Brittany Ferrell - Living Proof That Miracles Do Happen
When doctors told Brittany Ferrell that she had virtually no chance of getting pregnant, she was devastated. More devastating news came later: cancer. But Ferrell is living proof that miracles do happen. She beat the cancer and fell pregnant naturally, but her beautiful baby girl, Audrey, only lived for a few hours. After fighting her way back from grief and depression, another miracle happened. They named her Madeline. Today Ferrell talks to us about her journey and her memoir, From Dream to Dream Come True.
Please give us a short summary on what your book is about.
My memoir is about my struggle to become a mother and how my wish was finally granted in a most unexpected way. It is a story not only about my journey to motherhood, but also about overcoming loss, grief, and depression and ultimately finding joy.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I love to bake and am currently working on perfecting a recipe for biscuits. I am very close to creating something that would make your grandma proud! The secret is using White Lily flour and ice cold lard!
Why did you decide to publish a memoir now?
I have always loved writing and kept journals, but after I had been interviewed by national and local media about my unique story numerous times, I wanted to write my story in my own words. It was also very healing to put my feelings into words. Sometimes while writing I was sobbing so hard that I could barely see the computer screen, but I also looked back on my life and found all these little pockets of happiness that I forgot existed.
Your book is about a very personal journey. Did you struggle with the fact that you are sharing intimate details of your life with the world?
After all the long hours of writing and months of revising with my editor, it came time to publish. Since I decided to self-publish on Amazon, all I had to do was load my draft and press a button. When the moment came to pull the metaphorical trigger, I could not do it. I called my best friend, with my stomach and knots, and she talked me into going through with it. She convinced me that I would be helping other women and their families with my story and so for that reason, I pushed the button…and promptly got sick!
You say that your wish to become a mother was finally granted in a most unexpected way. Tell us a bit more about it
I was told by numerous health professionals that chances of getting pregnant were very slim, less than 1% to be precise. Then I found out I had cervical cancer and faced losing not only my reproductive organs, but my life. I fought cancer and survived, but I was left with only a tiny sliver of a cervix. My husband and I sought the help of fertility experts and were told that my miniscule cervix was only one of many obstacles I faced in becoming pregnant. I am living proof that miracles do happen!
When the doctors told you that your chances of getting pregnant were slim, you considered having a surrogate or adopting. Why did you decide against it?
After receiving the devastating news that in order to even have a 1% chance of becoming pregnant, I would have to undergo numerous treatments and spend tens of thousands of dollars, my husband and I decided to hold off on pursuing fertility treatment. We discussed using a surrogate and adoption. I desperately wanted to carry my own child, but was absolutely willing to explore other methods of realizing my dream of parenthood. My husband and I were discussing adoption and decided to adopt a puppy before exploring the process further, to prove that we could be good puppy parents first. Two weeks after bringing home our adopted puppy, I was pregnant.
How surprised were your doctors when you told them that you were pregnant the first time?
After discovering I was pregnant, which is a hilarious story unto itself, I left a message for my long time doctor that read, “BRITTANY FERRELL IS PREGNANT! THIS IS NOT A DRILL!” When my doctor returned my call, she naturally assumed that my husband and I decided to pursue fertility options after all with the doctor she had referred me to. When I told her we did it all on our own, she actually started laughing, thinking I was pulling her leg! Needless to say, she was thrilled and together with her husband, a high risk specialist, they remained by my side every step of the way.
What would your message be to other women out there who have lost their babies?
My message to other moms is that losing a child is something you never get over, so do not expect to. You will always wear your grief like an invisible backpack. After losing my daughter, my husband vowed to do anything to make me smile again. When he asked what I thought would make me smile, I said, “Paris” without hesitation. I did not expect him to take me seriously, but he booked a trip to my favorite place on Earth. When I arrived, I stood in front of the Eiffel Tower and thought just being present in my “happy place” would make me happy. I thought I could pack my grief away in a suitcase and leave it behind, if only for a little while. I was wrong. I learned that there is no such thing as escaping your grief, but that it is possible to feel joy again. It is in these moments where you feel joy the strongest or your cheeks hurt from laughing that you will feel the closest to your lost little angel.
Your husband, Jerome, stood by you throughout your journey. How did it affect your relationship?
My husband and I feel very lucky to have weathered the storm. Facing serious illness, years of infertility, and losing a child would take a toll on even the best of relationships. Any one of those battles could have ripped us apart, but instead it pulled us closer together. We made certain to keep the lines of communication open and be honest with our feelings. We remained a team and took turns being each other’s cheerleader.
What was the most challenging part of writing this memoir?
The most challenging part of writing this memoir was facing my feelings and reliving the heartache. It is often difficult to put words to such strong emotions. It was cathartic, but painful. I suffer from insomnia, so I did most of my writing in the middle of the night. With both my dog and my computer upon my lap, I would type and sob, type and sob. Then, I would close my laptop and just sit and watch my daughter sleep, feeling so grateful for every obstacle that led me to her.
Now that you have gone through the whole process of publishing a book, are you thinking about writing more?
Yes! I am working on my second book, another memoir/parenting how-to book. I do have a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, a Master’s in Education, and thirteen years of teaching experience, but I do not consider myself to be a parenting expert, so-to-speak. It is more about how I am a grateful parent and I am learning every day about the trials and tribulations of raising one very active toddler! I am currently a writing contributor for Creative Child Magazine and I love writing articles for them about parenting, toddler antics, and the lessons sweet Madeline has taught me.
How did becoming a mother change your life?
My daughter, Audrey, made me a mother and taught me what sacrifice and true selflessness means. Madeline is the one who allowed me to realize my dream of being a mama. I had longed for motherhood for so long, but it is better than I could have ever imagined. I learn and grow every day, just as she does. My nights may be sleepless, but my days are overflowing with love and laughter.
In your blog, you mention something a lot of women struggle with: thinking that you are a "failure" as a mother. What helps you to get through setbacks?
When I was struggling to become pregnant, I could not help but to feel like a failure. I thought it was my “womanly” duty to get pregnant and bear children and I felt like my body was failing me. I have learned that there are all sorts of ways to realize your dreams of motherhood and “failure” is not an option. I have also learned that the quest to become the “perfect” mom is impossible. I am not perfect by any means, but I work hard at being a parent and I do not take a single day for granted.
Where is the best place for our readers to interact with you?
You can follow me on Twitter @BrittanyAnneF , Instagram amamatale, or Pinterest @brittanyferrell
Facebook Author Page http://www.facebook.com/AuthorBrittanyFerrell
Or check out my blog: https://amamatale.wordpress.com/