When I was 35 years old, I discovered that I was pregnant for the first time.
For the ten years prior, I concentrated on my three favorite things: building my specialty law practice, hanging out with my best girlfriends, and traveling the world, venturing to places such as Amsterdam, Belgium, England, France, Italy, and the Caribbean. I was a young, free professional woman with energy to spare, and I enjoyed every minute of my life.
Getting pregnant was supposed to be the “next chapter,” something I was looking forward to with all my heart. I loved the idea of children, having grown up in a family of four kids. The first few months of my pregnancy were spent dreaming of how I would shop for toys and furniture, decorate the baby’s room, and how very perfect my pregnancy and my life would be.
Unfortunately, one day about five months into my pregnancy, my blood pressure shot up, I went into labor, and the baby that I had always imagined snuggled in my arms was now in real danger. “Advanced maternal age” my doctor called it…a phrase I learned to dislike, because for me it meant months of dealing with pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and pre-term labor. I was placed on bed rest, a special diet, and medication for the duration of my pregnancy, in order to save the life of my son.
Besides the constant fear of pre-term delivery, bed rest can be a challenge for any woman who is used to being busy. After several weeks, I was severely depressed; I knew that I had to stay bedridden and healthy for my son, but the emotional cost to me was substantial. I was not allowed to work, but I needed something to do. I just couldn’t figure out what that “something” was.
Oddly, one night about three weeks after being placed on bed rest, I dreamed that I was writing a children’s book. When I woke up the idea for the book remained fresh in my mind, and I jotted down the basic ideas before they evaporated from my memory. I had been an English Literature major in college but had never pursued anything related to writing since graduating from law school. Now, it was all I could think about, my personal lifeline while enduring bed rest.
I began writing almost immediately. In the beginning, I wrote mostly just bits and pieces of ideas, or jumbles of conversation. Then, once I knew what the story would be about, I fleshed out a brief story line, about a mouse living in a meadow. During the months that followed, I created a short children’s picture book on my computer, using my son as the main character of the mouse and illustrating it with pencil drawings that I created by hand. Using a word processor, I turned the story and drawings into a book featuring my as-yet unborn child. I didn’t publish the book — just printed a single, bound copy — because it was just for me, and for my son.
The finished book, a personal labor of love, arrived in a plain brown cardboard box, just two weeks before my son was born, full term and healthy. Reading it together as he grew is one of my favorite memories.