By Fertility Advocate Jennifer Jay Palumbo
Meet Gemma Jacobs. She’s driven, energetic, and a positive thinker. She has a great career working for famed self-help guru Ian Fortune, she lives in a cute studio apartment in Manhattan, and her family is supportive and loving (albeit a little kooky). Her life is perfect. Absolutely wonderful.
Except for one tiny little thing.
After a decade of disastrous relationships and an infertility diagnosis, Gemma doesn’t want a Mr. Right (or even a Mr. Right Now); she just wants a baby. And all she needs is an egg, some sperm, and IVF.
So Gemma makes a New Year’s resolution: have a baby.
Josh Lewenthal is a laid-back, relaxed, find-the-humor-in-life kind of guy. The polar opposite of Gemma. He’s also her brother’s best friend. For the past twenty years, Josh has attended every Jacobs family birthday, holiday, and event – he’s always around.
Gemma knows him. He’s nice (enough), he’s funny (-ish), he’s healthy (she thinks), and he didn’t burn any ants with a magnifying glass as a kid. So, this makes him the perfect option for a sperm donor in Gemma’s mind.
So Gemma wants to make a deal. An unemotional, business-like arrangement. No commitments, just a baby.To Gemma’s surprise, Josh agrees.
They have nothing in common except their agreement to make a baby and their desire to keep things business-like.
But the thing about baby-making… it’s hard to keep it business-like, it’s nearly impossible to keep it unemotional, and it’s definitely impossible to keep your heart out of the mix. Because when you’re making a baby together, things have a way of starting to feel like you’re making other things too – like life, family, and love. And when the baby-making ends, you wish that everything else didn’t have to end too.
This is the plotline of Josh and Gemma Make a Baby, written by author Sarah Ready. Ready brings both humor and romance to a trying to conceive journey, and during National Infertility Awareness Week (April 24th – April 29th), with the help of several influencers, she will be giving a limited number of e-books of Josh and Gemma for free.
Sarah Ready is the author of eight novels, including Josh and Gemma Make a Baby. Her novels have been described as “heart-warming” “euphoric” and “the best reads of the year”. I recently spoke with Ms. Ready to learn more about this new book.
The Interview With Sarah Ready
JJP: You’ve written many romance novels. So what inspired you to add infertility into the plotline of this one?
READY: Oh gosh. I’ve wanted to write a book about infertility for years, but the right characters and plot never found me until Josh and Gemma came along. This is an odd thing about authors, but a lot of times, these people (characters) pop into our heads and demand a story. For years I thought the book would be serious (underlined, italicized, bolded serious), but then I realized, “no way, this book is a rom-com!” The realization that Josh and Gemma Make a Baby was going to be a romantic comedy was what, I think, let me write it with so much raw honesty, heartbreak, but also a whole lot of humor. Because, let’s be honest, when you’re going through the trenches of life, humor really helps.
JJP: How much research did you do around infertility, IVF, and endometriosis?
READY: A lot. A lot, a lot. One of the main reasons I wanted to write this book is because I’ve felt for many years that there isn’t enough open dialogue about what it’s like to have infertility (in popular fiction). Even though it affects so many people globally, infertility isn’t always given a voice. Especially a voice that hits the topic head-on, with a full-frontal look at appointments, meds, ultrasounds, the full spectrum. It’s not a side story; it’s the main story. Because of that, I wanted to tell it in a way that was authentic and honest, which required a whole lot of research, interviews, and empathy. Gemma has endometriosis and infertility, and the book follows her journey. Of course, just like everyone in the world, her experiences are unique and won’t be the same as everyone else’s, but I hope that her story resonates and touches people’s hearts. Likewise, Gemma’s friends in the infertility support group have their own journey. They touch on unexplained infertility, malefactor, and much more. I wanted to address the many different forms infertility can take.
JJP: Since much of the book is quite funny, how did you balance finding the funny while highlighting the reality of miscarriage and the more emotional side of infertility?
READY: Right! It is funny! This book wouldn’t have been written if it weren’t a comedy. In the most difficult times of life, when you’ve been knocked down and life is kicking you in the teeth as you fall (we’ve all been there), you can either laugh or cry. Josh and Gemma chose laughter. Everyone needs laughter in their life, especially when the times are hard. There’s time for tears, which will happen, but then there’s the time to stand up and choose to smile and laugh despite it all.
JJP: Have you received any feedback from the trying to conceive community on the book?
READY: Yes. So much. I can’t begin to describe how incredibly humbled and grateful I am to the number of women who have reached out after reading Josh and Gemma Make a Baby. It is so humbling when someone writes to say that Gemma’s journey was so much like their own, or that the book helped them heal, or that Gemma’s story has calmed their fears, or that Gemma felt like a friend as they are going through IVF now as well, or even, like Gemma, that they are a single woman in their thirties who wants a baby. Gemma has helped them take that first step. As a writer, this is so humbling!
One incredible instance was when a reader took Josh and Gemma Make a Baby with her to the hospital to finish reading while in labor! Then she listened to the audiobook version while cuddling with her newborn.
That makes my heart feel so big! In the past, I’ve heard from readers that my books have literally made them fall off of their chairs because they laughed so hard or that they spit their drink on a stranger from unexpected laughter, but I’ve never received so many letters telling me that a book has changed their lives.
I am beyond grateful for all the letters and notes from readers telling me I captured all the awkwardness, the heartbreak, the humor, and the love experienced during the infertility journey. That’s all I wanted, to give everyone who has infertility a voice in the best way I knew how, and I’m grateful that Josh and Gemma’s story resonates with so many people.
JJP: Do you think the book helps educate people who aren’t familiar with the hell that is endometriosis and infertility?
READY: Gosh. I hope so. It’s hard because sometimes, you don’t want to share your infertility journey or your endometriosis story with others. Both of these aren’t talked about as much as you’d think, considering how common both are. I tried to give a lot of insight into its nitty-gritty, including the medical side. As a result, quite a few readers have written to say they are giving Josh and Gemma Make a Baby to their moms/sisters/aunts/friends to help them understand what they’re going through.
Other readers have written to say that this book has helped them better empathize with their friends or family members who are currently going through IVF. They felt that they’d be able to be a more understanding and supportive friend after reading it. It draws back the curtain, so to speak, and lets everyone share an open dialogue.
JJP: While your book is for everyone, is there something you hope those dealing with infertility take away from it?
READY: That’s a big question. I think that Gemma would better answer that than me. Yes, I’m bowing out, and using a fictional character I created to answer your question! Here goes, for everyone out there, as Gemma would say, “love is the best gift I’ve ever had the privilege to give.” No matter what happens in your life, no matter what comes, you have love, you have love to give, and that is the best gift of all.
Life isn’t a book. We can’t flip to the last page and find out what happens. But no matter where you are on your journey, remember to love yourself and share that love with the world. That’s the best.