We’re continuing our celebration of the debut of Hayley Barrett’s eagerly-awaited picture book, Babymoon! Emu’s Debut’s Kat Shepherd got to catch up with Hayley to ask her a few questions about her gorgeous debut.
Hayley, I’m so excited that your debut picture book, Babymoon, is entering the world! Juggling the schedules of both author and illustrator can mean that picture books often have an interesting path to publication. What did that look like for Babymoon? What was your experience when you first saw the illustrations? Did it change the way you thought about your work?
The gestation period for this book was a bit longer than typical—a couple of years longer—but the wait never troubled me. I knew it was in good hands, the best possible hands, at Candlewick Press, and I knew Juana Martinez-Neal’s illustrations would complement and illuminate the text. Now Babymoon is finally here, and it is as beautiful as I could possibly have hoped.
I know this book is about that magical bonding time for families after a new baby is born. Can you talk a bit about the title and how it fits into the story?
There are so few times in our lives when we are encouraged to step away from the world and rest. A honeymoon is one such time—a respite of romance and relaxation—set apart from everyday life. No one would dream of disturbing honeymooners! A babymoon is like that—a bit of sweet, secluded time.
I want to emphasize that every growing family deserves a babymoon. Whether heading home with a baby graduating from the NICU, adopting 8-year-old siblings, or welcoming a full-term newborn—whatever their particular situation—families deserve time to rest, learn, and fall in love. They deserve our patience, our support, and they definitely deserve our yummy casseroles.
Do you have particular memories of your own babymoons when your children were born?
I baked and froze a Birth Day cake for each of our babies in anticipation of their arrival. Our daughter’s was chocolate with chocolate frosting—her dad’s favorite—and our son’s was carrot cake with cream cheese icing—just like our wedding cake. After each birth, when Baby was swaddled and everything settled down, we put a candle in the cake, lit it, and sang Happy Birthday to them for the very first time. It’s a lovely memory.
After each of the births, my mother stayed with us for a few days, but I’m not sure she spent much time holding the babies. She was too busy washing our (embarrassingly dusty!) baseboards and making heaps of meatballs to freeze for future meals. She quietly provided physical and emotional support, so my husband and I could rest and get acquainted with the new person in our lives. It was a priceless gift.
This book seems like a perfect gift for baby showers or for new parents to read with their newborns. However, it’s not just families with newborns that are drawn to this story. How have children been receiving the book?
I’m delighted to say that babies love BABYMOON! Many people send me pictures of their little ones turning the pages and gazing at Juana Martinez-Neal’s gorgeous illustrations. Bigger kids like the book too. It’s a cozy read-aloud, and it invites children and parents alike to revisit those early days of togetherness. Everybody likes to be coddled and cuddled like a baby sometimes, right?
Do you have any suggestions on how a community can support a growing family?
YES! The time to plan a babymoon is before the new little one arrives. Family, friends, neighbors, and others can work together to meet everyday needs like food, errands, pet care, and more. Sometimes, the most important baby gift we can give is space and time. When a baby arrives, we’re all excited to visit, but respecting a new family’s privacy is important.
Are there things you know now that you wish you had known as a new parent? What advice would you have given yourself when your first child was born?
I spent a lot of time preparing for the birth of my first baby and not nearly enough time preparing to feed her. Many people have no trouble breastfeeding, but getting started was really hard for me both times. The encouragement of my husband, family, and friends was essential, as was the best breastfeeding book I know, Suzanne Arms’ classic BESTFEEDING. Her clear explanations and close-up photographs saved the day, every day, until Baby and I got the hang of it.
Advice I wish I could have given myself as a new parent? Tell people you’re planning a babymoon, request privacy and practical help, and then let yourself relax, rest, and revel in the moment.
Babymoon is a beautiful debut, and I can’t wait to see readers embracing it. What’s next for you?
The next book you’ll see from me is What Miss Mitchell Saw, coming September 3rd from Beach Lane Books. Diana Sudyka’s illustrations are simply celestial!
Be sure to pick up Hayley Barrett’s beautiful debut, Babymoon, in your local bookstore and get ready to fall in love. And you can preorder What Miss Mitchell Saw today, too! Visit hayleybarrett.com for more information.