Country singer-songwriter Granger Smith said he used his 10th studio album "Country Things" as a way to heal. He and his wife, Amber, experienced every parent's worst nightmare when they lost their three-year-old son, River, in ain 2019.
The couple has used social media to share their journey andwith their millions of followers to spread the message: You are not alone. They also used social media to announce on Thursday that they are expecting a baby boy.
The couple met in 2009 on Smith's first music video as a country artist, Amber played Smith's love interest. The two were planning a family before they even married.
"After we got engaged, we started writing journals to our unborn children," Amber told CBS News' Mireya Villarreal.
One year after they were married, their family began to come together. They had a little girl named London and then had a son named Lincoln. But it was when their third child, River, was born that they felt their family was complete.
"River was just so content," Amber said.
"And he went with me everywhere, it meant so much to me," Smith said.
But on June 4, 2019, tragedy struck the family when Smith noticed he didn't know where River was.
"Me and the three kids were outside. I noticed it was a little bit of quiet and I thought 'Where's Riv?'" he recalled. "And I turned around and our pool was probably 20 paces behind me with a gated fence. And he was in the pool."
Smith said he jumped into the pool and got River. "Because of the short time that had gone by, I thought I was gonna grab him and flip him over and he was gonna cough, and I was gonna say, 'Buddy! What, how did you get in here?' But that's not what happened. He was lifeless."
Smith and Amber took turns giving River CPR. Emergency Medical Services restored River's heartbeat but the lack of oxygen, while he was in the pool, left him brain dead with no hope of recovering. River — who Smith called his "buddy" — was gone.
"I don't think I will ever not have that feeling of responsibility and guilt. I feel like somebody has to be responsible, and it was me," Smith said.
He said he carries guilt and wonders what he could have done differently to save River.
"Because, as a parent, I look back on that day and there's a million things I could have done just a little bit different. And it would have been a different outcome," he said. Amber said she also carries around guilt.
"I say to him, 'I feel the same guilt.' I feel the same responsibility, cause River's my son. I never once have felt blame for him," Amber said. "And I hate that he carries that every day."
A few weeks after River's death, the couple spoke out on their YouTube channel — hoping to help anyone struggling with loss.
"His little life and his little legacy meant something because through him, we are speaking out, and we are trying to stop this from happening to other people and other children," Amber said.
Leaning on family, friends and fans helped the Smiths heal. They started talking about adding to their family.
"He [Smith] came to me pretty soon after we lost Riv, and just asked me 'Would you wanna have another baby?' And I said, "No," Amber said.
"I just had this feeling. I just said, 'I don't ever think we could replace, or would try to replace, River.' But I said, I just feel like I have love available to give," Smith said.
After months of counseling, prayers and a lot of discussions, they decided to start in vitro fertilization and the couple documented their journey. In July 2020, they got the news they were expecting but they would lose the baby at nine weeks after Amber miscarried.
"I think for a lot of women, they can feel guilt, you know, for not being able to do what we all think our bodies are meant to do," Amber said. With one embryo left, they tried again.
"And so we went in December 8th. And we implanted. And then another week later, we find out that we're pregnant with a little boy." She told Villarreal that she's more than 15 weeks pregnant.
The Smiths believe their pain has become their purpose, sharing their raw joy and struggle in an effort to connect with people who might also be suffering.
"I'm so happy, so happy, that we're pregnant... And I'm so sad," Smith said. "That one child replaced another in that way. And so we say that this, that we're moving forward, we never move on from something like this. But we're moving forward into a new chapter," Smith stated.
Like many artists, Smith heals through his music. He told CBS News he has yet to write a song about this experience but he will someday once it's not weighing so heavily on his heart.
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