Sara Connell, author of Bringing in Finn: An Extraordinary Surrogacy Story, launches her blog tour
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.
Moving, inspiring, and ultimately triumphant, Bringing in Finn is an extraordinary tale of despair, hope, forgiveness, and redemption—and the discovery that when it comes to unconditional love, there are no limits to what can be achieved.
Paperback: 336 Pages
Publisher: Seal Press (October 8, 2013)
Twitter hashtag: #BIFinn
Bringing in Finn is available as a print and e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and your local independent bookstore.
Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of Bringing in Finn, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, October 25th at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!
About the Author:
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: http://www.facebook.com/SaraConnellAuthorSpeakerCoach
Sara’s Twitter: http://twitter.com/saracconnell
-----Interview by Crystal J. Otto
WOW: Sara, I have friends who have struggled with miscarriage and conception, and I myself have had two miscarriages, and yet I cannot imagine the emotions you and Bill went through when your mother made the offer to be a surrogate. Was she the first to offer? Can you tell us more about this obviously emotional time for your family?
Sara: My mother came up with the idea to offer to be our surrogate on her own—after hearing about a post-menopausal woman who’d given birth. Bill nor I (nor my mother before that time) had heard of such a (bizzare) thing—a grandmother gestational carrier or surrogate! She presented the offer in a letter. The letter came at what felt like one of the darkest times in our journey—we had been trying to have a child for five years, I’d given birth to stillborn twins, and I’d been through a miscarriage. I had started to lose faith in my body and had begun to despair about whether we would ever have children.
When I read my mother’s letter I felt as if a door had been opened where there was no door. I felt awe, surprise, shock, gratitude, amazement, and most awesomely for the first time in long time, HOPE.
WOW: I’m a baby name junkie and always ask where the name came from and when you chose it, etc. Finnean is an awesome name; can you tell us when you chose the name and for what reasons?
Sara: I love names too. The name Finnean came to me when we were about six weeks pregnant. My husband liked Fletcher and we contemplated Jasper right up until the day Finn was born. I kept an open mind, but my heart felt Finnean all the way. It is a Celtic name (I am half Irish and my husband is Scottish by ancestry, so the name fit in terms of our roots). One website we found cited that Finnean means “mythical warrior poet” and we both loved that description. Once we held him in the swaddle blanket the night he was born, my husband was the one who said he was clearly a Finnean, and so we officially confirmed his name.
WOW: Bringing in Jasper just doesn’t have the same ring to it—Finnean is definitely a great baby name and works fabulously with your book!
The character in your new book is a healer and I’m wondering if you could give us a sneak peek into that character and what direction you plan to take with the book?
Sara: My new book is a novel, so it’s quite a switch from memoir and personal essay, which I’d been writing for 5 years. In the new book, the main character, a holistic therapist, discovers that she is descendent from a line of French witches (a secret society of women who worshiped the Goddess Isis). In following their trail, she finds her own feminine power and ultimately is able to grow up and along the way enrich a good but in ways immature marriage.
I’ve described the book as: The The Da Vinci Code meets The Red Tent.
WOW: That certainly is an interesting description and it made me raise an eyebrow, in a good way!
Tell us about your life abroad. What drew you to travel and then what drew you to coming back?
Sara: My husband Bill and I lived abroad in England for about four years right after we got married. We’d both studied abroad in the UK during college and I was excited to go back. I loved every minute of my time in England. I had left a career I didn’t enjoy (advertising) and spent the first year in England writing. I began training in holistic medicine and life coaching. England is a mecca for the healing arts and I had the opportunity to train with doctors, therapists, and healers from India, Africa, Europe, and the UK.
We were considering living there permanently, but it was the desire to be close to our families and longtime friends as we began to start a family that brought us back to the States.
WOW: Writing abroad – that sounds like such a dream come true, but it makes sense why you came home.
When did you decide that your fertility struggle should be written down and when did you decide to pursue publishing of Bringing in Finn?
Sara: At least a year before we started our fertility odyssey, I said (in passing) to a colleague that I had a feeling the next book I was going write would be on pregnancy or motherhood. I vaguely remembered having said it out loud, but became so focused on the experience we were having—the 7 years of trying to have a child—that I did not think about it again until we were pregnant—when my mother was carrying Finn. Somewhere around the third or fourth month, I told my mother and Bill that I felt inspired to write about our experience and asked how they would they feel about that.
They were both on board and encouraged the idea. Out of fear that something might go wrong, I didn’t write anything until Finn was born. I started writing the week after we brought him home and completed the book in one year.
WOW: I love the support you show and have been shown by your family; you are all truly remarkable!
Sara: I think the mother/daughter relationship is possibly our most primal, and it can be the most complex. On Amazon’s bestseller list right now there are several of mother-daughter memoirs. I wanted to convey in my book how relationships can heal; how transformation is possible. I know it will not be the case for everyone, but if both people are willing to move through their hurts and the places where their needs did not get met, the rewards of can be miraculous. We may have to do some (self) work to find it or let go of what we think it should look like (sometimes it many come through people other than a biological mother, but I believe the love is there. I think Mother Love is one of the most powerful, fierce forces on our planet.
WOW: Mother Love—ahhh yes…I tell my children “I love you more than you can imagine” which is so true. I don’t think I understood unconditional love until I became a mother.
At what age do you plan to tell Finn about his amazing birth story and have you thought about how you are going to explain everything to him?
Sara: We’ll probably get some expert advice on the timing, but we intend to share the way Finn was born with him as part of the natural “where do baby’s come from” conversation. We view the way he came into the world as a something amazing that we celebrate, and paradoxically, it’s also just that: simply the way he arrived. As unique as it was, our hope is that his birth is just an interesting story point at the beginning of his life and from there, he knows his life is his to create and mold from wherever his personality and dreams take him.
WOW: A VERY interesting story point for sure!
Sara, can you talk to readers about time management and how you seem to do it ALL so well? I’m impressed that a new mom has time to juggle a coaching and speaking career, parenting, writing, and being a loving wife. What’s the key for you?
Sara: New parenthood is certainly not a restful time! Even with what I knew from my counseling and coaching training with mothers, the magnitude of caring for a life—a child—involves such a radical shift in so many things, especially self-care, working life, and logistics.
I have felt such ecstasy in becoming a mother to Finn, undoubtedly intensified by the seven-year longing that led up to his birth. In the beginning I just napped and wrote in sync with his schedule. Writing the book in one year was intense. I would send pages to my agent or editor, both of whom had newborns within eight weeks of Finn’s birth, at four in the morning after a feeding. As Finn grew, I adjusted my schedule over and over.
What I really want is to spend as much time with him as possible and still work. I have the privilege of loving what I do, and being able to make my own schedule. These days I pack most of my work hours into two days a week, and work while Finn naps.
On the relationship front, my husband and I try to have a date at least once a week, but sometimes that just involves downloading a movie, cooking a nice dinner, and carving out some time for the two of us to connect while Finn is asleep. Date nights—in or out—seem like a trivial thing, but I can feel the difference when we do them versus when we do not. Having the strong connection really helps when we come upon challenging parenting or marital moments.
WOW: As the mother of a newborn I can definitely say ‘challenging’ is a great way to describe things. I thought I was prepared, but I’m not sure you can ever be prepared for lack of sleep…
What words of advice or pearls of wisdom do you have for couples that are struggling with fertility issues?
Sara: My hope is that every single person who wants a child gets to have one. What made the biggest positive impact for me was:
• Honoring (and speaking) what I really felt and wanted. After five rounds of IVF, my husband wanted to keep going but I had lost faith in my body and also felt something in my heart calling me to explore other options. We didn’t have an answer but we kept the dialogue open. It was during that time that my mother made the offer to be a surrogate.
• Also, self-care was so important. I identified fairly early on in our process some things that really eviscerated me: going to a baby shower if I felt particularly raw; Facebook photos of cute babies. I felt guilty for not engaging more, but I also knew I felt demoralized and incredibly low when I did. So I looked for things that lifted me a little and gave me some sense of support. I did trauma therapy, went to yoga, took really long, sometimes angry, walks in nature, screamed in my car. Giving myself space to let out my feelings and heal was paramount. I did not enjoy the feelings but I knew releasing them would help me heal. Once I did, talking to a loving friend or doing something social would feel good, or at least better.
• Hope, or faith, or an open mind—whatever one might want to call it. The fertility process can bring up despair; it is understandable that people could start to shut down. I hated the uncontrollable nature of the process—the uncertainty of if/how we could have a child. But I knew I wanted to more than any other dream of my heart.
I heard this Winston Churchill quote that gave me comfort: “when you’re going through hell, keep going.”
The fact that a quote about hell was comforting says much.
WOW: Love that quote! I didn’t realize that was a Churchill quote, I knew it was a country song, and now you’ve got it stuck in my head!
Is there anything else that you would like to share with WOW! readers?
Sara: That I wish everyone the best. That I wish for everyone the fulfillment of the greatest dreams of their heart. My experience is that sometimes our dreams evolve, or even change. Sometimes we let go of one dream to make room for something new. Either way. To quote Winston Churchill again to: “Never, Never, Never Give Up.”
WOW: Thank you so much for allowing us to be part of your story, journey, and blog tour. It has been such a pleasure Sara!
----------Blog Tour Dates
Monday, October 21 (today!) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway!
Tuesday, October 22 @ The New Book Review
Sara Connell takes the author spotlight at The New Book Review today as she introduces readers to her touching surrogacy story titled: Bringing in Finn.
Wednesday, October 23 @ Steph the Bookworm
Unforgettable giveaway for an unforgettable surrogacy story Bringing in Finn and find out what Steph has to say in her review!
Thursday, October 24 @ CMash Reads
Sara Connell tells all in her guest post "Finn's Extraordinary Birth Story" and offers a giveaway for her moving story Bringing in Finn.
Monday, October 28 @ Mom~E~Centric
Sarah Connell shares her "Fertility Journey Through IVF and Surrogacy" with readers at Mom~E~Centric, offers a giveaway of her book Bringing in Finn, and engages readers with her touching tale of love and family.
Tuesday, October 29 @ Mom Loves 2 Read
Sara Connell and her touching surrogacy story Bringing in Finn visits Mom Loves 2 Read for a review and giveaway; don't miss today's WOW! blog tour stop!
Wednesday, October 30 @ Book Worm
Sara Connell visits Book Worm Anjanette Potter and shares a guest post about "Unique Mother Daughter Relationships" and offers a giveaway of her touching surrogacy story Bringing in Finn.
Monday, November 4 @ All Things Audry
Sara Connell is the guest blogger at All Things Audry today as she shares her thoughts about "Family Bonds in Difficult Times" and offers a giveaway of her touching surrogacy story Bringing in Finn.
Tuesday, November 5 @ Selling Books
Don't miss today's author interview with Sara Connell and find out more about her moving surrogacy story of a mother's love Bringing in Finn!
Thursday, November 7 @ The Book Bag
Sara Connell introduces her touching surrogacy story. Bringing in Finn to the readers at the Book Bag and also offers a guest post "Voices" and a giveaway of this fabulously received memoir!
Monday, November 11 @ White Elephants
Chynna reviews Sara Connell’s touching surrogacy story Bringing in Finn and offers a giveaway for readers to get their hands on their own copy of this fabulous memoir!
Friday, November 15 @ Memoir Writer’s Journey
Sara Connell, author of the touching memoir Bringing in Finn shares her thoughts on "How to Cope with Grief, Loss, and Miscarriage" as she visits Memoir Writer's Journey and offers readers an opportunity to win their own copy of this highly recommended story.
Tuesday, November 19 @ Found Between the Covers
Join Sherrey Meyer of Found Between the Covers as she interviews Sara Connell author of the amazing surrogacy story of love and family: Bringing in Finn. This is also your opportunity to participate in a giveaway to win your own copy and find out more about Finn!
Thursday, November 21 @ Choices
Sara Connell visits Choices and shares a bit about "Sara's Coaching and Writing Life" and offers a giveaway of her surrogacy story Bringing in Finn.
To view all our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar. Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.
Get Involved! If you have a website or blog and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Book Giveaway Contest: Enter to win a copy of Bringing in Finn: An Extraordinary Surrogacy Story by filling out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget THIS Friday, October 25th.
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