On Losing A Child: A Birth Story About Love, Loss and A Heartbreaking Choice (Part 2)


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

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.Labour and delivery

One of the nurses returned to the room and offered her condolences. She gave me a pill and said I could take it and go back to the hotel for the night. I didn’t have to stay at the hospital. The next morning morning I was scheduled to come back and be fully induced.

I thanked her and we left. I was numb. I couldn’t speak. Couldn’t feel. Couldn’t wrap my head around what had just happened. But worst of all, I couldn’t feel any tiny movements in my belly anymore. I was still carrying my child. I was still physically connected to him and nourishing his body with mine. But he was gone. How could this be?

We spent the night at the hotel and I fell asleep holding my daughter in bed. I could barely let her go that night. I needed to love and to physically hold a child of mine. I needed reassurance that I was a good mother who would do anything for her children. I needed her at that moment more than she needed me.

The next morning came, and we took our time getting to the hospital. Luckily the nursing staff were great about it and told us there was no rush. We could take as much time as we needed. So we did. Truth be told, I was trying to drag out every last moment with this baby. I didn’t want to let go. But I felt my body letting go already. My body intuitively knew it was time to let go soon. But my heart wasn’t ready.

We arrived at the hospital at 10:30 in the morning. We checked in at the desk in the maternity ward and the nurses behind the counter went from laughing and joking together to solemn and quiet when I said my name. Clearly they were expecting me.

I was hurried to the antepartum ward into my own private room, around the corner and far enough away from the maternity ward full of joyous families and excited parents about to birth their living children. Far enough away that I wouldn’t have to hear the cries of new babies at the start of their hopefully long and happy lives.

A nurse came in to comfort me and to get me ready to begin the process of induction. I was given another pill and told to wait a few hours to see if anything started to happen.

My first labour with Evelyn was not an easy one. I was induced with her too because I went past my due date and had gestational diabetes, so the doctors were worried about her getting too big. Labour took around 10 hours until ending in a c-section shortly after midnight. I asked how long this labour would take, and was told anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Somehow I knew mine would be somewhere in between.

Sure enough, hours went by and still no active labour. Then, at around 6 p.m. I started contractions. The process ticked along slowly from there and by about 11:00 I was in a fair amount of pain but still declined any drugs. I wanted to feel the pain. I wanted that connection to and experience with my child. I wanted to feel the pain so that he wouldn’t have to. I needed a physical reminder of why I was doing this: So that my child would never have to experience pain.

I kept repeating in my mind “I would endure any amount of pain so that my children won’t suffer.” That kept me going for a while, but when the nurse said “don’t be a hero,” I started to consider some painkillers.

I was given some morphine around midnight, which helped to calm the pain of contractions and let me get a long enough break to regain some strength. But by 2 a.m. I was writhing in pain again. I had an epidural which really helped to ease the pain and give me a chance to get some sleep. I slept for about 2 or 3 hours and awoke at 5 a.m. to the nurse standing over me telling me I was fully dilated and it was time to push.

I tried pushing for an hour as the doctor, the nurse and my husband stood over me staring. I felt like I was under pressure to deliver this baby, and I could barely even feel anything below the waist. I made the connection to my child having no feeling in his own lower body, and found it ironic.

I had never pushed before since I’d had a c-section with Evelyn, so I really wasn’t quite sure what to do. After about an hour of trying, I finally got the hang of it and knew that I was ready to deliver the baby. Still I held on. I knew that once he was out, that was it. I would get to hold his body for a few hours and then it was goodbye forever. I wasn’t ready to let go, but my body said “it’s time,” and with a couple pushes he was out, and everything was quiet.

There were no cries. No chatter from the nurse or doctor. No happy congratulations. Just quiet. 

The nurse handed us our baby all wrapped up. He looked so peaceful. His eyes were closed and his mouth was open just a little bit. His tiny hands had all five fingers and his face had both ears, eyes and a mouth and nose. He looked angelic and perfect and like nothing at all was wrong with him. But as we slowly unwrapped his blanket to take a look at his legs, we knew without a doubt that we had made the right decision.

His legs were crossed over each other and his lower leg and calf was scrawny and lacking any meat. The doctor told us the umbilical cord had been wrapped around his leg, and unable to kick it off, it seemed to have restricted the growth of his leg. We didn’t look at his back. I couldn’t bear to get a closer look. I wanted to remember him wrapped up and perfect.

I asked the nurse what the gender was because we still couldn’t see under his crossed little legs. She checked carefully and was able to confirm it was a boy. 

“It’s a boy, Ry,” I said to Ryan as tears welled in my eyes. And as I did, he started crying too.

We were given as much time as we needed to hold him and be with him before it was time to go. I put him down on the bed between Ryan and I and we played beautiful, sad music on our iPhones and fell asleep together for about an hour. It was the best hour of this entire experience, and I felt very much at peace.

Finally a nurse came in to ask us the necessary questions, including what we were naming our baby boy. We decided to name him Phoenix Rain: Phoenix to rise from the ashes and Rain for the sadness we felt in losing him.

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.

I felt very at peace during the hours immediately following Phoenix’s birth. I knew we had made the right choice. The hardest parts were over with. His soul was free. We had experienced what I believe we were meant to experience. And now our healing could begin. 

I looked at my son and at his tiny body and I knew that he wasn’t in there. It was just his body; His vessel. And I was glad I was able to free him from that vessel which wasn’t built to serve him in his life, and to give him a chance at a better one.

Then again, sometimes I wonder if our son was an angel from the beginning. Did he come to us to teach us a lesson about love and life? Or maybe even to give another soul who is meant to come into our lives the opportunity to do so when the time is right? Maybe he was never meant to be born at all, but was merely an angel meant to visit us for a short while to help us along our own spiritual journey.

 

On faith, destiny, purpose and unconditional love

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.

Phoenix Rain: Born June 15, 2018. Died June 13, 2018. Forever and always our second child.

I believe very strongly that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and while I don’t know the reasons why life unfolds as it does, I do believe it is meant to unfold exactly as it should. I believe all things happen for a reason, and that our purpose in life is for our souls to experience the things necessary for them to grow and fulfill their full potential. I don’t understand it, but I believe it.

And so I take comfort in believing that my son was able to fulfill his own soul’s purpose before he was even born. Most of us take decades to fulfill ours, if we do at all while we’re here, so it’s a pretty special thing for him to have been able to leave a legacy like he did in only 24 weeks of gestation.

As we sat in the delivery room with him by our side, family members filed in to offer love, comfort and condolences. We sat together and told stories and laughed and cried and smiled. Phoenix got to be part of his first and last family get together, and it was as happy as it could be in that moment.

My daughter came into the room bright-eyed and yelled “mommy!” as she ran to my bed and I lifted her onto my lap. Seeing her brought me great joy but also made me feel sad beyond words that I would never get to hear my son say “mommy” as I lifted him onto my lap and held him tight. 

A hospital worker came in and brought us a round, blue box with a heart painted on it. In it was Phoenix’s hospital bracelet, the measuring tape used to measure him with his measurements and weight scrolled on it, and a card with his hand and footprints stamped in it.

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.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.

It was a beautiful gesture and I’m so happy I have this much of my son to remember him by, but still I was in disbelief that while other mothers were leaving with their babies, I was leaving with a box.

The nurses wrapped our boy up in a blue knitted blanket that somebody obviously handmade for a baby like him, and put a tiny knitted toque on his head. They told us we could keep them both as mementos.

I took the blanket when we were about to leave as he was still wrapped in another blanket underneath that one. But I couldn’t take the hat. His forehead had started to shrivel up as he lay there and I didn’t want to remember him that way. I couldn’t bring myself to strip him of the few things that were his. We left the hat on him, and we kissed him and said goodbye. And that was it.

When we returned home that day, I had that strange feeling you often get when someone close to you dies: The feeling of wondering “how is time still ticking and life still going on when this beautiful, amazing, unique life just ended? When our life is forever changed? How will things ever be the same?”

And the truth is, they won’t. Life won’t ever be the same for us, just as it’s not the same for anyone when a loved one dies. But life does go on. Death is an inherent part of life, and just like we cannot know joy without sadness, we cannot know life without death. It makes us aware of our own mortality in this world, and hopefully of our soul’s immortality and our infinite connection with all that is, was or ever will be. 

I know that Phoenix is with me all the time. I’m not sure of what form he is in, but I know that our souls will always be connected and probably always have been. I know that he can hear me when I talk to him, even if I don’t say the words out loud. When I read my daughter a story before bed, I read it to my son too. I know that when I cuddle his blanket at night, that he can feel me holding him. And I know that he forgives me for the choice I had to make, because he knows I did it out of nothing but love and compassion. 

It’s been three weeks now since I lost my baby boy. We brought his urn home yesterday, and when we did, Evelyn, our not-quite-two-year-old daughter said out of the blue, “there’s my brother! My brother’s here!” Ryan and I looked at each other in bewilderment. How did she know that? A question neither one of us could answer. But it reaffirmed my faith that Phoenix is here with us in spirit, and I’m glad our daughter can perceive him and feel him here too.

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.

The little heart-shaped urn that contains Phoenix’s ashes now sits atop our mantel. It’s no bigger than my fist and probably weighs more than he did at birth. It’s a sad but beautiful reminder of our son.

Not a day goes by when I don’t think of our sweet boy. But I worry sometimes that I will forget. That one day when I’m old and grey, if I make it that long on Earth, that I’ll have trouble remembering my second child. I’ll forget what his tiny punches felt like in my womb. I’ll forget what he looked like. I’ll forget the pain of this experience.

I confided this in a dear friend of mine who also lost a child at birth. She reassured me that the mind might forget, but the heart will always remember, and I know she’s right.

Because regardless of how many healthy, living children I have in my life, my second child will always be the one I lost. I will always be his mother. He will always be my son. 

Now at night when I hold his blanket in my arms and the thought of him in my heart, I remind him of that when I repeat the famous lines from the Robert Munsch book, “Love You Forever”:

 

 

I’ll love you forever

I’ll like you for always

As long as I’m living

My baby you’ll be.

 

I love you beyond words my son. You’ve inspired me to be a better person and a more grateful, appreciative, compassionate human being. You’ll always be with me in my heart wherever I go. 

Be at peace my sweet child, for now you are free.

 

** Recommended Reading: If you or someone you now has faced or is facing a situation like ours, I highly recommend the following book, Our Heartbreaking Choices: Forty-Six Women Share Their Stories Of Interrupting A Much-Wanted Pregnancy

This book is written by real people who have face the choice of ending a wanted pregnancy for medical reasons. It has helped me to know that I am not alone as I go through this process and I sincerely hope it can do the same for someone else as well. 

 

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42 Comments

  1. Kelly

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am pregnant with my first little one and will have to be going through this same thing shortly. I’m… I don’t really have a word to describe my brokenness but whatever’s beyond that, that’s what I am. Your story truly truly has helped me. I hope one day I can articulate the words as you have and find the courage to share my story one day, to hopefully help someone else not feel alone as you’ve done for me. Thank you x a million.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Hi Kelly,
      I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re going through. Nobody will ever understand it unless they’ve been through it before. But know that you’re far from alone. There are so many other women like us who are too afraid to speak about what they’ve gone through for fear of judgment on top of the incredible pain we’re already going through, but I believe our children deserve to have their stories told. I hope you do find the courage to tell your story someday, but in the meantime I will email you the invite to the support group. I’ve found a lot of solace there. Sending love and healing thoughts ❤️

      Reply
  2. Nicole

    Thank you Anna for sharing your story. It really helps. I have so much sadness for the baby girl I have in me, who I’ll have to say goodbye to in a week. I also have a toddler who is almost 2 and would have been a big sister by July, a few months past her birthday. I don’t know how to deal with this loss yet. It’s a hard decision to make- to end a baby’s life because their life would be full of pain and difficulty. I want this baby so badly, it’s almost selfish to consider having her anyway and just seeing how things play out. Maybe her life won’t be as bad as I think it would be. But I know that her life would be fragile, possibly short and full of obstacles, however mild her disease. And for you to say that you and your husband wouldn’t want to live the life that your baby would lead….that makes perfect sense. I wouldn’t want to be in my baby girls place, and have so many complications and surgeries for my whole life. It makes sense, but I wish I could still hold her, kiss her, dance with her, take her on adventures, and keep her safe. It’s a weird feeling to be compelled to want to protect and keep your baby safe and give them the best life, and then to have to choose an abortion as their best outcome. I don’t know how to feel about it.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Hi Nicole,

      I completely understand what you’re going through and I’m so sorry. I understand wanting to hold and kiss and love your baby but knowing that the kindest and most loving thing you can do for her is to spare her from suffering. I don’t think you’re supposed to feel one way or another about it. It’s a complicated type of grief that only those of us who have walked this difficult path can understand. If you’d like some additional support, please email me at anna@thehouseandhomestead.com and I will send you the information to a fantastic online support group I’m a part of. Sending love and healing to you and your precious girl ♥️

      Reply
      • Kelly

        Anna, Could you also send me the support group ??

        Reply
  3. Denise Cortez

    It took me this long to read your beautiful words. God Bless your family. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

    Reply
  4. helen

    What a beautiful, brave tribute to your angel boy. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you Helen<3

      Reply
  5. Aria

    Thank you for having the courage to share your story. I’m sorry about all the negative reactions you may have received, both publicly and privately. No one has the right to judge or ‘throw stones,’ and more people could use a refresher on what it means to have compassion and empathy. Not to dig too deep into politics, but your story and others like it are so important. Many folks don’t seem to realize just how much can ‘go wrong’ during a pregnancy; indeed, like you said, it’s a miracle so many pregnancies lead to healthy babies. I recently visited the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, PA, and it highlighted just how many things can go wrong. It was hard to see them…they were real human babies, not wax dolls. Your choice came from a place of love. It is never an easy choice, especially when a baby is so longed for in joyous excitement. I wish peace upon your heart, mind, and spirit. I know my words cannot ease your pain and heartbreak. But please know that many people support you in your choice and in your grief. I hope writing out this two-part post was cathartic for you. If you and your husband feel a need, I would suggest that you look for a trustworthy professional to talk to about your loss, whether that is a spiritual adviser, a grief counselor, an online loss group/forum, or whomever. Sometimes it can help to speak to someone who is nonjudgmental and whose only goal is to offer you support. Not everyone will feel a need for this, but if you or your husband do, there is nothing wrong in seeking such support. Wishing you peace in these challenging days to come, and wishing you happiness and joy all the years of your lives.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I am honestly floored by the overwhelmingly positive and supportive response I’ve received. Sure there have been a few cruel responses, but I expected that. There will always be some people who choose judgment and hate over understanding and love, but going through hard life experiences such as losing my sweet boy has taught me to always choose the latter in my own life, so I send those people love in return. Ryan and I have spoken to a counsellor and are taking the necessary steps to work throughout grief in a positive, healthy way. We’ve been through some loss and trauma together before, so we were a bit better prepared this time around to handle the process. Thank you so much for reaching out. Love and light to you.

      Reply
  6. Ann Cowles

    I am sending big “Hugs” to you and your husband. My heart goes out to you. It was a hard and brave decision to have to make, but for you both and your son, the right one.
    Your story brought back memories. I remember in January of 1989 getting a positive AFP test back on my second pregnancy. Had no idea what that meant. I had been a nurse working in Obstetrics for 17 years but we didn’t do that test then, not in 1987 when my daughter was born either. I read all my books to find out what it was and the worst it could be. I remember waiting for answers, going to the ultrasound ( scared to death), then the genic counseling. It was all so scary and overwhelming. Nothing showed up on the Ultrasound, he’s 29 years old now and but does have Asperger’s Syndrome. No one should judge you, they haven’t walked in your shoes. I wish you the best and thank you for sharing your story.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you so much for the kind and supportive words, and for sharing your own story! I was also born in 1987 and my mother said the same (about not testing for all the things they test for now or having as thorough of an ultrasound as they do now). I’m definitely thankful for modern technology and the ability it affords us to choose the best path forward for our families. And you’re so right: No one has the right ti judge anyone until they’ve walked in their shoes. Thank you again for reaching out <3

      Reply
  7. Deborah

    What a beautiful and sad story. I cried my way through but felt the most tears well up at Becky’s response. What a mean intentioned human being. Shame on a “Christian” for acting so unchristianly. Baby Phoenix is looking down on you, loving you both and his big sister. Love and strength to your family and your journey through life. ❤️

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you for reading and reaching out. While I am forever grateful for all of the kind and beautiful responses I’ve received from so many people, I understand there will always be some who disagree with my choice. The words that some people have chosen to express their disagreement have certainly hurt in a time when I’m hurting most, but I know that what others think of me is none of my business, and the way they choose to respond says more about them than it does about me. Love to you <3

      Reply
  8. Rebecca

    Your story really resonates with me. Apart from the diagnosis and gender of your Phoenix, our story’s are so SO similar. Even down to our LC being named Evelyn, arriving by C-section, and our poor wee babies full labourcstarting around 5am after a fairk long induction. Thank you for sharing so bravely, so openly. Just know that any hate you’ve received, you have also changed someone’s view. Sending you much love and strength

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Wow! Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your story with me! So many the details are so similar! My son is my Angel in Heaven but my Evelyn is my Earth Angel, as I’m sure yours is too <3 And that hate and negativity that I've received is nothing compared to the love and positive energy I've received from so many. Love always triumphs over hate and light over darkness. Always remember that.

      Reply
  9. Christine

    I am a new subscriber and a mother of 5 children all grown up with children of their own. Your story was heartbreaking and I was in tears. As hard as it was you made the right choice, both for your son, but also for your daughter. Your son would have had a most difficult life and your life as a mother along with it, there would have been weeks of not giving your daughter your full attention even times away in hospitals. The cost of all this also would have also been a major burden. God doesn’t want anyone to suffer. Abortion for a healthy unwanted child is wrong especially when so many women want to adopt. Medical reasons and yours were severe is not wrong.
    Your daughter has been given the gift to know her brother is there, so be blessed and be happy. There will be another healthy child, look forward to that, difference in age will be insignificant. Hugs and strength from me to , as you find peace.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you for the kind and supportive words Christine. Although we made the decision for our son, we certainly did consider our daughter as well. It would have been such a hard life for her in a very different way. She would be robbed of her childhood and would have to grow up very quickly to help pull extra weight as we tended to our boy. She would always come second, and that wouldn’t be fair to her either. I could never let any of my children suffer. As heart-wrenching of a decision as this was, I know we made the right choice for everyone involved. All our son ever knew was love and compassion, and it will remain forever that way. Thank you again for reaching out <3

      Reply
  10. Jenn

    Thank you for sharing. My heart breaks for you and your family. You will have backlash no matter what, which I’m sure you are aware of. Whether or not your choice was “right” in someone else’s eyes, is beyond what has really happened here.

    I’m really sad about this, but it gives light and understanding to different things that others go through. I’m sure this was very difficult to write! I can’t imagine having to go through that!

    I’ve experienced 2 miscarriages after having 2 healthy babies just fine – first one at 13 weeks (after hearing the heartbeat at 8 weeks), and second one at 9 weeks. I don’t think you’ll ever “forget,” though. The pain a mother feels when losing a child is more than just a loss, it’s losing something that was literally part of her own being.

    May God comfort you during this time of grieving.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thanks for reaching out and for sharing your own losses with me! Any backlash I’ve received doesn’t compare to the pain of losing our son. What doesn’t kill you truly makes you stronger, and I’ve been through enough at this point that words will never hurt me. I really don’t care if someone else thinks it’s right or wrong. I know in my heart we made the right decision and we have been incredibly supported throughout our journey by the overwhelming majority of people. Thank you again for your kind and supportive words! Love and light to you and yours <3

      Reply
  11. Anne P.

    Your story brought me to tears. I applaud your choice and although it was possibly the most difficult choice you both may ever have to make. I am proud that you both had the right to make that choice. Regardless of personal beliefs, it was your (both of you) choice to make and something that we all should support.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you so much for the support. We made the best decision we could when faced with two horrible options. Sometimes our personal beliefs are challenged when we are faced with something like this in our own lives. It’s never a decision I thought I would have to make for myself or my own child, but life doesn’t happen the way we expect it to. We need to take it as it comes and accept it for what it is, as heartbreaking as that can be sometimes. Thank you again for reaching out <3

      Reply
  12. Ashley

    I am so sorry for your loss. It is an unimaginable pain to say goodbye to a child. He will always be with you watching over his siblings. <3

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you Ashley. Yes, I know his spirit is with us. He will always be a piece of me and although I will never get to hold him in the flesh, I will always hold him in my heart. Love and light to you <3

      Reply
  13. Barbara

    Dear Anna and Ryan,
    My best wishes to both of you in this difficult time. I believe you made the right decision.
    A relative of mine had not made the right decision and their baby never walked, spoke or was able to do anything. It was very sad for the entire family for the duration of their son’s short life.
    Phoenix is in heaven and free. May God bless you with another healthy child when the time is right.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you for reading and for sharing your insight. That’s exactly the sort of life we wanted to spare our own son from We just couldn’t bear the thought of him suffering in his life, be it short or long. I know I would never want to live that way, so I would never put my children through a life of hardship like that. We don’t even let our pets suffer when they are ill beyond repair. I couldn’t imagine letting our son suffer. But I also understand why some parents make the choice to have their children. As a mother you just want to hold your baby and protect him and shower him in love. But some things are beyond our ability to shelter our children from unfortunately. If I could have shielded our son from pain throughout his life I would have absolutely made a different choice, but I knew I couldn’t do that and then he would be all on his own at an extreme disadvantage. Sometimes the compassionate choice is the choice to say goodbye. Thank you for reaching out. Peace and love to you and your relatives <3

      Reply
  14. Deena

    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s a heartbreaking one that brought tears to my eyes as I read it. I want to give you a big hug right now. I am an ear to listen if you need to talk.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thanks Deena <3 It is heartbreaking, to say the least. But we're working through it. We understand that these things happen. We all experience pain and loss and heartache in its various forms. It's a part of being human, so we're doing our best to embrace it and grow from our experience. Love to you and your family. Xo

      Reply
  15. christine

    You are very brave. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you for reading <3

      Reply
  16. Joan

    WOW, you are so strong. Thank you for sharing. Stay strong

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you for reading. My son has given me the strength I lacked before. <3

      Reply
  17. Becky

    I cannot believe these posts justifying what you did to your precious little boy. Ending a child’s life is not our decision to make. It is God’s. Otherwise, it’s called murder. How many children are born with deformities that go on to lead wonderful lives? You have no idea what would have happened had you let your child live. You didn’t even give him a chance! I am disgusted and will be discontinuing my subscription to your site.

    Reply
    • Krista

      Wow Becky, you are a horrible person to judge this woman. I myself have terminated a pregnancy also, at 23 weeks because I found out boy had heterotaxy. These decisions are not related to playing God at all. They are loving, compassionate choices we make for our loved ones who do not deserve to suffer.
      Anna I am overwhelmed by your courage to put your story out there for the world to see knowing these comments are inevitable. I’m sorry along with you for those who cannot understand, and never will unless they are put in this situation.

      Reply
    • Brittni

      How dare you talk about God’s decision making while judging someone else. I will gladly subscribe to make up for your “loss”.
      Anna and Ryan, I am glad you had the choices you had in order to make the best decision you could for Phoenix. It shows what amazing parents you are, that you would take on the hurt and pain in order to alleviate your son’s suffering. Prayers and love to you and your family!

      Reply
    • KI

      There is nothing Christian about your reply to a grieving mother. Your judgement and hatred are what you will be judged by and you give Christians a bad name.

      Reply
    • Julie C

      Oh Becky, you are so deeply misguided. To live in your black and white world must be very comforting, but it limits you from being able to feel true empathy and compassion. The world is grey, Becky. And in the limitless hard choices we all have to make (none harder then the loss bravely described above), there is growth and beauty in realizing that each situation is not one-size-fits-all. I am sad for you that you will march on with your blinders on without opening your heart to this story and the many others that could teach you compassion and what it means to support your fellow humans. You know, like Jesus would.

      Reply
    • REBECCA

      Becky,
      Who do you think gave people the ideas, the technology to find out about these problems before birth? Maybe God? You have no idea of God’s plan for this family. Don’t be so presumptuous. It seems this blog will be better off without you spewing your vitriol.

      Reply
    • Tracy Sherman

      Becky – You should read your Bible a little closer. You are commanded to show love and compassion to others. Anna and Ryan have shown the ultimate love and compassion; Anna opened her heart to Testify to you and you have chosen to hurl insults at this grieving mother. You’ve spent so much time in Leviticus (15, perhaps?) that you forgot Numbers (5:17&18 – the Bible clearly states that ministers/priests/pastors should be the ones to perform abortions, it is a stated part of their job description). It wouldn’t hurt for you to read a little Matthew either.
      While you are at it, you should start thinking about what you will say to God when you die, because you have gone against the teaching in Isaiah 30:18 by making your comments. You are ignoring Job 2:11. You should remember Proverbs 14:6 and John 15:12.
      Most importantly, for the sake of your own soul: Judge not, lest ye be judged.
      On a personal note, I have terminated 2 pregnancies. I have had 2 abortions. I am eternally grateful that *my* God is a beacon of light, love, mercy, kindness, and compassion. My God gave me advanced information through brilliant doctors and amazing medical tests. My God sent me to a devout LDS physician – a man who does not condone abortion as a means of birth control but who firmly believes Gad gave him technology that “could prevent unnecessary suffering” (the doctor’s words). His God gave him Science. He offered us a means to show our child love and mercy.
      Dozens of verses in the Bible have instructed you to “spread the good news”. You have been instructed to, in essence, attempt to convert as many people as you can to become followers of Jesus Christ. Take Romans 10:14-15 for example. Your comments here are NOT positive. You represent your God as a mean and cruel being who gains pleasure from making newborn babies suffer. Who would want to follow a God like that?!? When I read comments from “Christians” like you, I do not come closer to “accepting Jesus”, I move further away. You have actually managed to do the opposite of what the Bible tells you to do (I bet you eat bacon-wrapped shrimp and wear poly/cotton blend clothing too – both prohibited in several places in the Bible). Thanks to you, and others like you, I will keep my happy Pagan eyes on your Bible – someone’s got to read it, since you refuse, I will do it for you. I wish I could be a fly on the wall when you get to the Pearly Gates, because you are going to be doing a GIANT tap dance to explain this one away.
      Anna – Thank you for sharing Phoenix with the world. In this challenging time, know you are loved. Know you are honored for your choices. Thank you for representing 1/3 of all women openly. Phoenix will help change the world for the better. Sending light and love to you. Blessed Be.

      Reply
    • Emily

      What a horrible thing to say to a grieving mother. I too ended a very wanted pregnancy and can tell you that these decisions are not made lightly. Mothers and fathers who make heartbreaking decisions such as these do so to end the pain their child would endure because we love them too much to let them suffer. Thank God you’ve never had to experience something like this.

      Reply
    • DrKC

      Becky, who are you to judge what this brave mother has gone through? I speak for all the mothers who gave back their wanted babies, because I made this choice for my only son myself. Our children deserve the best quality of life this world can provide for them and I assure you that a life of being unable to eat, breathe, walk, talk properly is not what I wished for my son. It is not what any mother wishes for her children. We would gladly suffer the grief and the forever mourning that accompanies this decision rather than allow our children to suffer. Because that is called COMPASSION and CHARITY. 2 Christian concepts whose meaning and application escapes you in that rush to judgement.

      Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Dear Becky,

      I knew full well that there would be some people who would disagree with my decision, and I’m okay with that. I am always in awe of those who go on to defeat all the odds and live a beautiful, fulfilling and inspirational life despite their disabilities, and believe me I considered this possibility when we were making our decision. I so badly wanted our son to be one of these people. But I also know how many more people with severe disabilities go on to live short, painful lives, trapped in their own bodies, isolated and excluded by the rest of society, and with the severity of our son’s disabilities, I knew the odds were stacked against him. Unfortunately we didn’t have the option to give him a chance. It was either this or that. If he was born into suffering, that’s where he would stay, and I couldn’t justify letting my child suffer. Thank you for your comment though. I’m truly grateful there was at least one comment like yours as it highlights the need for more education, understanding and compassion around this sensitive topic in a time when women’s reproductive rights and ability to make loving, compassionate decisions for their children and families is at a great risk in the United States. Sending you love, light and understanding <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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If you haven't checked-in lately, the last week or so, we've sorta been in the trenches of homesteading and life over here. While some make it out to be glamorous all the time there are high's and low's just as there are in life. ⁣

With all that's going on, I've been making a point to find my way back into the garden, which is not only needed to feed my family, but also for some personal spiritual nourishment. ⁣

I just want to take a minute to love on my favorite veggie today, Broccoli! 🥦 It's one we plant over-and-over and I'm leaning into its abundance this year. ⁣

Not only is it one of my favorites, but we've also found it's one of the easiest veggies to grow so if you haven't tried it or added it to your garden yet, there's no better time than the present. ⁣

I've got an entire post on How to Grow Broccoli from Seed here: https://thehouseandhomestead.com/how-to-grow-broccoli-from-seed/ if you're looking for any tips or tricks.⁣

In my "How to" post you'll also find a link to one of my favorite recipes for Cream of Broccoli Leaf Soup!
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29 5

Can I be honest?

Sometimes you've gotta take a step back and look at the life you've created for yourself and ask yourself "is this truly what I want?"

The other day I shared about losing two of our rabbits this week to Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease. The stress of losing them comes amidst a backdrop of heightened tensions around here...

From work pressures for Ryan to me trying to run a business and handle a very fussy, colicky 2-month-old (and a very busy 6-year-old), to things ramping up in the garden again and all of the other million things that need to get done (including multiple loads of laundry a day thanks to more spit up than I ever knew a baby was capable of producing), I finally felt like I was ready to crack this week.

Oh, not to mention we're doing this all on next to no sleep thanks again to our sweet boy.

I know this is all part of what we signed up for, but when it all happens at once, it can feel completely overwhelming. And when I'm completely overwhelmed and stressed out, that's exactly when I get sick too, which is exactly what happened a couple days ago.

Then yesterday (Saturday) I woke up feeling awful and decided to scroll Instagam as I nursed Noah. I saw other mothers with 6, 8 or even 10 kids somehow keeping it all together getting three square meals on the table every day while managing to keep a tidy kitchen and find time to Instagram about it.

I saw other homestead bloggers reaching new levels of success in their business that I can only dream about right now. And as I sat there in bed, covered in spit up with a ravenous baby nursing off me as I tried to console him, I felt sad for myself in that moment that I couldn't live up to the folks I was comparing myself to.

Later in the day I had to work, so Ryan took the kids to the beach and I stayed home. And I felt sad once again; Sad that I was missing out on yet another weekend with my family because I had created a life where I now have to work weekends just to keep up.

But the silver lining was that the work I had to do yesterday forced me out into the garden, and it was probably the most soothing thing I could have done for my soul.

(Continued in comments…)
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Sometime homesteading looks like homegrown vegetables and freshly laid eggs and sourdough rising on the counter.

And sometimes it looks like tears when you have to bury one of your animals 😔

Ryan went out to feed the bunnies yesterday and Flopsy -our little black and white bunny- was laying dead in the pen. There was no blood, other than a little bit by her mouth. Seems like something internal happened. We’re not sure what.

Evelyn helped lay her to rest yesterday. It was a hard weekend for her. First she stayed with grandma and went with her to put her sick, 17-year-old cat down. Then she came home to the news that Flopsy was gone.

But I believe she’s more resilient because of it. We talked to her about how death is a part of all life, and allowed her to go through the stages of grief and process it however she felt she needed to.

Homesteading isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and snuggly barnyard animals. Homesteading teaches us hard lessons and helps us to become stronger and more resilient by challenging us daily.

Yesterday was a sad, hard day. But I’m glad we got to experience it together as a family.
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A few years ago, Forbes published an article titled Dear Homesteaders, Self-Reliance is a Delusion.

Let’s unpack this…
What does self-reliant really mean? Is it actually achievable, or just a pipe dream?⁣

Over on the blog today I'm unpacking all of these thoughts, and the things I do know for sure as a homesteader, mother and member of a strong and self-reliant community. ⁣

But I really want to hear from you! Post in the comments below what self-reliance means in modern times, or what steps you're taking to be more self-reliant. ⁣

Read the full article here: https://thehouseandhomestead.com/what-is-self-reliance/ or at the link in my bio
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The spring issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine is out now!

It’s that time again...

The time when things begin ramping up in the garden, the barnyard and the home.

From trays of seedlings to baskets full of eggs, spring is in the air and I don’t know about you, but I’m here for it!

It’s also time for a brand new issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, and boy do we have a good one for you…

In the spring issue, we cover a diverse range of topics from how to trade your skills for land to the realities of going off-grid, from seed-starting to what to do with too many eggs, and from the simple joys of a homemade herbal cocktail to the sometimes heavy emotional toll of raising meat animals.

In this issue, you’ll find:
🌱 What it really takes to live off-grid, with Tammy Trayer of Trayer Wilderness
🌱How you can trade your skills for a piece of land with the SKIP program from the folks at Permies.com
🌱 Everything you need to know about seed-starting to set your garden up for success and abundance!
🌱 What to do with too many eggs! Author Mimi Dvorak-Smith shares 800+ ways to use ‘em up when your hens start laying.
🌱 How to make your own healthier cocktails with homemade botanical syrups
🌱 Dealing with the emotional toll of raising meat animals on the homestead

Visit modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to login to the library and read the spring issue (current subscribers) or subscribe for just $19.99/year to read this issue and gain instant access to our entire library of past issues!

#modernhomesteading #homesteading #selfsufficiency #springonthehomestead
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29 5

If you grow plants from seed (or if you want to), you’re likely going to want to start a few of them indoors. And if you start your seeds indoors, something that will make your life so much easier (and make your seedlings bigger, stronger and healthier) is an indoor growing stand with grow lights. ⁣

I've got a post I'm sharing with you today that will walk you through choosing the best type of lighting for whatever you're growing and then a step-by-step guide of how to make your grow stand, along with product recommendations if you want to make yours just like mine! ⁣

Ours can accommodate up to about 200 seedlings, but you can make yours as small or big as needed:)⁣

You can check out the post here https://thehouseandhomestead.com/how-to-build-indoor-growing-stand/ or at the link in my bio. ⁣

Let me know in the comments what you're growing new, or what you're most excited about in your planting journey this year!
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Theme of the Month: ADIDAS ⁣
No, not the textiles brand, it stands for: 𝗔𝗹𝗹 𝗗𝗮𝘆 𝗜 𝗗𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗔𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗦𝗲𝗲𝗱𝘀 because it's officially March and we are in full swing around here! ⁣

Before you just start throwing seeds in the ground or into red solo cups on your windowsill, it’s important to take some time to read your seed packets and get to know each crop’s specific needs.⁣

Understanding the information on a seed packet is super important when it comes to gardening, especially if you want your plants to get a strong, healthy start and produce an abundance of food for you. And what gardener doesn’t want that?!⁣

Set yourself up for success and take a minute to read through my 𝘏𝘰𝘸 𝘵𝘰 𝘙𝘦𝘢𝘥 & 𝘜𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘚𝘦𝘦𝘥 𝘗𝘢𝘤𝘬𝘦𝘵𝘴 𝘎𝘶𝘪𝘥𝘦, before your weekend gardening plans begin. ⁣

Grab the guide link in my bio, or get it here: https://thehouseandhomestead.com/how-to-read-seed-packets/⁣

Happy Planting:) ✨
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26 3

This all-natural homemade toothpaste recipe is made with just four simple ingredients that are good for both your body and your bank account!⁣

I’m on a personal mission to replace every commercially-made, toxic product in our home with homemade, all-natural alternatives. One-by-one, I’m getting closer every day.⁣

The benefit of making all-natural toothpaste at home is avoiding the unhealthy additives found in most commercial toothpastes by substituting ingredients with proven benefits for oral health.⁣

So if you’re also on a mission to rid your own home of toxic products and replace them with healthy, all-natural versions that actually work, then I highly recommend whipping up a batch of this all-natural homemade toothpaste.⁣

Wishing you health, wealth and squeaky clean teeth… The all-natural way;)⁣

You can find the recipe here https://thehouseandhomestead.com/all-natural-homemade-toothpaste-recipe/ or at the link in my bio.
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It's that time of year 🌱 seed starting season! ⁣

I know you can feel it too. The transition from winter to spring is truly a special time. It’s when life begins again. It’s the very first taste of all that lies ahead.⁣

So before you go just planting any and every seed you can get your hands on, I've got a list of 8 Things to Think About Before Starting Seeds, to get you off on the right food! ⁣

I will walk you through, planning, sowing, containers, watering, lighting and more, and if that's not enough you can download my Seed Starting Cheat Sheet at the end to lay it all out. ⁣

I hope you're as excited as I am for the beautiful Spring season that lies ahead:)⁣

You can find the list here https://thehouseandhomestead.com/before-starting-seeds/ or at the link in my bio.⁣

What are you planting this year? Anything new you've never tried before? Share with me in the comments!
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25 5

Ever thought about growing mushrooms at home??

A great EASY way to get started is with one of these mushroom grow kits from @northsporemushrooms

All you need to do is cut open the pack, spray with a little water (the kits even come with a handy little spray bottle), and then sit back and watch the magic happen!

And seriously, watching mushrooms goes does feel a little like magic because they grow so fast you can practically see them growing, no time lapse necessary!

The mushrooms are ready for harvest in just a few days. No gardening experience or land necessary! Even a newbie homesteader in an apartment in the city can grow these babies!

This is a great way to dip your tow into the much bigger world of mushroom growing and harvesting, and to try out a few new varieties that you probably won’t find anywhere else.

I grew Pink Oyster Mushrooms, Lion’s Mane and Blue Oyster Mushrooms (all pictured here). I’ll be using the Pink Oyster Mushrooms in a rigatoni pasta for dinner tonight. I turned the Lion’s Mane into Lion’s Mane “crab cakes” and the Blue Oyster Mushrooms are delicious as part of a stir fry or sautéed in butter and spooned over sourdough toast.

If this reel intrigues you, you can grab your own mushroom grow kit (along with time of other mushroom related products, including fruiting blocks, outdoor log kits, medicinal tinctures, capsules and more) at northspore.com. Use code HOUSEANDHOMESTEAD for 10% off your order!

And if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my interview with Louis Giller of North Spore Mushrooms in the winter issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine. You can also find my recipe for Lion’s Mane “Crab Cakes,” along with other delicious mushroom recipes and an in-depth feature on medicinal mushrooms including Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Chaga and Cordyceps in the winter issue.

Visit modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe or login to the library and read the current issue.

Mushrooms really are pure magic, don’t ya think? 🍄 ✨

#mushrooms #mushroomhead #shrooming #eatyourshrooms #mushroomsaremagic #modernhomesteading #urbanhomesteading #homegrown
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If you’ve been following me for any length of time, it probably comes as no surprise that I don’t exactly love relying on the grocery store to provide for me and my family, and that sentiment is only getting stronger as time goes on.⁣

Between supply chain issues, rising food costs and the plethora of unhealthy ingredients, chemicals and GMO foods on grocery store shelves, I’d rather toil in the garden and kitchen all year to grow and preserve my own food than have to rely 100% on grocery stores to provide for me.⁣

But that being said, we are in no way 100% self-sufficient so when I do go to the grocery story, I haveI have some ingredient guidelines in mind that I use when shopping for my family. ⁣

Check out my shopping tips, what I do and don't buy, and where and who I like to buy from here at this link https://thehouseandhomestead.com/healthy-grocery-shopping-tips/ or at the link in my bio.
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Usually by late February/early March, right about nowish, I’ve pretty much had enough of winter and the thought of enjoying a tropical fruit platter and a cold adult beverage on a sunny beach in *insert tropical vacation destination here* seems to be just about all I can think about...⁣

But with a newborn at home that's about the last thing on our to-do list right now! So this year, I will be visiting my tropical escape via my favorite Low-Sugar Mango Jam recipe. ⁣

If you do have tropical vacation plans, have a piña colada for me 🙏🏼, but if you don't then this recipe may be just what you need to "escape" for a few minutes into that tropical paradise:) 🥭🍹⁣

Check out the recipe here https://thehouseandhomestead.com/low-sugar-mango-jam-recipe/ or at the link in my bio. ⁣

Let me know how the recipe works for you, and if add in any additional fruits to change it up!
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