When Wisconsin mom Sierra Strangfeld’s son passed away, she immediately gave back to babies in need
When Sierra Strangfeld was pregnant with her second child, Samuel, the thought of breastfeeding again excited her. “I wanted nothing more than to be successful at breastfeeding,” Strangfeld said in a Nov. 13 Facebook post. But when she found out in early July that Samuel was diagnosed with a rare condition called Trisomy 18, or Edwards syndrome, she knew she wouldn’t have that chance. Samuel passed away in September, and to honor her late child, Strangfeld made the decision to donate her breast milk to babies in need.
“I couldn’t save Samuel’s life, but maybe I could save another baby’s life,” Strangfeld wrote.
Strangfeld pumped for 63 days following Samuel’s passing and donated 500 ounces of breast milk to NICU milk banks. In fact, her last donation drop took place on Samuel’s due date, Nov. 13. “Walking through the hallways of the hospital was just another step in healing,” she wrote. “And I know, (because I felt him), that Samuel was there with me.”
Strangfeld learned at 20 weeks of her son’s diagnosis, Trisomy 18, a condition where an “extra chromosome 18 results (a triple) in the developing baby and disrupts the normal pattern of development in significant ways that can be life-threatening, even before birth,” according to the Trisomy 18 Foundation. In other words, fetuses with the condition have an extra chromosome that causes severe developmental delays. A Trisomy 18 error occurs in about one of every 2,500 pregnancies in the U.S. and one in 6,000 live births.
“It was earth shattering, not knowing what our future held. Not knowing if we’d get to meet our baby or not,” Strangfeld told People.
Before Samuel passed, Strangfeld told herself she would donate her breast milk. Her initial goal was to pump 1,000 ounces by Samuel’s due date, but she wasn’t producing enough milk.
“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. “There were times I was angry because why did my milk have to come in when I had no baby to feed? Why was I waking up in the middle of the night for this? The other part of me felt it was the only thing connecting me to Samuel here on Earthside. I sure hope he’s proud of me!”
Strangfeld said she decided to share her story because she wanted to educate the public on and bring awareness to Trisomy 18.
“Although it has been a bit overwhelming, I am loving how these news stations are shifting their focus to Trisomy 18,” she wrote on Facebook. “This isn’t my story. This is Samuel’s story.”
Strangfeld began selling shirts and hoodies directly benefiting her nonprofit organization, Smiling for Samuel.
“We have big hopes and dreams to carry on his legacy,” she said.