What If: The Question Every Author (And Mother) Asks

Today’s post by Ann Lewis Hamilton

Ann Lewis HamiltonSometimes when I look at my daughter, I marvel at the journey that brought us together – a woman from a small southern town who ended up living in Los Angeles and an orphaned infant from the streets of Calcutta.

The “what ifs” start before that.  My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.  Suppose I had carried that baby to term?  Would it have been a girl?  A boy?  If I’d had that child, does that mean I wouldn’t have given birth to my wonderful son?  (I missed biology in high school, so I don’t know how things like that work.)

What if.   When my husband and I tried to have another child after Max, what if we had been been successful?  Successful at least twice so we’d be a family with three biological children.  My husband and I had always talked of adoption, but with three biological children, would we have stopped?

What if.  We didn’t go very far down the infertility road, only to IUI (intrauterine insemination).  The first time was successful, but I had another miscarriage.  Suppose I hadn’t?  By then we were looking into international adoption.  There was a point where I was pregnant and expecting in the spring and we’d been told our adoptive daughter would arrive around the same time.  So in addition to our son, would we suddenly have two infants?  Would we have stopped the adoption process?

Not in a million years.  My husband and I joked about how crazy our lives would have been if it had worked out that way.  Things happen for a reason.  But do they?  The miscarriages and fertility treatments – I have a hard time wrapping my head around how pain and heartbreak make you a stronger person.  Really?  I think I’d be just as strong without having gone through that.  (On the other hand, I never would have been about to write a book about infertility.)

We never found out why I had a hard time getting pregnant or had miscarriages.  But what if we had?  How far would we have gone to have another child?  In my novel, Alan talks about never feeling the need to replicate himself.  My husband and I felt the same way.  We didn’t need a replica of ourselves or a blend of our genetic material.  Color, nationality, sex of the child, none of that made a difference to us.

I’d like to think we have the best of both worlds.  A birth child and an adopted child.  But when I look at my son and daughter, that’s not what I see.  I see my children.

* * *

ExpectingA mom, a dad, a baby…and another dad.

Laurie and Alan are expecting, again. After two miscarriages, Laurie was afraid they’d never be able to have a child. Now she’s cautiously optimistic — the fertility treatment worked, and things seem to be different this time around. But she doesn’t yet know how different.

Jack can’t seem to catch a break — his parents are on his case about graduating from college, he’s somehow dating two girls at once, and he has to find a way to pay back the money he borrowed from his fraternity’s party fund. The only jobs he is qualified for barely pay enough to keep him in beer money, but an ad for the local sperm bank gives Jack an idea.

Laurie and Alan’s joy is shattered when their doctor reveals that Laurie was accidentally impregnated by sperm from a donor rather than her husband. Who is Donor 296. And how will their family change now that Donor 296 is inarguably part of it?

* * *

Ann Lewis Hamilton has written for film and television. EXPECTING is her first novel.

Ann Lewis Hamilton’s television credits include, among others, Grey’s Anatomy, Stephen King’s Dead Zone, and thirtysomething. She co-edits a small online literary magazine, Hot Valley Writers, and writes a blog, Book Club for One. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia in a house full of typewriters – her grandfather was the editor of the local newspaper where her father worked as a reporter and her mother wrote for the society page. Ann’s goal was to write and draw for MAD magazine, but instead she graduated with a BA from the University of Virginia and an MFA from UCLA. However, she still has a subscription to MAD.

When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time as a amateur astronaut. (Not really, but she has seen Gravity three times and would consider being an astronaut if she got to meet George Clooney.)

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About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

3 Responses to What If: The Question Every Author (And Mother) Asks

  1. Normandie Fischer August 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Love your what-ifs. The world is full of those, isn’t it? Taking the ones we know and the ones we imagine and using them in our writing as we try to make sense of it all… Thank you for giving context for your story. Can’t wait to read it.

  2. Kristy Woodson Harvey August 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I loved this column! The what ifs… They are a killer, aren’t they? Thanks so much for sharing. Your book sounds fantastic. And now that I know a little bit about your story, I can’t wait to read it!

  3. Ann Bresnan August 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I, too play the “what if game”. But I also wonder if somewhere in another dimension there is another me. One who went a different route and took that road that I didn’t travel.

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