Due to Edwards Syndrome, this mom lost her son just three hours after he was born. Sierra Strangfeld is devastated that her baby boy is gone, and in honor of the child she just lost, she made the selfless decision to pump her breast milk for other babies in need.
When Sierra found out that she was pregnant with her second child, she wanted nothing more than to be successful at breastfeeding her baby, Samuel. But unfortunately, this was not to be. A little more than halfway through her pregnancy, doctors found that her unborn child had Edwards Syndrome, also known as Trisomy 18.
It is a rare genetic condition where an extra chromosome 18 is developed during cell division. According to the Trisomy 18 Foundation, it happens in 1 out of 2,500 pregnancies and often results in stillbirths during the second or third trimester of pregnancy.
When it was confirmed that Samuel wasn’t going to survive much longer in utero, Sierra’s doctors decided to perform an emergency C-section.
Despite the unfortunate circumstances involving his birth, Sierra was completely in awe of Samuel when he came out.
“His hands were clenched, his feet were clubbed, he was small,” she told Good Morning America. “But he was so perfect. He fought so hard to be able to meet us. Our baby boy was put on this Earth for a reason.”
Unfortunately, she only got to be with baby Samuel for three hours.
Before he passed away, Sierra told herself that she would pump her milk to donate to other babies who needed it. Her older daughter, Porter, was given donor milk more than half of her first year of life, and Sierra wanted to do the same thing for other moms who couldn’t provide their babies with breast milk. It was also her way of honoring Samuel’s memory.
“I’ve always wanted to be able to help another mom in need. Samuel would have had a hefty NICU stay had he survived, so I know we would have had to use donated milk to a point. Now I can be the one helping others,” she said.
In the midst of grieving the loss of her son, Sierra continued to pump after Samuel’s birth for 63 days.
“Pumping is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard. Mentally and physically. And it’s even harder when you don’t actually have a baby,” she wrote in her Facebook post. “I couldn’t save Samuel’s life, but maybe I could save another baby’s life.”
After two months of pumping, Sierra donated 500 ounces of her breast milk.
“And today, his due date, I donated my milk to the NICU milk banks for the first and last time. Walking through the hallways of the hospital was just another step in healing. And I know, (because I felt him), that Samuel was there with me,” she concluded the post.
Sierra and her husband, Lee, hope that they’ll be able to establish a foundation under Samuel’s name. For now, they are holding a Smiling for Samuel t-shirt campaign to raise awareness about Edwards Syndrome.
Sometimes, it is in the midst of tragedy when our best selves are revealed. Sierra believed that after her son’s death, she had a mission to fulfill, and she was able to do so with great success.
Visit the Human Milk Banking Association of North America to learn more about donating breast milk.