By Maria Turcoliveri
Maria Turcoliveri along with her husband Nicolo are assistant facilitators of the Perinatal and Infant Loss Support Group at Cornerstone of Hope. She also facilitates the Mom’s Club which meets monthly; it’s a group for moms that have experienced a loss.
Maria has been married to Nicolo since 2011. They have three sons; Nicolo, Jr., Santino and Giuliano. Nicolo became an angel in 2012. She also has 3 angels from a miscarriage in 2017. Maria works as a dietitian at the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System. She is an adjunct professor at Case Western Reserve University.
Our Baby Nicolo Turcoliveri, Jr.
On December 20, 2012 at 10:22pm my entire world came to a screeching halt. My first born, Nicolo, Jr. became an angel. Holding him in my arms is the most memorable, unforgettable and yet tragic and miserable experience that I ever lived. He passed away peacefully but way too soon.
I felt hopeless.
Nicolo suffered with a disease called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). It affects 1 in up to 10,000 people worldwide. After having a normal pregnancy, I would have never guessed that this would happen to him. SMA is the number one genetic leading cause of death in infants.
As I mentioned, my world stopped; but life around me kept going. For me, one of the first hardships was to figure out how to live without our sweet baby boy. How am I going to fit back into my world without this precious baby that I had carried for 40 weeks and 5 days.
How do we plan his funeral? How do we tell family and friends? How do we console them and grieve ourselves? How do we celebrate Christmas and buy presents? Or celebrate again? I also thought about how am I going to get out of bed tomorrow morning? How am I going to face seeing another baby? Am I ever going to forget Nicolo? Am I ever going to think about anything or anyone else? Will my faith survive? Will I be happy again?
Several extended family members and friends recommended my husband Nicolo, Sr. and I go to Cornerstone of Hope. I never heard of it before. I looked it up online and registered for the group session. I had much anxiety walking through the doors that cold January morning. Our group met in the lobby and I remember staring at everyone around the room. My mind was racing. Wondering. We met several other families mourning the loss of their son or daughter. It was at that moment; I knew then I was not alone. I was a part of this club that no one else wants to be in. I had a safe place; to cry, to talk, to ask questions and find our, my new normal. As each week progressed, I looked forward to our Saturday morning meeting. Cornerstone of Hope was the only bright spot in my life during my darkest days.
Nic and I both have large families. We didn’t even know how to talk about death let alone grieve an infant. I realized that our families could only provide us with some support. No fault of their own. We needed hope from someone that experienced a similar loss. Our weekly group sessions helped us find complete strangers that shared a common bond. They helped us find answer to our questions and helped us slowly transition into the world that was still going on around us.
It has been just shy of 8 years since Nicolo’s “angelversary”. I continue to think about him every day and several times a day. Our family celebrates his birthday, his passing (angelversary), special holidays and moments we shared with him. I continue to talk about him because he is still my son. I constantly think about who he’d be today, what he would look like, how he would treat his younger brothers, Santino and Giuliano, who he is celebrating with in heaven. I find peace and comfort in signs and moments that he is still with me, watching over me.
To mothers that have suffered a miscarriage or infant loss, I’m sorry and I love you. These are the only words that I can say. You are going to hear a lot of different things from a lot of different people. They mean well but unless they have experienced what you have, it is awkward, and they just don’t know. Trust your instincts. Do what you think is right and what you want to do. Do what makes you happy. There is hope.
CORNERSTONE OF HOPE PREGNANCY & INFANT LOSS RESOURCES
If you have suffered a miscarriage, still birth, or early infant loss and are in need of support, click here to learn more about our
infant loss program, Heart of My Heart .