There’s a time when you relinquish the idea that you’re going to have a baby, and maybe you really don’t care, because truthfully the only reason you wanted a baby rather than a cat or a goldfish was so your lover would never leave you. Maybe that point comes pretty early on. You’re a realist, after all, and your body just won’t cooperate. And maybe there’s a little bit of confidence after a decade or so that your lover won’t walk out even without a tangle of family ties to trip him on the way out the door.
And think of the benefits to not having a baby! All that time and money to spend on yourself, all that passion to devote to success and career and drinking in a bar after work with the partners, who by the way are all men, long-winded hard drinkers with five o’clock shadows and patient wives waiting at home. They tell you trippingly funny war stories about judges and verdicts and lawyers teetering on the edge of disgrace and you listen laughing.
So just imagine how you feel when, contrary to all the percentages and probabilities and perchances, the sheer contrariness of the universe fucks you over and gives you that baby. You are blithely oblivious even a few months into it, even with breasts a little bigger and flushed cheeks, so that when your lover says I think you might be pregnant, you say, ridiculous, that’s how much you have dreamed a different life now, and put the baby thing away.
Even months into this pregnancy you argue with yourself, have the baby, don’t, but in the end you become resigned to the big F, fate, the big K karma, the big A for afraid to mess with this big E event. Your body gets round and fat, you waddle to work and tell the partners goodbye, and you spend weeks watching television and eating while you wait for labor to start.
You can’t gloss over labor, can you. Maybe later you can tell everyone you squatted down and laid a baby like an egg with only a faint squawk of discomfort, and if they are gullible and childless maybe they will buy that story, but really, really, it feels like a century of walkabout misery. Your lover is there, which is the best part, and together you cavort around in the hospital room and the hallway and the bathroom floor, everywhere but the bed, except you aren’t having much fun but just panting and sweating and in pain.
And then the baby happens, you actually give birth, and all of a sudden you are transformed. The aliens drop in and force feed you hormones and catalytic converters and humble pie. Little pinwheels in your brain whisper love love your baby, never let him go. And you don’t.
So your lawyerly ambition gets squeezed down into a tiny garlic press of a plan, nurse baby, rock baby, sing a song to baby, think about baby, change a diaper. Those aliens have a calming effect, just put baby in a carriage and stroll. Dress baby in little sweaters, nurse again. You could have done this long ago. You could have sixteen children by now if you had put your mind to it.
The old schemes are dead. You know it is inconceivable to leave baby to the indifferent arms of paid nannies for days upon days, inconceivable to dance back to your former life and be hours away from baby. You develop a new plan, a blueprint so reasonable, so balanced between baby and a sober career path, all you need are some books, an IBM Selectric, embossed cards. Business will start slow, just wait and see, perhaps one client here, one case there, baby sleeping while you give your high-toned advice.
And it is all so amusing you find, even without the buttresses of high flying partners, even in this backwater corner of the world, even with baby waiting, so much fun to wheel and deal in dimes and sorrows and counsel. You hadn’t known you would like it quite so much, this hole in the wall advocacy, so many miles away from that other world that you will hardly ever see those men in the next twenty years and miss them not at all