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Shani Rogers on 'Blue and Pink Balloons', Grief, and the Healing Power of Family


Welcome to a deep dive with author Shani Rogers, the mind and heart behind the upcoming children's book, "Blue and Pink Balloons" - a poignant tale of hope, anticipation, loss, and the enduring strength of familial love. The narrative unfurls through the innocent eyes of a little girl as she grapples with the excitement of becoming a big sister, only to face the harsh reality of losing her would-be sibling to a miscarriage. Despite its melancholy premise, the story is a warm reminder that the bonds of family provide a beacon of light, even amidst the most profound darkness.

Shani Rogers, a native of Long Beach, California, balances a full and rich life as a dedicated wife and mother of two beautiful children. Alongside her professional commitments, Shani spends countless hours volunteering at her children's school, supporting her daughter at dance practices, and cheering for her son on the baseball field. When time allows, she revels in tranquil moments with her loved ones, often accompanied by a comforting cup of iced coffee.

"Blue & Pink Balloons" is not just a work of fiction but an intimate reflection of Shani's own family experience. She bravely opens up about their personal ordeal of suffering a miscarriage when their daughter was just shy of four years old. The narrative unfolds from their daughter's perspective, capturing her longing for a sibling, the exhilarating thrill of expecting one, and the subsequent sorrow of losing the unborn child. Through this compelling story, Shani emphasizes the importance of acknowledging children's emotions during times of loss, reinforcing the assurance of unwavering parental love, no matter the circumstances.


Let's dive in!

 
Blue and Pink Balloons - A Children's Book Coming Soon

How did your personal experiences shape the narrative of this book?


My personal experiences shaped the narrative of this book because it’s a true story of what my family went through when we had our miscarriage in 2015. It’s so easy as an adult to get wrapped up in the emotions of a loss of a child (rightfully so). But when you factor in the emotions of a child who has also experienced the same loss, you have to look at it through their eyes and comfort them in a different way.


​How did you approach the challenging task of discussing miscarriage and loss in a children's book?


When we experienced the miscarriage and our daughter was close to turning four years old, I wanted her to know that her feelings mattered about being sad and confused and that we were her safe space if she ever felt like talking about it. We wanted to reassure her that no matter what the future held, whether she’d have a sibling or not, that she will always have her parents and their love and support. I wanted to write this book for myself as a way to turn something tragic into something positive for other families to use as a resource for their children.


Can you share your process of developing the story from the perspective of a young child?


The process of developing the story from the perspective of a young child really helped me in my healing process. When something tragic happens to us as adults, it’s easy to get lost in grief. I found myself using our daughter’s grief as a source of needing to be strong because now I had her feelings to take into consideration and help her go through her loss and validate her feelings. She showed her sadness in very sweet ways. We will never know if the baby was a boy or girl, but our daughter always referred to the baby as “her” or Lacey (what we were going to name it if it was a girl). For a few weeks after the miscarriage, our daughter Sadie would imagine that she was playing with “Lacey” or I’d find her in her room talking to her. That’s when I realized a children’s book would be the perfect outlet and tribute for our little one we lost.


Why do you think it's important for children to have a resource like this to understand and cope with the concept of loss?


I think it is important for children to have any source of reference when they experience something tragic in their lives, especially a loss. It can be very confusing to them. Our daughter was so extremely excited to have a sibling. Then to have that suddenly taken away from her, she was sad and unsure if it would ever happen. Writing this book is a way for children to know they are not alone and that other kids out there go through the same type of loss. It’s a validation of their feelings and lets them know it’s okay to feel sad, but that the love and support of their family will never go away.

Did writing this book provide a form of therapy or catharsis for you and your family?


When I wasn’t comforting our daughter Sadie or confiding in my amazing husband, I would take time out for myself to write the story. I went through a range of emotions during writing from sadness to anger…frustration to finding peace.


Blue and Pink Balloons

Your book is being released on World Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Can you discuss the significance of this timing?


I thought releasing my book on World Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day was the perfect day for many reasons. The obvious being the book is about a family that experiences miscarriage. But beyond that, this book isn’t just for a family that has experienced that type of loss. It’s relatable for children who have lost a sibling in any way. The message in the story speaks to any type of loss because it validates feelings and allows children an outlet for relating during grief with an outcome of love and support from their family.

How did your daughter react to the book? Was she involved in the process in any way?


Shani's daughter Sadie

When I started writing the book, Sadie was only 4 years old. She was very excited about it, more so because she was featured in it. 😉 During the process of writing the book, I very much had her involved. We talked about her feelings. I asked her if she liked how sentences sounded because it was, after all, written as if in her own words. She also helped me more recently find my amazing illustrator because we both had a vision of what we wanted. Sadie is now 11 years old and not much has changed, except now she has expressed she is proud of her mom for writing this book to help others.

How did you manage to strike a balance between dealing with a serious topic and making sure the book remained engaging for young readers?


Finding a balance between a serious topic while making sure the book remained engaging for young readers was tricky in the way of finding the right words to write to make it relatable for children. I had to use words that a 4-year-old would say, so I had a lot of editing down from using “bigger” words that maybe children wouldn’t have in their vocabulary yet. I really had to put myself into the perspective of my daughter during writing and put myself in her shoes. I wanted the story to feel as real as possible, yet still engaging and relatable for children to read.

What challenges did you face while writing "Blue and Pink Balloons", and how did you overcome them?


I did face challenges while writing “Blue & Pink Balloons”. One of them being whether it should rhyme or not. My initial book was a rhyming book, but what happened was it limited me in what I needed to say just to make sure a sentence rhymed. Due to that, I had to rewrite the book as it is now. Another was having to relive the loss each time I worked on the book and open up emotions that I have had to deal with over and over again. The miscarriage occurred in February of 2015, and it is now 2023 so it’s been a long process. I just knew that if this book could help even just one child, it was worth continuing to work on!

How do you hope this book will contribute to a broader conversation about miscarriage and infant loss?


1 in 4 known pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Around 1 in 200 pregnancies will end in stillbirth. My mother experienced a miscarriage after my older brother was born. I remember talking to her about it when I was younger and always knew it could happen to me. When we experienced the miscarriage, I actually had a couple of close friends experience loss with a child as well. Many of them chose to keep it private which I absolutely understand and respect! I personally do best talking about my feelings and sharing because it opens doors for others to feel comfortable in sharing their own experiences. It helps you know you’re not alone. Women can feel shame and hopelessness when they lose a child. “Why isn’t my body doing what it’s designed to do?” “Will my significant other leave me if I can’t give them a child?” “What if I can never have children?” “What did I do wrong?” The truth is, we don’t know why many of them occur, but women need to know it’s okay to talk freely about it and not be ashamed.

Can you share any feedback you've received from readers that particularly moved you?


I have had people that have experienced the loss of a child read “Blue & Pink Balloons” as well as people that have not. I’d have to say the most moving was first reading it to my husband, Loren. I’ll never forget the look on his face and his seriousness in saying I need to find a publisher and get our story published. He was proud and continues to support me in all that I do. It was a devastating loss for him as well and he had faith that the book would come to fruition.

Do you plan to write more books on challenging topics for children in the future?


I know I want to write another book but haven’t quite decided which topic to base it on. We were very blessed and able to give Sadie the sibling she always wanted after we experienced our loss. We have a son who is now 7 years old, and he wants me to write a book based around him, so stay tuned…

Lastly, what advice would you give to other parents who are navigating a similar experience and trying to explain it to their children?


Advice I would give to parents navigating the same or similar type of loss is to be patient. Not only with yourself, but with your children. Allow yourself time to grief and allow them the time as well. There isn’t a guidebook to grief. It comes and it goes. Some days you’ll be fine, some days you’ll struggle, and both are okay! It’s been 8 years since our miscarriage and I still to this day think about it. Not as often and the sorrow has turned to acceptance, but the most important part of it all was knowing we got through it together as a family with love, support, patience, and the realization that no matter the outcome, we have each other, and we are going to be okay.

 

We'd like to extend our deepest gratitude to Shani for taking the time to share her personal journey and insights with us. Readers can secure their copy of Blue and Pink Balloons today. Be sure to order your copy and join us in celebrating the resilience of the human spirit, as depicted in this beautifully crafted narrative.




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