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.
In her new memoir, The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince, 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.
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.’”
Once home, the couple prayed for his health.
“Please, bless this child,” said Prince as he prayed on his knees. “We know you won’t allow this child to be harmed.”
But further exams revealed more complications.
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.