Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I Think I'm Ready for a Baby...

...in a romance novel again.

I went through a period (of years) during which I didn't write any babies in my romance novels, and I think out of over 30 books, only a small handful have babies in a secondary role. I've had small-kid characters a time or two, but again, they rarely show up. Of course you know why...these years correspond to the sleepless years, the stepping-on-Lego-in-the-dark years, the can-I-get-through-the-day-without-a-child-crying years. While I love my kids, my husband, our family, when it came to writing romance novels, I preferred to explore love with characters who weren't worrying about whether thechildren would sleep through the night or who didn't wonder about the long-term effects of a diet of fish sticks and applesauce.

But I suspected my mood might be changing when I wrote a lavish epilogue for my last trilogy. I dithered and dithered (and talked about it on the blog) but eventually realized I wanted to show my three sort-of sisters ten years down the road, including pregnancy, babies, and children. It didn't feel like a happy ending for the girls from Malibu & Ewe without it.

And then this happened...

I threw her mother a bridal shower a few years back. In December I gave another party, a baby shower and that night her parents announced she would be a girl and shared her name with us. She was born a week ago Saturday. The following afternoon, Sunday, I received a phone call from her new grandparents (who live across the street from us). Did I want to come over and see the baby? She was there! I'd just stepped out of the shower, but I ran over with wet hair, afraid she might go home at any moment.

What I got...was to hold her, a baby 27 hours old. What I did was remember exactly what it's like to fall in love. Her new grandma and I marveled over every finger, every toe. We watched her make sweet faces in her sleep. We ran gentle hands over her head. This is what babies bring, this sense of welling emotion that rests right on the surface. When you're under the influence of baby, I realize, you're just primed for love. I see new kinds of stories in my future.

What about you? Held a newborn recently? I highly recommend. And in romances, do you like babies and children or do you prefer to read about just a couple coming together?


lois greiman said...

Accckkkkkk!! I want a baby. I'm approximately 100 years old now and I still have baby fever. Why oh why did I ever have children if they're not going to reproduce more speedily. Well, yes, perhaps they should get married first but...

Oh, yes, fiction. Mostly I like my romance sans baby, but they can certainly bring a whole new color to the pallet. I think I've only put children/babies in about four of my novels.

Thanks for the gorgeous picture.

Christie Ridgway said...

Lois, I 've had baby fever since I was a young girl. I was a great sitter. I'm the one who holds the fussy baby so the parents/mom can eat, have coffee, whatever.

But, like you, I rarely wrote them in books.

Nutty Mother said...

What a cute little thing!

I am a newborn freak!!! I love babies! And if I could have them over and over and over again --- but be able to give them away when they are 18 months old --- I would!

I am that scary lady at the grocery store that smiles and coos at the babies. You know, the one that they want to call security about? Yeah that is me :) LOL!

I don't mind babies and children in books if they are done right! Sometimes when I read about a baby or toddler and their abilities are way above or way below their age, it can drive me nuts!


Keri Ford said...

Awww, how cute! I'm getting in shape to get ready to have #2 right now. So ready!

I can take my stories with or without babies, though I don't want to read about middle of the night things or diapers or vomit.

Christie Ridgway said...

Nutty Mother: LOL about giving them away at 18 mos. Yeah, that's when they get really exhausting, into everything and you have to watch every second.

Keri: Fun to think about #2 for you. Yeah, see, when I usually read about babies the first thing I think about is diapers and vomit. In romance novels people always have a good babysitting system too. I never liked leaving my kids with babysitters. Did so very, very rarely.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I'm with Nutty on "babies and children done right" in a story. I'm sure that's an eye of the beholder thing. And they have to serve the story, which is not what they do in real life. They are the center of everything, and they will be served.

april said...

I've never really been a baby person in real life though I love me babies in my books. Secret babies, late-in-life babies, accidental babies, I love them. In real life, I pretty much only like babies that are related to me. As for newborns, I haven't held one in about a month (and he was a 6 week old bookclub member's). Before that, my own 2 years ago. However, my brother-in-law and his wife are having a baby in August so I'm getting the aunt arms ready. Back to books, I will buy a book just because there is a baby or pregnancy storyline. It's a weakness.

Helen Brenna said...

Awww! What a doll. That thick head of hair! Beautiful.

I love babies, but don't want to read about them. I think because of what you described, Christie. The sleepless nights, etc... don't seem the least bit romantic to me.

I've written babies in epilogues, but I'm not sure I'll ever write one into an entire story. Maybe some day! When I'm a happy grandma!

Keri Ford said...

I have never left my boy with someone who wasn't a family member. Am hopeful he gets in the preschool program in the fall, but I'm okay with it, because the woman in charge there was my kindergarten teacher. I have hands on experience that he'll be in good hands. *g*

And I KNOW! #2--crazy. I remember hanging around here when I was pregnant w/#1 or I had *just* had him.

MsHellion said...

Just about the couple coming together. That's my preference.

I enjoy holding babies--and handing them back. I have the perfect rock motion that they love me, but I don't think they smell particularly special. I think they smell like vomit or sour milk, which has never been a favorite scent of mine.

They need a lot of attention--like dogs (I don't like dogs in books either, same reasons)--and I'd rather be falling in love and having sex without having to worry about finishing before the baby wakes up. That's my fantasy.

Christie Ridgway said...

Ms. Hellion: I love dogs and cats but I rarely put them in books. I don't know why that is, esp. as they are very popular these days. I think that to me, if you have a good, loving animal, then it takes away a lot of your personal conflicts. Who can be sad over a man if you have a dog's belly to scratch?

Christie Ridgway said...

Wow, Kathleen. You are so brilliant. Of course that's the difference. The baby/children must serve the story when in real life they are the center of everything. Knowing that, I can see myself having a hard time focusing just on the bonding couple.

Keri: I remember stressing about putting Son 1 in preschool (I was preggers with Son 2). It turned out great and he enjoyed it so much.

Playground Monitor said...

Holding my granddaughter when she was just an hour old was magnificent! I didn't get to hold my own babies much because they both had problems at birth and were whisked to the NICU. Of course grandbabies are better because you can spoil them and then send them home. Hehe.

I like a baby done right in a story and ditto what Kathleen said. It always nice in a book when there's a grandma handy to babysit so the hero and heroine can get down to business.


Betina Krahn said...

As a grandma of FOUR now, I am certifiably nutty about babies. I adore them and marvel at them. I wanted four children but learned later in life that I was lucky to have had two!

I think two people who have a baby together bond forever in a way that is unique in the world. The key word there is TOGETHER. That means being together through the pregnancy and sharing all the fears and wonders of that experience. It is seldom, however, a ravishingly romantic experience. It calls for a selflessness and sacrifice . Parenting requires a deeper, more mature love, a kind that can delay gratification and defer passion and personal need in the service of something larger. Doesn't sound like the hot and heavy, take-me-away romance of MY fantasies.

That said, a well done secret baby story can be marvelous! But Kathy's right; in real life, children are (and probably should be) the center and the heart of everything. Could we respect characters that put their own desires and passions before their children's welfare?

So I guess, my preference is to keep kids in the background or as a part of the story. . . not the main thrust. I have occasionally written a child, but often for comic relief-- since their honesty often goes against the forced "niceness" of society's conventions. Kids can often get by with truth-speaking when adults would be ostracized or worse for the same comments.

But, man, do I love those babies in the epilogues! They say to me that the hero and heroine have grown and progressed in their journey together and are ready to be selfless and generous with their love. . . to use it to enrich the world around them. . .which is the next logical step in loving. Sharing.

Debra Dixon said...

I am SO SO over baby fever. Currently. My sister is raising her 2nd grandson and he's just now 6 months old.

I don't think my sis or my mother have slept in awhile. Charming baby but one of those with eating issues, colic, reflux, etc.

But Mother Nature knows her stuff. We're all biologically hardwired to look at that spewing, pooping, crying baby and say, "Awww that's the sweetest thing I've ever ever seen." LOL!

KylieBrant said...

I rarely write babies or kids in my books. Maybe because having five of my own made me want to trade for an alternate reality, at least in my writing! I prefer my stories minus children, simply because I like darker stories, and they aren't usually the sort that kids figure largely in.

That said, I just handed in a book that features an eleven-year-old girl who has been kidnapped and matches wits with the villain.

Sarah Grimm said...

I prefer stories without babies. Which is odd, as I grew up a baby lover. I even begged my husband to start our family early. Babies, I just had to have them.

I suppose the cold reality of my second child is what quashed my baby fever. We struggled for years to keep him alive. I'm happy to say he's a healthy 15yo now, but those first two years were so very stressful, that I just can't look at babies the same anymore.

However, that sweet little girl in your post is beautiful!

Georganna said...

I don't mind babies in stories, but not many authors are able to show what it's truly like to have a small infant and try to maintain some sort of 'normal' love life with a hubby or lover. I do love a good epilogue that shows what's happening a year or more down the road. I really enjoyed your Malibu & Ewe epilogue because it answered the BIG question about whether the sisters were, in fact, sisters. Have a great weekend!

Kathleen O said...

Oh I am just catching up on all my blogs. I really need a laptop so I can keep up better when I am away.. I think you will write a great story where babies or kids are involved..
The last time I held a baby was when my cousin's first grandchild was born... and he was two months old by the time I got to see him.. But he is a cutie and I love all my "kids". I am an aunt of 5 and an honourary aunt to many... I saw two of my nephews only minutes old and I have never forgot that feeling of love that came over me. These young people are so important to me and they know they can always turn to me in the goodtimes and badtimes and I will be there to help them out..

So I love stories that include children..