Jean Luc Montou’s life happiest and most tragic events happened within a 24-hour period. But despite the pain of gain and loss, Montou wants to make sure the memory of his partner, Sarah Bertrand, remains.
On May 9, the couple’s first child was born as Julian Charles and Moutou, 24, and his 29-year-old partner couldn’t have been happier.
“Afterward, she just silently dropped tears of joy and happiness,” Montou told TODAY Parents. “She loved Julian so much.”
But, unfortunately, the happiness quickly turned to sadness when Bertrand died 24 hours later in her hospital room as Montou held their newborn son. The cause of her death is still unknown. However, the hospital suspects that she may have died from an amniotic embolism, a rare condition that causes internal bleeding and the heart and lung to collapse.
Montou remembered Bertrand complaining of a headache before she went into a seizure, but by then it was too late.
“Once the symptoms start showing, it’s already begun,” said Montou. “I remember thinking it would be OK because we were in a hospital — and the staff tried so hard to help her — but I knew it was serious when they started doing compressions and began using the defibrillator.”
Along the announcement of their son’s birth he have to announce the death of his partner. His heartfelt post went viral after it was posted on Facebook.
“Sarah didn’t make it,” he wrote. “My last 24 hours with her was the happiest I’d ever been…I loved this woman like no other and she died in front of me while I held our son. Please take a few moments to remember this woman because she was the absolute best thing that has ever happened to me and Jane [his daughter from a previous relationship].”
About 700 to 900 women die each year from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes in the U.S., according to a piece by ProPublica and NPR. The U.S. has one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the developed world ranking at 136 out of 184 countries after Hungary and before Iran.
“Sarah was there for me when I was having a hard time as a single father,” Montou wrote. “Sarah was there for Jane when she needed a mother figure. Sarah did not skip a beat or hesitate to be there for us and love us from the time we met.”
Bertrand quit her job as a veterinary technician to look after Jane while Montou was at work. The couple planned to marry after the birth of their son.
“I miss her so much, but sometimes I think it would be selfish to ask God to return her because she finally gets the peace and relaxation that she sought her entire life,” Montou said. “I just wanted people to know who she was, and I don’t want her to disappear after everything she did for me, my daughter and Julian.”
Montou is comforted by the fact that he has received so many well wishes and support from people who have shared his post on the internet.
“I am so overjoyed that Sarah’s become such a legend in the world,” Montou wrote in a recent post on Facebook. “There are people from all over the world messaging me and offering thoughts and condolences for Sarah Bertrand and it just means everything to me at a time like this. I’ve said it from the moment I posted the life changing news… I just wanted her on people’s minds and in their thoughts even if it was just for a second. Her sacrifice is being recognized all over the world.”
Now, Montou is trying to raise funds through a GoFundMe campaign to help with his family’s future expenses.
“She deserved no less than for the world to pause for a moment and see how strong, brave and happy she was before her sacrifice,” said Montou.