JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Weeks after losing his wife during childbirth and his newborn son, a Jacksonville father says his life has changed forever.
Eight days after Matthew Jr.'s due date, Lauren Accurso's water broke. Accurso Sr. and loved ones were there by his wife's side. They were having a water birth.
"I was holding her hands and she was looking at me and I could kiss her," Accurso Sr. said. "It was a beautiful moment."
Suddenly everything changed. As Lauren Accurso was giving birth, her body shut down.
"Her body went over the edge of the pool," Accurso Sr. said. "I thought she was trying to get comfortable. I thought she was trying to stretch her legs, and in that moment the midwife said 'No. Something is wrong.'"
A call was made to 911, the midwife did chest compressions, and Lauren Accurso was rushed to the hospital. The family didn't know that she was dying.
"From that moment, from what the doctors and experts have said, she was gone. She had gone in the tub," Accurso Sr.
It was called an amniotic fluid embolism. It happens when amniotic fluid, the fluid surrounding your unborn child or other debris make its way into the mother's blood.
It caused the mother of four to go into cardiac arrest.
"I had never heard of it. I didn't even known this could happen," Accurso Sr. said. "I want to raise awareness for this, and even if there is anything -- even if it decreases the risk by 1%, figuring out how to help women understand this."
Lauren passed away and Accurso Sr. had to remain strong for his daughters and his newborn son. Day after day, Accurso Sr. was by his son's side in the neonatal intensive care unit, creating beautiful, peaceful father and son moments.
"It was like holding an angel. When you know that he's going home you hang on to every moment. There was a time when I got to actually hold him, skin to skin," Accurso Sr. said. "It felt so good, and I could feel him breathing on top of me and you just cherish every single breath, every single one of his breaths I just cherished so much because I knew that the next moment I might not get it."
After weeks of fighting for his life, Matthew Jr.'s health was not improving. He was removed from life support and passed away.
Accurso Sr. is mourning the death of his wife and his son and at times he felt like giving up, but he sees hope and light in his three daughters.
As father's day approaches, Accurso Sr. is faithfully and courageously looking beyond his loss and thanking God for what he still has.
The father said he is grateful to every person that tried to save his wife and son. In honor of his wife, he and his three daughters will have a special moment on July 31 to remember Lauren Accurso and their son. It's the couple's wedding anniversary.