When she was pregnant with her son Max, Sarah Land of Phoenix underwent a period of self-reflection and angst common to many in the midst of a second pregnancy.
“You have this perfect firstborn, this perfect family dynamic, and you wonder, ‘What have I done? Why am I changing it?’,” she remembers. “When you’re pregnant, you tend to overthink things.”
She expressed her thoughts, feelings and worries in a private journal, figuring that’s where they would stay. Then, about 16 months ago, she revisited what she’d written and “picked up the pen again.”
She realized her journal entries expressed misgivings many women feel but don’t discuss. “We’re ashamed [to express any doubts],” she says. “I didn’t feel particularly supported in my journey through the second pregnancy. It didn’t feel like sunshine and roses to me.”
She wanted to channel those thoughts in a positive direction that might prove comforting to other families in the same situation. Her book, “So There’s a Sibling” offers affirmation and acceptance to second-time parents while gently soothing the worries of an older sibling.
When the concept for her children’s book started taking shape, Land knew that “illustrations could make or break it.” She was immediately drawn to the “sweet, soft, honest, heartfelt” illustrations provided by her collaborator, Ari Miller, at Canadian-based FreisenPress. “She nailed it every time,” says Land, who will work with Miller on future books in the “So There…” series, tackling topics like moving to a new community or experiencing the loss of a loved one.
“So There’s a Sibling” doesn’t shy away from tough questions second-time parents ask themselves, like, “Is there enough space for you both in [my heart]?”
Land remembers the first moment she held both Max, now 4, and his big sister Piper, now 6, in her arms. “It’s a magic moment,” she remembers. “My heart just grew. You can’t remember a moment when there was just one child. Your love explodes, especially when you see your oldest being a sibling.” Some of the illustrations in her book, including one where a toddler is trying to feed the baby, “are from my own memory.”
Sarah’s message to other growing families? “I’ve been there, it’s going to be OK.”