When my daughter was born, we didn’t know what to expect, and everything was new to us. We had no prior knowledge she would be born with Treacher-Collins Syndrome or had even heard of it before. The first year was a busy one, from staying in the NICU at the hospital the first week to doctor and hospital visits every two weeks after, to nurses and specialists coming into our home. There were a lot of lessons to be learned, and with every appointment, the message was clear to enjoy your beautiful daughter, and that is precisely what we did. We would enjoy this beautiful and amazing bundle of joy that came into our lives, and even though we understood there would be challenges that are new to us, our home was and is full of positivity and love. Now at almost five years old, I can’t imagine my world without her as she is the best miracle that has happened to us. I feel she has taught us more in her four years than we could have ever taught her. The strength, determination and courage she carries herself with every day is a true testament that differences don’t define you, they make you.
When your child is born with facial differences, you build an armour of protection so no one will harm them. As she is growing up and starting to experience the world for herself, I realize I can’t always be there to protect her from the world and the people in it. When we are out at events, the grocery store or even at our neighbourhood playground, most people stare. We quickly discovered she could connect with others and break down initial barriers just by introducing herself.
By experiencing this lesson, the idea for my children’s book came to life. I want to help bring kindness, awareness and acceptance for everyone and the hope to change the world one face at a time. I feel that if you simply add your voice, then you are no longer an object to be stared at, you’re a person. My book Hi, I’m Me builds confidence in our children before they understand what confidence is. It helps kids identify that being different is okay and that we are all people. It is a story for parents or teachers who want to teach children about inclusivity, and how everyone has equal value no matter how they look.
Hi, I’m Me is about a little girl with facial differences. Since she’s been going out into the world, she notices people staring at her. With one simple phrase, she is creating inclusivity and unknown confidence within. My book takes the reader through everyday experiences in the life of Chloe. With her mom’s guidance, Chloe learns that although she may look different, all differences are beautiful.
[Picture: Zoe with the book]