GUEST POST: TELLING MY STORY – A MEMOIR

I’d like to thank author Kylie Doust for contributing this guest post about her memoir From Here To Maternity. After completing university and exploring the world, her priorities changed when she met her husband, Glenn. She willingly packed away her suitcases and embraced new challenges – starting with finding a place to call home and creating a family. She anticipated a few minor hurdles in her quest for motherhood, the greatest being her husband’s vasectomy, performed five years earlier in the dying stages of his first marriage. As it turned out she was being a little optimistic and her journey meant overcoming obstacles both natural and man-made. Kylie turned a passion for writing into the story of how she became a mother. Visit Kylie’s website here.

Kylie Doust
Kylie and Glenn Doust with their sons.

Last Christmas I finally realised a long-held dream and published my book: From Here To Maternity. In many ways it was my very own Christmas miracle. For more than ten years I had quietly been recording the beginnings of my family, with all the heartbreak, despair, hope and longing that story entailed. I began with a journal, using words as weapons to deflect pain and ameliorate grief. I was incapable of confiding in friends or family at that time, so pouring my emotions onto the page was a way of coping with the unthinkable.

Time passed and it seemed that life was intent on forcing me into a journey I neither expected nor wanted. Pen and paper gave way to a keyboard and screen and the pages stacked up, seemingly without any real chance of a happy ending. A crisis, a change of direction, a chance encounter – all contributed to the final outcome, which was not only happy but overwhelmingly fulfilling. The experiences I didn’t want and the lessons I believed I didn’t need changed my marriage, my life and me. Sharing what I learned along the way was a chance to give back, to show the universe the depth of my gratitude. And so the journal became a book. To be more precise, it became a memoir.

According to the Oxford Dictionary a ‘memoir’ is an autobiography or a written account of one’s memory of certain events or people, which puts From Here To Maternity squarely in this category. Did I intend to write a memoir when first putting pen to paper? I can honestly say: no. When the idea of transforming the journal into a book first surfaced, it was with the simple intention of filling a void. My journey through infertility, IVF and finally adoption is far from unique. I know that without doubt because I encountered hundreds of women and couples along the way whose experiences mirrored mine. However the bookshelves were empty. I searched countless bookstores and libraries with little to show for my efforts. In doing so I saw a need and in typical ‘can do’ fashion, decided I was just the person to fill it. Is that sufficient reason to publish a memoir? As the author I am possibly not the best person to ask.

At this stage in my life I had achieved my deep desire to become a mother and I was fulfilled and content with my two beautiful sons. But there was now a new goal lurking in the shadows of my subconscious. I wanted to be an author. Of course I knew nothing of publishing, except that it seemed a difficult and scary proposition. I researched, edited, collated and posted a number of sample manuscripts to some well-known publishing houses. Not surprisingly I received as many refusals as I sent submissions. Not to be deterred, I investigated self-publishing, and as so often happens in the pursuit of a dream, a chance meeting became a turning point. When I was emotionally and financially ready, I happened upon a small, successful publishing business specialising in helping would-be authors who believe they have a story to tell. Over the following months they proceeded to guide me gently, firmly and honestly along one of the biggest learning curves of my life. The result is From Here To Maternity, a book of which I am extraordinarily proud.

Since publishing my memoir I have been asked – more than once – why I decided to make a personal story so public. It is a good question, and one I sometimes still ask myself. Sleepless nights abounded in the lead up to publishing day, and I experienced doubt and fear in equal measure. More surprisingly, I also revisited some painful emotions I thought were long resolved. Without the encouragement of family and friends my courage may have failed me at the final hurdle. I am happy to say that while the doubts still surface occasionally, the feedback I have received from readers has been incredibly positive and heartwarming. Not to mention the overwhelming pride and pleasure I felt when I opened that first box of books and held a copy in my hands. So while I may still have some doubts, there are certainly no regrets.

One of my publisher’s favourite sayings is ‘everyone has a story to tell’. I couldn’t agree more and my advice to any would-be memoirist is simply to have faith. Faith in yourself and your story. Because we all have our own story. And it is always worth telling.

Here’s the blurb of From Here to Maternity:

‘After three years and a total of nine embryo transfers, Glenn and I are hanging up our saddles … For many, three years might seem an insufficient effort, but I am tired. My body is tired, my mind is tired and most of all my heart is tired. I still believe that IVF is a modern, medical miracle … But I no longer believe it will be our miracle.’

What happens when the quest for a family seems to bring only tears and despair? As Kylie and her husband Glenn discovered you simply pick yourself up, take a deep breath and carry on.

 ‘As harsh as it seems, the adoption process in Western Australia can only be described as excruciating: intrusive, intense, bureaucratic and judgemental.’

Kylie’s struggle to conquer the intricacies and inconsistencies of the adoption process push both her and Glenn to the limits of their endurance, and just when all seems lost they are handed a lifeline that sees their hope of becoming parents flicker back to life.

 ‘Is it bad news?’ ‘No, it is very good news  … we have a baby for you, a little boy.’

Honest, perceptive and deeply personal ‘From Here to Maternity’ is a warm and ultimately joyful story about one couple’s determination to overcome infertility and bureaucracy and become a family against all the odds.