On what should have been a joyous Mother’s Day for Meredith Reed, her widower is grieving the loss of his wife. Matt Reed, a first-time father, now spends hours watching over infant son Dylan, born three months before his due date.
Dylan Russell Reed weighed 2 pounds 11 ounces when he was born April 15 at Skagit Valley Hospital.
On the same day her son was delivered by C-section, 42-year-old Meredith Reed died. She was stricken by a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in her lung. In an ambulance on the way to the hospital from the couple’s Mount Vernon home, her heart had stopped.
“She just had this zest for life,” Matt Reed said. A wildlife biologist, he now spends hours each day with Dylan in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Pavilion for Women and Children, part of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.
Dylan, he said, is doing well. His weight was up to 2 pounds 15 ounces by Thursday. He’s in an incubator, and around the clock is helped to breathe with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure therapy) machine. He is tube-fed with donated breast milk.
Reed holds his son, skin-to-skin, on his chest, and has learned to change the tiniest preemie diapers. From doctors and nurses, he’s learned that Dylan might be home by what was his due date, July 15.
Meredith Reed, raised in Lake Stevens, was a former teacher there at Mt. Pilchuck Elementary School. And she was a devoted mother. Her 6-year-old son, Harrison Owens, was excited to become a big brother.
The Reeds were newlyweds. They met online in 2018. On their first date, at a Bellingham park, she took him blueberries grown by her parents, Karen and Ken Alvin, on their woodsy Lakes Stevens property. Because of the pandemic, their wedding on March 20, 2020, was a small family-and-friends affair at a waterfront park in La Conner.
“Meredith loved to do everything,” said Karen Alvin, describing the eldest of her three children as a dynamo. Her daughter, she said, had traveled the world, gone tandem skydiving, and held numerous jobs through the years — from the Viking Drive-In in Lakes Stevens and a doctor’s office to Eagle Day Camp, an Everett program for school-age kids.
For 14 years, she’d also been a devotee of the Oregon Country Fair, and volunteered at the annual art and music festival.
Her LinkedIn profile included a fun fact: “I make and sell my own hula hoops.” It said she had hula hooped in two Canadian provinces, 15 states and on three Hawaiian islands.
She had most recently worked as a lead consultant for the Mosaic Company, a firm involved with the utility industry. A co-worker, Miranda Leurquin, wrote glowingly about the “ultra-optimist” Reed as part of a GoFundMe online fundraiser. As of Friday afternoon, $55,260 had been pledged in the effort to help Matt Reed, Dylan and Harrison.
“Meredith Margaret Owens Reed was a vibrant ray of light and brought joy to every life she touched,” wrote Leurquin. “She loved the outdoors, camping, art, and was passionate about teaching and lifelong learning.”
At the Alvins’ home Thursday, there was no hiding the heartbreak as Matt Reed, 40, and his mother-in-law shared memories of the woman they both loved.
“She liked to talk to people. I’m the quiet one,” said Reed, who has taken time off from Hamer Environmental, a consulting firm, to focus on his infant son. He’s being helped by the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave benefit.
His wife and her former husband shared custody of Harrison, who’ll now spend some of his time with Reed. On Thursday, the 6-year-old and a cousin played with their grandfather, Ken Alvin, making robots from cardboard boxes.
Karen Alvin said if her daughter was your friend, she was a friend for life. “She could be very blunt, was very successful in her job, but she was a child at heart,” Alvin said.
Meredith attended Sunnycrest Elementary School, and played volleyball at North Lake Middle School. She played flute and was on the drill team at Lake Stevens High School. Along with her husband, parents and sons, she is survived by a brother, Will, and sister, Colleen.
A retired teacher, Karen Alvin taught at North Lake, and she taught music at Everett’s Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Perpetual Help School.
Only Dylan’s dad and his grandmother are now allowed in the NICU to see him.
“You see a little change every day,” said Alvin, adding that Dylan is a “typical preemie” for a baby born at 27 weeks. In his cries, she hears music. “I call it singing opera,” she said.
With the death of a child, Alvin has suffered a mother’s worst loss. Yet she gets up every day with reason for hope, and the chance to be with her grandsons.
“Dylan, he’s the miracle in all this,” she said. “Meredith was there long enough to make sure he could survive.”
Julie Muhlstein: firstname.lastname@example.org
How to help
Two GoFundMe online fundraisers have been established in memory of Meredith Reed.
To help the family, search www.gofundme.com for Support for Meredith Owens Reed – Matt Reed Family
To help start a garden at Skagit Art Preschool, search www.gofundme.com for Memorial Learning Garden for Meredith Owens Reed