Alexis Claire's Story · 12/1/2006

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Alexis Claire's Story

After five years of trying to get pregnant, Margaret D'Arrigo-Martin and her husband, Steve, decided to give up on infertility treatments and immediately conceived their long-awaited first baby. Alexis Claire, born on July 10, 2003, was an easy, happy, healthy little one. According to Margaret, she and Steve were “…always in awe. We'd never been happier. Our lives were finally really complete.”

Alexis took after her daddy, big-boned and strong. She could hold her head up at only four weeks old. “We nicknamed her 'Fidge,' because she had these huge hands and fidgeted constantly, waving them around,” Margaret recounts. When Alexis was four weeks old, Margaret and Steve threw her a birthday party to introduce her to their community and share their deep joy at finally having a little girl. “I'd always had my heart set on having a baby girl,” Margaret explains. “I just really wanted a girl.” Steve gave Alexis a pink tricycle for her to “grow into.”

When Alexis was six-and-a-half weeks old, Margaret brought her to church for the first time. Alexis slept through Mass and when Margaret took communion, she carried the baby with her in her arms. Margaret noticed the congregation gazing at her and Alexis with love and admiration. “I felt so proud to have this little child. So lucky,” Margaret remembers.

That night, Margaret put Alexis to sleep in the bassinet right by her bed. When she woke up at 2:30 in the morning to feed the baby, she noticed that she wasn't moving. Attempts to resuscitate Alexis were of no use. Baby Alexis had died from SIDS.

Margaret recalls, “When the priest came to the house and hugged me, I said, 'I hope you're here to tell me why God took Alexis.' He said, 'I can't tell you why, but I can tell you this. Just like an actor on stage, every child has their moment. It might be one day, six days, five months, but the role that they play, for however long that they're with us, is important. Alexis did her good work and now she's directing the play from above. Her role is still going on.'”

Margaret was deeply moved by the words of her priest and the caring of her community. For nearly a month after Alexis' death, someone dropped a meal by for Margaret and Steve every single evening. Cards and letters came pouring in. Many of the letters were from mothers who had had miscarriages. After a week, Margaret read through every card. The outpouring of kindness helped Margaret understand that she “…couldn't wallow in grief, but needed to do something positive for other people.”  She carried Alexis in her heart and “…her little voice would tell me to do good things and help other little children.”

Margaret now devotes herself to working with other families who have lost a baby to SIDS. She's on the board of directors of First Candle, an affiliate of SIDS Alliance International and, along with Steve, is on the development committee, raising money for SIDS research. Margaret explains, “I've always given to charity, but since Alexis' death, I've plunged myself into so many things. Every time I tell my story, someone is touched by it. Her legacy keeps going and going. More and more people are touched every week.”

Margaret and Steve are now the parents of twin toddler boys, Alex and Sterling. Margaret says that the twins are just another example of Alexis' legacy. “If it wasn't for Alexis, we wouldn't have them. They're an extension of her. It's because of her that we're blessed with twins.” When Margaret first learned that the twins were both boys, she cried for two days. She desperately wanted another girl. Then she realized that, “…God didn't want me to try to replace Alexis. She'll always be my little girl.”

by Esther Ehrlich


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