Sierra Strangfeld never expected her heartfelt post about donating breastmilk to go viral.
“It was the easiest way for me to spread the word of what was happening in my pregnancy, versus being asked all the time or pretending I was okay when I really wasn’t,” she tells SheKnows about why she started sharing her journey on social media.
At her 20-week pregnancy check-up, Strangfeld’s baby-to-be, Samuel, was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, a rare genetic condition that is usually fatal within the first week of life — if not before. When Strangfeld posted about donating her breastmilk, she saw that as “the end of [her] journey.” Since her post went live last week, however, she’s gained the attention of thousands of Facebook users — and national as well as international news outlets.
In the post, Strangfeld writes that she had been looking forward to breastfeeding Samuel, especially because she was unable to breastfeed Porter, her daughter. Once she learned of Samuel’s diagnosis, though, Strangfeld knew that wouldn’t be possible; Samuel was born prematurely and lived for three hours outside the womb. After she lost Samuel, Strangfeld set a goal to pump until his original due date, eventually collecting 500 ounces of milk.
Strangfeld, like so many moms, quickly learned that pumping is not for the faint of heart and would require getting up in the middle of the night alone in a time she hoped she’d be sharing with her son. But she pressed on.
“Every time I thought of quitting, I saw Samuel’s face,” she tells SheKnows, “And thought to myself, I would be doing this if he was here, and alive, so I’m going to keep doing it as if he was.” Strangfeld goes on to say that, while she couldn’t control Samuel’s life or death, pumping was something she could control. After pumping for 63 days, she donated all of it to a NICU milk bank.
While pumping was a way of fulfilling one promise Strangfeld had made to Samuel, the Facebook post inadvertently allowed her to fulfill another:
“We promised Samuel the world would know his name,” Strangfeld adds. “I didn’t know how, and I didn’t know when, and we can’t believe it was actually happening.” While many comments on her Facebook post praise Strangfeld for her work and her donation, the most meaningful thing, for her, is that the post — and the news coverage — are raising awareness about Trisomy 18.
“If one more person is informed on Trisomy 18, then we did our job,” she says. Considering how many people her story has reached, Strangfeld has definitely done her job — and then some.