I am the book. The book is me.

In my nervous breakdown era. [Illustration by Bessa]

“Secrecy lives in the same rooms as loneliness.”

– Abraham Verghese

When we were going through IVF, I wasn’t super forthcoming about it. We told a handful of people, but I wasn’t publicly open about it, on the internet and even to some of our closest friends. But it was painful to keep such a major thing in our lives shrouded in secrecy, and I often felt really lonely as a result. 

I wish I would have opened up a bit more and told people how much I was struggling. So here I go, trying to take my own advice.*

Even though it’s not out for another month, some of my friends and family are starting to catch wind of the fact that I’ve written a children’s picture book about infertility and that it’s being published soon. “It’s so inspiring!” they say. “How exciting!”

And don’t get me wrong, it is exciting. I’m lining up events, scheduling podcasts, working with promotion partners! I’m scouting vendors to create the cupcakes for my book launch party. We’re designing merch! I’m flying to the printer in Canada to watch it roll off the press. 

From the outside looking in, it probably looks like the time of my life. But behind the scenes, I am struggling with a lot of self-doubt, uncertainty and anxiety about this project. 

What if my “success story” ends up hurting somebody’s feelings inadvertently? Somebody that is still waiting for their baby?
What if it’s actually a stupid, weird book and should have been left in a Google doc to fade into obscurity?
What there’s a typo we all missed?
What if it’s too heteronormative because of that ponytail on page 26 I added in?
What if I waste all of this time and energy that I could be putting toward my family, mental health, career, friendships, etc?
It’s too niche. It’s too abstract. It’s… blah blah blah.
Come on, Erin, you’re too old for this. You don’t get to ‘play author’ anymore like you’re some little kid.
Who do you think you are?

Now if a friend told me that they were thinking any of these thoughts as they prepare to close out a project that’s been years in the making, I would be ready to ride to battle on their behalf. I’d be helping them dismantle every single one of these intrusive thoughts using the foolproof combination of logic and love. But for some reason when it’s the voice in your own head, that’s harder to do.

This is not the first time this has happened during stressful times in my life, nor will it be the last. So I wanted to share a few tips I use to quiet the voices and get clear about what I’m doing and why I have been trying to bring this book into the world for the last few years.

1. Give yourself space and grace.
This is probably the hardest one for me, but it’s one I have to say out loud sometimes when I’m circling the drain.I don’t need to be perfect. I don’t need to crush it. I need SPACE and GRACE. I do have a lot on my plate right now. And it’s okay. It’s also okay to step away from things that stress you out when you need to, and cut yourself some slack if everything doesn’t look exactly like you imagined it had in your head. That’s not life, that’s a movie. 

2. It won’t be like this forever.
This is actually my advice for when people have asked me for “tips” on going through infertility. (Which I am somewhat loath to share, knowing how much unsolicited advice infertility patients get.) But the honest truth is that it won’t be like this forever — this WILL end, whether the outcome is what you want, or not — so do what you have to stay sane. Time marches on. The book will be published soon. It will resonate with people, or it won’t. I will wake up, get my kids ready for school, show up to work, call my family to chat, make summer plans, go grocery shopping, go on dates with my husband. This book will stop being a main character and turn into one of the show regulars that makes an appearance from time to time. This isn’t my forever.

3. Return to my why.
There are a lot of shiny objects distracting me right now in the form of long to-do lists that seem to never get finished, which makes it so easy to forget why I wanted to do something like this in the first place. 

I didn’t do it to win awards. I didn’t do it for money. (LOL…I will do a post on the economics of children’s books for another time). I didn’t do it to change my day-to-day career.

I wrote this book because I wanted to create beauty from the immense pain I went through in order to have my family. I wrote this book because I knew that my feelings and experiences weren’t necessarily unique, but the language and story I used to express them could be. I wanted to show my kids it’s okay to play and be creative as an adult, even though nobody has given you permission to. And I wanted to share my work with whomever else could use it to spark discussions about the origins of their own family. Whether that’s 1,000 people or 10.

Onward 🧡,


*I certainly don’t want to insinuate publishing a children’s book is anywhere close to the anguish that is infertility treatments,, but just that I’m trying to be open and honest in a way I wouldn’t have been a few years ago.

Recent Posts

Scroll to Top