Baby Proof

Baby Proof

by Emily Giffin
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Baby Proof by Emily Giffin

Baby Proof

Emily Griffin

A novel that explores the question: Is there ever a deal-breaker when it comes to true love?

Claudia Parr has everything going for her. A successful editor at a publishing house in Manhattan, she's also a devoted sister, aunt, and friend. Yet she's never wanted to become a mother--which she discovers is a major hurdle to marriage, something she desperately wants. Then she meets her soul mate Ben who, miraculously, feels the same way about parenthood. The two fall in love and marry, committed to one another and their life of adventure and discovery. All's well until one of them has a change of heart. Someone wants a baby after all.

This is the witty, heartfelt story about what happens to the perfect couple when they suddenly want different things and there is no compromise. It's about deciding what is most important in life and wagering everything to get it. And most of all, it's about the things we will--and won't--do for love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312348656
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 05/15/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 796,333
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Emily Giffin is the author of several New York Times bestselling novels, including Something Borrowed, which has been adapted as a major motion picture. A graduate of Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law, she lives in Atlanta with her family.

Read an Excerpt

Baby Proof

By Emily Giffin

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2006 Emily Giffin
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-0463-6


I never wanted to be a mother. Even when I was a little girl, playing dolls with my two sisters, I assumed the role of the good Aunt Claudia. I would bathe and diaper and cradle their plastic babies and then be on my way, on to more exciting pursuits in the backyard or basement. Grown-ups called my position on motherhood "cute" — flashing me that same knowing smile they give little boys who insist that all girls have cooties. To them, I was just a spunky tomboy who would someday fall in love and fall in line.

Those grown-ups turned out to be partially right. I did outgrow my tomboy stage and I did fall in love — several times, in fact — beginning with my high school boyfriend, Charlie. But when Charlie gazed into my eyes after our senior prom and asked me how many children I wanted, I reported a firm "zero."

"None?" Charlie looked startled, as if I had just confessed to him a terrible, dark secret. "Why not?"

I had a lot of reasons, which I laid out that night, but none that satisfied him. Charlie wasn't alone. Of the many boyfriends who followed him, none seemed to understand or accept my feelings. And although my relationships ended for a variety of reasons, I always had the sense that babies were a factor. Still, I truly believed that I would someday find my guy, that one person who would love me as is, without condition, without the promise of children. I was willing to wait for him.

But around the time I turned thirty, I came to terms with the fact that I might wind up alone. That I might never have that gut feeling when you know you've found the One. Instead of feeling sorry for myself or settling for something less than extraordinary, I focused my energy on things I could more easily control — my career as an editor at a big publishing company, fascinating trips, great times with good friends and interesting writers, evenings of fine wine and sparkling conversation. Overall, I was content with my life, and I told myself that I didn't need a husband to feel complete and fulfilled.

Then I met Ben. Beautiful, kind, funny Ben who seemed way too good to be true, especially after I learned that he actually shared my feelings on children. The subject came up the night we met, on a blind date orchestrated by our mutual friends, Ray and Annie. We were at Nobu, making small talk over yellowtail sashimi and rock shrimp tempura, when we became distracted by a young boy, no older than six, seated at the table next to us. The boy was ultratrendy, wearing a little black Kangol hat and a Lacoste polo with the collar turned up. His posture was ramrod straight, and he was proudly ordering his sushi, proper pronunciation and all, with no input from his parents. Clearly this was not his first trip to Nobu. In fact, I'd have guessed that he had eaten sushi more often than grilled-cheese sandwiches.

Ben and I watched him, smiling in the way people often smile at children and puppies, when I blurted out, "If you have to have kids, that's certainly the kind to have."

Ben leaned across the table and whispered, "You mean one with a bowl cut and a hip wardrobe?"

"No. The kind that you can take to Nobu on a school night," I said matter-of-factly. "I'm not interested in eating chicken fingers at T.G.I. Friday's. Ever."

Ben cleared his throat and smirked. "So you don't want to live in the suburbs and eat at Friday's or you don't want kids?" he asked, as I noticed his slight, sexy underbite.

"Neither. Both. All of the above," I said. Then, just in case I hadn't been clear enough, I added for good measure, "I don't want to eat at Friday's, I don't want to live in the suburbs, and I don't want kids."

It was a lot to put out there so soon, particularly at our age. Ben and I were both thirty-one — old enough to place the issue of kids firmly on most men's list of taboo topics for first dates. Taboo assuming you want kids, that is. If you don't want them, then raising the topic is akin to announcing that you are close friends with Anna Kournikova and that you and she enjoy three-ways, particularly first-date three-ways. In other words, your date probably won't view you as marriage material, but he'll certainly be enthusiastic about dating you. Because a thirty-one-year-old woman who does not want children equals a nonpressure situation, and most bachelors relish nonpressure situations — which is why they target women in their twenties. It gives them a cushion, some breathing room.

On the flip side, I knew I could be automatically disqualified for long-term consideration as I had with so many guys in my recent past. After all, most people — women and men — view not wanting kids as a deal breaker. At the very least, I risked coming across as cold and selfish, two traits that don't top the list of "what every man wants."

But in the messy world of dating, I had grown to favor candor at the expense of positioning and posturing. It was a nice advantage of not wanting kids. I wasn't up against that infamous clock. Nor was I about checking the boxes on a blueprint of life. As a result, I could afford total honesty. Full disclosure even on first dates.

So after I floated the kid issue out there with Ben, I held my breath, fearing that familiar, critical look. But Ben was all smiles as he exclaimed, "Neither do I!" in that jubilant and marveling tone people adopt when they've just stumbled upon a staggering coincidence. Like the time I ran into my third-grade teacher at a pub in London. Maybe the chances of being on a first date and discovering that neither party wants children aren't quite as slim as sitting on a barstool on the other side of the ocean, sipping a pint, and glancing up to see a teacher you haven't run across in two decades. But it's certainly not every day that you can find someone who wants to have a monogamous, meaningful relationship but also opt out of the seemingly automatic choice to experience the magical world of parenthood. Ben's expression seemed to register an understanding of all of this.

"Have you ever noticed how couples discuss the merits of having children early versus late?" he asked me earnestly.

I nodded as I tried to pinpoint his eye color — a pleasant combination of pale green and gray outlined with a dark ring. He was handsome, but beyond his fine nose, thick hair, and broad, muscular build was that incandescent intangible my best friend, Jess, calls the "sparkle factor." His face was alive and bright. He was the kind of man you see on the subway and wish you knew, your eyes uncontrollably darting to his left ring finger.

Ben continued, "And how the main feature of each scenario is freedom? The freedom that either comes early in life or late in life?"

I nodded again.

"Well," he said, pausing to sip his wine. "If the best part of having kids early is getting it over with, and the best part about having kids late is putting off the drudgery, doesn't it follow that not having kids at all is the best of both worlds?"

"I couldn't agree more," I said, raising my glass to toast his philosophy. I envisioned us defying the forces of nature together (the stuff about man wanting to sow his seed and woman wanting to grow life inside of her) and bucking the rules of society that so many of my friends were blindly following. I knew I was getting way ahead of myself, imagining all of this with a man I had just met, but by the time you reach thirty-one, you know immediately if a guy has potential or not. And Ben had potential.

Sure enough, the rest of our dinner went exceptionally well. No awkward lulls in the conversation, no red flags or annoying mannerisms. He asked thoughtful questions, gave good answers, and sent interested but not eager signals. So I invited him back to my apartment for a drink — something I never do on a first date. Ben and I did not kiss that night, but our arms touched as he flipped through a photo album on my coffee table. His skin felt electric against mine, and I had to catch my breath every time he turned a page.

The next day Ben called me just as he said he would. I was giddy when his name lit up my caller ID, and even more so when he announced, "I just wanted to tell you that that was far and away the best first date I've ever been on."

I laughed and said, "I agree. In fact, it was better than most of my second, third, and fourth dates."

We ended up talking for nearly two hours, and when we finally said good-bye, Ben said what I had just been thinking — that the call felt more like five minutes. That he could talk to me forever. One can hope, I remember thinking.

Then came the sex. We only waited two weeks, which went against all the standard advice from friends, family, and magazine articles. It wasn't so much that I had to be with him in any urgent, lustful sense (although that was certainly part of it). It was more that I saw no reason to squander a single night together. When I know something is right, I believe in going for it, head-on. Sure enough, our first time was neither quick nor awkward nor tentative, the usual hallmarks of first times. Instead, our bodies fit together just right, and Ben knew what I liked without having to ask. It was the kind of sex that makes you wish you were a songwriter or poet. Or at least a woman who keeps a journal, something I hadn't done since I was a kid, but a practice I promptly began the day after we made love.

Ben and I quickly discovered that we had a lot more in common than our view on children, and a lot more binding us together than our crazy chemistry. We had a similar background. We both grew up in New York with two older sisters and parents who divorced late in the game. We were both hardworking, high achievers who were passionate about our careers. Ben was an architect and loved buildings as much as I loved books. We enjoyed traveling to obscure places, eating exotic food, and drinking a little too much. We loved movies and bands that were slightly offbeat without straining to be intellectual. We relished sleeping in on the weekends, reading the paper in bed, and drinking coffee into the evening hours. We were the same combination of clean freak and messy, of sentimental and pragmatic. We both had come to believe that short of something magical, relationships weren't worth the trouble.

In short, we fell in love, everything clicking in place. And it wasn't the one-sided delusional happiness that comes when a woman wants desperately to believe that she's found her guy. Our relationship was so satisfying and honest and real that at some point I started to believe that Ben was my soul mate, the one person I was supposed to be with. It was a concept I had never believed in before Ben.

I remember the day when all of this hit me. It was relatively early on, but well after we had exchanged our first I love yous. Ben and I were having a picnic in Central Park. People were all around us, sunning, reading, throwing Frisbees, laughing, yet it felt like we were completely alone. Whenever I was with Ben, it felt like the rest of the world fell away. We had just finished our lunch of cold fried chicken and potato salad and were lying on our backs, looking up at a very blue summer sky and holding hands, when we began that earnest but careful conversation about past loves. About the people and experiences that had brought us to the moment we were in.

Fleeting references to our history had been made up to that point, and I was well aware that we were both silently making those inevitable comparisons, putting our relationship in context. She is more this and less of that. He is better or worse in these ways. It is human nature to do this — unless it's your first relationship, which might be the very reason that your first relationship feels special and remains forever sacred. But the older you get, the more cynical you become, and the more complicated and convoluted the exercise is. You begin to realize that nothing is perfect, that there are trade-offs and sacrifices. The worst is when someone in your past trumps the person in your present, and you think to yourself: if I'd known this, then maybe I wouldn't have let him go. I had been feeling that way for a long time with respect to my college boyfriend, Paul. My relationship with Paul was far from flawless, and yet I hadn't found anyone in a decade who could squelch the more than occasional longing for what we had shared.

But with Ben, something was different. I was happier than I had ever been. I told him this, and I remember him asking me why it was different, why I was happier. I thought for a long time, wanting my answer to be accurate and complete. I began to awkwardly detail what made my relationship with Paul fail and spent much time ticking off Paul's specific attributes and qualities. I then listed for Ben the ways in which he was better — and more important, better for me.

I said, "You are a better kisser. You are more even-tempered. You are more generous. You are smarter. You are more fair-minded."

Ben nodded and looked so serious that I remember saying, "And you recycle" just to be funny. (Although it was true that Paul never recycled, which I thought said a lot about him.) As I talked, I had the distinct sense that I wasn't really capturing the essence of the way I was feeling. It was frustrating because I wanted Ben to know how special he was to me.

So I sort of gave up and asked Ben the same question about his ex-girlfriend, Nicole. I had begun to piece together a pretty decent picture of her based on snippets of conversation. I knew she was half Vietnamese and looked like a porcelain doll. (I might have snooped through his drawers once and come up with a photo or two.) She was an interior designer and had met Ben on a big museum project in Brooklyn. Her favorite book was One Hundred Years of Solitude, which was also Ben's favorite book (a fact that irrationally annoyed me). She smoked — they smoked together for a long time until he quit. They lived together for three years and dated for nearly six. Their relationship was intense — high highs and miserable lows. They had only broken up the winter before. I still hadn't heard exactly why. So of course the word rebound haunted me. The name Nicole filled me with crazy jealousy.

"Why is this relationship different?" I asked Ben, and then worried that I was presuming a bit much. "Or is it ... different?"

I will never forget the way Ben looked at me, his pale eyes wide and almost glassy. He bit his bottom lip, one of his sexier habits, before he said, "That's actually not a difficult question at all. I just love you more. That's it. And I'm not saying that because she's in the past and you're in the present. I just do. In absolute terms. I mean, I loved her. I did. But I love you more. And it's really not even close."

It was the best thing anyone had ever said to me, and it was the best for one reason: I felt exactly the same way. The person who loved me like this was the person I loved back — which can feel like an absolute miracle. It is an absolute miracle.

So it came as no surprise when Ben proposed a few weeks later. And then, seven months later, on the anniversary of our first date, we eloped, tying the knot on an idyllic white crescent beach in St. John. It was not a popular move with our families, but we wanted the day to be only about us. Right after we exchanged our vows, I remember looking out across the sea and thinking that it was just the two of us, our lifetime together stretching endlessly ahead. Nothing would ever change, except the addition of wrinkles and gray hair and sweet, satisfying memories.

Of course the subject of children surfaced often during our newlywed days, but only when responding to rude inquiries regarding our plans to procreate from everyone and anyone: Ben's family, my family, friends, random mothers in the park, even our dry cleaner.


Excerpted from Baby Proof by Emily Giffin. Copyright © 2006 Emily Giffin. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

1. Do you think that there is a stigma against women who do not become mothers? If so, how much more damning is it for a woman who chooses not to have children rather than one who is simply unable? Do you think women who don't want children are judged more harshly than men who don't want them?

2. Do you view Claudia as a selfish person? How much do you think she is defined by her decision not to have children? Was your first impression of her a favorable one? Did you draw conclusions about her character after the first sentence of the novel?

3. Do you think that most people would see a partner who doesn't want children as a deal-breaker? Is this an issue that one can compromise on? Is there such thing as a deal-breaker when it comes to true love or does true love conquer all?

4. Do you believe in soul mates? If so, do you believe that soul mates, by definition, want the same things in life?

5. There is a statement in Baby Proof that reads: "The biggest decision a woman can make in life is not who to marry but who should be the father of her children." Do you believe that, to most women, the issue of children and motherhood (and who to share that with) supersedes every other decision in their lives? Or do you think that women today wrestle with the decision to have children more than they would care to admit?

6. Do you feel it was fair and reasonable for Ben to back out of their agreement to not have children? Is this a realistic promise in the first place? How would this have been a different story if it had been Claudia who had changed her mind? Were you more frustrated with Ben for changing his mind about having children or with Claudia for being unyielding in her views?

7. Through the characters of Daphne, Maura, and Jess, Baby Proof examines ways in which motherhood impacts relationships and vice versa. How do these side stories relate to the central theme of Claudia's decision to be "childfree"? How do you think Claudia's relationship with her own mother contributed to her feelings regarding having children?

8. There's a scene in the novel in which Claudia, Maura, Daphne, and Jess are having lunch, and Claudia observes: "But as I listen to the three women I love most, I can't help but think how crazy it is that we all want something that we can't seem to have. Something that someone else at the table has in spades." How does the issue of motherhood in Baby Proof tap into more universal themes of unexpected outcomes and unfulfilled desires? What do you think of Daphne and Tony's request of Claudia? What do you think of Maura's decision to stay with Scott?

9. Claudia's disdain for Scott's infidelity is evident in her comments about him. Her disapproval of Jess's serial dating of married men seems more tempered, even though it could be said that without women like Jess, Scott would have no one to cheat on his wife with. Do you feel that our love for our friends frequently allows us to give them a pass for bad behavior? How often do you hide or minimize your true feelings in order to be supportive of a friend?

10. Discuss the ending of Baby Proof in relation to O. Henry's classic tale "The Gift of the Magi." Do you feel that the ending was satisfying? Do you think Claudia and Ben will go on to have children?

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Baby Proof 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 723 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was true to the title and many young women out there. Women are expected to want children but sometimes there are other things in life that a woman has chosen too and this is not always accepted.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I downloaded this book in the morning and finished it that same evening. I have to say I've become a bit of an Emily Giffin junkie. I've read all of her books already and don't know what to do now that there's none left. This was by far my fav. I loved being able to relate to the intense emotions of being in love and sometimes letting pride get the best of you, which can ultimately ruin something amazing. Definitely a heartwrenching read. Loved it!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book by this author that I had read and I loved it. Couldn't put it down, very easy read. After I finished reading this I bought the other two.
EBarry More than 1 year ago
This book had more drama than I was expecting, but I didn't mind at all! She is a very talented writer, and I really loved reading it! This was my first book by her, and I look forward to reading others! Going to pass it on to my friends!
DivaPrincess28 More than 1 year ago
i read this book after reading Something Borrowed and Something Blue. Both of those reads were great and I couldn't put the books down. I finished both in a matter of days of starting them. This particular book took me a little over a week to complete. The book was was very slow moving to me and it was hard to get into the characters like in the other books. I though that the book was not as good as the others. However, I did like how she tried to bring back Ethan from Something Blue to connect the stories together. Overall the book was okay. I do plan on reading her last book and hope it is better than this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I also read this after reading something borrowed and something blue. It took me probably about 2 days to get throug the first chapter, but after all the drama went down I was hooked. I think claudia is really relateble and I loved that it yied in with the first 2 books. A must read for sure!
AprilLW More than 1 year ago
As a married woman without children, I was able to relate to this book and felt that the author portrayed my thoughts exactly. It is refreshing to hear my thoughts put into words and hopefully people will look at married childless couples a little differently now - just because you don't have them does not mean you want them but can't have them! Thank you!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Loved the book as I loved her first to. I was really surprised by some of the reviews. I think that just because you can't relate to the main characters doesn't make it a bad book. Well written, easy reading, and definatley keeps the flow.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had mixed feelings about this book. I saw other people's review how this book was a disappointment, but I am glad I got to read it. I loved, loved, loved her first two books. This one at first is a little bit slow, but then it gets really good. I like the part how she incorporated Ethan in this book for just a few lines. I liked everything about the story and how it developed. I definitely recommend it :o)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading Something Borrowed and Something Blue I searched for comparable books by other authors and ended up back at Emily Griffin. I bought Baby Proof and finished it in 4 days. Its light but thought provoking and you really feel for the character(s). Didn't want the story to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The title of my review ssays it all. I loved this book right up until the end. I was so excited to read a book where I could identify so much with the main character and I was glad to see that she stuck to her guns and didn't cave, just because her husband changed his mind about wanting kids. Then, all of a sudden, just because she decides she wants her husband back, she decides she can have a baby EVEN THOUGH SHE STILL DOESN'T WANT ONE. I was horrified and felt totally cheated. The author totally abused the "love conquers all" idea to explain the fact that a woman with zero interest in having kids, will decide to have one just to get a man back. I think that the author doesn't really understand a woman who doesn't want to have kids. My guess is that she secretly believes that a woman who says she doesn't want kids secretly does want kids, even if she may not realize it yet. I just feel so betrayed. The author should have kept her integrity instead of turning such a promising storyline into another "woman doesn't want kids, woman changes her mind and decides to have kids."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Emily Giffin knocks it out of the park with this one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read something borrowed and something blue and i loved them! So i thought i would read more by her, but i was very disappointed. Not many books are a waste to me but this one was. The story dragged on and on with too much detail and not enough development of characters. The best part was reading about Ethan again, so for that it was worth it but only that.
Paula_D More than 1 year ago
The breaking up in this book was far too abrupt. The making up far too easy-with a very long drawn out angst ridden middle. The far to smooth reunion just made that overdrawn breakup all the more annoying. And the makeup itself lacked the passion and conflict needed to seem realistic. The book kept you interested enough to be all the more let down by its climax and resolution.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Emily Giffin does it again with this sweet, light, yet intelligent story about making mistakes and love conquering all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a fun read! Gteat book to come to and the end of a long day and enjoy! This one is my favorite ;)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love how unique this topic was. I get so tired of reading the same thing over and over, so this was a welcomed change!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book deserves 6 stars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago