Local mom donates breast milk after son dies from rare condition
In March, Sierra Strangfeld and her husband Lee found out they were expecting their second child, who they named Samuel.
Five months into the pregnancy, Sierra found out her unborn son had trisomy 18, or Edwards Syndrome, a rare chromosomal condition.
"The November prior I had heard about trisomy 18 and I researched it, and researched it because I was like what is this," said Strangfeld.
Trisomy 18 is an error in cell division.
"My doctor, he's delivered hundreds of babies and he was very hopeful it wasn't because he had never seen one of these tests come back as trisomy 18. So he made us feel hopeful too, so it was earth shattering when we found out it was true," said Strangfeld.
In early September, Sierra went for a check-up and was told Samuel probably wouldn't survive his birth.
She decided to have a C-section so she could hold him alive, for only three hours.
"Honestly those hours felt like minutes, and even now it's hard to look back and remember that we had three hours with him because they went so fast," recalled Strangfeld.
Samuel's death on Sept. 5 left Sierra with a sense of emptiness, and motivation.
"I wanted to breastfeed Samuel. I attempted with my daughter and I wasn't as successful as I'd like. So I was like I'm better now, I went through it once, I know what I'm doing now," explained Strangfeld.
So for 63 days, until Samuel's original due date of Nov. 13, Sierra pumped breast milk.
Even when it meant waking up in the middle of the night.
But it wasn't for her son, it was for others at the Marshfield Clinic NICU.
"I mean there was times where I was questioning why I am doing this. But everyone says it was such a nice thing to do, or brave and I just feel like I have that milk to give because of Samuel. It came in because of Samuel, so this is like his gift to give," said Strangfeld.
A couple of weeks ago, on the day Samuel was originally due, Sierra traveled to Marshfield to donate all the milk.
"Kind of a sense of healing for me. I kind of felt like it was the end of our journey so to say. Not that I'm moving on but now it's time to move forward," she said.
While Lee and Sierra wanted to make their 18-month-old daughter Porter a big sister, Samuel will still forever be a part of their family.
"I can guarantee most of our community didn't know what trisomy 18 was until Samuel. And if what this did was educate one, two, more people on it then I feel like I've done my job," said Strangfeld.
Before donating her breast milk, Sierra underwent several test and precautions to make sure the milk was safe.
Photos courtesy of Kelly Grace Photography