Sage Anita Eccleston


This story is to honor our beloved daughter, Sage Anita, who died in June of 2023.

Despite past struggles with infertility, we conceived our second baby with ease and no stress. We were delighted to be growing our family and we called this baby “Flaxseed” as an early nickname. At the 12-week ultrasound we saw our baby dancing and playing in utero and we were overjoyed to hear her heartbeat. But a week later we learned that the medical team was concerned about thickened nuchal translucency, which we were told may suggest Down’s Syndrome. We quickly completed a prenatal blood test which would give us more information. While we waited for results, we were set up with multiple specialty appointments, including Maternal Fetal Medicine, and we began to research more about Down’s Syndrome. After another week of waiting, we received results that instead of Down’s Syndrome, our baby girl had Trisomy 18. We slowly began to understand that we were facing a range of painful possibilities—including loss in utero, stillbirth, uncertain and complex life-saving interventions, and perinatal hospice. In a state of shock and grief, we realized that our daughter would likely never come home with us. We were devastated. One of the most important choices we made with this news was to tell our older daughter, who was two years old, about her sister. We wanted them to have as much time together as they could. As a family, we began to pray for Flaxseed together and to tell her how much we loved her.

As we cried, we felt Creator give us her name: Sage Anita. The sage plant is an important herb in our family’s Indigenous culture that is burned for spiritual cleansing; Anita is based on the name of her great aunt who died at two days old. We knew that her name would guide our daughter through whatever would come. We prepared a simple naming ceremony for Sage Anita and asked Creator to give us courage and strength for the future.

At our next medical appointment (14 weeks), we asked to start the visit with checking Sage’s heartbeat. But our midwife couldn’t find her heartbeat. Sage Anita had gone already to the Spirit World. Over the next week, we stumbled our way through difficult medical appointments and prepared for a D&C surgery. But early in the morning on June 10th, spontaneous labor began. Sage Anita was birthed at home and we had the precious gift of being able to lovingly hold her tiny body and weep in the privacy of our home. We then went to the emergency room and later to outpatient surgery. We received gentle and compassionate care from our doula and the medical team all night. It felt like a divine presence was tenderly surrounding us as we said goodbye to our precious daughter.

In the aftermath of this loss, we have continued to honor our daughter and incorporate her into our family identity. For us, this means including her in both special occasions and moments of daily life. For example, we place a stocking for her on the mantle at Christmas and we pray a blessing over her each night during our family prayers. Sage Anita is always in our hearts and we talk to her and about her every day. We visualize her wrapped up in a blanket of our love and eternally embraced.

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