July 08, 2020

This Author's Journey from Juggling Book Talks to Motherhood: Babies, Bows and Books!



In 2016, I lost my first child and after years of being told I was infertile; it was devastating. It was an indescribable pain. Being forced to give birth at 20 weeks due to complications and feeling my baby turn cold in my hands-- literally ripped my heart out. I walked through life with a severe numbness that nothing could cure-- or so I thought. During this time, my book thrived as I battled depression and suicidal thoughts. My career was going well, but my personal life was a nightmare. Pain seemed to feed my creative drive, I filled each of my novels character's with all the hurt and anguish that I personally experienced. The pain seemed to be more than I could possibly bear, and it was a pain of which I couldn't take much more. I sought counseling, and friendship and family-- until teaching myself to heal became a daily affair. Then, one day in the early morning of January in 2018, I had succumbed to contentedness. I was okay. I was no longer sleeping all day-- and ignoring phone calls from friends-- and refusing to leave my home for weeks on end. I wasn't happy, but I had my life and my grief under control. I finally decided to accept that I would never be a biological mother, I would never create a family of my own and that everything wasn't promised to everyone. 


Pain seemed to feed my creative drive, but it was a pain that I couldn't seem to take much more of. I sought counseling, and friendship and family-- until teaching myself to heal became a daily affair.

Then, a miracle happened. Four years later, I am looking into the mouth of my Gynecologist as he exclaims, "You are pregnant, again." I am not going to lie-- I was scared. I was excited and scared and panicking. I wanted a baby more than life itself-- but I couldn't go through another loss. On top of that, I was in the middle of doing book talks, trying to grow a writing career, attempting to gain a book agent, doing motivational speaking, and following every lead possible to turn my books into New York Times Best Sellers-- which was seeming elusive. How could I balance my job, my growing career, and a baby? But most of all-- how could I manage my mental stability with another painful loss? Also, it didn't help that the father showed no interest in co-parenting our child the further I would get along in my pregnancy. I didn't know how this was going to work. However, I knew that I wasn't going to give up what could be the only chance of me ever becoming a parent. I had my miracle-- the thing I longed for most. I was going to make this new journey work for me and not against me. I promised myself that I was going to have this baby.
How could a balance my job, my growing career, and a baby? 
Yet, with all the promises I was making to myself-- I was still afraid to be happy about my pregnancy. For the first 20 weeks of my pregnancy, I refused to look at baby clothes, or go shopping, or even think about names. In the back of my mind, I was constantly plagued with the fear, the same thought-- what if I lose it. Even when I was giving the news of the sex, I was too afraid to settle on a name. I would rub my belly and feel my child move and kick inside of me-- and wonder "is this going to be like the last time." I feared loving this little life growing inside of me-- because I was too afraid of losing it all over again. Yet, somehow I got through it with the support of my family, my friends-- but most of all my students. My teaching career offered the most supportive group of people ever-- as my students gathered together to throw me baby shower after baby shower-- and gave me uplifting notes, words of encouragement and hope-- that this baby would make it. Each time they encouraged me-- they forced me to acknowledge that my baby was here, she was alive, she existed, she was real-- and that one day, I would hold her in my arms and hear her scream.  That she wouldn't be born in silence into a world of tears. That she would be my red-faced angel yelling her little lungs out and reminding the world that she is in fact a survivor. My students weren't the only one's giving me hope either. In fact, my gynecologist promised me that this time I would take home a baby as he scheduled me for a surgery to stitch my cervix, prescribed me progesterone shots-- and in my 5th month of pregnancy put me on strict bed rest orders.  I wasn't allowed to lift anything over 10lbs. Then, in the early morning of August 29th, before the dawn rubbed her rosy finger tips onto the dark earth, after 12 hours of labor,  I welcomed my first child, my rainbow baby-- a little girl named Donali Naima Jacobs-- at 5 lbs. 15 oz. I was ecstatic-- through the roof! I was even excited to juggle my new technological friend called The Breast Pump.


On August 29th, I welcomed my first child, my rainbow baby-- a little girl named Donali Naima Jacobs

But what about my journey as an author? What happened to my books as I spent the next 10 months of my life raising a baby during a national pandemic. How could I write novels while waking up every two hours to feed a baby, then pumping between shifts at work, changing diapers, and trying to decipher baby talk. Being a mother was the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. It literally changed my life and my attitude. All the grief and depression that had plagued me for years-- was suddenly gone. I had dealt with so much loss in my life that finally-- finally-- gaining a daughter had healed so many open wounds. She saved my life. However, my daughter came with some sacrifices-- and the biggest sacrifices came to my burgeoning career as an author. However, that didn't mean I had to give up writing completely-- but I did have to make some major changes.

 I had dealt with so much loss in my life that finally-- finally-- gaining a daughter had healed so many open wounds. She saved my life. 
Being an author and a new mother is not easy, plain and simple. I am not going to say its been easy-- but I can say it's still going. Being an author and being a mother is not in opposition to each other. In fact, with balance-- it can be done. During pregnancy, I honestly could not write. I suffered from nausea, fatigue and pregnancy brain. On most days, I felt like I couldn't put together two sentences-- so instead of working on my novels during my bed-rest. I mostly wrote poetry and read books. I kept my writing brain active and my imagination going. Just because I couldn't sit at a computer and type-- didn't mean I couldn't improve on my sentence structure, visualizations and overall writing skills. Also, reading other novels serves as inspirations and examples for a person's later work. How can you be a good writer-- if you never read a book.
Being an author and a new mother is not easy, plain and simple.
Once my child was born, I spent the first few weeks in bed breastfeeding, reading books, and testing out the new baby contraptions I had purchased-- in between trying to get some sleep. So, time was very precious-- and I had very little time to write-- but I was able to spend a lot of time thinking. I would often find myself thinking about my novels in my head-- and rewriting them mentally. I kept a pen or even a cellphone available at all times to quickly jot down my thoughts. One of my novels Boys and Girls and Dragons-- that I had worked on pre-pregnancy-- had a climax that was less than stellar. I used the time I wasn't writing to jot notes that helped create a more believable backstory, improved my characterization and improved the climax. Taking the time to rethink my novel-- helped to improve my novel once I was able to write again. 
So, time was very precious-- and I had very little time to write.
Finally, I had to give up book talks and motivational speaking after my fifth month of pregnancy, but this didn't mean I had to give up my social media. I was still able to build my Twitter audience, find other authors to network, and research other avenues for marketing such as writing contests, writer's magazines, and podcasts. I managed to become an author of the month, submit my novel to more book agents, and also connect with screenwriters. So, although, I had to sacrifice face-to-face networking for the viability of my child-- that didn't mean I had to give up networking completely. I simply needed to make changes.
So, although, I had to sacrifice face-to-face networking for the viability of my child-- that didn't mean I had to give up networking completely.

Finally, once my baby started crawling and cruising-- I was able to start fully write again, or at least dedicate more than 30 sporadic minutes to the craft. However, writing with a crawling, fussing, and sometimes screaming baby can be a handful-- no matter how cute my baby is-- and my baby is the cutest baby ever! However, instead of writing during the day, I learned to write in the early mornings while my child was sleeping and even late at night. And, I learned to nap during the day when my child napped. Remember, when I first started writing, and I promised myself that I would write everyday-- even if I could only write for 30 minutes; well, I returned to that philosophy. Since, I wasn't able to write for long periods of time. I had to learn to be satisfied with getting SOME writing in. And since, I had already jotted notes during my pre-pregnancy of what I wanted to write-- it made the time I did have to write more focused and productive. Having a plan when you approached the keyboard is always better than just winging it when you have a baby at your heels. Normally, it took me 9 months to write a single novel-- but now that time was so limited-- it could literally take years. However, with careful planning and dedication, I could manage it. As long as I kept organized notes and created detailed outlines-- then actually writing the novel would be much swifter because I had direction. I had something to guide me.
However, writing with a crawling, fussing, and sometimes screaming baby can be a handful-- no matter how cute my baby is-- and my baby is the cutest baby ever! 
Finally, my marketing had to change. I didn't have time to create my fancy banners as I had before-- but a quick video on Instagram or a post with a link on Twitter and Facebook was enough to get the job done. Most of my books are sold through word of mouth, anyway, but advertising on social media has been a major marketing tool, especially since I could no longer book events. Sometimes, the fancy banners-- just aren't needed-- a quick video, a customer holding your novel, or just posting your review can do the trick just as well.

 I didn't have time to create my fancy banners as I had before-- but a quick video on Instagram or a post with a link on Twitter and Facebook was enough to get the job done. 

I am not going to say that juggling being an author and a new mommy doesn't take sacrifice or that it isn't hard-- but it's worth it. My baby deserves everything in I can give her-- my time, my love, my affection-- and every want and need fulfilled. She is my absolute angel, but my child also deserves to have a mother who is happy-- and writing makes me happy, too. So, for those of you who have been following my journey as an author-- you have seen me on television, at book events, autographing novels or you just happen to click a link on my Facebook post, I invite you to follow me through a new stage of my journey. The journey where I learn to juggle the love of my daughter with the love of my books. Yes, I have to sacrifice things along the way-- but motherhood is so very worth it. What's the point of living your dream, if you don't have someone to share it with? A part of being an author is learning that life's challenges aren't distractions-- they serve as inspirations. It's the hardship and challenges in life that make us better writers-- and that's what I am raising. I am raising an inspiration that will one day hold my book in her hands, and be proud of what her mother was able to accomplish.

Every step on this two-year journey has been a miracle. From pregnancy, to childbirth, to caring for my now 10 month old infant. However, the journey isn’t the end, it’s just another beginning. I am forever grateful for the life I was given, I am going to continue to be the absolute best mother I can possibly be, and my writing dreams haven’t stopped— they’ve simply evolved. Books are my love and that will never change, but they are no longer my first love. My first love is little Donali Naima Jacobs. My baby stole my heart.  

A part of being an author is learning that life's challenges are't distractions-- they serve as inspirations.


Dawnell Jacobs is the author of The Shade of Devotion, Brains Not Included, Black Magic, and The Monsters of Within: Heart of Darkness. She has also published a self-help book Your Story Matters: Leaning How To Be The Author of Your Destiny. You can find all of her books on Amazon, Kindle, Nook, and Barnes And Noble. She is also a motivational speaker to young audiences. She uses her personal journey to inspire hope and change. All pictures and entries in this blog are subject to copyright laws. ©Dawnell Jacobs 2018. 

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©Dawnell Jacobs 2017 Author of The Shade of Devotion, Brains Not Included, and The Monsters  Within: Heart of Darkness. Now on #Amazon, #Kindle, #Nook & #Barnes And Noble. Buy your copy of The Shade of Devotion now and Brains Not Included today!