Strangfeld's initial goal was to pump 1000 ounces by Samuel’s original due date, Nov. 13, but she realized she wasn't producing enough milk and reduced her goal to 500 oz.
Pregnancy is said to be one of the most beautiful and painful experiences that a woman goes through in life. So, when Sierra Strangfeld was pregnant, she was obviously excited to unconditionally love her child and spending all her time with him. She was looking forward to creating a bond with her child, and what better way to do so than breastfeed? Her 18-month-old daughter had a tongue tie that kept her from nursing, and Strangfeld was excited to try again, reports People. Sadly, life can be unfair.
When Strangfeld was 20 weeks pregnant, she learned that her son would not survive due to an extremely rare condition called Trisomy 18, or Edwards’ Syndrome. Fetuses with the condition have an extra chromosome that causes severe developmental delays like an abnormally shaped head, clubbed feet and birth defects in their organs. Most pass in utero from an early miscarriage or die shortly after their birth.
She wanted to name her son Samuel. “It was earth-shattering, not knowing what our future held. Not knowing if we’d get to meet our baby or not,” Strangfeld, 25, said, describing the moment in early July when she and her husband Lee learned the news. “I felt in a daze most days. But cherishing every second of every day that I got to carry him.” Strangfeld, a salon owner from Neillsville, Wisconsin, kept getting regular checkups for the next two months.
Her doctor then informed her that there were chances of Samuel passing in-utero, but she wanted to hold Samuel at least once, so she went ahead with a c-section. However, the doctors did warn her that they couldn't assure her that Samuel would be born alive. “The unknown of what was about to happen was scary. And I believe the whole thing was traumatizing,” she says. Samuel lived for three hours out of the womb, and Strangfeld was able to hold her son.
That's when she decided to pump the breast milk she'd been producing and donate it to babies who needed it, in honor of Samuel. “It was something I could control,” she says. “I couldn’t control Samuel’s diagnosis. I couldn’t control his life or his death. But I could control what I did afterward. It was the last, physical thing connecting me to him here on Earth. I couldn’t save Samuel’s life, but by donating my milk, maybe I could help save another baby’s life.”
Strangfeld's initial goal was to pump 1000 ounces by Samuel’s original due date, Nov. 13, but she realized she wasn't producing enough milk and reduced her goal to 500 oz. She says the experience was difficult but gratifying. “It was a good feeling, knowing I was going to help someone else in need. But it was also very emotional,”
"I tried to look at it in a more positive light, and It was actually much harder (mentally) to stop pumping than I thought it would be!” On November 13th, Samuel's due date, Strangfeld donated her last bags of breast milk at the hospital, where they would go to NICU babies in need. “It was a very emotional day,” she says. “It was the first time I stepped foot back in the hospital since having Samuel. But, walking through the halls, I definitely felt Samuel wrap his arms around me. It was a sense of healing.”
Strangfeld posted about her donation on Facebook that day, and it wasn't long before it went viral. “We promised him we would tell his story, but we never expected it to go nationwide as it has,” she says. “This is his story to tell, and he is certainly telling it though every Facebook like and share, and through every news article. Our goal is to have a non-profit organization is Samuel’s name called Smiling for Samuel — we have big hopes and dreams to carry on his legacy.”