CAHABA HEIGHTS, Ala. (WIAT) — It was a sweet moment for Ben and Wendy Treadwell, expanding their cookies and cream food truck into a growing business.
“Our Bendy’s dream is to delight every guest that walks through the door. We want to give them a great experience and excellent product and we do that by being remarkable,” said Ben Treadwell.
But there was something sweeter for them: becoming parents. Back in January, Wendy found out she was pregnant. She was due to have a little boy at the end of September.
However, just a few days into the store being open in June, something happened.
“Three days later, my water broke and so I was admitted to hospital and they said you have to stay here till you go in labor or we have to get your baby out and five days later, they did an emergency C-section to get Owen out,” Wendy said.
Owen was delivered three months early, weighing 1 pound, 5 ounces. The new home for this family would be in the NICU.
“You feel helpless because you want to do as much as you can, but there is nothing you can do, so of course when they asked if we want to change his diaper, hold him, change his sheets, we were like ‘Yes, we want to do everything we can,'” Wendy said. “We want be able to touch him and whatever we can do to help our son.”
With Owen being so delicate, Ben and Wendy were worried about how he would turn out, but they remained positive.
“We were hopeful he would come out of this and come home with us,” Wendy said.
One week in July, Owen’s vital signs started going down. Then, the Treadwells found out their first and only child was gone.
“They let us hold and him and I was like gladly, yes, please because that was the first time we could physically hold him in our arms. We of course told him we loved him and knew we would see him again one day,” Wendy said.
Ben and Wendy closed Bendy’s, not sure what the future would hold. All they knew was they would do anything to have those moments back with Owen.
“One of my greatest joys was getting getting to change his diaper. And I don’t’ think that’s typically a joyous occasion for most parents. I don’t know if it was the way I was holding his legs or what but the numbers on his monitor tend to improve when I was holding him and touching him and changing his diaper,” Ben said.
“I think we’ll always think about Owen and what he would have been because we don’t have the memory. We don’t know what he would be like as a kid so there will always be like something empty here,” Wendy said.
Since Owen’s death, the outpouring of support from the community has been tremendous. Ben said his message to those going through what they did is to embrace that love and reach out.
“If there is one encouragement I have whether they’re going through a situation like this or not, we’re not meant to do life alone and we need each other,” Ben said.
Now, they’re trying to find their new normal, whatever that is, but they know one thing for sure: they will always be parents to Owen.
“We want to have lots of kids now, but we for sure want to celebrate his birthday every year and we want our kids know they have an older brother. He’s not here but they have an older brother they’ll meet one day,” Wendy said.
“Being here lets us know we’re making a difference whether that’s serving cookies and ice cream or sharing our story. We’re making a difference in people’s lives. We feel it and people are making a difference in our life,” Ben said.