Mom dies just days after giving birth

Sonya Harlow was looking forward to raising her daughter, Eliyanah, but her life ended tragically Monday when she died while holding her newborn child.

A Livingston family with ties to Dayton is mourning the loss of their mother, Sonya Harlow, 39, who died unexpectedly just 11 days after giving birth to her daughter. She leaves behind her husband of eight years, Spencer, and the 10 children they shared, some from their previous marriages.

Spencer said he was awakened around 2 a.m. Monday to the sound of his wife in distress as she was lying next to him in bed with their newborn daughter on her chest.

“I rolled over and could see she was dying,” he said. “We did CPR on her until the paramedics arrived, but she had flatlined by then. It was too late.”

Spencer and Sonya Harlow are pictured with eight of their children in happier times. Sonya died on Monday just 11 days after giving birth to the couple’s daughter.

Spencer suspects Sonya may have had a post-partum-related medical emergency, which he hopes will be determined in her autopsy.

Her pregnancy was complicated by high blood pressure and issues that made it impossible for her to work as an admissions director in the healthcare industry. Spencer, a disabled veteran who served in the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, said Sonya had been unable to work and was looking forward to raising their newborn daughter, Eliyanah.

“She had all boys before this and she prayed for a girl. We named our daughter Eliyanah and she is God’s answer to our prayers. Eliyanah means ‘God has answered,'” Spencer said. “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. She was loving, kind and caring.”

The Harlow family previously lived in Dayton and the children attended schools in Liberty County for many years before the family moved to Livingston. They are members of Greater Faith Apostolic Church in Dayton where Sonya’s funeral will be held later this week.

The funeral is expected to cost the family $10,000, which Spencer said will be a challenge as her death was unexpected. Sonya’s best friend of 17 years, Nancy Leger Davie, set up a Go Fund Me account to defray some of the expenses of the funeral.

Davie said her friend’s death has broken her.

“I don’t know how I’m going to live my life without her. She’s been such a huge part of my life,” she said.

To make a donation to the Go Fund Me account for the Harlow family, go online to

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.


  1. Brother Harlow, i never had the pleasure of meeting your better half! i can only imagine how wonderful she must of been to care unselfishly for such a big beautiful family! i am truly sorry for you tremendous loss…. rachel

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