I self published my first book this week, From Dream to Dream Come True: My Journey to Motherhood. I sat for a long time with my finger poised over the “Save and Publish” button on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing website. My book was done, edited what seemed like a million times, and my cover created. After nearly a year slaving over this book, I found myself unable to pull the metaphorical trigger. On one hand, I was so proud of myself for actually writing a book. On the other hand, I felt like I was having one of those dreams where you arrive at school in nothing but your birthday suit. Was I really ready to expose myself to the world?
Writing a book was actually not my idea. My best friend, Bridget, sent me a text one day and lovingly demanded that I write my own memoir. Bridget and I have been besties since we were babies, growing up together on the same street in Michigan, just two houses apart. She can recall the days when I wrote stories of our childhood adventures in crayon and later on an actual typewriter. I loved to write when I was a kid. As time went on, life got in the way, and I stopped scribbling down the stories that were always floating through my head.
I may have scoffed when I received this now infamous text from Bridget. Write a memoir? She must have lost her mind! Bridget was entirely serious, as she works for an eBook website that helps promote authors and their books. She explained what an “indie author” was and how I could publish a book on my very own. When I sounded skeptical, she sent me an eBook that outlined the steps towards becoming self-published. It was true! I could write a book and publish it myself. Who knew?
When Bridget suggested I write a memoir, it was not because I am particularly fascinating or a long lost Kardashian. She thought I should write my own story of how I became a mom. I have been interviewed by several news outlets, magazines, and medical publications about my long and very unusual road to motherhood. When I delivered my daughter, Madeline, the CEO of the hospital came to meet me. I had no idea that I had a “story”. Maybe my path to motherhood included a few extra bumps in the road, but I struggled to even recall what they were as I held my perfect, healthy baby in my arms.
As I held my phone with the text message from Bridget in one hand, I looked at my daughter sleeping peacefully in my arms. As I listened to her gentle snores, I began to think about all of the events that led up to that very moment. I thought about all of the times I cried in despair, thinking that the day of holding my own child in my arms would never come. I thought about sitting in the crowded waiting room in the office of the local fertility specialist, surrounded by women whose dreams of motherhood mirrored my own. I thought about living at the hospital for the month of December 2012 on pregnancy related bed rest and listening to the monitors of the other moms-to-be in the adjacent rooms. My desire and my struggle to become a mom is something I know millions of other women face. My wishes now fulfilled, perhaps my story could give other woman hope. With this thought in mind, I began to write my memoir.
I gathered all of my journals and placed them next to my laptop. Like popping the cork on a bottle of champagne, all of these words just came bubbling out. As a working mom, I did not have a great deal of time to write. My thoughts usually formed into coherent sentences in the middle night. Since I would inevitably be up before long with my baby, I often slipped out of bed and powered on my laptop to write. There were times I cracked myself up and times that I was sobbing so hard that I could barely see the computer screen. Something amazing happened as I relived all that I had been through. I cried a lot, yes, but I also began to view much of what had happened to me in a new light. I recalled all of the times I had experienced true joy along the way. I had forgotten the happy times while I was drowning in grief, but there were happy times. Recalling these moments provided me with the peace I did not even know I was missing.
Once my book was “done”, I found an editor and sent her my manuscript. I developed mild nausea at the thought of a stranger reading my innermost thoughts, but it was a positive experience. My editor made my book better through the process of several revisions. I never took her comments personally because I believe constructive criticism is important and perhaps, a necessary evil. Besides she was just one person. Someone I will probably never even meet face to face. Once she completed editing the final draft, it was time for me to publish, but I put it off. It was more than good old-fashioned nerves. I was scared to death.
The day I actually went through with publishing my book, it was live on Amazon’s site for hours before I told anyone, even my husband. He called me from work, asking if I knew my book was officially published. I knew. I just was not sure I was ready to strip down and lay myself bare in front of the world. I consulted Bridget’s advice and she once again, lovingly demanded, that I put myself out there. I thought for sure I would throw up when I posted the link to my book on Facebook. Within seconds, the outpouring of support began. I do not think I can ever express how much the “likes” and comments with words of congratulations and encouragement meant to me. In the days following, friends and family have devoured my book in efforts to provide me with immediate feedback. I have been flooded with phone calls, text messages, emails, and one heartfelt review from a former coworker’s wife on Amazon that brought me to tears. While I absolutely love hearing that people are actually enjoying what I have written, the best is when someone tells me that they are going to share my book with someone they know who needs to read it.
One of my friends said they cannot wait until I am contacted by that one person, the stranger, who reaches out to me to let me know that they rediscovered their lost hope of becoming a mom. My story is not your typical fairy tale. I wish someone would have brought me a crystal ball to see the hope my future held when I was sitting in that crowded doctor’s waiting room or while I was lying in the hospital for weeks on end or when I was consumed with grief so deep that I thought I would never crawl my way out of it and be whole again. Maybe my book could be that magical crystal ball for someone else out there, a beacon of hope if you will, delivered via ereader.
I do not have a fairy godmother, but I do have a best friend named Bridget, who waved her magic wand and inspired me to become a writer. Once my manuscript was in the hands of my editor, I thought I would have nothing left to say. It turns out that I am rather verbose. I began this blog and I am now a writing contributor for Creative Child Magazine. Thank you friends and family, dear readers, and most especially Bridget for encouraging all of my dreams to come true.