Crystal Matrau-Belt gave birth to son Jeremiah on Saturday, December 13, following an emergency C-section at Bronson Medical Hospital in Kalamazoo. She called her fiancé, Emil Skokan III, 34, and told him to head to the hospital. Her mother Peggy Nichols, 53, was traveling to Matrau-Belt's house at the time, so she and Skokan decided to ride to the hospital together.
"I got a text from (Emil), 'Do you want me to bring up anything?' and just said I'll meet you up there and that he loved me," she said in an interview with Karamazoo Gazette on Monday.
Three hours after she had her son, Crystal Matrau-Belt still hadn't seen her fiancé or her mother in the sea of other family members who had come to meet the new baby.
"I asked my stepdad, 'Do you know where Emil is?'" Matrau-Belt recalled. "My dad said, 'Honey, that's what we need to talk to you about.' I just all of a sudden had a sinking feeling something was wrong. I just didn't know that it was my fiancé and my mom."
Matrau-Belt's fiancé, Skokan had been driving himself and Matrau-Belt's mother, to the hospital for the birth of his son just before 4 p.m. Saturday, when he lost control on a stretch of South 26th Street near Cork Street in Comstock Township. The car hit a tree, killing Skokan and Nichols.
Jeremiah came into the world a bit unexpectedly. Matrau-Belt, 24, had gone to her doctor for a checkup Friday afternoon, but because of her high blood pressure and because she was already 39 weeks along, her doctor decided it was time to send her to the labor and delivery unit to be induced.
Matrau-Belt was still in labor Saturday and got an epidural. Not long after, she had a bit of a scare when her blood pressure dropped and she blacked out. She was stabilized, but her labor wasn't progressing and she didn't want to put the baby at any more stress, so she opted for a C-section.
Shortly after she had the scare, she contacted her fiancé and told him to head to the hospital. Peggy Nichols happened to be on the way to Matrau-Belt's house and then planned to head to the hospital, so she and Skokan rode together.
"I got a text from (Emil), 'Do you want me to bring up anything?' and just said I'll meet you up there and that he loved me," Crystal said.
That was the last time she heard from her fiancé.
Once she decided to go for the C-section she again tried to contact Skokan, but couldn't reach him. That in and of itself wasn't unsusual, but Matrau-Belt said she felt something was amiss.
"They had brought my stepdad out of the room, but no one told me anything," Matrau-Belt said. "I couldn't get a hold of them. Instead of stressing me out, they just really wanted me to go and get the C-section done."
Matrau-Belt's stepmother stayed with her during the delivery. While she was in recovery, other family members came to visit. Once she was out of recovery, her aunt took Jeremiah out of the room and Matrau-Belt questioned where her fiancé and mother were.
Matrau-Belt and Skokan had spent her whole pregnancy disagreeing on the name for their son. On Friday, when it was evident the baby was coming sooner rather than later, she suggested Jeremiah.
"We actually for the first time decided on a name together," Matrau-Belt said, pausing to wipe away tears.
Matrau-Belt and Skokan decided Jeremiah's middle name would be James, after her stepfather's middle name.
Matrau-Belt, a Kalamazoo native, and Skokan, a Parchment native, had plans for their future together. They wanted to move out of their home in Pavilion Estates.
"He had told me a few months back that he wanted to get married, but he wanted to make sure I was ready, so we could all have the same last name," Matrau-Belt said. She stopped, sobbing.
"He wanted to step up and make sure he was a good father to him," Matrau-Belt said.
Matrau-Belt described her fiance as "caring, hard-working, really smart." He would have celebrated his 35th birthday Sunday. He loved tinkering with his fish tank and their 20-plus fish. Along with Jeremiah, Skokan is survived by two other sons, Emil Skokan IV and Kayden Skokan, according to his obituary.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette