Mateo José Madera
The best way I have found to describe my encounter with Mateo is like walking through a gentle shower of stardust. Even though he's no longer physically here, the golden sprinkles of the stardust are still on my skin, in my hair...His light still warms my heart. There is still the twinkle in my eyes from having known him. My smile is still soft from loving him.
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There are stories of babies that don't often get told -- the little ones who we expected to be with us here on Earth but who eventually made the decision not to stay. This is the story of our Mateo.
Mateo José Madera was born on February 14th, 2018 at 11:53 p.m. He was 23 weeks and 5 days gestational age (~ 6 months) and despite our efforts to keep him from being born before we thought he should, he insisted on coming.
To our surprise, he was born with seven and eight Apgar scores (scores out of 10 that summarize the health of a newborn baby). We also didn't expect that he'd be as active as he was when he was born - kicking, crying, and slapping away the hands of the doctors and nurses trying to examine him.
Mateo spent 6 weeks in the NICU to further his development. I would love to tell you a story with the happy ending of us taking him home, but this was not our story. He made his transition on March 27th, 2018.
During the weeks we spent with Mateo, my husband, José, and I experienced the deepest love we had ever known. Love from our friends and family, love for each other, love for this powerful being who entered our lives as our sweet baby boy.
The best way I have found to describe my encounter with Mateo is like walking through a gentle shower of stardust. Even though he's no longer physically here, the golden sprinkles of stardust are still on my skin, in my hair....His light still warms my heart, there is still the twinkle in my eyes from having known him. My smile is still soft from loving him.
This has been the most painful and joyful experience I've had—going through a loss I cannot fully describe with words and receiving ethereal gifts all at the same time. Doing the dance between grief and joy keeps me whole. I don't have to choose between "getting over this" before I can share our story or holding back my joy for fear that others won't understand.
I get to show up to the party with all of my emotions.
And so here I am introducing our sweet Mateo, our powerful Mateo. Despite how he chose to emerge and how long he spent here, he was here. So we are honoring him and introducing him proudly as our son.
I shared with a few close friends that in moving through my body, Mateo planted a seed within me so that I am braver in my life and clearer on my true desires. One of these desires is to support others in their healing from traumatic or painful experiences and helping them reclaim their sense of wholeness and power.
It's as though Mateo and I are working in partnership towards this. There are mornings I wake up and his presence is so strong that I can almost touch him. I sense that he wants to continue his work through me, that he wants me to write, speak, share our story so that someone else can be freed...just as in this moment I am now feeling more free.
I'm not sure what's ahead from here. I imagine that there will be days that I'll find myself wrapped under the covers in my bed after performing some act that is so bold and vulnerable that the only way to feel balanced and safe again is to find healing in a cocoon.
And there will be other days when standing on stage and sharing our story with a massive audience feels like the most uplifting thing in the world. I'm prepared either for those outcomes and anything else life adds to the mix.
I'd love for you to be a part of the journey with us. See below for ways to support or be supported. Or subscribe at the bottom of this page to stay in the loop as I continue to share our story.
Natalee & Mateo