By Vicky Gooden
I cannot believe it is just over a year since I decided to write a children’s picture book. I remember it distinctly as I had started penning little lines here and there at the top of 2020 and had pretty much finished the first draft just before the first lockdown hit in March.
I’m not entirely sure what prompted me to write it either. I’ve always had ‘write children’s book’ on a to-do list somewhere and following my daughter’s unexpected heart surgery, I think I was experiencing a deeper inspiration to get going, driven by her.
Elodie, now 2.5, had her open heart surgery in July 2019, at 14 months old (read her story here). A rather sizeable hole in her heart had been discovered at 13 months. My husband and I were utterly shocked at this news.
When we were told about the surgery she needed and once the risks and info on the procedure had sunk in, the reality that she would be left with a scar down her chest made me both sad and also grateful. A strange concoction. As a parent you never want any harm to come to your children and a scar will more than often be an indication that somewhere down the line there was harm, pain. A lasting print of a traumatic time. I felt angry that her little body was going to be put under such a mammoth event when she really should’ve only been concerned about where her next snack was coming from. Gratitude for the upcoming scar was also there too though, because that scar would ultimately signify that something had been fixed. That something truly miraculous had happened just underneath it to give our girl a life of running around and causing havoc as only a little one should.
When ever anyone asked about what kind of scar she’d be left with (as it seemed that was a real point of interest for people) I would turn in to a defiant champion of my little girl. Seemingly already preparing myself to do nothing but fill her with confidence as she grows. As best I can.
As the surgery came and went, really successfully, and Elodie went from strength to strength, I would ask friends and family to never show any kind of upset or shock if and when they saw her new mark. I never wanted Elodie to see that it caused those kind of reactions. Because that mark was proof of her strength. It was something to be in awe of. I have always chosen to show wonder at her scar, whenever she would acknowledge it herself especially in those early days post surgery. Kids are so perceptive and really look to you for a steer on things. Is this good or bad? Is this safe or unsafe?
So seeing our healing little girl, stronger than any other person I know, I felt compelled to write my first children’s book as a sort of love letter to her. A story of a little girl, not unlike lots of other little ones, who had to have an operation that left her with a ‘wonder line’.
My Wonder Line is a representation of little ones who have been left with scars from surgery. It’s so beautifully and tactfully illustrated by the extremely talented Angela Mayers and is aimed at making any child with a scar to feel represented on bookshop shelves.
I have released My Wonder Line to be there as and when needed. Perhaps when a child first starts to enquire about their own scar, or when they start to compare themselves to others. Or perhaps as a companion to a child about to go in for surgery. Some adults have also shown an interest in it as a way to open up conversations with their little ones about their own scars.
Another aim of the book is to open up conversations within the home about the journey of our own bodies. I am 40 this year and in rather recent years I have learnt that as an infant I was operated on for a herniated belly button. I’d had no idea about that growing up but think it is so important for us to know our own bodies better than anyone else.
My hope is that the book is comforting and celebratory. One where a child can point and say, “Hey that’s like me!” but also a guide of sorts for any little ones who have a friend with a scar too. We can all feel different in many ways and at different stages of our lives. I hope that in spotting some ‘differences’ and making them normal, the difference isn’t really that different at all. As one line in the book reads:
‘We can all find something, a part not quite the same
But imagine a life if we all had the same name!
We’d be topsy and turvy, we’d feel rather upside down.
It’s in our different bits where our real stories are found.’
My Wonder Line is available for advance pre-order now at www.mywonderline.com and will be ready to ship from March 2021. 10% of profits from book sales will be going to support Tiny Tickers.