That day in March had started out so normally.
At 34 weeks pregnant, Taylor Lucero was exhausted when she got off work. She had a hard time getting comfortable, but fell asleep around 11:30 p.m.
Then she awoke abruptly at about 12:15 a.m., as pain went through her. She headed to the bathroom.
“It felt like my soul left my body,” she said.
In the bathroom, she saw blood.
She was hemorrhaging.
What followed was a rapid progression of events. Her husband, Eddie, grabbed their young children and the family went to Methodist Fremont Health Medical Center.
Lucero would credit hospital staff with saving her life. But before the next day was over, the family would lose a precious son and brother.
Vincent Valentine Lucero was stillborn on March 23, 2017. He had black hair, a little upturned nose and the same feet as his mom — one flat and one arched.
Since then, Lucero has taken many steps on the road toward healing.
She plans to participate in a new event at Methodist Fremont Health.
The public is invited to the “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Event.” A ceremony will start at 7 p.m. Monday in the roundabout across the street from Fremont Health Medical Center, 450 E. 23rd St. Parking is available at the Fremont Health Family Care and Internal Medicine clinic. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will take place in the medical center’s lobby.
Parents, family members, friends and anyone from the community is welcome to attend an event designed to honor babies gone too soon as the result of miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death.
Chaplain Scott Jensen of Fremont Health will say a prayer. Participants will have a time to share a story about their baby and receive a small commemorative gift.
“We want them to know that we’re thinking of them during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month,” said Melissa Heavican, clinical leader nurse.
Heavican noted the importance of this event, which brings people with similar experiences together so they know they’re not alone.
“We wanted an opportunity for moms in Dodge County and the surrounding area to have a moment to come together and remember their babies,” said Heavican, a registered nurse. “We want them to be recognized.”
Those who attend may have experienced different situations — from a tubal pregnancy to a still birth to the loss of a child with birth defects or due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or any other cause.
“They’re all experiencing loss,” Heavican said.
Lucero understands such loss.
She well remembers that night in 2017 — the rush she and her husband made with their children, Mia, now 8, and Preston, 4, to the hospital — and the reassurance of Dr. Karen Lauer-Silva.
During those tumultuous minutes, monitor readings showed that when Lucero’s heart rate went up, her son’s went down.
Then Vincent’s heart rate couldn’t be found. An ultrasound revealed the devastating news.
There was no heartbeat.
“I remember screaming, ‘no, no, no!’” she said.
Lucero continued to hemorrhage.
“I almost died,” Lucero said. “I had a placental abruption, where it completely detaches.”
Lucero saw a look on her husband’s face that she’d never seen before, but he continually reassured her.
“He was like, ‘You’re OK, I love you,’ — just being the best he could be in this situation. He’s pretty great,” she said.
Lucero, who was in labor, had wanted a vaginal delivery, but was having significant blood loss.
“It was to the point where I had to have a C-section or I would have died,” Lucero said.
Vincent was 3 pounds, 13 ounces when he was born. Chaplain Jensen baptized the baby.
“His presence is so amazing,” she said of the chaplain.
A representative from “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” took photos of Vincent, who the nurses decked out in a stocking cap. A nurse made hand and footprints of the baby.
Nurses tried to encourage Lucero to sleep.
“The last time I slept, I almost died,” she said.
She agreed, however, to try and sleep, but couldn’t. She was terrified.
Finally, she fell asleep. Then she awoke.
“That was the first time that I actually faced the reality of what happened,” she said.
She called her boss, Kristin Harris, now CFO of Nye Health Services, and told her about Vincent’s death. Harris came to see her.
“She sat next to me for a long time and we talked,” Lucero said. “She’s the greatest.”
Eddie posted the news of Vincent’s death on Facebook and said Taylor was fortunate to be alive and they were so grateful for the nurses and doctor.
Taylor would receive constant calls. She’d leave the hospital with 28 bouquets of flowers.
Lucero was in the hospital for six days and received 14 units of blood. Dugan Funeral Chapel handled the arrangements for Vincent’s cremation and funeral.
He’s buried in Babyland, Lucero said, a place allocated for premature infants in Fremont’s Memorial Cemetery.
Now 24 years old, Lucero said she visits the grave daily.
“I have to, for me to be OK,” she said, adding, “Every day in my life starts and ends with Vincent.”
When she awakens in the morning, Lucero looks at a wall with photos of Vincent, artwork of little footprints and a wooden wall hanging a friend made which reads:
“I carried you every second of your life and will love you all of mine. Forever.”
Lucero appreciates the organization, “Healing Embrace,” which sent her a care package that included a bear the same weight as Vincent, reading material, a coffee cup, calming spray, chocolate and a candle.
“They’re amazing,” she said.
She’s appreciated Methodist Fremont Health staff and Lauer-Silva.
“She’s the best; they are all the best,” Lucero said. “I’ll always be in debt to these people. They saved my life.”
Lucero appreciates other support she’s received, too.
“I had a lot of support and I can call somebody at 2 in the morning — ugly crying — and they’ll listen and when I’m done, they help me through it,” she said.
Lucero said she had a lot of bad days and still does now and then.
She misses her baby.
And there are the “what ifs.”
She wonders if Vincent would have had straight hair like her or curly like his dad.
Would he have liked sports or music? Would he have gone to college? What would he have done for a living?
“It’s things like that I’ll never get to know,” she said.
Lucero hopes people understand that something like this can happen to anyone. And statistics — indicating one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage or infant loss — would support that.
“I would have never in a million years thought I would have a baby who died,” she said.
Lucero urges others who’ve lost babies to get the help they need and to take care of themselves.
She’s also been involved in “65 days of doing something meaningful,” which has included things as simple as smiling at a stranger.
“If I could help somebody else, that helped me,” she said.
She’s learned much.
“This situation has brought me so much closer to my husband, to God, to everything,” she said. “I don’t take my life for granted anymore. I realize you only get one life.”