When Zayna’s infant daughter Sarah was just five months old, the baby underwent open heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect she’d been born with. “The surgery truly saved her life!” says Zayna. “She went from being tube-fed to becoming a bouncing ball of energy.”
But a few years later, Sarah had an experience with her little friends – one that resulted in a new book for kids who are just like her. . .
It’s called “Heart Sisters: A Children’s Book about Living With a Scar” (No connection, by the way, with this Heart Sisters site, or with me!) The book is written by her mother
Zayna told me about what inspired her to write this unique book:
“When I picked her up from daycare one day last summer, Sarah mentioned that she did not want to show ‘THIS’ (pointing to her chest scar) to anyone.
“I spoke to her daycare teacher, who explained that, as the children were changing into their bathing suits to go play on the splash pad outside, one of them commented on my daughter’s chest scar.
“Sarah overheard the remark, and felt uneasy.”
Zayna added that over the years, whenever Sarah asked about this scar running down her chest, she’d explained to her daughter, many times and in simple terms, what had happened to her when she was a baby.
“I wanted to help my daughter go through the challenge of accepting her body after such trauma. I can honestly say that, after what we have been through, Sarah is the most resilient person I know! I wanted to encourage that resilience and increase her confidence.
“So, since Sarah loves to read and listen to stories, I decided to write a book with a main character that resembles her.”
The book begins with Sarah, a young girl who loves to swim – until another girl points out the scar on her chest. Throughout the book, the reader learns how Sarah’s mother helps her daughter accept the scar on her body and enjoy swimming again.
Zayna adds that her book also “gently touches on the topics of self-love, body acceptance, courage, self-esteem and resilience.”
If you’re the parent of a young child who has, like little Sarah, undergone heart surgery, this book may be a useful resource to help your child feel less alone.
And if you’re a clinician who cares for kids like Sarah, Zayna has this recommendation:
“I feel that the book can also be a useful tool for medical/psychology professionals, families, and educators to promote awareness of body acceptance after a major surgery.
“When I first read the book to Sarah, she commented that she liked it because the characters had a chest scar just like her!”
I know that Sarah’s reaction will seem familiar to readers of this blog, or to any woman living with heart disease who finds reassurance just by learning she’s not the only one.
Zayna’s book can be ordered on Amazon. For every sale, a donation will be made to the En Coeur Foundation for children with heart disease, a Montréal charity that helps families cope by providing financial support and a mobile cardiology clinic.
Image: by Terri Cnudde, Pixabay
Q: How does knowing about others who share your experience help – even if you’re a preschooler?