I didn’t want to go to mother’s group. I only went, actually, because the first meeting was right after my nurse appointment, so I really had no excuse. The baby was sleeping, and I was right there. Also, there were biscuits. I went in.
There were about twenty women, and a few men (who would soon drop off, and we’d go from calling our group the more politically correct, inclusive ‘parents’ group’ to the more actually correct ‘mother’s group’) in the room. Some had their babies strapped to their chests. One bravely breastfed, while another looked about tentatively before she offered her baby a bottle. Our group leader, a nurse, sat down with both of these women and sagely told them they were doing a great job. We all needed to hear that.
At the nurse’s request, we all shared our birth stories. Most went for at least 25 minutes, and some began with – I’m not kidding – their baby’s conception. There seemed to be a universal idea that no birth story should ever be abbreviated. I think I said something like, “Ah, it was very painful so I took the drugs – hahaha – and then I read the rest of The Marriage Plot and fell asleep and then I had a baby. Hahaha.” I was very nervous and suddenly feeling a bit inadequate. Because in almost every birth story I’d heard so far, there was a history of infertility. Pretty much every birth story I’d heard that day began with “We’d been doing IVF for a year,” or “We were just about to start IVF” or “We were looking into egg donors” except mine.
Of course, I knew that infertility was common. I didn’t know it was that common. As I listened to the stories that day, told by women who were visibly, audibly relieved to have come through their struggle to the other side, holding their babies on their laps or rocking them in their prams, I began to think about what it would take to want something so badly, and not ever know if it would be yours. That’s where I got the idea to write my first novel, She’s Having Her Baby.
In the book, Georgie, the main character, doesn’t want kids. There’s no sad backstory about this, she just is not interested (I wanted to make this really clear; I feel like whenever fictional women don’t want children there is some sort of unbearably sad reason, which I just don’t find very true to life – some women just don’t want kids! And that’s totally fine!). By contrast, her best friend Nina is desperate for a baby. Unfortunately Nina’s uterus is not exactly complying with this request, so she asks Georgie for the ultimate favour: would Georgie carry Nina’s baby for her?
The book is about the power of female friendship and the unbearable longing so many women (and men) have for children. I wanted to explore Nina’s sense of sadness and her journey to find what she felt she was missing in her life alongside Georgie’s desire to give her friend the ultimate gift. It probably does not sound like it at all from what I’ve written so far, but the book is actually pretty funny, too, because I wanted to show that Nina was a complete person – yes, she wants a child desperately, but it does not consume her entire world. And though it’s difficult to say so, there are moments of humour in our darkest hours. Indeed, it’s often the only way we get through.
I wrote the book while my baby napped – in fits and starts, 100 words here, 500 words there. Sometimes I felt like I would never be able to actually get a first draft out because I was never able to sit down for a full day – or sometimes even a full hour! – and write, the way I had done before I had a baby. But I felt really strongly about Georgie and Nina’s bond, and the journey they had to go on together, so I kept at it and kept at it, until eventually I had a book. I should also add that my own mum (who is nothing like Georgie’s, FYI), came over once a week to take my daughter off my hands, so I could sit in a library or cafe and tap away for an uninterrupted hour or so. This book would never have happened without her.
As She’s Having Her Baby hits stands in the UK, it’s all a bit surreal: this novel that I wrote while my baby slept is now being published on the other side of the world. It’s incredible, really. I think of the way I would put my little girl in her cot, shut the door and run downstairs in our flat in Sydney, not stopping to have a cup of tea or go to the loo, and write write write for as long as she’d let me. I never even harboured a notion of the book being published here in Australia, so to have it on stands in the UK – I mean, that is just the most wonderful thing. If you read the book – and gosh I hope you do – I hope you’ll enjoy Nina and Georgie’s journey together. The book is a love letter to women, really – to friends who’ll do anything for you, to mothers who’ll do anything for their children. This book is for you. I hope you like it.
(c) Lauren Sams
Lauren Sams is the author of She’s Having Her Baby and Crazy Busy Guilty. After ten years working in magazines, she writes regularly for Cosmopolitan, ELLE, marie claire and more. She lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, two young daughters, two dogs and a helluva lot of books. She is currently writing her third novel. When she is not writing, she is reading. Follow Lauren at www.laurensams.com
About She’s Having Her Baby:
‘A book so damn good that once it’s over, you miss taking it to bed at night…’ Cosmopolitan
Georgie Henderson doesn’t want to have kids, but her best friend, Nina, has wanted to have a baby for as long as she can remember. Sadly, Nina’s uterus refuses to cooperate. One drunken evening, Nina asks Georgie for the ultimate favour: would she carry a baby for her? Georgie says yes and spends the next nine months wondering why.
With intense bacon-and-egg roll cravings and distant memories of what her feet look like, Georgie tries to keep it all together in her dream job as the editor of Jolie magazine. Her love life’s a mess – and sauvignon blanc’s off the menu – leaving Georgie to deal with twists in her life she never expected.
Sams has created the Australian Bridget Jones in this hilarious story, an emotive trajectory that pushes the boundaries of rom-com fiction.
Order your copy online here.