On Losing A Child: A Birth Story About Love, Loss and A Heartbreaking Choice (Part 1)


(This story is part one of a two-part series documenting our experience of losing a child and ending a wanted pregnancy for medical reasons. Read part two here).

No woman gets pregnant expecting to have an abortion. This is my story about terminating a wanted pregnancy and losing a child before he was even born.If you’re a regular reader of this blog and you are signed up for my weekly emails, you might already know that our family is going through a tough time right now, to say the least. 

Until a few weeks ago, I was pregnant and happily planning for our second little bundle of joy to arrive in September. But sadly, we lost our baby. I delivered him, stillborn at 24 weeks gestation. I never imagined I would say goodbye before I even had a chance to say hello.

I’ve been really nervous to open up about this. As you can imagine, I’m pretty vulnerable right now. But I feel my soul has been called to tell this story; To give a voice to others who have lost a child in a similar way and to honour my son and his life story, and the life story of all of the other babies who never made it past the womb. 

As scary as it is to put myself out there, I felt it was important -no, necessary- to share this with you, as I have vowed to share all of the ups and downs of our journey through this blog: To tell our authentic story complete with all of the good, the bad and the ugly that comes along in life. And needless to say, this was a pretty major life event for our family. 

Because while this is a homesteading blog first and foremost, it’s also a personal blog, and homesteading (or any other lifestyle, passion or hobby) doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in real life, and as we all know, real life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans.

And so, as as I was busy making those other plans, dreaming of the day our new baby would come along and make our family complete, imagining how our life would be, writing my little blog and tending my little garden and planning the nursery that was meant for our peanut, real life came along, as it does, and brought the world as I know it crashing down around me.

 

 

Before I go on…

I want to warn you that the story I’m about to tell is deeply personal and involves not only losing a child, but making the choice to end a wanted pregnancy. In other words, it involves abortion. 

I’m well aware that abortion is a polarizing topic, and some people might be so horrified at the mere mention of the word that they decide to leave this page and never return. But I also know that abortion is typically thought of as a solution to an unwanted pregnancy. My pregnancy was very much wanted and planned, and while I have always supported a woman’s right to choose, I never thought I would have to make the choice that I did. 

I learned, having gone through this, that there are many others like me who have unexpectedly found themselves in the same devastating situation and who have had to make a compassionate but heartbreaking choice for their own unborn children. Their voices are mostly silent as the fear of backlash -of being on the receiving end of hate and vitriol- is too much to bear, especially when they’re already in a fragile state as they mourn the loss of their child.

My hope is that, through telling my own story I might be able to offer support and solidarity to anyone who has been or who finds themselves in a similar position, and to shed some light on a topic that is rarely spoken about and often misunderstood.

If you’re still with me, thank you. *Deep breath.* Here’s my story…

 

What we expected when we were expecting

My husband, Ryan and I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl in the summer of 2016. While Evelyn wasn’t exactly “planned,” she was most definitely wanted and I feel very strongly that she was destined to come into our lives when she did for a reason.

Nobody gets pregnant expecting to have an abortion. This is my story about terminating a wanted pregnancy and losing a child before he was even born.
Nobody gets pregnant expecting to have an abortion. This is my story about terminating a wanted pregnancy and losing a child before he was even born.We always knew we wanted more than one child, and that we wanted them to be close in age so that they would grow up together and have a close relationship. My husband has a brother who is two years older than him and they have a great relationship. I was an only child growing up (I have a half brother and half sister, but they lived with my dad and I lived with my mom), so I wanted for my daughter what I always wished I had. 

About a year after having our daughter, we started trying for another baby. This time we were actively trying. We really wanted our children to be no more than a couple years apart if possible, so we knew we needed to get pregnant soon if we were going to make that happen.

We tried for about 6 months before I finally got pregnant. I remember the day I took the test. I just had a feeling I was pregnant, and lo and behold, my dream had come true.

We were so excited to be welcoming another child into our lives. The timing was perfect too. I was due to give birth just 2 months after my daughter’s second birthday. They would indeed be two years apart, and I imagined the two of them growing up together, sharing all of the laughter and love and memories that siblings have the privilege of sharing with one another. 

Nobody gets pregnant expecting to have an abortion. This is my story about terminating a wanted pregnancy and losing a child before he was even born.

We were ecstatic, to say the least. But I was also feeling the full force of the negative effects of pregnancy: morning sickness, unpredictable emotions, worry, anxiety and exhaustion beyond words. I remembered feeling tired early on in my first pregnancy, but I was lucky enough to have an otherwise easy pregnancy with my daughter. In fact, I had felt better when I was pregnant with her than I did when I wasn’t pregnant! This was not the same.

Of course, I was reassured by everyone that it would pass, and that I was probably having a boy since the hormones seemed to be affecting my body differently this time around. We really wanted a boy. 

There haven’t been any boys born on my mom’s side of the family in three generations, so there were lots of people rooting for a boy to break the cycle. But of course, I knew that it didn’t matter what we were having as long as our baby was healthy and able to live a full and happy life.

Even though I felt physically horrible throughout much of my pregnancy, I kept my eye on the prize, so to speak, and knew it would all be worth it in nine months when I got to see and hold the newest love of my life. Each passing day meant we were one day closer to completing our family, as we had pretty much decided we would stop at two children.

But as the days wore on, I felt worse and worse instead of better. I came down with all sorts of illnesses throughout the course of pregnancy, including a still-unexplained cough that led to me throwing my back out and being put on sick leave at 4 months pregnant.

But the physical ailments weren’t even the worst of it. What was much worse for me was the constant worry. I told my husband more than once that I was worried about this baby in a way I hadn’t been with our first child. Something deep down just didn’t feel right.

 

A Mother’s Intuition

Early on in my pregnancy, I read the book Wonder with my grade 5-7 class as the novel study component of their language arts curriculum. The book is about a boy named Auggie who was born with a condition called Treacher Collins Syndrome, which affects the development of bones and facial tissues, often resulting in a cleft palate, small jaw and chin, drooping eyes and missing or unusual ear formation, as well as a restricted air passage and possible vision and hearing loss. This also results in a plethora of surgeries over many years to try to correct these abnormalities. The story is ultimately about Auggie’s life and struggle to fit in and be accepted. 

We had many discussions in class as we read through the book and learned more about Auggie’s condition. I remember one such discussion very vividly, when we talked about what causes birth defects. We talked about genes, chromosomes and how it’s really a miracle that so many babies are born “normal” considering all of the things that could go wrong. 

The whole time we were reading this book and learning about various abnormalities and the suffering that some of these kids and their families endure as a result, I worried about my own baby and wondered what sort of life he would have if he was born like Auggie.

 

Fast forward to my 20 week ultrasound…

We arrived at the hospital, excited to find out the gender of our little babe. The last time I was pregnant, we had the doctor write the results in a card and we went out for a nice dinner at our favourite restaurant and revealed the results over appetizers. I remember the words “Congratulations, It’s a Girl!” scrolled across the inside of the card. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. 

This time around, we’d made reservations at the same restaurant for the weekend after the ultrasound: Mother’s Day. We hoped to recreate our experience and go two-for-two, revealing this baby’s gender over Sunday brunch.

But as I lay there with the ultrasound technician scanning my belly for almost an hour searching for what I assumed was any confirmation of baby’s gender, I began to have my doubts that we would have any answers by Sunday.

I got a phone call from my midwife the following day about my results. She explained to me that not only could the technician not see the gender, she also couldn’t get a good view of the baby’s heart, spine or all four limbs. She advised me to go for blood tests as soon as possible to test for any sign of birth defects.

I got to the hospital within the hour and had blood drawn. Then I waited for one whole agonizing week to hear back about my results. When I finally got the phone call, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the midwife said I tested completely normal and that all blood tests came back negative for any sign of a problem. She wasn’t even going to send me for another ultrasound since the blood tests seemed to confirm there was nothing wrong, but I asked for a follow-up anyway because I really wanted to find out the gender.

A week later, I went back for another ultrasound. I felt really good about this one and no longer had any thought in my mind that there might be something wrong with my child.

I chatted with the ultrasound tech -the same woman who gave me the first ultrasound- and I laughed and smiled and relaxed, sure that this time she would see the gender and I would be calling friends and family soon to announce the news.

But this ultrasound seemed to drag on forever just like the first one. I figured maybe that was just because I had the same technician and she liked to take her time and do a thorough job. She said she could see the heart this time and that everything looked healthy. But she still couldn’t get a view of the gender because the baby’s legs were crossed and the umbilical cord was blocking the rest.

I was sure everything was just fine and this baby’s gender was just meant to be a surprise. My Type A personality that made me like to plan and prepare and know exactly the way the future would unfold would just have to wait it out and find out at birth.

A few hours later, I got a phone call from the midwife again. I figured she was probably just calling to follow-up, but deep down I knew there was something wrong as soon as I saw the number pop up on my phone.

I was told that the technician’s notes about my ultrasound said that the baby’s spine “didn’t look as expected,” and that they still couldn’t see baby’s lower legs. The midwife told me I would need to travel to one of the larger cities nearby to go for another ultrasound with a perinatologist who specializes in these types of things. She reassured me that it was possible there was nothing wrong, but this could help confirm that.

My heart sank. But I stayed optimistic. I wanted badly to believe that everything was okay.

I was left with no real answers and resorted to Googling possible spine-related birth defects and other women’s experiences with ultrasound results like mine. I found all sorts of information on Spina Bifida and was sure that if my baby had this condition it could be fixed and he could go onto live a normal life. But I convinced myself that there was nothing actually wrong and instead thought about what I would say to the midwife who made me worry for no reason once we confirmed our baby was healthy.

 

The news no parent should ever have to hear

I was booked in for an ultrasound within the week, so we made plans to leave our daughter with my mom and travel to the city the night before, set on making a short vacation out of it since we were sure we would be returning with happy news anyway. 

Even as Ryan and I were on the way to the hospital we laughed and joked. We sang and danced in the car together and even made plans to stop at the furniture store we passed on the way back to celebrate our good news and shop for our new home we bought to make room for the new addition to our family. I was still dreaming about shopping for the new nursery.

As we walked into the hospital, we reassured each other that we could handle whatever news we got that day. We would love and care for our baby no matter what.

After a few short minutes in the waiting room, we were ushered into the ultrasound room. I still felt okay at this point, but when the doctor came into the room, the mood changed immediately.

“Do you know why you’re here?” he asked me.

“I think so,” I responded, and proceeded to tell him what I knew about the previous scans.

While I tried to be upbeat about it, the tone in his voice immediately suggested that he was not so confident that all was right with our sweet baby. He spoke in the tone of voice of a man who had delivered bad news to parents like us many times in the past.

I gulped and tried to remember to take deep breaths as I lay down on the table. While he scanned my belly, his brows furrowed as he looked closely at each part of our baby’s anatomy. He didn’t say a word the whole time. Until…

Finally he broke his silence as he turned the screen toward us and pointed out the area where the lower spine should be, but wasn’t. He explained that the lower spine was missing. He also pointed out the baby’s legs and feet, which were indeed there, but were twisted and club-footed; A common symptom of spinal and nervous system defects, he explained. 

“It’s quite severe,” he said matter-of-factly. And then again he said nothing, and went on examining with his brows furrowed and his eyes laser-focused on the computer screen.

I stared up at the clock as tears began to well in my eyes. I had to look at the clock because I couldn’t find it in me to turn and face my husband yet. 

The clock’s hand went round and round in a fluid motion as time ticked on. I figured that clock was deliberately chosen for this room so that parents in our position wouldn’t have to listen to a ticking clock that mocked them as they waited with bated breath for answers; For any words of comfort or reassurance.

For us, those words of reassurance never came. The doctor went on to tell us that our baby was completely missing his lower spine along with his sacrum, and that he would be completely paralyzed below the waist. Not only would he never walk, but he would have no feeling or control at all from the waist down, meaning no control over his bladder, bowel or genitals, as well as a high probability of renal failure due to kidney cysts and possible neurological disorders caused by a malformed nervous system. 

He said that something hadn’t developed correctly very early on in pregnancy, somewhere between 5 and 8 weeks. I racked my brain thinking back to what I was doing around the 5 to 8 week mark that might have caused something like this, but I couldn’t think of anything. I wasn’t even drinking coffee at that point. I was reading Wonder and crying for all of the families who had to endure what our family was now enduring.

He added that he still couldn’t tell us the baby’s gender as it was “too much of a mess” in that area of his body. Needless to say, the gender hardly mattered to us at this point . 

The doctor said that in his 35 years of performing these types of scans, he had never seen a case quite like this where the spine stopped forming completely, mid-way up the baby’s back. It was also strange, he said, that the brain looked normal and that my blood tests all came back negative considering the severity of our baby’s abnormalities. But he was sure of the problems below the waist, and in no light terms explained to us that our child would have a very poor quality of life, full of many surgeries and a lot of suffering, if he was even able to survive birth and life thereafter.

I took a deep breath as I looked him in the eye and asked him “so what’s the next step?”

I still clung to hope that he would say something like “your baby will need surgery as soon as he’s born,” or “these are the things you can do throughout the remainder of your pregnancy to lessen the impact and give him the best chance in life.” But that’s not what he said.

“The next step is to choose whether you want to continue with this pregnancy knowing the kind of life this child will have, or whether you want to terminate now.”

 

A Heartbreaking Choice

I was in shock. On the surface I always knew this was a possibility, but now it was real. We were facing a decision that no parent should ever have to make; That no parent ever wants to make or plans on making, regardless of circumstance. We knew already what our decision would be in this case, but I couldn’t make myself say the words yet.

Ryan and I were taken to another room where we waited for a geneticist to meet with us and give us more information. We cried and held each other and whispered our deepest fears to each other.

“Not only is he going to suffer physically, but the world isn’t kind to handicapped people,” he said to me with tears in his eyes. I nodded in agreement. 

Our choice didn’t seem like much of a choice at all, but we knew what it had to be. We loved our children too much to make them suffer. And despite wanting so desperately to have him and hold him and protect him from pain and cruelty and suffering forever, I knew I couldn’t. I couldn’t protect him from the pain he would experience and I couldn’t shelter him from the harsh realities of this world forever. We had to make the compassionate decision.

We made plans to terminate our pregnancy the following week. It was one of the most surreal weeks of my life.

I could still feel his little hands flailing around in my womb, letting me know he was there. I understood now why I only ever felt movement where his hands were, and had never actually felt him kick, because he couldn’t kick. And even as I felt his faint movements, I had no choice but to deal with the reality of our situation. 

 

Ending A Wanted Pregnancy: From planning for a life to planning for a death

I spoke with my midwife about what to expect. I made plans with the geneticist to have his body autopsied after birth to try to determine a cause. I even had to make plans to have his body cremated, all while I could still feel him moving inside of me. It’s a feeling no one will ever understand unless they’ve been through it themselves. It’s absolutely gut-wrenching.

But I was also determined to make my last week with my child a positive, memorable one. I wanted to give him the best I possibly could in his short life. I played my favourite music loud and stood with my belly to the speaker as I sang along. I ate all of my favourite meals and fed us only the best food full of the best ingredients. And I tried to stay positive and calm so that he would be positive and calm. I definitely didn’t want to pass on any worry or anxiety to him in his final days. I wanted him to be content and at peace.

But the days ticked on, and soon it was time to head to the city again. This time when I returned home, I’d no longer be pregnant, and he’d no longer be with us.

My mother-in-law accompanied us to help take care of our daughter when it came time to go to the hospital. We were scheduled to check in at 3:00 on June 13 to receive the injection that would stop our baby’s heart. 

As 3:00 ticked closer, my sister came to meet us and we spent our last few hours with the baby at the park, watching my daughter and all of the other able-bodied children laugh and run and play together. I imagined what life would be like for our unborn child if he did survive and go on to live a life where he felt trapped in his own body as he watched from the sidelines while everybody else did things he could only ever dream of doing. I felt so sad for him.

We went for lunch as a family and had a few more laughs, hugs and tears together before it was time to go. My heart was in my stomach as we drove to the hospital and made our way down the long corridor to the perinatal ward.

No sooner did we sit down to wait than we were summoned into the room where we would have the procedure to stop our baby’s heart. 

 

The moment his heart stopped (and mine broke)

I lay down on the same table in the same room I was in the week earlier when we found out all was not well with our baby. I looked up at the clock again, but now time seemed to speed up instead of stand still. Everything felt rushed and seemed to be happening too quickly. 

I requested a printout of our baby’s heartbeat before it stopped beating, so that one day I can have it tattooed onto my arm in honour and remembrance of my sweet child. Of course the nursing staff obliged, but after that there was nothing left to do but to have the injection.

Nobody gets pregnant expecting to have an abortion. This is my story about terminating a wanted pregnancy and losing a child before he was even born.

This was the last ultrasound printout I received, with the graph showing our baby’s heartbeat on it. Ryan and I plan to have this turned into a tattoo that we will both get on our forearms to honour and remember our sweet second child.

I watched as the nurse readied the needle. Both my heart and my mind seemed to race in tandem. Thoughts filled my head. What would it feel like? Would I feel his soul leave my body? 

I repeated the mantras “be at peace,” and “you’re free now” over and over in my mind as Ryan clutched my hand and I closed my eyes tight. The needle went in. It hurt. I’ve read other women’s accounts who’ve said the needle didn’t hurt that bad. But I thought it hurt. It hurt as the nurse was pulling it out more than anything, but maybe that’s just because that was also the moment my heart was breaking. 

“It’s done,” the nurse said quietly, and then they packed up their instruments and left us alone together. 

We wept. I hadn’t felt his soul leave my body when it happened. I didn’t know what to feel. I hadn’t even delivered him yet but he was gone, and somehow I knew that for me, this was the hardest part. Labour and delivery couldn’t compare to the pain I felt the moment we ended his life.

>> Click here to read Part Two of this story <<

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12 Comments

  1. Cassandra

    You are so brave for not only making the decision that you did for your son, but for disclosing the devastating circumstances to help others.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      It has definitely been a frightening process and was definitely nerve-wracking to write and publish this story, but I followed the voice inside me that told me I had to do it for my son and for all the others out there who have lost a child in a similar way. Thank you for reading<3

      Reply
  2. Arielle Ponce de Leon

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your child and the agonizing choice you had to make. Thank you for sharing this deeply personal story.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you for reading Arielle <3

      Reply
  3. Julie

    Losing a child is devastating. My son was born on June 15, 1980 and was murdered on February 29, 1996. The pain and agony of his death and the closing of his casket was blinding but our love for him goes on. We were told that I would never carry him to term and might lose him . I was fortunate enough to have him for 15 years. My heart aches for all the moms who have lost a child before birth or had to make the choice to terminate or lost a child no matter what age. We do go on as we have no choice. Our other children and family need us. God Bless all of you who have suffered the loss of a child.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Oh Julie! My heart aches for you. I can’t even imagine your pain. Know that you are not alone in your sorrow and that your son is with you in spirit as is mine. Love and light to you.

      Reply
  4. Kirstin

    Thank you brave mama for sharing your story.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you for reading <3

      Reply
  5. Krista

    I am paralyzed by your words throughout your journey. You spoke so well and perfectly to describe the feelings a mother goes through when we are forced to make this loving decision for our babies. I terminated my pregnancy in April, just 3 months ago, for heterotaxy. He was going to need 2 surgeries, on at birth and one a week or so later for his heart. He also had liver a bowel abnormalities, and potentially would have needed a liver transplant as well. This was all if he survived the Hell of his start of life. This is not anything a mother wishes for her child. We do indeed hold their pain so they do not have to. So much love to you. Peace and happiness will approach us with time as we remember the souls who now watch over us.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Oh Krista, thank you for reading and for sharing your own story of love and loss with me. There are so many others and fathers out there who have been through a similar situation and it’s so important that we know it’s okay to talk about it. There is nothing to be ashamed of. We made our decisions out of pure love for our children and will forever hold their pain so that they can be free. Peace and love to you and to our sweet angels in Heaven.

      Reply
  6. Kate C

    You are a brave and loving mother. I am so sorry that your sweet Phoenix was so sick and that you are missing him. What an impossible choice to have to make. You have faced a brutal situation with love in your heart and taken one loving and compassionate action. I wish we could always give our children all the gifts they deserve. It is such a sad thing to have to choose just one gift: life or peace, for they are both so precious and important. You chose well by your heart for the child that you have. I am so sorry that you had to choose at all.

    Much love and support.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you so much for your words of support Kate. I know we made the right choice and I have never once questioned or regret it. I’m just so sad we had to make the choice at all. Thank you for reaching out. <3

      Reply

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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When I graduated from university with a degree in journalism many years ago, I remember thinking that while I knew how to write, edit, interview, shoot, and handle just about every part of creating a publication from the editorial standpoint, I really had no clue how to actually get published, let alone how the printing process works.

Over the years I’ve followed my passion for writing, editing and creating content, figuring much of it out on my own. From creating my blog to “self-publishing” my own digital/print magazine for the last 4 years, I’ve taught myself most of the practical skills necessary for turning an idea into a publication and getting said publication in the hands and in front of the eyes of many hundreds of readers.

But now that I’ve joined forces with the team at @homesteadlivingmagazine and @freeportpress, we’re all able to level up and reach many THOUSANDS of print and digital readers together.

People are HUNGRY for tried and tested advice on homesteading and self-reliant living. There’s a huge movement happening right now as more people wake up to all of the corruption in the world and realize that many of the systems we have come to depend on are fragile and on the brink of collapse. People are ready to take matters into their own hands by growing their own food, preparing their own meals, becoming producers instead of merely consumers and taking control of their health, freedom, security and lives.

I’m so proud to not only be a part of this movement, but to be at the forefront of it with some of the most passionate, talented and driven individuals I could ask to work with.

Getting to meet and brainstorm with some of the team in person and tour the printing facilities over the last few days has opened up a whole new world of possibilities, not just for me, but for everyone who considers themselves part of the modern homesteading movement. We are growing faster than I could have ever imagined. We’re creating a system outside of the system! We’re charging full steam ahead and we invite you to climb aboard and join us for the ride:)

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It’s been a minute since I popped into IG to say hi. (Hi! 👋) But before I share what’s been going on behind the scenes, I thought it would be a good time to (re)introduce myself, because I’ve never actually done that before!

My name’s Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader living in the beautiful Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. I live with my family (human, furry and feathered) on 1/4 acre property where we grow and preserve hundreds of pounds of our own food every year, and strive to live a more self-reliant lifestyle in all that we do.

I grew up in Vancouver and had pretty much zero experience homesteading before my husband, Ryan and I decided we wanted to escape the rat race, become less dependent on the modern industrial food system (and all modern industrialized systems), and dove head first into this lifestyle around a decade ago.

We packed up and moved to Vancouver Island where we live now, started our first garden, and the rest is pretty much history.

(Well, actually that’s not true… There have been A LOT of ups and downs, successes and failures, wins and losses, struggles, challenges and pivotal moments along the way, but those are stories for another day).

Over the past few years, our decision to follow a less conventional path that aims to break free (at least in some part) from “the system” has been affirmed over and over again. We all know for a fact now that our food system, healthcare system, financial system, transportation system and so much more are all really just a house of cards built on shaky ground. We’ve been lucky so far, but sooner or later it’s all liable to collapse.

But preparedness and security isn’t the only thing that drives us… The peace of mind I get knowing that everything we grow is 100% organic, and that the ingredients in our food, medicine, personal and household products are safe and natural is worth more than anything I could buy at the grocery store.

(I’m not perfect though. Not by a long shot. I still rely on the grocery store, on modern medicine, and on many modern conveniences to get by, but I balance it as much as I can:)

(Continued in comments…)
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I’m all about practical gifts; Gifts that will truly make life easier and contribute to my and my family’s wellbeing. And our family includes our animals!

One of the ways we make sure our chickens are taken care of is by letting them free range during the day, but making sure they’re locked up and safe from predators at night. But who wants to be up at the crack of dawn to open the coop, or wake up to a bloodbath because you forgot to close the coop the night before?

(The answer is obviously no one… No one wants that).

Automating our homesteading tasks as much as possible allows us to worry about other things and saves us a ton of time. Plus, it makes sure that things get taken care of, whether we remember or not.

Using an automatic chicken door has been a GAME CHANGER for us. It’s one of those lesser known homestead tools that can make all the difference, and I’m always recommending one to anyone who keeps chickens!

This chicken door from @chickcozy_ is so easy to install and use too, and right now you can get one for a steal during their Black Friday sale!

Save over $40 off an automatic chicken door, plus use my coupon code for an ADDITIONAL DISCOUNT!

Don’t forget to check out their chicken coop heaters too, which are also on sale right now:)

Whether you’re shopping for yourself or looking for the perfect gift for the chicken lover who has everything (which might also be yourself;) the @chickcozy_ automatic chicken door is one Christmas gift that won’t soon be forgotten!

Comment “Chicken” below for more info and to get my exclusive coupon code! 🐓

#chicken #chickens #chickendoor #chickcozyautodoor #chickcozy #chickensofinstagram #chickensofig #chickenlover #homesteadlife
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Yes, you read that right…

Modern Homesteading Magazine is coming to an end.

This decision has not come easily, but there’s a season for everything, and more and more I’m feeling called to transition out of this season and into the next in both life and business.

And so this final farewell issue is bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s the first ever annual issue, with 100 pages packed with brand new content that celebrates the best of the past 32 issues!

And it’s the first issue I’ve ever offered in PRINT!

But on the other hand, it marks the end of an era, and of this publication that I’ve absolutely had the pleasure of creating and sharing with you.

If you’re a digital subscriber, you will not be charged a renewal fee going forward, and will continue to have access to the digital library until your subscription runs out. As part of your subscription, you’re able to download and/or print each issue of you like, so that you never lose access to the hundreds of articles and vast amount of information in each issue.

Rather than subscribing, you can now purchase an all-access pass for a one-time fee of just $20, which gives you access to our entire digital library of issues.

Plus, for a limited time, when you purchase an all-access pass you’ll also get a gift certificate for a second all-access pass to gift to someone else.

I’m also still taking preorders for the print version of this special edition issue, but only for a few more weeks!

When you preorder the print issue, you’ll also get a digital copy of the special edition issue (this issue only), and will receive a print copy in the mail later this year (hopefully by Christmas so long as there are no shipping delays!)

Click the link in my profile or visit modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to check out the latest issue, purchase an all-access pass to the digital library and/or preorder the print issue today!

Thanks to everyone who has read the magazine over the past 4 years. I’m humbled and grateful for your support, and can’t wait to share whatever comes next:)

#modernhomesteading #homesteading #homesteadersofinstagram
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It’s easy to romanticize homesteading, but the truth is that those homegrown vegetables, those freshly laid eggs, that loaf of bread rising on the counter, and that pantry full of home-canned food takes time, effort and dedication. It doesn’t “just happen” overnight!

But if you work on learning one new skill at a time and gain confidence in it before moving onto the next, one day you’ll be looking back and marvelling at how far you’ve come.

That’s where I’m at now. Life today looks a lot different than it did 10 years ago, when our homesteading and self-reliance journey was just beginning.

Back then we still lived in our city condo and were just beginning to dabble in all of this stuff. But my husband Ryan and I felt a sense urgency to start pursuing a more self-reliant lifestyle, and we committed to taking small steps, one day at a time to make that vision a reality.

Over the years we’ve continued to put one foot in front of the other, adding new skills and tackling new projects along the way that have helped us get to where we are today.

While there’s always more we want to learn and do, as I look around me right now, I’m so grateful that we took those first steps, especially considering what’s happened in the world over the past few years!

If you’re also feeling the urgency to take the first (or next) steps toward a more self-reliant life, this is your final reminder that today is the last day to join The Society of Self-Reliance and start levelling up your homesteading and self-sufficiency skills so that you’ve got what it takes to:

• Grow your own groceries
• Stock your pantry
• Create a natural home
• Get prepared
• Learn other important life skills like time management for homesteaders, goal setting and how to become your own handyman

And more!

If you’ve been feeling called to level up your self-reliance skills (because let’s be honest, we’re in for a wild ride these next few years with everything going on in the world), now is the time to heed that call.

Link in profile to enroll before midnight tonight, or go to thehouseandhomestead.com/society

#homesteading #selfreliance #selfsufficiency #homesteadingskills #preparedness
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There are so many reasons to grow your own food at home:

💰 Saves you money at the grocery store
🍴 Healthier than conventionally grown food
🔑 increases your overall food security
🫙 Gives you an abundance to preserve and share

But perhaps the number one reason is because it just tastes better!

Not only does food taste better when it’s freshly picked or allowed to ripen on the vine, there’s something about putting in the work to grow something from a tiny seed and then getting to see it on your dinner plate that just makes it so much more satisfying than anything you’ll ever buy from the store.

Plus, having to wait all year for fresh tomatoes or strawberries or zucchinis to be in season makes that short period when they’re available just that much more exciting!

With the world spinning out of control and food prices continuing to rise, it’s no wonder more people are taking an interest in learning to grow their own food at home. But that also means changing our relationship with food and learning to appreciate the work that goes into producing it and the natural seasonality of organically grown fruits and vegetables.

(It also means learning to preserve it so you can make the most of it and enjoy homegrown food all year long).

In my online membership program, The Society of Self-Reliance, you’ll learn how to grow your own food, from seed to harvest, as well as how to preserve it so you can enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor all year long!

You’ll also learn how to grow and craft your own herbal medicine, detox your home, become your own handyman, and so much more (because self-reliance is about more than just the food that we eat… But that’s a pretty good place to start!)

The doors to the Society are now open for a limited time only. Click the link in my profile or go to thehouseandhomestead.com/society to learn more.

#foodsecurity #homegrownfood #homesteading #selfreliance #selfsufficiency #homegrownfoodjusttastesbetter
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If you’ve been watching events unfold over the past few years and you’re feeling called to start “cutting ties” with the system and begin reclaiming your independence, The Society of Self-Reliance was made for you!

When I first launched this online membership program last year, my goal was to create a one-stop resource where members could go to learn and practice every aspect of self-reliance, as well as a space to connect with other like-minded people pursuing the same goal. And that’s exactly what you’ll get when you join!

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn inside the Society:

🌱 Food Security and Self-Sufficiency: Learn the art of growing and preserving your own food, ensuring you and your loved ones have access to nutritious meals year-round.

🌿 Natural Living and Herbal Medicine Mastery: Discover the secrets to creating a low-tox home and and to growing, making and using herbal remedies to support your family’s health, naturally.

🔨 Essential Life Skills: Learn essential life skills like time management, effective goal setting and practical DIY skills to become more self-sufficient.

As a member, you’ll enjoy:

📚 Monthly Video Lessons: Gain access to our ever-growing library of video lessons, with fresh content added each month.

📞 Live Group Coaching Calls: Participate in our monthly live group coaching calls, where we deep dive into a different self-reliance topic every month, and do live demonstrations and Q&A’s.

🏡 Private Community: Join our private community forum where you can ask questions, share your progress, and connect with like-minded individuals.

I only open the doors to The Society once or twice each year, but right now, for one week only, you can become a member for just $20/month (or $200/year).

In today’s world, self-reliance is no longer a luxury, a “cute hobby,” it’s a necessity. Join us inside The Society of Self-Reliance and empower yourself with the skills you need to thrive in the new world!

Link in profile or visit thehouseandhomestead.com/society to learn more.

#selfreliance #selfreliant #selfsufficiency #selfsufficientliving #sustainableliving #modernhomesteading #homesteadingskills #preparedness
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Got out for an early morning harvest today. Been up since 3am, contemplating life, the future and the past, the order of things…

There is a rumbling right now, not just in North America, but around the world. Many of us can feel it, and know we are on the precipice of something big.

I’d been hearing about this new song that’s become an overnight viral sensation, written by an (until now) unknown singer named Oliver Anthony. His new song Rich Men North of Richmond has had 14 million views on YouTube in the past week alone, so I decided to check it out.

I also saw a clip of him playing a Farmers Market last week, and anything that has to do with Farmers Markets always has my attention;)

I can’t tell you how many tears I’ve already cried listening to that song. If you’ve heard it already, you probably know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, I highly recommend giving it a listen. All I can say is it’s been a while since a song resonated so deeply with me, and in this strange new world, I know I’m not the only one.

One of the lines in Anthony’s song is “Livin’ in the new world, with an old soul,” and that’s something I think so many of us in the homesteading community can relate to.

Trying to cling to better days; To a simpler time; To the old ways, all while doing our best to get by in the new world.

The world has changed drastically in the last few years especially, and it’s set to change in immense ways over the next few years. Today I’m feeling thankful for people like @oliver_anthony_music_ who give a voice to what so many are feeling right now.

Know that if you’re feeling it too, you’re far from alone. And while the future may feel uncertain and even a little scary, remember that if we stand united, we the people are a force to be reckoned with.

(Continued in comments…)
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Another garlic harvest in the books!

Garlic is easily one of my favourite crops to grow. It’s pretty much a “set if and forget it” crop. We plant in the fall and leave it to overwinter, fertilize a couple times in the spring, start watering only once the ground starts to dry out, and then harvest in the summer. We can even plant a fall succession crop after our garlic if we want so it really makes great use of garden space all year round.

Over the years we’ve managed to become completely self-sufficient with garlic. We now grow enough to eat all year (and then some!), plus we save our own seed garlic and usually have extra to sell or give away. And around here fresh, organic garlic ain’t cheap, so it’s a good cash crop for anyone who’s serious about selling it.

It took me a few years to really get the hang of garlic, but it’s one crop I’m now very confident with (knock on wood, because it’s always when we make statements like this that next year’s crop fails! Lol.)

A while back I compiled a comprehensive guide to growing, harvesting and using garlic both as an edible and medicinal crop. This is usually only available as part of a paid bundle (or in the fall 2022 issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine if you’re a subscriber;), but for a limited time I’m offering it for free, no strings attached!

Plus you’ll also get access to my step-by-step video lesson on planting garlic so you can set yourself up for success with your garlic crop this year.

Comment “Garlic” below or head to thehouseandhomestead.com/garlic-guide to get your free copy!
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#garlic #garlicharvest #homesteading #selfsufficient #selfsufficiency #selfsufficientliving #selfreliance #homegrown #groworganic #growfoodnotlawns #gardenersofinstagram #homesteadersofinstagram
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Going through photos and videos from our trip to the @modernhomesteadingconference and the vast majority are of our daughter having the time of her life!

Even if I personally got nothing else out of this gathering (which I most certainly did), watching her discover her own love of this lifestyle outside of what we do at home made my heart grow three sizes!

Homesteading is about so much more than homegrown food and self-reliance. It’s about passing on invaluable skills and an understanding of and respect for our connection to the land that provides for us to the next generation.

Being around so many other kids and families who are also pursuing a homesteading lifestyle helped show our little one that this is a movement that is so much bigger and greater than what our own family does on our little plot of land. This is a lifestyle worth pursuing, with a community unlike any other.

Glad to be back home and more excited than ever to involve my kids in everything we’re doing. But also, I think I speak for my whole family when I say we can’t wait to go back someday!
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#homesteading #modernhomesteading #raisinglittles
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If you’re simply looking for ways to save a little extra cash this summer and live well for less, here are 12 tried and tested frugal living tips for summer that you can use to save money this season without sacrificing a thing.
Head over using the link in my bio!
https://thehouseandhomestead.com/12-frugal-living-tips-summer/
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#houseandhomestead
#momentsofcalm
#pursuejoy
#simplepleasuresoflife
#thatauthenticfeeling
#findhappiness
#artofslowliving
#simplelifepleasures
#lifesimplepleasure
#simplepleasuresinlife
#thatauthenticlife
#authenticlifestyle
#liveanauthenticlife
#livinginspired
#savouringhappiness
#livemoment
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#modernfarmhousekitchen
#crunchymama
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#modernhomesteading
#backyardfarmer
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