A Michigan woman gave birth to a boy over the weekend, not knowing that her fiancé and her mother had died in a car crash while rushing to the hospital for the delivery.
Crystal Matrau-Belt gave birth to her son Jeremiah by cesarean section Saturday night at Kalamazoo's Bronson Methodist Hospital.
Matrau-Belt was admitted to the hospital Friday to be supervised leading up to the delivery due to high blood pressure. Jeremiah wasn’t supposed to arrive that day but on Saturday doctors decided to induce labor.
The new mom said that’s when she made the call to family that it was time.
Her fiancé, 34-year-old Emil Skokan, had been at home with his 53-year-old soon-to-be mother in law, Matrau-Belt’s mom Peggy Nichols preparing for the baby’s arrival, she says. Jeremiah would be the couple’s first baby together and Nichols’ first biological grandchild.
“That was our plan, that he was going to stay at home and get things ready,” Matrau-Belt told NBC's southwest Michigan affiliate station WOOD-TV. “Because, of course, we didn’t know it was going to be right then and there.”
Matrau-Belt said she still remembers Skokan’s last words – a text message he sent asking her if she needed him to bring her anything before he arrived.
“He just said that he would be on his way up here, and that he loved me and he’d be there shortly," Matrau-Belt recalled from the hospital bed.
The text message would end up being their last contact.
On the way to the hospital, Skokan lost control of their vehicle and crashed into a tree in Comstock Township, near Kalamazoo. Both Skokan and Nichols died in the crash four hours before Jeremiah was born.
The car’s high rate of speed appeared “to be a significant factor,” as to what caused the driver to spin off the road, Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas said.
Matrau-Belt was still recovering when her dad, stepdad and stepmom told her what had happened.
“I just remember all their faces, and I knew something was wrong,” she told WOOD-TV. “All I can remember is just trying to think that what they were saying was like, you know, they were just kidding, lying. I didn’t want to believe it.”
She says she is doing her best to look forward and focus on being the best mother to Jeremiah that she can be.
“It’s a hard balance… being so happy and excited to be a mother and holding him and grieving that his dad’s not here, his grandma’s not here, just having to battle back and forth grieving for the both of them and trying to be happy and excited for him,” Matrau-Belt told WOOD-TV. “I know that once I leave the hospital, that’s when things will start to become real, and having to deal with everyday life is when it’s really going to hit me.”
Friends of Matrau-Belt have started a GoFundMe account for her and her son.
"I want to celebrate (Jeremiah) being born, but losing my fiancé, who I loved so much, and my mom at the same time, it's a really big struggle to try to balance all of that. ... To lose them both at a time like this, it's really hard," Matrau-Belt said.
She predicts Jeremiah will have his father's curly hair.
"It's hard, but just to know that I have a piece of Emil — that helps a little bit," Matrau-Belt said.