Midway through her second pregnancy, Sierra Strangfeld and her husband, Lee, received heartbreaking news: Their baby had Trisomy 18, a chromosomal condition that causes developmental delays and birth defects and usually causes a baby to die in utero or shortly after birth.
Strangfeld, who also has an 18-month-old daughter named Porter, says she and her husband began making plans for spending as much time as they could with their baby after his birth.
"Termination was not an option for us — that was never a question," Strangfeld, who co-owns a hair salon, told TODAY Parents. "We wanted to meet this precious gift, and we were going to do anything we could to meet him and treat him like any baby we would be blessed with...We had a lot of decisions to make, but the problem was we thought we had time and we didn't."
On September 5, more than two months before her due date, Strangfeld learned that because of his condition, her baby would most likely die in utero within a week. Because they hoped to meet their son alive, the couple decided to head to their labor and delivery unit for an emergency C-section.
Baby Samuel Lee was born that day, and weighed less than two pounds. He lived for three hours.
"Samuel only left my arms once, when he had an oxygen tube put in, otherwise he spent those three hours with us," said Strangfeld. "I was able to do skin-to-skin with him and his heart rate and oxygen levels immediately raised. It was like he knew he was with his mom. We got a few squeaks out of him, and spent those three hours looking at every detail of his tiny body. Those hours felt like minutes."
In the months after Samuel's birth and death, Strangfeld decided to pump her breastmilk and save it for donation.
"It was something I could control," said Strangfeld. "I couldn't control Samuel's diagnosis. I couldn't control his life or his death, but I could control what I did afterward."
Strangfeld hoped that by donating her breastmilk, she could save another baby's life. So the Neillsville, Wisconsin mom pumped from the day Samuel was born for 63 days.
Strangfeld donated more than 500 ounces of breastmilk to the Mother's Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes on November 13, Samuel's due date.
"It was a good feeling, knowing I was going to help someone else in need, but it was also very emotional," Strangfeld recalled. "I could feed a complete stranger's baby, but I never got to feed my own."
Since making her donation, Strangfeld and her family continue to grieve and hope to raise awareness about Trisomy 18.
"We lost the most precious gift life could give us, and I hope people truly see that every day is not promised," said Strangfeld. "I just want people to know, there is always good that comes with the bad."