vain.”
She adds: “Randy and I are able to show other families that this is the most horrible time of your life, but you will not be alone. There are no words that we can say to help them and make their pain go away … [but] it’s not something that they have to walk through alone. People acknowledge that they have a baby.”
And that’s how Randy and Rebekka see their own lives. Rebekka says she and Randy view themselves as parents of three.
“We honor her by including her as one of our children and not going through our lives trying to imagine that she doesn’t exist,” Rebekka says.
“We always spend Hayden’s birthday with [Josie and Madison] and Hayden has always been part of our conversation,” she adds. “Not in a sad or dreary kind of way, because there’s a lot of positives that we can take away from it and teach our children.”