Saturday morning coffee sessions are never going to be the same. . . .
Sydney marketing exec Sophie presumed "making sacrifices for your children" meant giving up Bloody Marys and champagne for nine months. When she thought about it, that is. . . . But then two blue lines appear on her pregnancy test. How does a baby fit in with a hectic job, a chaotic social life, and the absence of Max, the Y chromosome in the equation, who has moved to San Francisco?
Support and dubious advice are provided by an unlikely group that gathers for a weekly coffee get-together at the King Street Cafe. With Debbie the glamorous man-eater, Andrew the fitness junkie, Anna the disaster-prone doctor, and Karen the statistically improbable happily married mother of three, Sophie discovers the ups and downs of motherhood. And when an unexpected business venture and a new man appear on the scene, it appears that just maybe there is life after a baby.
Written by two sisters who live on different continents, Kris Webb and Kathy Wilson, From Here to Maternity is a novel that tackles the balancing of motherhood, romance, and a career, while managing to be seriously funny.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|File size:||383 KB|
About the Author
Kris Webb and Kathy Wilson are sisters who grew up in Brisbane. Kris worked as a lawyer for Walt Disney in Hong Kong until having her first child. She still lives there, with her husband and two daughters. Kathy worked as a marketing executive in Sydney and now has her own consulting firm in Brisbane, where she lives with her husband and son.
Kris Webb grew up in Brisbane, and worked as a lawyer for Walt Disney in Hong Kong until having her first child. She still lives there, with her husband and two daughters. She cowrote From Here to Maternity: A Novel of Total Exhaustion with her sister, Kathy Wilson.
Kathy Wilson worked as a marketing executive in Sydney and now has her own consulting firm in Brisbane, where she lives with her husband and son. She cowrote From Here to Maternity: A Novel of Total Exhaustion with her sister, Kris Webb.
Read an Excerpt
From Here To Maternity
A Novel of Total Exhaustion
By Kris Webb, Kathy Wilson
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2003 Kris Webb and Kathy Wilson
All rights reserved.
In retrospect, I should have realised there was something odd about my hormonal levels when I found myself making a banana cake one Sunday afternoon.
Despite this glaring inconsistency in my behaviour, I still hadn't seriously considered that I might be pregnant, not even when I skulked into the chemist's shop. After all, I'd heard that extreme amounts of exercise could affect some women's cycles and I had been making it to the gym at least twice a week over the previous couple of months.
I am convinced that chemists put pregnancy tests in the hardest possible place to find, in a deliberate attempt to toy with the already volatile emotions of the women who come looking for them. My furtive casting around for the pregnancy test section must have immediately alerted the staff, but I was given ten minutes to uselessly circumnavigate the store before the signal was given and an assistant swooped on me.
'What are you after, love?' she asked.
A very cleverly worded question and one obviously settled on after lengthy research. You see, it requires a definite answer, and the standard 'I'm fine, thanks' doesn't work unless you're prepared to be really rude. What it does do is force you either to confess what you are after, or (and the only option as far as I was concerned) to lie and ask for something else.
'Ah ... I need some sunscreen,' I stuttered.
'Certainly,' the assistant answered, guiding me to the sunscreen section (which I'd passed six times), waiting as I chose a tube to add to the collection in my bathroom cupboard.
'Was there anything else?' she asked loudly as I hesitated.
I glanced around guiltily. Although I didn't recognise anyone, I had long ago learnt that despite the fact Sydney has over four million inhabitants, everyone always knows a lot about everyone else's business. If someone here recognised me and told a mutual friend what I'd asked for, the power of email could have the information spread to the four corners of the world by lunchtime.
'No. Just the sunscreen,' I answered, deciding to try somewhere else on the way home.
The staff in this shop had obviously been off form when picking the location of the pregnancy tests, because as I walked towards the cash register I spotted the telltale packages out of the corner of my eye on a bottom shelf behind a poster for painkillers.
The woman who had been serving me looked crestfallen as I presented both the first pregnancy test my hand fell on (no comparison shopping here) and my sunscreen. However, she rang both items up without comment, both of us pretending that my first priority had been to ensure I didn't get skin cancer when I was sixty-five and that as an afterthought I'd decided to see if I was going to bring another human being into the world in seven months time.
The next morning I dutifully followed the instructions in the pack then put the little tray with its vertical stick on the bathroom sink as I jumped into the shower.
Five minutes later I stuck my shampoo-lathered head out of the shower to check that all was well and had already let the shower curtain fall back when my mind registered that there were not just one but two little blue lines on the stick. Pulling the shower curtain back slowly, I tried to convince myself that I was mistaken. But no, those two lines were still there and would not become one, no matter how I squinted at them. I lurched out of the shower and grabbed the instructions, hoping that I'd somehow got confused and two lines actually meant a negative result. Nope.
Emotions hit me one after the other.
The first was, of course, denial – an old favourite of mine. The chemicals in the kit were obviously hopelessly out of date and they would have responded in the same way if Alfred, my sixty-year-old boss, had peed on them. After checking the expiry date on the packet, I reluctantly discarded that theory.
After that came terror. In the past I'd had a few tense moments flicking through my diary counting days, but on each of those occasions my technique of wearing a pair of white trousers had brought on my missing period. Somehow I'd assumed that if I were to get pregnant accidentally, it would have happened years ago, not at the age of twenty-nine after ten years of successful contraception.
The realisation that I was actually pregnant made the blood drain suddenly from my head and I sat down heavily on the edge of the bath as my mind whirled in panic.
Every good friendship has some rules and one of our household's, which was unstated, but well-understood, was that we never, ever, disturbed each other in our bedrooms. However, for the first time I ignored that rule and, pausing only to wrap a towel around myself, ran into my flatmate and best friend's room.
Fortunately Debbie was alone as I leant dripping over her bed waving my stick in her face.
'I'm pregnant!' I screamed.
She opened one hungover eye and looked at her red-faced and terrified flatmate.
'I can't even begin to respond to that without caffeine in my system,' she said calmly. 'Make me the strongest coffee you can, bring me the leftover pizza in the bottom of the fridge, put some clothes on and then let's talk.'
* * *
I'd met Max, the other half of the pregnancy, during one of my fits of lunacy some people call an exercise phase.
Every now and then I decide that I'm going to change my life and become a runner. What I seem to forget between each of these little episodes is that one cannot 'become' a runner. One is either born a runner or a non-runner and I fall squarely into the second category.
During one such phase I decided I would enter the Sydney City to Surf. I struggled determinedly over the course and managed to finish, although the crowds of supporters had long since departed by the time I lurched over the finish line.
No one was waiting to cheer me as I staggered to a halt beside Bondi Beach. I had thought my best chance of having a receiving committee was if Debbie and co were on their way home from the International, their nightspot of choice at the time, but they'd obviously had a relatively early night and made it in before sunrise.
Despite my exhaustion, I noticed a group of men standing about ten metres away. They were a particularly good-looking group (I have always thought there should be a name for a group of good-looking males – maybe a testogaggle) but my eyes were drawn to the one who was talking. He was quite tall with dark curly hair, and as he delivered the punchline to the story he threw his head back and laughed loudly. I would like to say that it was Max's joie de vivre that first attracted me to him, but I have to admit that it was actually his gorgeously straight shoulders complete with appropriate muscles, and his lovely legs clad in little running shorts.
The testogaggle moved off and on impulse I grabbed my bag from the runners' station and followed them onto a bus heading for Glebe. The bus wasn't going totally the wrong way for me to get home to Coogee, three suburbs away from Bondi; nothing an extra hour or so's travelling wouldn't fix, anyway.
The bus was packed. I just managed to get a hold on the bar above my head as it took off, but I still swung in a precarious, but cunningly directed, arc before I regained my balance. As I straightened, I found myself looking right into the face of the object of my attention, who smiled at me.
I had a sudden vision of how terrible I must look. At better times my short blonde hair and brown eyes could be considered reasonably attractive. However, just walking up a decent flight of stairs was enough to make my face go red, so I could only imagine how it looked after almost two hours of running (well, mostly running). The only good news was that my grimy running cap covered my limp and sweaty hair, which was plastered to my skull.
What the hell was I doing following a guy onto a bus after running for fourteen kilometres? I had a worrying thought – maybe I had heatstroke and it had addled my brain.
Oh well, at least I would die happy, I thought. Struggling to stay upright, I smiled back, hoping desperately that my active-person deodorant was living up to its claims.
'So, how did you go?' he asked.
'Great, thanks,' I replied honestly. After all, finishing was a major accomplishment as far as I was concerned.
'What time did you do?' he enquired with a raised eyebrow.
'Personal best,' I hedged, not wanting to tell him that the timers had all quit by the time I made it to the finishing line. 'And you?'
'Sixty-five minutes,' he smiled. 'I'm pretty happy with it.'
Pretty happy with it! I'd have been putting my name down for the Olympic trials if I'd done that kind of time. I tried not to show my dismay. This guy wasn't just a runner, he was a good runner. There went any ideas of suggesting a jog around the Botanic Gardens after work. He'd be done before I even made it down the steps of the Opera House.
'So do you run a lot?' he asked.
I considered lying and telling him running was my life, but decided a statement like that could well bring a bolt of lightning from above. Besides, I was too tired to do anything but be honest.
'Not really,' I replied. 'I'm actually considering a ceremonial burning of my runners when I get home.'
He did the throwing-back-his-head-and-laughing thing again (which convinced me that at some stage someone must have told him how sexy it looked) and then stuck his hand out.
'Max Radley,' he said. 'Nice to meet you.'
'Sophie Anderson,' I replied.
We smiled at each other just as one of the testogaggle grabbed Max's shoulder.
'Our stop, mate. Your fry-up awaits. Let's go.'
'Bye,' Max said with what I optimistically interpreted as a touch of disappointment. 'Best of luck with your running career.'
'Thanks,' I said dismally as I watched him bound down the steps.
Cursing my idiocy, I tried to spot something out of the bus window that would help me figure out where I was and how I could get back to Coogee before sunset on the sporadic Sunday public transport.
When I was glancing through the run times published in the paper the next morning I found myself looking for Max's name. Radley was a pretty unusual surname, I figured, and flipped open the telephone directory. Sure enough there was only one M Radley.
Before I could change my mind, I pulled out a 'With Compliments' slip that had my name and contact details. After scrawling, Congratulations, Max, great time. Regards, Sophie Anderson (ex-runner), I stuck it in an envelope and put it in the office out-tray.
Over the following twenty-four hours I seesawed between thinking that the note had been a gutsy modern-woman kind of thing to do and thinking it was the most pathetic and embarrassing act of my life (despite there being some serious competition on that front). However, I consoled myself with the fact that none of my friends would know what I'd done.
The next afternoon I was head down in a huge pile of paperwork when the phone rang. I reached over and picked it up, eyes still on the document I was reading.
'Sophie Anderson speaking,' I said automatically.
'Is that Sophie Anderson, the ex-runner?' asked the voice on the other end of the phone.
I jerked the phone away from my ear, and stared incredulously at it.
'Yesss ...' I replied cautiously, holding the phone back to my ear. Could any of my friends possibly have got wind of what I'd done?
'It's Max Radley, Sophie. I just received your note. Fancy a drink after work?'
By a stroke of remarkable good fortune, I was wearing my best suit that day and for once actually looked like I arranged major events for a living. Debbie had insisted that I wear the suit (which she'd bullied me into buying for an astronomical price) for a 'salary review' meeting earlier that morning. She'd rejected my argument that my oldest, most tattered suit would provide me with grounds for my assertion that I was underpaid and convinced me the extra confidence the outfit would give me was tactically vital. She had even insisted on lending me a matching handbag and shoes to complete the effect.
Unfortunately the image of the sharp, efficient businesswoman I'd seen reflected in Debbie's full-length mirror had only lasted until I spilt my morning coffee down the front of my crisp white shirt. As a result I hadn't been able to remove, or even unbutton, my jacket all day, although my boss hadn't seemed to notice and had even agreed to a pay rise.
We arranged to meet at a bar halfway between his office and mine. When I arrived, the place was absolutely heaving. I didn't know what was going on, but it looked like everyone who worked within a five-kilometre radius had decided to meet there. Suited men and women hung out of the windows and spilt out of the doorway, while frantic doormen tried to keep control.
Suddenly the whole thing seemed like a bad idea. I couldn't even really remember what Max looked like. How on earth was I going to find him in this place?
I was hesitating in front of the entrance when I heard a voice behind me. 'Not exactly the right place for a quiet drink.'
I turned around to find Max standing behind me. I needn't have worried about not recognising him. Despite the fact that he was now wearing a suit, he had the same casual grin and rumpled hair.
'Well, no,' I replied, feeling awkward suddenly.
'Do you come here often?' I flushed as I heard the bad pickup line emerge from my lips. My capacity for inane comments still managed to surprise even me.
Max didn't seem to notice.
'I've been here a couple of times,' he answered.
We turned to head inside but were almost knocked out of the way by an exiting group of men who looked like they'd been there for a while. I thought about sharing my testogaggle theory with Max, but decided against it.
'Don't suppose you fancy going somewhere else?' Max asked.
'That sounds like a great idea,' I replied as yet more people forced their way inside.
'Have you ever been to the Centennial Club?' he asked, naming one of the oldest private clubs in Sydney.
'Um, no, can't say that I have. I didn't actually think they allowed women.'
'New rules as of the start of this year – apparently the old boys have been forced to move with the times and allow in the weaker sex. So do you want to risk it?'
Several years previously I'd had a particularly humiliating experience at a similar club. I'd been curtly refused entry to its bar, where I'd arranged to meet a colleague who was new to the club and as unaware of the rules as I. As a result, I'd vowed to boycott all such places forever more.
I struggled with my conscience for at least a second. 'Sure, that sounds great.'
Some female rights activist I would have been, I thought guiltily. I probably would have unchained myself from the gates of parliament if a good-looking man had asked me to join him for a coffee.
'Have you been a member for long?' I asked as we walked, surprised and a little put off that Max belonged to that type of club.
'Well, you can have the truth or an elaborate lie, which would you prefer?' Max replied, producing that grin again.
'Definitely the lie,' I smiled.
'They approached me several years ago, begging me to be their only honorary member for my good deeds to humanity.'
'Okay,' I nodded with mock seriousness. 'And the truth?'
'It isn't my membership. My boss has a corporate membership and in a fit of generosity last week suggested that I borrow it sometime. I figured I'd do well to take him up on it and see how the other half lives before my popularity diminishes.'
As we entered the oak-panelled foyer a stern-looking man with a ramrod-stiff back held out his hands to take my jacket.
'Ah, no thanks, I'm fine,' I stuttered.
The man raised his eyebrows, my uncivilised behaviour obviously only confirming his opinion of the new rules.
'Planning to make a quick exit?' Max asked out of the corner of his mouth as we walked into a high-ceilinged room filled with overstuffed leather chairs grouped in small circles.
'I can't take my jacket off,' I whispered.
'Why?' he whispered back.
Reluctantly I opened my jacket to reveal the tan stain stretching from my collar to my waist.
Max threw back his head and laughed. A few heads turned. Obviously, unrestrained laughter wasn't heard around here terribly often.
'How about we sit under the airconditioning vents?' he suggested.
Excerpted from From Here To Maternity by Kris Webb, Kathy Wilson. Copyright © 2003 Kris Webb and Kathy Wilson. 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.