Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

I never get hold of Jodi Picoults easily. There is a mile long waiting list for them, normally, so when I saw this one sitting in the ‘Just returned’ section, I grabbed it – quick, real quick.

Max and Zoe Baxter are about to have a baby. A much awaited for baby, who came after 5 cycles of IVF treatment, 2 miscarriages, and lots of heart break. Zoe is 28 weeks pregnant, at a baby shower organised for her, when she gets painful cramps, and is rushed to the hospital. They couldn’t find a heart beat for the baby, and she had to be induced to deliver her stillborn son. Heart-broken after the loss of the baby, all Zoe wants is to try for another baby, while all Max wants is a divorce. He has had enough.

The divorce left Zoe depressed, unhappy and with nothing to look forward to, while Max turns to alcohol. An alcoholic, he had stayed dry for a long time, but the loss of the baby and the end of their marriage pushed him over the edge. He discovers God, rather Church which saves him from self-destruction.

Zoe, in the meanwhile, is found to be suffering from cancer, and has had to undergo a hysterotomy and with that loses all hopes of having a baby, until she falls in love with Vanessa. They get married and realize that Zoe’s dream of becoming a mother can still come true. Zoe and Max still had three embryos from their last IVF cycle, and Vanessa could carry the baby, now that Zoe can’t.

Zoe gets in touch with Max to get his permission(both parents’ consent is required) to implant the embryos in Vanessa. To her shock and surprise, Max is a different person now. He has discovered God, a God who according to his church believes that same sex marriages are living in sin. So much so that they end up in court fighting for the right to use the embryo.

Sing You Home has so many aspects covered, Gay and Lesbian rights, the homophobia that is rampant in certain sections of society, the heartbreak that infertility brings.. It brings home to the reader, how difficult things can be to people going through such situations. How fair is it that a gay or a lesbian couple has to fight so hard for things that are considered natural for the rest of us – marriage, becoming parents, living a stigma free life, freedom to love and spend the rest of their life with the love of their life? Does having a different sexual orientation ban a person from these basic rights? Who defines normal?  what makes for a loving family? Can blind belief in religion(or rather interpretation of religion) distort our views?

The book also has a musical score with it. Zoe is a music therapist, and each chapter has a musical score we can listen to while reading – I did not read it with the music. I plan to buy the book, and read it again with the music. Picoult explains quite a bit about music therapy so that we, readers get an idea as to what it is all about.

Another wonderful book by Picoult. Her books never disappoint. I will certainly be reading it again. All the characters are well thought out and well etched out. Zoe’s wonderfully eccentric mother, Max’s conservative, super successful brother, the fanatical Pastor Clive..

Another book which will stay with you. Your heart breaks with Zoe’s, empathize with Vanessa’s insecurities and worries,  you understand how Max is caught between his faith and his doubts about right and wrong.. A book that I will definitely re-read. I would recommend it to anybody who likes Jodi Picoult books – another gem from her.

This day, three years ago…

I don’t know about you all, but I keep doing this – ‘last year, this day , I was doing this’ or ‘ last week, this time, we were doing this’ or ‘ last month this time, I was enjoying my vacation’ or ‘next month this time, we might be doing this :)’. With all my daughter’s third birthday preparations that’s going on, I’m not surprised that my mind went back to this day – three years back 🙂

Well, this was the day I got to know ‘when’ I would have my baby 🙂 or in other words – my c-section got scheduled 😦 What better way of relating all this – than do the first born tag ! This tag had been going around when I was on vacation and was one of the tags I absolutely wanted to do !

Was your first pregnancy planned?

Yes – Almost by military standards 🙂  I had started folic acid tablets way in advance, had got all fit by regular working out and had also learnt swimming because I had read that it helps in the delivery- all wasted because I had a c-section:( Right down to co-ordinating with vacation plans and work milestones 🙂 It was a completely planned for and totally wanted baby 🙂

2. Were you married at the time?

Yes  – for 5 years and I think a lot of people started believing that there were problems – which incidentally was not true. We wanted to wait till we were both ready for parenthood , with both our careers at a certain level.

3. What were your reactions?
Was esctatic, because  I almost believed that I was not pregnant – so that blue cross was totally wonderful to see! Did 2 tests to confirm 🙂

4. Was abortion an option for you?

Absolutely not!

5. How old were you?

29 yrs

6. How did you find out you were pregnant

Home Pregnancy Test

7. Who did you tell first?

Husband of course – actually he was right there – so did not need any telling 🙂 And then we took a pic of the ‘cross ‘ in the test 🙂

8. Due date?

May 5th – but she was born on April 24th.

9. Did you have morning sickness?

Nope! I was extremely lucky in that!  I just felt queasy when I smelt fried food – no sickness at all.

10. What did you crave?

Nothing in particluar – I just loved food –  I was always hungry – and would eat huge amounts of food – but was very strict with what I ate.  Would eat loads of veggies, highly nutritous food – no fried stuff  – that was not difficult, given that the smell made me queasy 🙂

I particularly loved dosas and there is a portugese food chain here- which I used to love (still love). I had the most wonderful colleagues then. One of the guys actually made dosas and brought it to my place – in wet, London weather – just because he knew how much I loved dosas 🙂 Around that time we had moved house( in my 8th month) – so these guys wanted a house warming. I was in no position to cook  – so they actually came home and cooked the most wonderful chinese food and celebrated it 🙂 It was the most wonderful time!

11. Who/what irritated you the most?
Nothing. Just re-confirmed with my husband who says nothing irritated me 🙂 – apparently I was very sweet – unlike how I am now 🙂

12. What was your first child’s sex?

Girl  – only child.

13. Did you wish you had the opposite sex of what you were getting?

No – desparately wanted a girl – always wanted a girl! We had found out in the 5th month.  Though the ultrasound said that it was  a girl, everybody who saw me told me that I looked like I was carrying a boy – as per mid wives tales – and was hoping that it was a girl 🙂

14. How many pounds did you gain throughout the pregnancy?

12 kgs. I ate very carefully, all the most nutritious food and in the right proportions – so I did not put on too much weight – until after she was born.  I think I actually put on weight after having her 😦

15. Did you have a baby shower?

Nope – I had a team full of men 😦 But they did give me a wonderful goodbye gift – as I was leaving that team when I went on maternity leave 🙂

16. Was it a surprise or did you know?

N/A

17. Did you have any complications during your pregnancy?

It was a totally smooth sailing pregnancy – until the last month. I suddenly developed a condition called SPD – Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction.  Within days, from being up and about , I was on crutches and in constant pain. The last month made up for the entire pregnancy being a breeze 😦  Here in the UK, if you have a normal pregnancy – you might not even meet a doctor – you are examined almost entirely by midwives. So the first time I met a doctor was in my 36th week and at that point – I was still fine. Barely a week later I could not walk and a midwife advised me to talk to my consultant(doctor). And 3 years ago, on 20th of April, the consultant examined me and took the decision to go in for a planned c-sec. The only date they had was on the 24th of April. I was not too keen on that date , because my parents were reaching London on that day. The next available was on May 4th and the doctors were not comfortable to wait till then – so 24th it was.

18. Where did you give birth?

London

19. How many hours were you in labor?

N/A.

20. Who drove you to the hospital/birth center?

Husband.

21. Who watched you give birth?

Husband and the ob/gyn team. Husband got to cut the umbilical cord  :D

22. Was it natural or c-section?

c-section

23. Did you take medicine to ease the pain?

Epidural. I was totally aware of everything – barring the pain, of course 🙂

24. How much did your child weigh?

2.65 kgs – She was a tiny baby 😦

25. When was your child actually born ?

24th April at 12:20 pm

26. What was your reaction when the doctor announced the sex of the baby?

Delighted – though  we knew. It was nice to get it confirmed though 🙂

27. What was your first reaction on seeing the baby?

Delighted, happy, proud 🙂 She looked totally like my husband 🙂 A tiny replica 🙂

28. Did you cry?

Nope. I just remember grinning away like a Cheshire cat 🙂 For some reason, felt extremely happy and proud 🙂 It was such a magical time! I remember smiling at every nurse and midwife and patient I met on the way to the ward 🙂

29. What did you name him/her?

My little monster 🙂 I call her loads of stuff  – except her real name – she actually used to get scared when I call her by her real name –  I do that only when I am extremely angry 🙂

30. How old is your first born today?

She is 4 days away from turning 3 years old 🙂

My pregnancy was one of the best times in my life. I had a lot of fun, ate all the right things, read every pregnancy book I could lay my hands on 🙂 I had subscribed to every baby website – babycenter and stuff , would check every symptom in the books and the websites – but had an absolute blast! Worked till the last month and got on crutches as soon as I stopped working – guess it shows that I should have worked till the last day – must have been ‘work withdrawal symptoms’ 🙂

This was a tag, I really, really enjoyed doing.. It brought back memories of that magical time of my life that brought my dear daughter to our lives! It is so difficult trying to even think of the time when we did not have her – she has so completely taken over our lives !