Alexa Bigwarfe, founder of Kat Biggie Press, grew up in a family of military veterans. Growing up, however, she never thought she would enlist. In an interview for this article, Bigwarfe says, “I always joked I would never join the military or marry a man in the military, and I wound up doing both.” After enlisting, Bigwarfe became an Intelligence Officer in the United States Air Force. She provided other service members with quality information so as to help protect them and enable them to do their jobs.
Bigwarfe’s career as an Intelligence Officer was an exciting one. But Alexa and her husband wanted to have children. They worried her demanding career would interfere with growing their family.
“I saw many service women have to deploy when their baby was only four to six months old. And I couldn’t fathom leaving behind an infant…So, my husband and I decided it was time for me to leave, and I separated from Active Duty in August of 2007 when my son was four months old.”
Bigwarfe knew she wanted a similarly demanding career post-active duty — just one that wouldn’t force her away from her family.
Life After the Air Force
“I absolutely loved my career and wanted to do something related, so I was able to find a position in my State Homeland Security Office. I continued to work in counter terrorism planning and emergency management for another three-and-a-half years, when I opted to try and see what life would be like raising my two small children. In April 2011, I became a stay-at-home mom with a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old,” say Bigwarfe.
Bigwarfe then jokes, “Ask me which job was harder!”
While one might think transitioning from counter terrorism planning to stay-at-home mom would be easy, that wasn’t the case. Bigwarfe learned that she was expecting again just a month after leaving her job. As soon as she understood she was having a third child, she found out she was actually pregnant with twins! Soon, she’d have four children under the age of five. Those emergency management skills would come in handy!
However, as Bigwarfe and her family came to terms with their new future, they learned devastating news. Her babies’ diagnosis was a fatal syndrome occurring in identical twins called Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome. Bigwarfe spent the rest of the year on bed rest. Doctors monitored her as she went in and out of the hospital.
Bigwarfe says, “The girls were born at just over 30 weeks. Kathryn was very sick with a heart condition and undeveloped lungs, and little Charis was a one-pound, ten-ounce, micro preemie. Kathryn would live for two days. Charis spent 12 weeks in the NICU, and then we were finally able to bring her home in March 2012.”
Dealing with Grief
Bigwarfe started blogging under the pseudonym Kat Biggie to deal with her grief and stress of parenting a baby with specialized medical needs along with her other two young children. She needed a safe space to vent her frustrations, her angers, her fears. She found that space in writing. People wanted to hear her story.
“I found that the articles really resonated with people, and many people were searching about how to help someone who lost a baby or child, as well as the people who lost a twin.”
When her youngest daughter Charis was 18 months old, one of Bigwarfe’s friends experienced a stillbirth at 37 weeks. Bigwarfe says, “I was in a better place by then, but as I watched my friend, I remembered what those first few days, weeks, and months were like. I started kicking around the idea of trying to help other moms see that even though this is the worst thing that has ever happened, they will see sunshine again.”
The Start of Her Entrepreneurial Career
She knew she wanted to do more. So, Bigwarfe reached out to fellow bloggers, writers and other moms she knew had experienced loss. She wanted to create a book that would help other women who were also grieving. It was called Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for Grieving Mothers. On the experience, Bigwarfe says, “I self-published the book and really found I enjoyed the publishing process.”
Later, with her children older, Bigwarfe partnered with another mother to write about their experiences of motherhood in Lose the Cape: Realities from Busy Modern Moms & Strategies to Survive. Buzz for her new venture and a potential new business followed publication. Additionally, Bigwarfe created a Lose the Cape podcast and website.
Bigwarfe says, “One thing led to another, and I started offering services to help people produce and publish their books. Write Publish Sell was born, and not long after that, I decided to launch my own publishing house, Kat Biggie Press. The business grew around my desire to help other people in pain do something good with it.”
And, she didn’t stop there. Bigwarfe also founded a nonprofit. She says, “I started donating copies of my book and sending books to grieving mothers, free of charge. First it was just a book, then I added comfort items. I decided that I needed to raise money to pay for this initiative, and I founded a nonprofit to support Grieving Mothers – Sunshine After the Storm.”
She continues, “I found myself running three businesses…but at the heart of all of it, I was serving mothers and trying to make a positive impact on the world.
Kat Biggie Press hasn’t yet published more female veterans But, Bigwarfe wants to work with some who want to share their story. She says, “I am very proud of my service and very proud of my status as a veteran, and I would love to be the publishing partner of other female veterans.”