First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage.
The rhyme-turned-relationship blueprint may be catchy but is due for a rewrite. Jaimie Selwa, a marketing professional and now children’s book author, used her infertility struggles to create an inclusive community for those who have difficulties conceiving and end up exploring new pathways to creating a family.
“Originally, I’m from Northeast Ohio. When I was looking at schools, I wanted a smaller school in a bigger city. I graduated from Capital in 2009 and then stayed in Columbus for a job. I met my husband, a Capital Law School alumnus, got married in 2013, and started trying for our family,” said Selwa. “That’s where our journey, our struggle, started. What I wanted to do was take this really isolating experience and just put it out there for the world. I realized it was a lot more common than I thought.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “in the United States, among heterosexual women aged 15 to 49 years with no prior births, about 1 in 5 (19 percent) are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying (infertility).”
“About a year and a half into our journey, we were seeing a fertility specialist and I just felt like my world revolved around this. I had told some of my close friends, but I didn’t know anyone at that time that had or was going through what I was going through. I felt very isolated,” said Selwa. “I started to go on Instagram and just look up hashtags, just some of the words such as infertility, and I found a lot of people posting.”
With the support of her husband, Selwa started to build an online community through @infertility. With the support of more than 17,000 followers, she shared the good, the bad, the ugly, and the funny throughout her journey to conceive a child.
“I wanted to share and just see if other people could relate. To help others so they don’t feel so alone, but I had no idea how much I needed it,” said Selwa. “My biggest hesitation to sharing my identity was just that I can’t undo this. I have a professional career; I have my husband; I was sharing things that someone might think are taboo. I was talking about being disappointed in getting your period. Sharing details about appointments. Finally, I just decided that I’m all in. This is going to be part of my identity now, whether I like it or not. There hasn’t really been anything off limits.”
Through In vitro fertilization (IVF), Selwa and her husband welcomed a baby boy in April 2022.
Selwa’s path to motherhood looked and felt different than her peers’. As a mental health advocate for herself and others, she saw a therapist throughout her infertility struggles and journaled to “help process her thoughts and feelings.”
“For some reason, what I was writing was coming out in rhymes. My makeshift office was in our spare bedroom, and I just started laying pieces of paper on the bed and thought this could be a children’s book,” said Selwa. “I told my publisher that I really wanted more inclusive books out there about how you can build your family. The illustrations show all different types of families. I didn’t want to just make it about my journey. It starts with our journey and then in the middle it explores different ways of creating a family, including adoption.”
Families come in all shapes and sizes. Selwa’s book “First There Was Me: The Journey to You” explores the many different ways that families are created.
“My hope is that parents and kids can see themselves in the story. I hope that when they have that book, they see their journey. They don’t feel as lonely or isolated as I once did,” Selwa said. “There’s nothing better than when I get photos of friends or family or people from Instagram showing their little kid reading it. It melts my heart.”
To learn more about Jaimie Selwa, visit https://jaimieselwa.com/.
To purchase Jaimie Selwa’s book “First There Was Me: The Journey to You,” visit https://www.amazon.com/stores/Jaimie-Selwa/author/B09B46CJ3M?ref=ap_rdr&store_ref=ap_rdr&isDramIntegrated=true&shoppingPortalEnabled=true.