ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - A local father is soldiering on after losing his wife and newborn son from complications during delivery.
The family of five was about to gain a baby boy.
“She was in love with being pregnant, like she always was,” Matt Accurso said of his wife, Lauren.
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But the baby didn’t make it, and neither did his mom.
“It's like a tearing basically. I'm still like, she was my soulmate, she was my everything, and losing her was basically like to kill me, like I felt there were times I wanted to die, I wanted to be with her," Accurso said.
He and his family never saw it coming.
“Her health was fantastic,” he said.
In a strange coincidence, Action News Jax reporter Amber Krycka met Matt and Lauren Accurso just a few days before their tragedy. Amber and her photographer were inside the couple's home, which had been struck by lighting and damaged. There were plenty of laughs that day. The Accursos shared with Krycka how great Lauren felt and how excited she was to have her first boy. It would be one of the last times the couple would laugh together.
WATCH: Extended interview with Matt Accurso
“Our midwife Tara said, 'Something's wrong, we need to get her out of the pool,'" Matt Accurso said.
Minutes after Lauren’s water broke, her husband said they got her out of the tub and moved her to the bed – that’s when he noticed her color changed.
"At that point I was already praying. I was just seeing her color and the way she looked, and it just didn't look good," he said.
While Lauren was rushed to the hospital, baby Matthew was without oxygen for 15 minutes.
Lauren, who was just 37 years old, didn’t make it. Matthew was in the NICU with severe brain damage.
"I felt like I couldn't grieve my wife because now I'm grieving the situation that my son is in," Matt Accurso said.
The heartbroken dad tried to stay strong for his son. Seventeen days later, baby Matthew joined his mom in heaven.
"I felt as if I was standing on the line between earth and heaven the whole time when I would hold him," Matt Accurso said.
Lauren Accurso had an amniotic fluid embolism. Doctors say it’s rare, happening in only one of every 40,000 deliveries.
“It's a systemic allergic reaction that causes you to clot. Those clots can be deadly; you can be fine one minute, then the next minute you're not," said Dr. Marsha Lachaud, an OB-GYN at Memorial Hospital.
She said while many pregnancy-related deaths can be avoided, some, such as Lauren's, can’t.
"There's nothing that can really be done to help prevent it at this point in time," Lachaud said.
Matt Accurso took Krycka to the place where he’s finding the most comfort, his church, Colonial Church in St. Augustine. He’s relying on his faith more than ever – and it’s where his wife’s name will live forever – now the parents' room is dedicated and named after Lauren.
"When we would be together, it was just her and I, and it was like the world didn't exist," he said.
“You can be fine one minute, then the next minute you’re not.”— Amber Krycka (@AmberANjax) July 18, 2019
Today on CBS 47 at 5:45 we reveal the rare disease that is killing hundreds of women. pic.twitter.com/dJ7nJckt7S
While the pain is there, Matt Accurso still calls it a miracle.
"Heaven is still a miracle. The time we got to spend with Matthew is still a miracle," he said.
Those 17 days he was able to have with his baby boy, he will always cherish.
"Some of the most sweet, moving moments of my entire life," he said.
And his three little girls, he said, will always give him that constant reminder of Lauren.
“This isn't the end. Grief is not the end. You’re never alone. God is always going to be there. Your story doesn’t end at your grief, it goes beyond your grief. You have a purpose for your life,” Matt Accurso said.
Lachaud said researchers are looking into this rare disorder and trying to figure out why it happens. The Mayo Clinic said certain factors increase a woman’s risk: if she’s older than 35, or if she has preeclampsia. They also believe medically induced labor and C-sections could possibly be connected. Doctors said pregnant women should pay attention to their bodies. Even something as simple as unusual muscle pain shouldn’t be ignored.
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