Tag Archives: Sara Connell

A Journey of Loss, Surrogacy and New Life | An Interview with Sara Connell, Author of Bringing in Finn | WOW! Women on Writing Book Tour & Giveaway

I am excited to be a participant in the WOW! Women on Writing Book Tour and Book Giveaway of Bringing in Finn by Sara Connell.

Yesterday I reviewed Bringing in Finn. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, you can do so now or after reading the interview with Sara.

Today Sara joins me in an interview about the struggles and losses, the gift of surrogacy and the new addition to Sara and Bill’s family. Please join me in welcoming Sara to Found Between the Covers.

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Sara with Finn (L) Cover of Bringing in Finn (R)

Sara with Finn (L)
Cover of Bringing in Finn (R)

FBTC:  Sara, I think the first thing most of your readers and those who follow my blog may likely be curious to know is when you first began to think about writing the story of the journey you and your mother would take to bring Finn into the world. Would you share your thoughts with us?

Sara: Thank you, Sherrey.  I had been writing for several years professionally and for most of my life (in the closet!) and my professional writing had all been about women and health and healing so when our journey to parenthood took the unexpected and incredible path that it did, I felt moved to write about our experience. More than that- I was aware that certain memoir writers-Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Lamott, Cheryl Strayed, Jeanette Walls- had made a powerful impact on me.  Because of their courage and honesty, I experienced great inspiration and motivation and hope when I walked through challenges.  I wanted to do whatever I could to write in that vein- to give back in some way what those writers had given me as a reader.

I asked my mother and husband if they were open to me writing the book when we were about 3 months pregnant with Finn and they very generously agreed! While it is and feels scary as a writer to write about some of the closest people in your life, I think it is an act of colossal generosity and faith to agree to be written about!

FBTC: During the time, you and your husband, Bill, attempted to conceive via methods other than natural conception, it appears that as a couple you had discussed the possibilities that might await you. A quote from your book follows. Could you elaborate on the conflicting emotions you must have been experiencing to later write these words?

I grieved, for a moment more, the idea of making a baby by making love—no doctors, treatments, or money involved; just Bill and me, natural and organic. But I was also excited. We were crossing a threshold—from we’ll see what happens into actively trying to become pregnant.

Sara: There was such an array of emotions at each stage of our process.  From my own experience and work with clients in this area, I think there is a real grief that occurs for many people when the idea of “natural” conception comes off the table.  Simultaneously, I felt such a profound gratitude for the medical profession and all those who devoted their lives and careers to making technology possible – to the science even – that is available now – that allowed us having a child a possibility – even with needing help.

FBTC: In your book, you reference the renewal and refreshing of bonds with both your parents. As I recall, this was after the stillbirth of your twins and before the possibility of surrogacy had been mentioned by your mother. At the time of this healing between you and your parents, did these feelings surprise you? Give you hope? Or affect you in some other way?

Sara: Growing up, I had the experience of feeling different in my family – like I didn’t fit in with my parents the way my sisters did.  After taking some time to do some healing (therapy, living abroad, finding my adult interests and voice and passions), I came together with them in a new way – as an adult – and it was very healing.  We had this new, much stronger relationship when we went into our fertility experiences. Having the shift in our relationships felt profound – and dashed the idea I’d heard so much in society that “people/relationships” can’t change.  I now viscerally knew they could and this gave me a sense that almost anything is possible.  My mother said she felt our new bond allowed her to make the offer to be our surrogate and I think it helped me be able to receive her awesome gift.

FBTC: Your mother’s decision and desire to enter into surrogacy for you and your husband, Bill, is quite an undertaking for a woman of nearly 60 years. Initially what did you feel and/or think about this possibility? What were your concerns for your mother?

Sara: I think we were all concerned about what physical risks being pregnant at 59 would entail.  The doctors put her through quite a regime of tests and felt confident she could handle a pregnancy.  Because her blood pressure was low and hear body in a very fit physical state, she had the vitals of a much younger women and we felt a lot of reassurance with that. At the same time, there were very little in the way of actual cases of people at her age being pregnant, so we felt some anxiousness.  What’s interesting to me is that my mother did not worry a single day about her health.  She said she felt a calmness from the moment the idea came and just felt in her core that the pregnancy would work- and she would be fine.  She said looking back, that maybe she let everyone else worry for her- when anyone expressed concern, she just laughed and almost didn’t believe they were serious.

FBTC: During your first visit to Dr. Colaum with your mother, you reflect on the charge given by your London therapist to offer “unconditional acceptance to my family and working to change myself.” Do you believe that your status as an adult woman who had experienced pregnancy and then loss of those babies positioned you and your mother on some more level plain? And was there a sense of mutual healing between you?

Sara: We had experienced a great amount of healing at this point – I think primarily due to an openness we both expressed to relate to each other differently.  I don’t know that I experienced those consciously, but I think going through the experience of being pregnant and the loss did “grow me up” a bit and perhaps did deepen our adult to adult bond.  What I know is that we began to talk about our dreams, our fears and were able to voice things that had felt hurtful without letting our old patterns or walls create distance.  From there I think we let go of the past so much that we related in the new way – and discovered that not only did we love each other – which we always had – but that we liked and respected and adored  each other too and this was new – and big – for us.

FBTC: When Dr. Kula asked your mother how she came to this vision, your mother responded, ““I saw Sara suffering. And I thought, I don’t know if I can carry a baby, but I can get in there with her. She doesn’t have to do this alone.” What emotions did you sense at hearing these words?

Sara: At another time in my life, I would have felt shame – that my body couldn’t do this thing, that someone saw my weakness.  At that time, I felt like someone thew me a life raft.  I felt seen. I felt humbled.  I felt gratitude. And I felt loved.

FBTC: Now, to an all important question, reflect with us on your feelings once you held Finn in your arms and then took him home with you and Bill as his parents.

Sara: I know many parents would give this answer, but Finn’s birth was the most thrilling and epic moment of my life so far.  For the first nine months straight – after Finn began sleeping in the nursery – I ran – or skipped – into his room in the morning – or middle of the night.  I felt a kind of ecstasy in seeing diapers and folding onesies and feeding his little mouth.  Even with the fatigue that’s involved in parenting, the testing of boundaries, the radical change in lifestyle etc., this ecstasy has only moderated slightly in the 2 1/2 years.  I find the logistics (finding time to write, self-care, social time – challenging) but the actual being with Finn, parenting – a daily, continuous, tremendous, awesome JOY!  I’ve heard many parents express this joy and – I have heard particularly from the people I know who have had an arduous journey to parenthood, that there can be an added level of relief and gratitude and joy that can smooth over some of the incredible changes and transitions parenting requires.

FBTC: And if it isn’t too personal, can you catch us up on Finn’s world now? His age, his accomplishments, the funny things he does, anything you’d like to share with our readers today

Sara: Of course!  Finn is a fun, lively, smart, neat, active, creative little kid!  He is really into music, trains, trucks and all manner of locomotive devices and machines and has tried out soccer, gymnastics and a variety of activities so far.  He started pre-school this fall so that is a big adjustment and he is into the cooking class they have once a week as well as the regular running around physical stuff especially with the boys in his class.  This summer he got really into rockets (helped by a visit to the Air & Space Museum) so we painted a part of his room with chalkboard paint and drew rockets and glow in the dark stars, and he was an astronaut for Halloween.Every day, I marvel at him.   And I am grateful.

Sara, thank you so much for joining us today and for answering some questions. I’m sure there are others like you and Bill who are considering in vitro fertilization or perhaps adoption, and it’s my hope that our exchange will be helpful to them.

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NOW, thanks to WOW! Women on Writing a copy of Bringing in Finn will go
to one lucky reader who takes the time to enter!
 
The contest runs through midnight, Tuesday, November 26th. To enter click on the link below.
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Bringing in Finn is available as a print and e-book at Amazon.
AUTHOR BIO & CONTACT INFORMATION:

Sara Connell is an author, speaker, and life coach with a private practice in Chicago. She has appeared on Oprah, Good Morning America, NPR, The View, FOX News and Katie Couric. Sara’s writing has been featured in: The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Parenting, Psychobabble, Evolving Your Spirit, and Mindful Metropolis magazines. Her first book, Bringing in Finn; an Extraordinary Surrogacy Story (Sept 4, 2012 Seal Press)was nominated for Book of the Year 2012 by Elle magazine.

Sara’s Website: http://www.saraconnell.com
Sara’s Blog: http://www.saraconnell.com/blog
Sara on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SaraConnellAuthorSpeakerCoach
Sara’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/saracconnell

Poignant Story of Surrogacy | Bringing in Finn by Sara Connell

Please note that as a follow-on to this review and as part of a WOW! Women on Writing Book tour, Sara Connell will visit with me for an interview tomorrow, Tuesday, November 19th. Additionally, a copy of Bringing in Finn, will go to one lucky reader who participates in the giveaway. Look forward to having you visit again tomorrow!

BringinginFinnPaperback!!

“Maybe the whole purpose of her vision was for us to get to this place, a place of love and appreciation for each other, of unimagined intimacy and closeness. If that was the purpose, it should be enough, I told myself. Bill and I would survive. Even though we wanted deeply to be parents, we didn’t need a baby to live a complete life. I told this to myself, but I didn’t fully believe it.

“Just like my mother at the labyrinth, I could not totally surrender my desire. I shrugged and smiled at her, and we went downstairs to see if Bill wanted help with dinner.”

~ Sara Connell in Bringing in Finn


Synopsis:

Bringing in Finn is an incredibly moving story of surrogacy and how it created a bond like no other between a mother and daughter.

In February 2011, 61-year-old Kristine Casey delivered the greatest gift of all to her daughter, Sara Connell: Sara’s son, Finnean. At that moment, Kristine—the gestational carrier of Sara and her husband Bill’s child—became the oldest woman ever to give birth in Chicago.  Bringing in Finn: An Extraordinary Surrogacy Story tells this modern family’s remarkable surrogacy story.

After trying to conceive naturally without success, Sara and her husband Bill dedicated years to a variety of fertility treatments—but after Sara lost a third pregnancy (including the loss of twins at twenty-two weeks), they started to give up their hope. When Kristine offered to be their surrogate, they were shocked; but Kristine was clear that helping Sara become a mother felt like a calling, something she felt inspired to do.

In this achingly honest memoir, Connell recounts the tragedy and heartbreak of losing pregnancies; the process of opening her heart and mind to the idea of her sixty-one-year-old mother carrying her child for her; and the profound bond that blossomed between mother and daughter as a result of their unique experience together.

Bringing in Finn is the true story of a couple who wanted nothing more than to have a family and a mother who would do anything for her daughter. After unsuccessfully trying to conceive naturally, years of fertility treatments, miscarriage and a late term loss of twins, Sara and Bill Connell were emotionally and financially depleted and at a loss as to how they could have a family. When Sara’s mother Kristine offered to be their surrogate, the three embark on the journey that would culminate in Finnean’s miraculous birth and complete a transformation of their at-one-time strained mother-daughter relationship.

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My Thoughts:

Bringing in Finn is not just a story about a couple who desperately want a child. Nor is it a story intended to only detail their struggles, disappointments and attempts to conceive. It is about so much more than that.

Sara Connell brings to the page a story of extraordinary love that encompasses and bridges a conflicted relationship between a mother and her daughter.

Connell’s desire for a child is reinforced by her husband’s mutual wish to grow their family. What seem like insurmountable odds work against them as they attempt conception via in vitro fertilization. At times, the despair and heartache described by Connell is wrenching for the reader. At times, I wanted to reach through the pages to help this couple.

And yet help is present on the fringe of this anxious and desperate situation. An unlikely surrogate comes forward in Connell’s 61-year old mother. From this gift to her daughter and son-in-law, Kristine unknowingly sets into place another miraculous event.

The cover of Bringing in Finn gives a visual of the happiness that grew out of this couple’s struggle to bring Finn into the world.

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My Recommendation: 

If you are considering surrogacy, this book may be for you. However, I would caution that there are raw moments of grief, despair and depression within its pages. Be ready to walk a journey with the Connells that you may not yet have experienced yourself. On the other hand, this is a story of hope and miracles that anyone would find worthy of taking the time to read if only because of its simply beautiful message.

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Meet the Author:

SaraConnellSara Connell is an author, speaker, and life coach with a private practice in Chicago. She has appeared on Oprah, Good Morning America, NPR, The View, FOX News and Katie Couric. Sara’s writing has been featured in: The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Parenting, Psychobabble, Evolving Your Spirit, and Mindful Metropolismagazines. Her first book, Bringing in Finn; an Extraordinary Surrogacy Story (Sept 4, 2012 Seal Press)was nominated for Book of the Year 2012 by Elle magazine.

Sara’s Website: http://www.saraconnell.com
Sara’s Blog: http://www.saraconnell.com/blog
Sara on Twitter: https://twitter.com/saracconnell
Sara on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/SaraConnellAuthorSpeakerCoach

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DETAILS ABOUT THE BOOK | DISCLAIMER:

Publisher: Seal Press
Published: October 8, 2013
Genre: Memoir
ISBN-10: 1580055419
Paperback: 336 pages

Bringing in Finn is available as a print and e-book at Amazon.

I received a copy of Bringing in Finn from the publisher via WOW! Women on Writing in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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UP NEXT:  Tomorrow come back to meet Sara Connell in an interview about the story behind the book, Bringing in Finn AND one lucky reader will win a copy of the book in a Rafflecopter giveaway. See you tomorrow!

Friday Favorites | Favorite Review of the Week from The Well-Read Redhead

Despite efforts to spend most of my time on writing these last couple of weeks, I take a break now and then to read other blogger’s latest posts and check into Facebook and Twitter.

Buying InI happened to do that on Tuesday evening. I happened across The Well-Read Redhead’s review of Buying In by Laura Hemphill.

A book I’ve debated placing on my TBR list, Kelly (the redheaded blogger) reviews Buying In so well she has convinced me to go ahead and place it on that list.

Come with me over to The Well-Read Redhead’s and read Kelly’s review. Maybe it will convince you as well.

(Image via Goodreads)

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Taking a look at next week:

On Monday, 11/18, my review of Bringing in Finn, a story of surrogacy by Sara Connell

On Tuesday, 11/19, Sara Connell visits the blog for an interview about her book PLUS there will be a giveaway for a copy of Bringing in Finn

You don’t want to miss either of these posts. Sara’s story is an amazing one of love, encouragement and support in a family.

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