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A mom of 10 died days after delivering her first biological daughter

INSIDER logoINSIDER 11/30/2020 insider@insider.com (Kelly Burch)
a person wearing a blue shirt: Crystal Cox/BI Photo © Provided by INSIDER Crystal Cox/BI Photo
  • Sonya Harlow was raising ten children, but had wanted a biological daughter. 
  • Eleven days after giving birth to her daughter, Harlow died, likely due to postpartum complications. 
  • Women in the United States are more likely than women in other developed countries to die during pregnancy or the postpartum period.
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It was supposed to be a happy holiday season for the Harlow family. Spencer Harlow and his wife, Sonya, had recently welcomed a long-awaited daughter to the brood of ten children that they shared in Texas. 

"She had all boys before this and she prayed for a girl," Spencer Harlow told Blue Bonnet News. "We named our daughter Eliyanah and she is God's answer to our prayers. Eliyanah means 'God has answered.'"

Just days after giving birth, Sonya died unexpectedly. 

It's not clear how Sonya died, but a GoFundMe started to cover funeral expenses mentioned that she's been suffering complications throughout her pregnancy, including high blood pressure. Preeclampsia — pregnancy-induced high blood pressure — can continue to affect women even after delivery, leading to stroke and other life-threatening conditions. 

Women in the United States are at higher risk for postpartum mortality than women in other developed countries, with Black and Hispanic women more than three times more likely to die of pregnancy complications than their white counterparts.


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Not all ten children were Sonya's biological kids, but she loved them each as if they were, family friend Nancy Leger Davie wrote. 

"She didn't consider any of them stepchildren… They were her kids and she loved them with all she had," Davie wrote on the GoFundMe page. 

Spencer Harlow, who is a disabled veteran, was devastated by his wife's death, and now the task of raising their children as a widower.

 "I don't know how I'm going to live my life without her. She's been such a huge part of my life,"he told Blue Bonnet. "Sonya was such a good mother and wife. She was the most beautiful woman I've ever known. She was so vibrant and full of life."

Davie's GoFundMe exceeded its initial goal of $10,000, and has now raised more than $45,000 for the family. 

"As her best friend, I am literally speechless and in tears," Davie wrote in an update. "We have by far reached our goal to cover expenses. The burial plot/opening and closing, funeral, flowers and headstone will be able to be paid in full. Any and all funds that are collected after all expenses are paid, is being collected by me and being paid directly to her husband Spencer Harlow. It will be used to care for their children."

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