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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Never before have we had access to so much information at our fingertips. Whether you have a question you need answered, are looking for a tutorial to walk you through a specific task or are searching for a recipe to help you figure out what to make for dinner, all you have to do is Google it.⁣

But the problem is that there's no real way to be sure whether the information you find on line is genuine. Is the person who wrote or shared it actually sharing their own experience, or are they too simply regurgitating answers that they Googled?⁣

As we barrel full speed ahead into the era of AI and deep fakes, it will be even more difficult to know whether the information you're getting is even from a real human!⁣

While it's definitely an exciting time to be alive, so many people are feeling overwhelmed, and are craving a return to the analog world; To a world where information was shared in the pages of trusted books and publications, or was passed on from human to human, from someone who held that knowledge not because they Googled it, but because they lived it, experienced it, even mastered it.⁣

That what sets Homestead Living magazine apart from much of the information you'll find online: We don't have staff writers, we have experienced homesteaders sharing their hard-won wisdom in each issue. And while we do offer a digital version, we're also now offering monthly PRINT issues for U.S. subscribers (Canada and elsewhere hopefully coming soon!)⁣

Plus, until the end. of January, you can get your first 12 issues of Homesteading Monthly for just $1.00!⁣

No matter where you are on your homesteading journey, if you've been feeling overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information and the noise of the online world and have been craving a return to the real, the tangible and, quite frankly, the human, Homesteading Monthly was made for you. ⁣

For homesteaders, by homesteaders.⁣

*** Comment "Homestead" below and I'll send you the link to subscribe! ***
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37 12

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:)

#homesteading #modernhomesteading #homesteadliving #selfsufficiency #selfreliance
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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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