What led to the story? After being in the hospital for 6 years fighting Crohn’s disease, and sometimes only surviving through the strength of others, I knew this process would be no different. We would need the support of those around us to handle the ups and downs of the surrogate process. What I didn't know was how much our journey would help others. As our story began to unfold to our friends and family on social media, I began to have women reach out and share their own stories. Their heartaches, their triumphs, their questions, their gratitude for me being willing to open-up and encourage acceptance and understanding. I wasn't just having an impact on each of them, they were having an impact on me. There is so much unspoken about the world of infertility because it is hard to be vulnerable, it is hard to face pain publicly. Knowing that there are others who have been through it, or who are going through it right along with you, doesn’t necessarily make it easier, but it does give you a sense of comfort and understanding.
Outreach I’ve received? I have received such incredible feedback from these families who have read Mommy’s Oven. I am amazed and beyond thrilled that it is truly helping others. What is really shocking, is that the responses are not only coming from those who are going through surrogacy. I have received messages from those who are going through miscarriages and trying to explain it to their children, people who are going through adoption who want their children to understand that families are made in several different ways. Even friends who are trying to teach their children life lessons about accepting, understanding, and appreciating families for their differences. The gratitude these families have shown for Mommy’s Oven as a tool for teaching, has been unbelievably humbling.
What would I say to others? People always say, “I could never be that strong, I could never make it through all of the things you have been through”. When you are faced with the reality that this is the hand you’ve been dealt, what else can you do? You have got to put your faith in Christ and accept strength and support from others. You then put on your big girl panties and get to work. You find the support systems, you find the resources, you accept the fact that it is going to be painful and it is going to be hard…and then you keep going.
What does August think of being a part of it? Kids always love hearing bedtime stories where they play the main character. So of course, when I came up with this story, what better way to tell it than from his own perspective. Hearing the story for him in the beginning was more like learning a new lesson, but to see himself on the page and realize people were reading about him and his family seemed to mean something completely different. He was proud of his story. He was proud of his family and this cool unique process we got to go through.
About future endeavors? This book has meant so much to me and my family, and led me to a world of writing that I had no idea I loved so much! There may soon be a series called The Adventures of Augie and Ollie that helps kids comprehend difficult life struggles, as well as an inspirational personal story of my life-long battle with Crohn’s disease.