The new play Becky Key Boesen wrote took an emotional toll on her. The difficult birth of her second child took a physical one.
So it's no wonder Boesen draws some parallels between the two.
"All this totally made me re-evaluate life and death and loss," she said.
The Angels Theatre Company will present Boesen's "In My Daughter's Name" over the next two weekends. It opens Friday night at the Johnny Carson Theater.
The play is inspired by the life and death of Amanda Thomas, a 27-year-old mother of two young children. On Feb. 28, 2009, in Hannibal, Mo., Thomas was attacked while she slept and stabbed to death allegedly by her former domestic partner.
"Daughter" begins when a playwright meets Jody Schaubroeck, Amanda's mother who lives in Utica.
Their discussion focuses on memories of Amanda as a child and explores the events leading up to her death, including the system loopholes she encountered while trying to find help.
Boesen wrote the play to raise questions about awareness regarding domestic violence and to encourage dialogue among victims, advocates, law enforcement, first responders and community members.
Voices of Hope, the Nebraska Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Coalition and Hope Crisis Center are among the play's collaborating partners.
"(Becky) advocates for people who don't have a voice," said play director and Angels founder Judith K. Hart.
Boesen didn't intend to write a play about domestic violence, but "this story found me," she said.
She was six weeks' pregnant with her second son, Quinn, when she read Thomas' story on a Facebook page run by Thomas' mother.
"I was going to write a one-woman show and, in typical actor's fashion, it was going to be about me," Boesen said.
But she quickly changed her focus.
"It was more important for me to tell Amanda's story instead of working on a play as my own vehicle," she said. "After meeting with Amanda's mother, I felt an obligation. It would have been foolish of me not to tell the story."
Then life interrupted.
Boesen was diagnosed with preeclampsia, a blood pressure disorder in pregnancy, and was prescribed bedrest for the last half of her pregnancy.
After giving birth in January, she became worse. Her abdominal wall more or less collapsed. She underwent surgery in June to "have my body reconstructed."
While all this was happening, she continued to write. She finished the draft of the play in May, just weeks before her surgery. As she recuperated, she worked on revisions.
"Edward Albee can crank out brilliance with a first draft, but I've done rewrite after rewrite after rewrite. My trouble was developing an angle early on."
She finally found it by inserting herself, a young playwright with two children, into the play.
"Ultimately, I'm writing about mothers and their love for their children and how we fight to keep them alive," Boesen said. "Everything about Amanda's story accentuated my fears about Quinn in utero. There was a crazy parallel there."
Lacey Hannan will play Thomas, and Moira Mangiameli plays her mother. Sasha Dobson portrays the playwright.
Other cast members are Michael De La Rosa, Andy Dillehay, Nate Weiss, Scott Glen, Marie Barrett and Larry Weixelman.