Our daughter was born with a giant omphalocele. An omphalocele is a birth defect, which is an abnormality that occurs before birth as a fetus is forming in its mother’s uterus. Some of the abdominal organs protrude through an opening in the abdominal muscles in the area of the umbilical cord. A “small” type omphalocele (involving protrusion of a small portion of the intestine only) occurs in one out of every 5,000 live births. A “large” type omphalocele (involving protrusion of the intestines, liver, and other organs) occurs in one out of every 10,000 live births.
Prior to our daughter’s last omphalocele surgery, she asked a lot of questions. A nurse suggested a kids book that could help her understand what was going to happen. Because I couldn’t find the right book for this situation or age, I decided to write one myself.
Through a support group, I met Emily, an artist who is also an omphalocele adult. Emily was able to take the words provided and easily put emotions and life experiences into her pictures, bringing them beautifully to life. Although I came up with the idea and words, the poems and editing were done by Kristin and Todd Wicks. They were friends of mine from my Advertising Days and volunteered their time to help.
All methods to repair an omphalocele are unique and serious. ‘A Very Special Me’ was written to remind omphalocele children that they were born a little different, but they’re loved just the same. The story can be used as a tool to create dialogue when children start asking questions about their tummies.
By the end of the story your child will realize that they really are very special. It is written in a wonderful rhyme, and the watercolors are so full of life they will catch your child’s attention through the entire story.
What led you to becoming a writer?
I consider myself an educator. I think kids who are born with birth defects are just as amazing as ones who were born with no birth defect. The book is to not only educate the children but their parents about how this birth defect is just a boo boo that can be repaired.
What motivated you to write books for children?
Children are like blank pages and feeding them with positive messages fills them with love and purpose.
Why did you make special needs a focal point in A Very Special Me?
The book was written to help my daughter understand how special she was even with a boo boo (scar on her tummy). We all have a purpose in this world and some may need to fight harder than others to get to the goal but we will all get there!
If you’d like to purchase, A Very Special Me, click here.