Boca Raton mother, 16-day-old baby endure earthquakes in Turkey

Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 3:55 PM EST
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Ilayda Sayin and her husband, Carlos, have been living in Boca Raton, but traveled to her home country of Turkey a few months ago, so they could be closer to family around the birth of their first child. They welcomed their baby girl, Claudia, two weeks ago, and she was just 16 days old when the earthquakes hit.

Sayin said she is recovering from a C-section and has mastitis, an inflammation and soreness in the breast.

Sayin said her family was on the eighth floor of a 12-story building in Adana, Turkey, when the first earthquake hit in the wee hours. Sayin was crying, trying to breastfeed when things started to move.

“Around that time I felt shaking, I looked at my husband in the face, in the eye, and we realized something was happening,” she said. “I had my grandma right next to me. She actually started standing up and started praying out loud. When I looked outside, the whole building was moving.”

The family had returned to the building after several hours, enduring aftershocks, when the second earthquake hit. The family left home and hasn’t returned.

“It’s like one apartment is standing and the other one collapsed. Thankfully they’re all alive, so that I’m grateful for," Sayin said. "But I see on the news everybody’s dying, you know, the numbers that they show is just what they found dead. It’s not the total number yet.”

There is major structural damage to so many buildings, they feel insecure about returning to the building. They have been living out of a car, nervous to park too close to tall structures, but too cold to park too far from fuel. The family secured a rental car on Wednesday before driving many hours away from Adana on Thursday.

“In the car we can’t even have a car seat, because there’s no space. So, the worst thing I want to do, the last thing I want to do is to have the baby on me, while driving for hours. And I have to, I have no choice,” she said.

Friends of the family have set up a GoFundMe page to help with expenses for essentials.

Her husband, Carlos, is studying right now and has no income, and on maternity leave, Sayin said the financial problems of returning to Florida were already a concern. Now, she’s not sure how it will all work, but she’s concerned how her family will eventually survive in a city where the economy, and its buildings, may collapse.

For now, the family is focusing on survival.

“Right before the earthquake happened, I was trying to think of giving up on breast feeding because it’s so hurtful. We were on the cars and streets and everything, I realized how important it is that I can breastfeed," she said. "Because what would I do without it, I would have to find hot water all the time, how am I going to clean the bottles all the time. So for now, no I’m not giving up, even though it hurts, at least she has food.”

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