Family, friends mourn Army spouse who died of coronavirus two weeks after giving birth
DAVENPORT, Ill. (Tribune News Service) — A small, stifled cry escaped Kaitlin Schepers’ lips Thursday after she closed her eyes and thought about her friend Alexa Sheeder.
Sheeder, an Army spouse, died Tuesday from complications of COVID-19 — just 13 days after hearing the cries of her newborn boy Barrett.
“Alexa was always so much fun to be around. She included everyone,” Schepers said. “No one was ever left out. You laughed. And she laughed. It was one of her gifts, I think. Alexa had joy and she shared it.
“I think her joy came from her life. Alexa loved being a wife and mom. That’s the best way I can tell you about her life.”
Sheeder married her husband Drew, who is stationed at Fort Rucker in Alabama, six years ago. The couple’s daughter, Landi, was born almost three years ago.
At the time of her death, Sheeder was living at home in Davenport, but had recently relocated to Alabama to give birth.
“She was visiting down there to have the baby,” Schepers said. “Then she got sick.”
Kaitlin recalled the Sheeders unique love story.
“Alexa had no idea who Drew was — only that he was serving in the military,” Schepers said, adding that Drew's mother was a coworker of Sheeder.
“One day, just to be nice, Alexa asked if she could send Drew a care package,” Schepers said. “Well, that grew into this kind of pen-pal thing. And it grew from there. Basically Drew came home and a few weeks later, they were married. It was love at first letter, maybe.”
Sheeder tested positive for COVID-19 on July 25. She was admitted to a hospital and gave birth to Barrett on July 28. Barrett went home the same day, but Sheeder stayed in the hospital with more severe symptoms until Aug. 2, when she was sent home.
After spending a day at home with her newborn son — who also tested positive for COVID-19 — Sheeder was readmitted to the hospital Aug. 3 and had to be intubated Aug. 7.
“Alexa had no underlying conditions — other than, I guess, pregnancy,” Schepers said. “Alexa was a deeply religious person. She believed God held her.”
Schepers explained the Sheeders’ family wanted people to know Alexa’s story for another reason.
“Alexa was not vaccinated,” Schepers said. “She was pregnant and she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. But she did plan to get vaccinated after the birth of the baby.
“Alexa’s family doesn’t care about politics. They want people to know how important the vaccines are to help protect us. If you have worries — and many of us do — you should go to your doctor or find good sources and make informed decisions.”
“The hardest part is knowing Alexa made the exact kind of life she wanted,” Schepers said. “She always wanted a family. To be a wife. To be a mother. And she was damn good at those things. I think that her legacy.
“I’m not so sad for me. I can always remember that laughter. I’m just so sorry for Landri and Barrett. They should always know how much their incredible mother loved them.”
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