OK, So I May Have Omitted Some Crucial Details

And What Do You Think of Ending a Memoir Mid-Story?

In my last post, about the very generous bloggers who nominated me for the Liebster award, I wrote that I haven’t been a very good blog-poster because I have been so busy working to meet my publisher’s deadline for the memoir. And that’s true. Sort of.

There is also a little detail I left out about the other reason I haven’t been a very good blogger: I unexpectedly got pregnant last May. Totally naturally. At the age of 45 and 1/2. After 4+ years of failed IVF treatments and 2 pregnancy losses. In the middle of my beloved father-in-law’s last months of his life, when we had just learned he had been diagnosed with acute pancreatic cancer. When I was spending 4-6 hours a day in the hospital with him to try to keep him company and as comfortable as possible. (Actually, we didn’t know I was even pregnant until I was 7 weeks, because we assumed I had either caught a stomach bug at the hospital or was sick from the sadness and stress of Otōsan’s* illness. So, on a side note, there goes the theory that women should just relax and avoid stress and then they will get pregnant.)

We had wanted Otōsan to name the baby, but sadly he passed away before he could tell us the names he had chosen. We miss him very much. And we are in awe that his little grandchild-to-be finally showed up (at least in the belly) and we got to tell him before he died.

Because of my past difficulty getting and staying pregnant and all years of medical treatments I went though in Japan (a part of the story covered in the last part of the memoir), because I was already 45, and because I was simultaneously morning the loss of my father-in law, I didn’t want to write or even talk much about my pregnancy at first. I was also so sick with morning sickness that I could barely get out of bed until I passed the 16-week mark; I even stopped working on the memoir for over 2 months.

Now the sickness is waning, I’ll be 20 weeks this Thursday, and my doctor expects me to deliver a healthy little one at the end of January.

So, the Memoir Was Supposed to End with Me, at 45, Coming to Terms with Not Having a Child…

When I sold the memoir to Putnam last winter based on the proposal and first 4 chapters, the story was supposed to end with me childless at 45, since my sweetie and I had decided against adoption (as I wrote about in the New York Times online). Well now, obviously, the pregnancy complicates things. In a great way, of course, but still. So I spoke to my editor last week about how to end the memoir now. Do I end it before I get pregnant? I can’t end it after I deliver, because the manuscript is due almost a month before my due date. It looks like the story will now come to a close with me mid-pregnancy, mourning my father-in-law while celebrating this incredible surprise of  the promise of a new life.

Sometimes I love this idea, because I’m not big on memoirs that tie up every loose end; life just isn’t like that. But sometimes the idea seems weird to me, to end so much in the middle of the action. Then again, if we are lucky enough that the baby is in fact born healthy, as is now expected, I guess that could be the makings of the second book: raising a child in a country where I still don’t speak the language (!), and where I’m a first-time mother at the crazy age of 46…

——-

*Otōsan is the Japanese word for “respected father,” what a daughter or daughter-in-law calls her father or father-in-law.

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16 thoughts on “OK, So I May Have Omitted Some Crucial Details

  1. Congratulations on your pregnancy and my best wishes, hoping that everything goes well this time. This really does change your memoir quite a bit, but I think the end you suggest would work well, making it more of an open end and one that will make your readers look forward to your second book.

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  2. Thanks so much, R, both for your good wishes and for your feedback about the ending! By the way, loved your post about your mother-in-law and the pix of foreigners. When I went to the great wall with my husband, I had people coming up to me and asking to take my picture too!

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  3. First of all, congratulations Tracy! And second, I agree with R and Meg, I think it’s fine if you end it mid-pregnancy. It’ll be unexpected. Yet a child is something you and your husband wanted (and tried to have) for so long — so the pregnancy really leaves the book rather upbeat and (as R mentioned) could set the stage for the next chapter in your lives.

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    1. Thanks, Jocelyn. That’s similar to what Sara, my editor said. She also thought it would seem very weird for me to end the book with my failure to get pregnant and then to have it turn out that I really did get pregnant in the end.

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  4. Big whoops of joy at your news, Tracy. I cannot think of a better ending for your memoir, especially since you wrote the rest of the book without knowing this twist of fate. Perfect. Maybe we don’t “just relax” and the baby will come, maybe we just need to take our mind off ourselves… and nature does the rest. Meg put it well, Life is messy. I am so Sorry to hear about Shogun Senior. Condolences to you and your family.

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    1. Thanks Sarah. I like that you can’t think of a better ending in terms of the baby! And thanks so much for your kind words about shogun senior. We miss him every day, and I feel so sad that he won’t get to meet the baby, and at the same time, really in awe that the world gave us another life just as his was ending. Sometimes that seems like a simplistic way to see it, but it really does feel that way and feel all the more surprising because so many doctors indicated that I had virtually no chance of getting pregnant anymore, least of all naturally, and then it happened just as his life was dwindling. Although I can’t claim that it happened when we weren’t trying anymore, or when our minds were totally off trying to have a baby, b/c we were still trying, just not medically. But you’re right that the life we were most focused on sustaining at that point was his.

      Thanks again for your kind comments, though. You are always such a support!

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