In a new memoir, Prince’s ex-wife Mayte Garcia shares the story of their four-year marriage and the tragedy that tore them apart.
He was the baby Prince and his then-wife Mayte Garcia had long hoped for. They named him Amiir — Arabic for “prince” — while he was in Mayte’s womb, and listened to his heartbeat in anticipation of his birth. But the baby, born Oct. 16, 1996, had Pfeiffer syndrome type 2, a rare genetic disorder, and lived just six days.
, excerpted exclusively in this week’s PEOPLE, Garcia tells the story of their passionate love, their excitement about the baby, and the pain and heartbreak of Amiir’s short life which forever haunted them both.
“I don’t think he ever got over it,” Garcia, now 43, tells PEOPLE of her ex-husband, who died last April from an accidental overdose. “I don’t know how anybody can get over it. I know I haven’t.”
When Garcia, then 22, discovered she was pregnant, she and Prince were overjoyed at the thought of raising a family at their home in Paisley Park. The pregnancy went smoothly until she began bleeding one day and a doctor recommended an amniocentesis to test for genetic abnormalities. The procedure, the doctor warned, carried a risk of miscarriage.
Yet as the doctor told them: “Sometimes the body is trying to release the fetus for a reason.” But Prince, Garcia writes, was against it: “My husband said, ‘No, we’re not doing that.\'”
“Please, bless this child,” said Prince as he prayed on his knees. “We know you won’t allow this child to be harmed.”
During one appointment, the obstetrician told them the ultrasound measurements were off and said, “It’s possible that we’re seeing a form of dwarfism.”
Writes Garcia, “My husband and I looked at each other and shrugged. ‘And?’ he said. ‘I’m totally fine with that.’ I laughed. Of all the possible outcomes that had been offered to us, this was the first one that didn’t terrify me.”
Still, she writes, the doctor warned them of genetic abnormalities that could be life-threatening and again recommended an amnio, yet Prince continued to refuse medical intervention.
On Oct. 16, 1996, Garcia delivered their son via c-section. At first, she writes, she and Prince were elated: “I don’t know how to describe the look on my husband’s face. Pure joy.”
“And then they held the baby up to those harsh lights,” she continues. “The elation on my husband’s face turned to pure terror.”
“Pfeiffer syndrome type 2 is a genetic disorder that causes skeletal and systematic abnormalities,” she writes. “The premature fusing of the bones in the skull, sometimes resulting in ‘cloverleaf skull,’ in which the eyes are outside the sockets. The fusion of bones in the hands and feet causing a webbed or pawlike appearance … I learned all of this later.”
For much more on Mayte Garcia and the new Prince book, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
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After the O.R. nurses frantically began working to save Amiir’s life, she heard her husband saying, “Why is he not crying?”
“They brought the baby over to us,” she writes. “He was curled on his side, gasping shallow little gulps of air. Because there were no lids to blink, his eyes looked startled and dry. I caught hold of his tiny hand, saying over and over, ‘Mama loves you, Mama’s here.\'”
In the days that followed, Amiir underwent multiple procedures and the doctor recommended a tracheotomy. “After six days he was struggling to breathe,” writes Garcia. “And I said to the doctor, ‘He’s not leaving here, is he?\'”
Garcia says sharing such wrenching memories in her book was difficult. “I’ve been making notes of my life but when it finally came time to write it, it took me back and I cried many tears,” she tells PEOPLE. “But I also think that it’s liberating.”
She wanted to make sure her book was one of the first to be published after Prince’s death last April. “I knew there was going to be a lot of stuff coming out about him, negative and positive,” she says. “I wanted mine to come from love.”
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