To kick start your weekend, I've got a fantastic book on the blog today and it's called Baby! Baby! Baby?! by author Holly Kerr. I'm not a mother (yet), but I loved this book. I've shared our story here on the blog a few times and our struggle with the idea of becoming parents, so I love reading about pregnancy and babies from other perspectives...even fiction ones!
But before I give my review, here's an excerpt for ya. Enjoy!
A woman’s prime period of fertility occurs between the years of twenty-two and twenty-eight, with each year decreasing the chance of a happy and healthy conception. After the age of thirty-seven, a woman should not attempt to conceive.
A Young Woman’s Guide to the Joy of Impending Motherhood
Dr. Francine Pascal Reid (1941)
Bullshit, I know.
But for some reason that passage has stuck with me for years. You know what it’s like to have one of those repetitive songs stuck in your head? A couple of summers ago, it was that “Umbrella” song—not that it was a bad song; in fact it was a pretty good song for a while, but at the end of August when I was still silently singing “ella, ella,” it got a little tiring. If you think having a song stuck in your head is bad, imagine silently repeating to yourself again and again, “After the age of thirty-seven, a woman should not attempt to conceive.”
Most of me will agree I’m being silly in taking the words of a long-dead doctor to heart, but an itty-bitty part of me is still listening and using my fingers to count the months on the calendar until I hit the De-Fertility Zone. Silly, I know, but I can’t seem to help it.
Yes, I am fully aware that in this day and age there are countless women over thirty-seven who conceive and successfully deliver happy and healthy babies. I know that. You can’t pick up an issue of People magazine without knowing that. But for me, thirty-seven has been something of a deadline, and it’s looming ever closer these days. Here I am already at thirty-five, pushing headlong into thirty-six, which will inevitably lead to thirty-seven, the age when Dr. Francine Pascal Reid tells me I shouldn’t attempt to conceive. So how am I supposed to have a baby?
Going to a wedding yesterday certainly didn’t help.
Yesterday marked the seventeenth wedding I’ve been to in the last five years, and the ninth in which I’ve played the role of a bridesmaid. I remember reading something long ago, some old wives’ tale about three times a bridesmaid, never a bride. I guess I’m screwed three times over then.
To make things worse, it turned out that the entire bridal party—other than me, that is—were all pregnant. Of course, being basically a nice person, I was sincerely happy for them, but can you imagine how my own desire to have a baby might make me a tad resentful? The anticipation I had felt toward being part of the wedding dimmed a little as I was forced to listen to all the little baby comments and pregnancy stories, not to mention names and dates and crib styles. I had had just about enough when Darcy’s aunt Fran popped her head into the room where the five of us had just finished getting into our dresses (horrible green with, yes, a big butt bow). Once she’d cooed over us all, Aunt Fran announced that she thought it was just hilarious how Darcy had picked an entire bridal party of pregnant girls, assuming I was as pregnant as the others.
Baby! Baby! Baby?!: A Summary
Thirty-five-year old kindergarten teacher Casey Samms has always dreamed about having her own baby. With her copy of A Young Woman’s Guide to the Joy of Impending Motherhood on her bedside table, Casey has been steadily wading through the pool of eligible bachelors for years—with absolutely no luck. Now as she bids farewell to a cheating boyfriend and to dating in general, Casey just needs to figure out how to get pregnant without having a man in her life.
Casey immediately discounts her male friends as potential fathers and decides to pursue having a baby the artificial way, even though her sister and friends do their best to try to talk her out of it. But Casey is determined to see her dream come to fruition and begins looking at every male as a potential donor. Just when she is beginning to give the word desperate an entirely new meaning, an old ex-boyfriend, David Mason, saunters back into her life. All Casey has to do now is try to convince him that he is the one who can help her become a mother.
As Casey prepares to realize her lifelong dream, she is about to get the surprise of her life—a surprise that changes everything.
Baby! Baby! Baby?!: What I Think
Casey's struggle in Kerr's funny, irreverent novel is universal: she wants what she can't have. So what does she do to get it?
Whatever it takes, of course!
Although I'm not trying to get pregnant, my husband and I decided it was time for me to get off birth control in August. Ever since then, I've sort of had this obsession for babies and motherhood and everything in between, which is why I signed on for this tour. I suppose it's the natural part of being a woman, even if we don't necessarily feel ready for it at the moment. I enjoyed Kerr's story because I got to see what it's like to be on the other side. Here I am feeling like I've got whiplash because on some days I want to run away from every baby I see, and on other days I feel a literal ache to have my own child. And even though Casey appeared to have her mind made up, the more I got to know her the more I realized she's a lot like me: sarcastic, goal-oriented, and maybe just a little bit confused.
Kerr's story is not by any means a new one. Just watch "Plan B" with Jennifer Lopez and you'll see what I mean. But Casey's voice is unique and that's what makes this novel a strong one. I also think it's important to note that Kerr raises the issue of "late" motherhood with a natural bit of uncertainty, and, thankfully, I don't get any of the ugly cattiness that commonly seems to pop up from voices on both sides of the fertility argument (i.e. "I don't have to have children to be happy and fulfilled!" or "If you don't start now, you might not be able to have children later. The clock is ticking!"). I hear what she has to say, and I appreciate her struggle. Most of all, I appreciate the fact that Kerr doesn't leave it all up to her protagonist. After all, having a child takes two, as Casey well knows. In the beginning, I'm following along with Casey and rooting only for her. But after a while, all I can think about it is her potential child. And, in the end, I'm rooting for her whole family, however small or large it may end up to be.
**Everyone who leaves a comment on Holly's tour page will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Baby! Baby? Baby?! before February 4 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.**
Sound like something you'd like to read? Connect with Holly and stop by her official website!