Meet Louise, 38, Toni, 26 and Gemma, 18. They are all expecting babies in September. One of them conceived in a hurry because she was running out of time. One of them fell pregnant to keep a man and one got knocked up by mistake after a one-night-stand. But none of them realized what they would come up against as they face nine long months of pregnancy, and the reactions of friends, family and colleagues. Meeting through an online forum, they form an unlikely but powerful bond. When it seems that all they have is each other, their lives will be thrown into turmoil, as a blast from the past threatens to destroy everything. Babies in Waiting is a heart-warming novel about motherhood, friendship and finding love at the most surprising time in your life. It is also very funny, sexy and utterly compelling.
I picked this up as a bargain e-book in early 2012, but due to a tragic accident between a printer and a Kindle screen couldn’t begin it until after Christmas!
Being a first time mum that had made friends through antenatal classes, toddler groups and online, I was intrigued to read a book based around three different women thrown together through pregnancy, with a spot of romance, love triangles and friendship rifts thrown in for good measure.
So, ‘Babies in Waiting’ takes us through the lives of Louise, Toni and Gemma trimester by trimester rather than by chapters. Louise narrates her side in the first person who you instantly empathise with, even if you haven’t been plied with alcohol, bad lines and had a one stand with your married boss! Due to the less traditional circumstances around conception, after some soul searching and number crunching alongside the consideration of an abortion Louise decides to leave her successful job in her small but highly regarded Manchester based printing branch to live with her single gay and exceedingly broody brother, Simon, in London until she can set up home on her own.
Louise’s character is ultimately the centre of the story, she is confident, funny and feisty. She has the eyebrow raising back story of the work one night affair resulting in her pregnancy which she keeps hidden from all of her old Manchester colleagues, who are also her only friends. The father of her baby is also kept in the dark about his impending love child. Although this sounds horrendous, Fiores ensures we are on Louise’s side with all her tough decision making. The father, Brian, is basically a git! I can’t find a better word to describe the serial adulterer who avoids Louise’s calls after he failed to secure her as a mistress and has moved onto another female colleague instantly with his “I’m about leave my wife” line. Although we know it’s a slightly unwise decision we empathise with Louise’s no nonsense outlook that she’s entering motherhood as a Single mother and that’s how things will be, simple? Louise is faced with breaking the awkward news of her accidental pregnancy to her younger sister, Rachel, who has been trying for many years desperately for a child of her own. So in a new city, jobless and ‘knocked up’ Louise turns to a parenthood forum and befriends another expectant first time mum Toni.
Toni, a young newly-wed works in advertising where she meets the perfect man, James, her now husband of four years. Although they have always discussed that they will have children ‘someday’ this vague timescale suddenly is given a year deadline when Toni is diagnosed as having Primary Ovarian Insufficiency and her gynaecologist, nicknamed Dr Dad from his twinned appearance with her own, pretty much tells her ‘it’s now or never, if ever!’ Toni, who wears her emotions in her tear ducts, seeks out more information and joins an online forum which opens her eyes to a world of acronyms and abbreviations which translate into new terminology for talking about the most intimate part of your sex life. She is shocked to discover her and James are successful so quickly and also finds herself quite isolated as all of her friends are at different stages with their lives. She also struggles to talk to her handsome husband too, about the life changing experience they have so quickly been engulfed by.
Finally there is Gemma, a young A level student from a wealthy Surrey based family. She begins as your stereotypical surly teenager with a know-it-all attitude. Her father, David, is busy working and having affairs whilst her mother, Samantha puts up false, but well manicured appearance, to hide her sadness. Gemma is a good student and her parents are able to brag about her achievements at their many social engagements, until she falls in love with her musician boyfriend Ben. They have a wonderful six month relationship where they make gooey plans of living together off Gemma’s inheritance and how they will make beautiful babies! Gemma is besotted with her boyfriend, but when things begin to cool off as Ben’s gigs become more successful Gemma naively gets crossed wires and truly believes that having a baby with Ben will bring them closer together and as you may guess from the title results in a teen pregnancy scandal. Although Gemma is rather naive and bolshie you do want to see what happens with her, she has this youthful bubble world created in her mind about how things are going to work out. She brings a slightly deluded by romance, optimistic outlook on teen pregnancy. When Gemma is delivered to Louise at an uncomfortable afternoon tea arranged between Louise’s sister and Gemma’s parents to encourage some ‘sense talk’, Gemma impresses Louise with her ‘togetherness’ and they bond, hiding in the kitchen where they agree a story for each of their families on their big pregnancy chat.
As their pregnancies progress there is heartbreak, new romances and betrayal between the three friends as secrets unravel. You find yourself entwined into their lives, quite fluidly, and although with chick lit plots the betrayal is inevitable, you still find yourself wishing you could get in touch with the betrayed to tell them the other side for a reconciliation. As with friendships they are dotted along with humour and for me the pinnacle point is the antenatal classes which brings in some minor characters to open the girls eyes to the new world of debate around hypnobirthing versus epidurals, and the poor antenatal teacher bombarded with questions like “what do I have to say to get an epidural”.
Verdict : A lovely easy read for mothers of all ages, with fun characters mixed with a variety of first romances to long-distance ones too! I especially liked the quirkiness of Trimesters and not chapters and found it quite easy to jump between the main character’s varying plotlines along the way. Babies in Waiting has a refreshing perspective on teen pregnancy running alongside a rather empathic reflection of people dealing with fertility issues. Also, I love an author who gives you a tidy epilogue with a little ‘Did they? Didn’t they?” sparkly question at the end!
Reviewed by Sam