I met Chaunie at the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI two years ago. She was the cutest pregnant momma, expecting her third child at the time and we had some great chats about writing, children and the best things to do in Disney World (a likely combination of conversation topics for two mothers who like to read and write, but also spend a great portion of our time watching princess movies and donning tiaras for our girls).
At the time Chaunie had recently met with a publisher and was hoping her book would make its way onto their published book list.
Two years later I'm so thrilled for her and the fact that she can add published book author to her list of writing credentials! Her dream for that first book finally came to fruition and she is a gal who is all about encouraging people to pursue their dreams...even when life doesn't go exactly has planned.
Which is kind of what her sweet book is all about.
Her book, Tiny Blue Lines, is about her first pregnancy which was unplanned. Its about the questions, challenges and struggles that she faced in the process of navigating this new territory in her life. It talks about the fears that arise when she has to tell her parents, the struggles of finishing her degree while being pregnant (she was pregnant for the majority of her senior year of college), and navigating life as a student and a soon to be mom who quickly discovers that options for help, childcare and even health insurance are complicated and lacking at best.
As she says in the book, "I was twenty-one, unmarried, a student in my senior year of college, and still taking my laundry home to my parents every weekend. The question of 'What if I'm pregnant?' quickly became 'What the heck am I going to do now?'"
In Chapter 9, aptly titled "Is There a Syllabus for Parenthood? Being a Student and a Mom", Chaunie
Having experienced life both as a pregnant student and life as a student parent, I have to say that for me, one of the hardest parts about being a pregnant students wasn't in the physical challenge of keeping my breakfast down during class, navigating an icy campus with a giant belly, or staying awake long enough to do my homework; it was feeling so completely alone.
In addition to sharing her experience about being a pregnant student, Chuanie also candidly talks about the guilt and shame that threatened to creep in, as an unwed mom.
I wasn't prepared for all of the ways that my unplanned pregnancy would try to slowly intertwine its way into my life. I didn't realize how guilt, shame and the belief that I was irresponsible would threaten to pervade every aspect of my thinking. I've struggled with everything from fighting down waves of jealousy at "normal" baby showers and weddings to rude comments and questions if any of my children were "planned."
I've let my unplanned pregnancy threaten to rob me of my identity. It taunted me-- telling me I would never be more than my bare ring finger or that I wouldn't succeed, that people would always look at me as "that girl who got pregnant."
While I have not walked in Chaunie's shoes as an expectant mom in an unplanned pregnancy, I found her story relatable and her voice to be engaging, fresh, and honest. I enjoyed reading her journey as a mother and how she strives to make sense of balancing parenthood with her professional goals as a nurse and writer.
I think Tiny Blue Lines is an important story that needs to be included in the repertoire of books on pregnancy and motherhood. Her story opened my eyes to the challenges of women who find themselves in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy, particularly young girls who are still in school and trying to figure out what direction their lives are heading. I was personally surprised by some of the presumptions people made of her as a young mom and how she seems to have navigated many of those situations with grace and persistence.
Chaunie was sweet enough to send along a copy of her book for me to giveaway here!
If you would be interested in reading Tiny Blue Lines, or know someone who happens to be currently be in a position to need the encouragement of Tiny Blue Lines (perhaps they are currently facing the challenges of unplanned pregnancy or even navigating life afterwards) leave a comment below! I'll leave the giveaway open for a week and select a winner next Tuesday.
If you want to read a bit more about Chaunie's book you can check it out here on Amazon.
You can also read this very interesting Q & A with Chaunie on the catholic news site Zenit.org.
She also has a great blog that you can check out over at tinybluelines.com