An Empty Lap

An Empty Lap

One Couple's Journey to Parenthood

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"Joe and I had been forthright about children. I was pretty sure I wanted them, Joe was pretty sure he didn't. Since we each perceived in the other some room for movement, the difference didn't worry us. Then priorities shifted, needs changed...."
In her late thirties, journalist Jill Smolowe's life and career at Time magazine was on track. Her husband, Joe, was still her most trusted confidante and best friend. And now that she and Joe had decided finally to have a child, Jill assumed the pregnancy that had come so easily to all the women in her family would be her own next chapter. But nature had a different script in mind.
As her quest for a child swerved from the roller coaster of infertility procedures toward the baffling maze of adoption options, Jill's desperation deepened -- while Joe's resistance to children only hardened. In the fog of depression, disappointments, and dead ends, their marriage began to founder. Then, halfway around the world, in Yangzhou, China, she encountered a future she'd never imagined might be hers.
Honest and intimate, An Empty Lap is as much a window on a marriage as on a high-stakes baby chase. Compelling, beautifully told and as insightful as a novel, it's filled with emotions that anyone who has yearned for a child will recognize.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780671004378 | 
  • October 1998
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Chapter I

It is the postswim, predinner hour, and the smallest members of the clan are restless. Inside my parents' house, I can hear my two oldest nephews bickering over a game of Go Fish.

"You can't put that there, Alex."

"Can so."

"Cannot."

"Michael! Quit it!"

Outside on the deck, I smoke a cigarette on a chaise lounge beside my sister Ann and sister-in-law Candace, watching the distant nightlights shimmer against the dark folds of North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. I am fine, certainly far better than I was a year earlier when I'd arrived for my family's 1993 annual reunion reeling from a doctor's... see more

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